SciFi Book Review: Pivot Point

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Synopsis:
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

Review:
Addie lives in a community of paranormals with special mental abilities. Addie can see the outcomes of decisions she’s faced with. Her best friend can erase memories. Addie’s mother can manipulate to her way of thinking (perfect for a mother!); and her father can tell if someone is lying. Addie is a level headed girl, and decides to choose live with whichever parent has the best outcome after Searching six months into both futures.

Once Addie begins Searching the futures, the chapters jump back and forth between her two choices. This doesn’t really get confusing as she quickly begins living two separate lives with very different friends. Though, the timelines overlap and converge at times as a mystery also unravels. It’s a complex and captivating story that I couldn’t put down. This impressive, YA scifi debut certainly stands out among the popular subgenre. Wholly unique with plenty of drama, mystery, romance, and suspense – Pivot Point was a surprising and unpredictable read that I highly recommend.

SciFi Book Review: The Spirit Well

The Spirit Well by Stephen R. Lawhead

Synopsis:
The Search for the Map—and the secret behind its cryptic code—intensifies in a quest across time, space, and multiple realities.

But what if the true treasure isn’t the map at all . . . what if the map marks something far greater? Something one world cannot contain? Those who desire to unlock that mystery are in a race to possess the secret—for good or evil.

Kit Livingstone is mastering the ability to travel across realities using ley lines and has forged a link from the Bone House, a sacred lodge made of animal bones, to the fabled Spirit Well, a place of profound power.

His friend Mina is undercover in a Spanish monastery high in the Pyrenees, learning all she can from a monk named Brother Lazarus. Still determined to find Kit, she is beginning to experience a greater destiny than she can fathom.

Cassandra Clarke is overseeing an archaeological dig in Arizona when a chance encounter transports her to 1950s Damascus. There, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to the Seekers—the last living remnants of the Zetetic Society who need her help to track down the missing Cosimo Livingstone and his grandson Kit.

But there are darker forces at work in the universe whose agents always seem to be one step ahead of the rest—and they’re all desperate to gain the ultimate prize in this treasure hunt where the stakes increase at every turn. At the heart of the mystery lies the Spirit Well.

Review:
This is the third novel in the Bright Empires series. I have read the first, but missed the second. Though, I had no problem jumping back into the story. In fact, it didn’t seem like I had missed too much. And there was a nice recap at the beginning that caught me up on what all had happened, some of which I had forgotten.

The characters are fairly memorable, especially that of Mina who is an incredibly capable and self-sufficient young woman. As the novel follows the various characters and their journeys, the Spirit Well becomes the focus as the Skin Map takes a back seat.

Lawhead’s scifi/fantasy world is one of time travel and alternate realities where ley lines can send travelers to countless eras and destinations. The story is complex with many characters and subplots, but is still easy to follow. It’s an ambitious adventure, blending science fiction and fantasy. I enjoyed the pacing, but this installment wasn’t as suspenseful as the first. And it ended somewhat abruptly, but I’m not sure if the story is engaging enough keep me reading the rest of the series.

Author Interview: Jessica Day George

Author Jessica Day George joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about her new release WEDNESDAYS IN THE TOWER!

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Tell us a bit about Wednesdays in the Tower in your own words.

Something’s up with the Castle. Strange new rooms are appearing, old rooms aren’t going away, but Celie’s almost too busy to notice, because in one of the rooms she finds a giant egg, and has to take care of what hatches out!

What is the relationship between Princess Celie and the Castle?

If man’s best friend is his dog, a girl’s best friend is her Castle. At least, it is for Celie!

How did the Castle become a sentient character?

It just sort of came to me one night, but one thing that’s always bothered me about “magic castles” in stories is that it’s usually just a regular ol’ castle that has a wizard living in it. I wanted the Castle to have its own magic, which meant that it had to be alive enough to use that magic.

How many books are planned for the series?

I’m writing #3 right now . . . but I’m keeping mum on anything after that!

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

Oh, so many great books in the world! I became an author because of Robin McKinley, I’ve read The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword over and over again! I love Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, and Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles! I love Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sarantine Mosiac (Huge, HUGE fan of all Kay’s work, really). And Diana Wynne Jones! Howl’s Moving Castle! Archer’s Goon! Dogsbody!

About the book:
When her brother Rolf dares her to catch magical Castle Glower creating a new room, Princess Celie takes the challenge! No one knows the Castle better than she does. But as usual, the Castle has ideas of its own. Celie finds the new room first, and inside it is hidden a giant egg. Does the Castle want Celie to care for the egg and whatever creature it hatches?

Celie hadn’t bargained for a pet, and caring for this one will prove to be especially tricky, once Celie and her siblings realize what else the Castle is hiding.

About The Author:
Originally from Idaho, Jessica Day George studied at Brigham Young University and has been a movie store clerk, a bookseller, and a school office lady before becoming a writer. Jessica lives with her husband, their three young children, and a five-pound Maltese named Pippin who often makes cameo appearances in her books. She is the author of Tuesdays at the Castle, as well as the Twelve Dancing Princesses series, and Dragon Slippers series Visit her website at www.jessicadaygeorge.com

ML Brennan Interview and Giveaway!

ML Brennan joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about her debut novel Generation V!
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Can you tell us a bit about Generation V in your own words?

Sure! The elevator pitch of my book is that Fortitude Scott has a useless degree, a minimum-wage job, a cheating girlfriend, and a roommate who stiffs him on the rent. And he’s a vampire… mostly. But when a little girl is kidnapped, suddenly he’s the only one who is willing to try and do something about it, so he teams up with a wise-cracking shapeshifter and heads off for a rescue mission that will very likely kill him.

But one of the big ideas that I’m working with in this book is what happens when the hero isn’t super-powerful, and is consistently out-classed by everyone that he is going up against. To me, I found that it resulted in a hero that I found more interesting, because he was having to find ways around situations, or building relationships with other characters who he didn’t particularly have a lot in common with, or sometimes it just meant that he was risking a lot more when he went into various situations, but he chose to do that because of what he felt was the right thing to do.

Vampire urban fantasy novels are popular. What different about Generation V that sets it apart from the others?

I’ve always enjoyed vampires, but as a writer I had a lot of problems with them. I spent a lot of time re-thinking and re-constructing the vampire rules and mythos in my book until they were something that I thought would be interesting and fun to work with.

Describe your vampires. (Are they of the traditional Bram Stoker variety?)

My vampires are pretty different from the traditional mold (Vampire Classic, so to speak). For one thing, these aren’t changed humans – this is a separate and distinct species that had its own evolutionary path, and that has chosen to remain hidden from the majority of the human population. My vampires also aren’t immortal – they have a longer lifespan than humans (just as most apex predators have longer lifespans than the species they largely subsist on), but they do have a lifecycle. A vampire in my world will be born, grow up, have offspring, and ultimately die of old age.

Where I made a lot of changes was in how to keep vampires in check – in almost every vampire mythos out there, the major question I always ask is why vampires haven’t completely overrun the world. So my vampires might be long-lived, but they also have the kind of trade-offs that you see in apex-species in nature – vampires take much longer to reach sexual maturity, and their top reproductive output is far lower than their prey. Apex predators are, without exception, incredible animals. But they are also very vulnerable to changes in their environment. My vampires are like the Florida panther – incredibly evolved predators that are barely hanging in against full-scale extinction.

As for the way that vampires breed… well, I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll give a hint – my inspiration for this was when I started thinking about parasites like ticks.

Why has Fort been putting off becoming a full vampire?

Because my construction of vampires has made them a species, with a full biological lifecycle, it’s actually not any part of a choice on Fortitude’s part. Even though Fort is twenty-six years old, he hasn’t transitioned fully into being a vampire – and he doesn’t know when that will actually happen, and he’s really conflicted over the entire process.

How many books do you have planned for this series?

I am currently contracted with Roc for three books, but I do have ideas for more.

What’s next for you? Any other stories on the horizon?

I’m very fortunate to be just starting the edits on the second Fortitude Scott book, Iron Night, which will be published by Roc in January 2014. And as soon as I finish with that I’m going to be working on the third book in the series, so I’m having a lot of fun figuring out where to take the character of Fort.

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

I became serious about writing early in college. It was my primary field of study as an undergraduate, and I ultimately pursued it in my master’s studies as well. I have been extremely fortunate in my experiences as a writer to always have had excellent teachers who helped me really understand the value of revision, feedback, and persistence. I spent a lot of time working with short stories before I turned to novel writing, and that was also invaluable to my process.

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

Sherri S. Tepper’s Singer From The Sea was probably one of the most amazing reading experiences I ever had – up until that point, I don’t think I’d ever been shocked by a plot turn like the one she has in that book. After I finished that book, I immediately had to read everything else she’d ever written. Beyond that… Brandon Sanderson, Anne Bishop, Patricia Briggs, Sharon Shinn… they were all writers who I return to over and over again. In terms of newer writers, I’m really enjoying Cassie Alexander’s Edie Spence series, and I got a look at an advance copy of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy The Thousand Names, and it really blew me away.

What do you do when you’re not writing? In your spare time?

Well, spare time has been a bit hard to come by lately, but when I do get it, it’s usually spent reading. I’m also a big fan of tabletop gaming, so whenever I have enough people over, I love breaking out games like Munchkin, Puerto Rico, or Settlers of Catan.

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Courtesy of the author, I have a SIGNED copy of Generation V 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 May 31. I’ll draw a name on June 1, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Read moreML Brennan Interview and Giveaway!

SciFi Book Review: Taken

Taken by Erin Bowman

Synopsis:
There are no men in Claysoot.
There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends . . . and he’s gone.
They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate—until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets, the Heist itself, and what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot—a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken—or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

Review:
Gray is headstrong yet likeable. He’s very different from his peacemaker brother. So when his brother disappears on his birthday and Gray learns a shocking secret, he decides to climb the Wall and discover the truth – even if it kills him.

Bowman has created a fascinating dystopia wrapped in a mystery that slowly unfolds throughout the novel. This is one fantastic debut that should not be missed. Full of mystery, danger, drama, romance, intrigue, and lies – Taken is impossible to put down. The characters are engaging and the story complex. Fast-paced and exciting – this will certainly make my list of favorites for the year.

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