SciFi Book Review: Fallout

Fallout by James K Decker

Synopsis:
Overpopulation, disease, and ecological disaster were edging humanity toward extinction. Hope arrived in the haan, an alien race that promised us a future.
And what they wanted in exchange seemed so harmless…

Sam Shao has found out too much about the haan, by accident. All humans have to get along with them—we owe them our lives—and Sam even counts a haan among her best friends. But the more she learns, the less she trusts them

It doesn’t help that the building of new haan colonies seems to be coinciding with a rash of missing persons cases. Sam and her hacker friends are determined to reveal the truth about the haan, before it’s too late. The aliens are still promising salvation, and they seem set to deliver, but with things already spinning out of control Sam is confronted with a possibility no one wants to admit—that what salvation means to humankind and what it means to the haan may be two horribly different things.

Review:
Sam is a conflicted character. She doesn’t hate the haan, in fact she still feels the pull of wanting to foster their offspring. But she after finding out what their former leader was planning, she wants the rest of the world to know the whole truth about the haan too. And what it means for Earth. But with the return of an old friend, Sam learns it’s not that simple.

Just as fast-paced and action-packed as The Burn Zone, this sequel doesn’t disappoint. These fascinating, mysterious aliens still have more secrets. And there are even more shocking twists and revelations this time around. This dark scifi series is a solid, enjoyable read with complex worldbuilding.

Kerry Schafer Interview and Giveaway!

Author Kerry Schafer joins us today to talk about her latest book, Wakeworld!

For those who haven’t read Between, can you tell us a bit about Vivian and Weston and catch us up on their story?

Vivian has been handed rather a difficult destiny – with dreamshifter, dragon, and sorcerer blood in her veins, she’s got all sorts of conflicts and challenges to sort out. In Between she has a pretty sharp learning curve trying to get her mind around realities beyond what she had ever dreamed. Since there are already dragons running amok in the waking world, she doesn’t have a lot of time to figure out what dreamshifting is all about and is always running to try to keep up. In Wakeworld she’s starting to get a handle on the dreamshifter business until a powerful dragon locks her out of the Between with Zee (the man of her dreams) on the other side. As much as she hates her inner dragon, she’s going to have to come to terms with it in order to find a way to get to Zee and save the worlds from destruction. She also has to figure out how to work with Weston.

Weston Jennings makes his first appearance in Wakeworld. He was designated as his father’s heir to the dreamshifter role when he was only a child. However, he didn’t want this and resisted, which precipitated a devastating family tragedy that drove him underground. Now he’s being forced to face up to his past and has to make a choice whether or not to finally embrace his power and help Vivian with her quest.

What is a dreamshifter?

A dreamshifter is tasked with the responsibility of guarding the doors that lead from the Between, populated by all manner of dream creatures, and Wakeworld (what we think of as reality). Dreamshifters can also enter dreams and alter them. This is a dangerous proposition, as for them the elements of dream are real and they can be wounded and killed as surely as in the waking world.

Urban fantasy/paranormal novels are popular right now. What is different about The Between series that makes it so unique?

For one thing, The Between books have a rural, small town setting, rather than the usual city. The characters’ adventures in the Between and in Dreamworld involve dragons and sorcery and other elements that tend to be associated more with Fantasy than with UF or paranormal books. There are no werewolves or vampires, although we do have dragon shifting going on. And, of course, the dreamshifter and dream worlds are unique.

How many books do you have planned for The Between series?

I’ve planned the series as a trilogy, but the developing plot of the third book keeps telling me it thinks we need four, so we’ll see.

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

I really want to write a follow up novel to my Dream Wars Novellas. But first I need to finish up Between 3, plus I’m in revisions on a fun Paranormal Mystery/Thriller called Dead Before Dying.

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

I’ve been writing ever since I was a little kid. Back then it was mostly poetry (very BAD poetry, but I thought it was lovely.) Writing has become a habit I can’t break, and something I would do even if I weren’t being published. That said – I am so excited to be finally living the dream of seeing my books on shelves and websites. Sometimes I’m not entirely sure I’m awake.

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

Oh, that’s a dangerous question. Let’s see: Anne Bishop – I first discovered her through the Black Jewels books, but her new Urban Fantasy series is wonderful. Carol Berg – especially the Collegia Magica Trilogy, but everything I’ve read of hers is brilliant. Alex Bledsoe – both the Eddie Lacrosse and Tufa novels. Alex Hughes – her Mindspace Investigations are this awesome mix of police procedural and SciFi. And, oh – The Harry Dresden books, Ursula LeGuin, everything by Guy Gavriel Kay, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien – yeah, I’ll stop now but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Books rock my world.

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

Thank you so much for inviting me over to your blog! I love to talk to readers, so feel free to hit me up on Twitter where I’m @kerryschafer, or at my FB page – http://www.facebook.com/kerryschaferbooks

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Courtesy of Ace Books, I have a copy of Wakeworld 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 February 28. I’ll draw a name on March 1, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read moreKerry Schafer Interview and Giveaway!

SciFi Book Review: Control

control

Control by Lydia Kang

Synopsis:
Set in 2150 – in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms – this is about the human genetic “mistakes” that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes.

When their overprotective father is killed in a terrible accident, Zel and her younger sister, Dylia, are lost in grief. But it’s not until strangers appear, using bizarre sensory weapons, that the life they had is truly eviscerated. Zel ends up in a safe house for teens that aren’t like any she’s ever seen – teens who, by law, shouldn’t even exist. One of them – an angry tattooed boy haunted by tragedy – can help Zel reunite with her sister.

But only if she is willing to lose him.

Review:
Zel is a fun character – she has a disorder that she doesn’t let slow her down. And when she meets her new foster family, she initially freaks out when seeing their shocking deformities. But she’s soon able to see past their physical appearance. Zel is a brilliant girl, yet will sacrifice everything (especially herself) to free her sister.

Control is a fast-paced, surprising debut. First in a new science fiction series, there is plenty of suspense, mystery, romance, and betrayal. This dark adventure is completely engaging and impossible to put down at times. I found myself reading faster at the more intense scenes, so wrapped up in what was going on. There are a lot of twists and surprises along the way. And the ending is thrilling, and leaves the reader eager for the next in this exciting series.

SciFi Book Review: Erased

Erased

Erased by Jennifer Rush

Synopsis:
After fleeing the Branch with Sam, Cas, and Nick, Anna is trying to make sense of the memories resurfacing from her old life. At the same time, she’s learning how to survive in hiding, following Sam’s rules: Don’t draw attention to yourself. Always carry a weapon. Know your surroundings. Watch your back.

Then a figure from Anna’s childhood reappears. Is it a Branch setup, or could it be the reunion Anna has hoped for? Uncertain of where her loyalties lie, Anna must fight to learn the truth – before she is betrayed again. Ultimately, the answers hinge on one question: What was the real reason her memories were erased?

Review:
Anna, Sam, Cas, and Nick are on the run with more questions than ever. Anna’s memories begin coming back to her in traumatic flashbacks. And her relationship with Sam is strained when she uncovers damning evidence about him. Anna makes some stupid choices along the way, but she follows her heart instead of her head.

The sequel to last year’s Altered, Erased offers even more suspense, mystery, intrigue, and betrayal. This fast-paced, action-packed adventure was hard to put down. And though fairly predictable at times, still highly enjoyable. I was so taken with Nick’s character, I wanted Anna to ditch (seemingly dull in comparison) Sam by the end. We finally get some answers to Anna’s past in a thrilling, climactic ending. And thankfully, the series will continue so readers can learn more about the boys’ backstories as well.

Fantasy Book Review: The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Synopsis:
An immigrant tale that combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology, The Golem and the Jinni tells the story of two supernatural creatures who arrive separately in New York in 1899. One is a golem, created out of clay to be her master’s wife—but he dies at sea, leaving her disoriented and overwhelmed as their ship arrives in New York Harbor. The other is a jinni, a being of fire, trapped for a thousand years in a copper flask before a tinsmith in Manhattan’s Little Syria releases him.

Each unknown to the other, the Golem and the Jinni explore the strange and altogether human city. Chava, as a kind old rabbi names her, is beset by the desires and wishes of others, which she can feel tugging at her. Ahmad, christened by the tinsmith who makes him his apprentice, is aggravated by human dullness. Both must work to create places for themselves in this new world, and develop tentative relationships with the people who surround them.

And then, one cold and windy night, their paths happen to meet.

Review:
Chava is a complex character, despite her seemingly simplistic nature. She exists to serve her master, though once he’s dead, she has little purpose. Now she can sense everyone else’s desires which is extremely confusing for her. The jinni Ahmad is less likeable at first, as he’s driven by completely selfish motivations and cares little for others. But when he meets Chava, something seems to change in him.

The Golem and the Jinni is a beautifully-written gothic fantasy. The combination of mythologies makes for a fascinating and captivating tale. The characters are rich and engaging. The story is full of mystery, heartache, and suspense. This timeless tale felt like an instant classic that will capture a variety of readers. I highly recommend this one.

Received in January

The following are the books, DVDs, and Blu-Rays I received in January for review and/or giveaways:

Blu-Ray / DVD:
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5 Blu-ray
Star Trek: The Next Generation “Unification” Blu-ray
Crossing Lines Season 1
Star Trek: Enterprise – Complete Third Season Blu-ray
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4 Blu-ray

Assembly Press:
The Golden Arrow by Anna Redmond

Blink:
Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover

Daw:
Dreamwalker by C.S. Friedman
Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Harper / Harper Voyager / William Morrow:
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The Hydra Protocol by David Wellington
Queen of the Dark Things by C. Robert Cargill

Harper Teen / Balzer + Bray:
Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Split Second by Kasie West
Ruins by Dan Wells
Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Frozen by Erin Bowman
Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
Rebel by Amy Tintera

KTeen:
Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep

Macmillan Audio:
Cress Marissa Meyer

Macmillan Teen / FSG / Feiwel and Friends:
Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
The Rule of Three by Eric Walters
Hungry by H. A. Swain

Paizo:
Pathfinder Tales: The Dagger of Trust by Chris Willrich

Penguin:
The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian

Penguin Teen / Razor Bill / Dutton:
Space Rocks! by Tom O’Donnell
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Pyr:
Operation Shield by Joel Shepherd
Earth Star by Janet Edwards
The Silk Map by Chris Willrich

Random House / Vintage Books:
Robot Uprisings by Daniel H. Wilson

Random House Teen / Delacorte Press / Knopf:
Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill
Promise Bound by Anne Greenwood Brown
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen by Nicholas Christopher

Roc:
Fallout by James K. Decker

Scholastic:
The Quantum League #1: Spell Robbers by Matthew J. Kirby
Infinity Ring Book 7: The Iron Empire by James Dashner
The Finisher by David Baldacci
Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott
The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Simon & Schuster / Atria / Emily Bestler Books:
Conquest by John Connolly

Titan Books:
Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon

Tor:
Transhuman by Ben Bova
The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher

WMG Publishing:
The Enemy Within by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

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