The Companions – Book Review

The Companions by Katie M. Flynn

Synopsis:
The consciousness of the dead can be uploaded to machines and kept in service of the living. For the wealthy, this means an opportunity to remain with their families long after their physical bodies have deteriorated. For the less fortunate, they are destined to be rented out to strangers as the intellectual property of the corporation that owns them. But one young woman, Lilac, is about to change everything…

What does it mean to be human? Can human consciousness be owned? Is defying death a gift or a prison? What if identity theft truly meant having all your thoughts, memories, and experiences stolen?

Review:
The Companions is a unique novel, as told from eight different characters over a course of time. We’re first introduced to Lilac who becomes a Companion for a young girl. She has all the memories and personality of who she was before, but limited to a robot body. But an act of rebellion steers can change the course of Companions forever.

This is an impressive debut. Each character was so unique and well-crafted that it was easy to jump into each scenario. And I got wrapped up in each narrative. This was an emotional roller coaster with plenty of suspense and heartache. I do wish some things were better explained, like why the companions artificial bodies deteriorated so fast and why there weren’t ways around that. And the ending felt a little disjointed and unfinished.
But overall, I really enjoyed this strange and tragic tale.

Artemis Fowl: How to Be a LEPrecon – Book Giveaway

Courtesy of Disney Press, I have a copy of Artemis Fowl: How to Be a LEPrecon by Matthew K. Manning for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends May 15. I’ll draw a name on May 16, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read moreArtemis Fowl: How to Be a LEPrecon – Book Giveaway

Wizard for Hire: Magic Required – Book Review

Wizard for Hire: Magic Required by Obert Skye

Synopsis:

The final answer to the existence of magic.

Ozzy and his friend Sigi are in more danger than ever before. After being injected with the mindcontrolling serum, Ozzy is learning to control the minds of people, but he is still being hunted by Ray, the power-mad villain who will stop at nothing to find and possess the formula. And on top of that, Rin still claims he’s a wizard, but he and Clark are missing, leaving Ozzy to wonder once again if magic really does exist.

When it becomes apparent that the minds and free will of all mankind are in danger of being controlled by whoever controls the serum, Ozzy and Sigi join forces with strange new friends that claim magic-like abilities. When Rin finally returns, Ozzy will discover once and for all what happened to his parents, what really happens at those popular fantasy conventions, and if magic truly exists.

Review:
Magic Required is the third installment in the Wizard for Hire series. Rin and Clark have returned. But Rin has a mysterious mission that he doesn’t share with anyone. Ozzy and Sigi have been trying to return to a normal life, while waiting for Rin to return. Meanwhile, the villain Ray will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

Just when you think you think you have Rin and his magic figured out, we get another curve-ball that makes you doubt everything. I love how we’re kept guessing. Yet there is a satisfying ending. I thoroughly enjoyed this magical trilogy with quirky characters. There is plenty of humor, suspense, and heart in this middle grade adventure.

Tim Lebbon Guest Post: Eden Blog Tour

Author Tim Lebbon joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about horror and his latest release – Eden!

Natural Horror
by Tim Lebbon

I’ve always loved nature. As a kid we lived in the countryside and on a farm, and though we left that place when I was about 8 or 9, I still have many fond memories of damming streams, building dens in hay barns, and watching calfs being born. I’d leave home after breakfast and return home for our evening meal, spending the time wandering fields, woods and hillsides with friends, smarting from too much sun, not knowing that I’d been out making the memories of a lifetime.

We moved into a town when I was 9, and I lived there for the next eighteen years, before my wife and I bought a house in the village where we still live now. I’ll never go back to a town or city. I’m a country boy at heart, and I like nothing more than hiking, running, or cycling through the beautiful part of the world where we’re blessed enough to live.

Inevitable, then, that my love of nature would work its way into my fiction.

It’s actually present in a large amount of what I write, and if I analysed the 45 novels, dozens of novellas, and hundreds of short stories I’ve had published, I’m sure I’d find nature’s influence to some extent in a large proportion of my published work. My new novel Eden is perhaps more heavily influenced by my love of the wild than anything I’ve ever written. But the signs were always there.

In my novella The First Law (from the collection Faith in the Flesh, Razorblade Press 1998), a group of shipwrecked sailors are washed up on an island. At first they believe they’ve found salvation, but the truth proves very different. The island doesn’t want them there. It’s a paradise that’s inimical to humankind, and my characters go through some pretty gruelling times. I haven’t read this novella in maybe 20 years, but that final image still sticks with me…

My first mass market novel was The Nature of Balance, a work that very obviously takes our abuse of our planet as a central core. It’s a bit of a crazy novel in any ways, and I look back fondly on its weird concepts, surreal characters, and animals attacks. Those birds! That fox! I was also ridiculously smug with myself at my clever play on words for the title, although a small proportion of reviewers called it The Balance of Nature. Some people just rdea hwta tehy xptece ot ese.

A series of books I had great fun writing were the Noreela novels, four long novels and a few novellas and short stories set in my fantasy world of Noreela. The first two of these, Dusk and Dawn, came about when I decided to write a fantasy set in a world from which magic has withdrawn because of the land’s inhabitant’s misuse of it. I thought it was a pretty unique idea, and it also meant … I didn’t have to think up and stick to a magic system! It had its own challenges, but I also realised after I’d written it that it was another example of nature (in this case, magic and its connection to the land) taking exception to humanity’s abuse.

A later novel, The Silence (filmed with Stanley Tucci and Kiernan Shipka, available now on Netflix), was less a ‘nature’s revenge’ story, and more of a ‘we don’t know everything’ tale, when creatures who hunt by sound emerge from an isolated, cut off cave and have fun feeding upon any creature that makes a sound. The vesps were enjoyable natural monsters to create and have cause chaos, but the novel was also heavily driven by the landscape my family of survivors fled across, the chances of their survival significantly dependent on their surroundings.

And that leads me on to Eden, my latest novel, and the one that’s most heavily inspired by my fascination with the natural world and our place within it. Or, in Eden’s case, our removal from it.

Eden is one of the Virgin Zones, vast tracts of land given back to nature by the world’s governments. This is a novel of the near future, when the tipping point has been reached in the climate crisis, and humanity is doing what it can to survive, or even to turn things around. Of course, such wildernesses are tempting to those who love the wild … adventure races, trail runners. Hell, I’d LOVE to visit Eden.

Well, maybe. But not for long.

Because nature has once again found a good solid footing there, reestablishing itself, and the power of nature no longer welcomes humans into its beautiful fold.

It’s an adventure novel, with science fictional undertones, and of course a core of horror running rich and red throughout. I guess in some ways it’s a love note to nature, written from our planet’s point of view. And in Eden, nature is no longer impartial. It’s taking action.

The Revenge of Magic: The Future King – Book Review

The Revenge of Magic: The Future King by James Riley

Synopsis:
Dealing with monster attacks and his missing father has been hard enough for Fort Fitzgerald in his first month at the Oppenheimer School. But there’s another school for magic, this one in the United Kingdom, that’s about to create even bigger problems.

Six of the Carmarthen Academy students found themselves lost in time when they first started learning magic. Now they’ve returned, with news of a coming war that the students claim only they can stop.

But their new plan for the world might lead to an even worse future, one that Fort and his friends are destined to help bring about, no matter how much they might want to fight it.

Can Fort change the future that the Time students have already seen play out? Or is he destined to pay for his past mistakes for all of time?

Review:
The Future King is the third installment in this fast-paced, fantasy, adventure series for middle readers. This latest novel is adrenaline-filled from beginning to end. And though action-packed, I do wish there was the same amount of character development as before. This was the first time I kept getting a few of the minor characters confused with each other. But the story certainly moves along to a surprising, big finale. And, as before, the next in the series can’t come soon enough. This is a solid series with an engaging and unique world of magic.

Received in March

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

Amazon / 47 North:
Now, Then, and Everywhen by Rysa Walker

Del Rey:
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition by Rae Carson
The Fall of Shannara: The Last Druid by Terry Brooks
The Last Human by Zack Jordan
Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett

Disney Hyperion:
Chasing Helicity Through the Storm by Ginger Zee
Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Brightly Woven: The Graphic Novel by Alexandra Bracken

Harper Teen:
Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi

Harper Voyager:
The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag

Little, Brown:
Sword in the Stars by Cori McCarthy
Hawk by James Patterson

Macmillan Children / Feiwel and Friends:
The Challenger: Contender Book 2 by Taran Matharu
True or False by Cindy L Otis

Norton Young Readers:
Brightstorm A Sky Ship Adventure by Vashti Hardy

Saga:
Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang

Scholastic:
Wings of Fire: Legends: Dragonslayer by Tui T. Sutherland

Simon and Schuster Kids / Aladdin:
The Revenge of Magic: The Future King by James Riley

Subterranean Press:
Edited By by Ellen Datlow
Dispersion by Greg Egan
In the Shades of Men by Robert Jackson Bennett

Tor:
A Broken Queen by Sarah Kozloff
The Last Emperox by John Scalzi
Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott
The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer

Viking:
A Phoenix First Must Burn by Patrice Caldwell

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