Selected

After a polarized nation was broken by the threat of civil war, States have now become countries. And in New Maine, things have gotten worse.

Giving my family a better life is everything. And my selection to attend an elite prep school suddenly offers my family a dramatically different life—food on the table, a roof over their heads, and a fighting chance at a future.

Everything is going great until some of my friends begin ghosting me, and then disappear. Soon it becomes clear this “chance of a lifetime” isn’t the Holy Grail I was promised. And the attention from one of Easton’s elite has me questioning why a boy with a golden future wants to risk it by being seen with me.

But when I find out why I’m really at this school, I may have to trust him if I want to live.

Selected, Barb Han
February 3rd, 2020

The worldbuilding really pulled me into Selected, but the struggle of the characters kept me engaged. In the future, the United States are no longer united nor states. They are fifty separate countries. We watch the story unfold in New Maine.

Much like it has always been, high school is made up of labels: Cerebrals, Athletes, Tech Nerds, Legacies, and the Sponsored. And everyone is competing for the best scores to get into college. Victoria, Tori to her friends, is a Sponsored student. She was admitted to Easton because of her special skills in dancing. While she is a student her family will have food and housing, but she has a very strict set of rules to follow otherwise she’ll lose that status and her family won’t be cared for.

She tries hard to stay in line but it’s not long before she realizes students are disappearing. Determined to find out where they’ve gone, Tori enlists the help of her boyfriend Caius, a Legacy. Slipping out at night risks Tori’s sponsorship, and her family’s well being.

I hope there are more books planned because the world left me wanting more (in a good way). This system, these new countries, and the history are all incredibly intriguing.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Debian Perl Digital Detective: The Memory Thief

Megalopolis used to be the city hub for all the makers, doers, and dreamers. It was a better time according to Debian Perl, a technomancer known for her out-of-date computer programming skills. Now the city streets are filled with “Egg-heads,” those in thrall to the ease and simplicity of new technology as opposed to Debian’s way of doing things. Digits is one of those Egg-heads. She is a young social media guru and knows her way around all the newest, latest technology.

Debian and Digits cross paths when they both stumble across a 100-year-old lost robot named Ray-Bot. They soon learn that Ray-Bot’s CPU was suspiciously overclocked, leaving him unable to perform basic functions and commands. To find out where the robot came from, Debian must teach Digits everything she knows about computer coding and programming. Along their journey to bring Ray-Bot home, they begin piecing together the mysterious puzzle about his malfunction and uncover some sinister secrets.

Debian Perl: Digital Detective is a five-book series in which middle-grade readers will join Debian and Digits on mystery adventures all while building practical knowledge of coding, algorithms, algebra, and logical problem-solving.

Goodreads, 2019

OKAY. WOW. HOW CUTE. I LOVE THIS. THERE’S SUBTLE QUEERNESS. THERE’S CODING AND SCIENCE AND THE ART. IS. AMAZING.

*cough* Ahem. Now. Onto the review.

This was seriously one of the cutest graphic novels I’ve read this year. I LOVED the art style–the poppy, bright colors, the funky future-punk designs. It was just a JOY to experience.

The story itself is pretty straightforward: someone’s stole a robot’s memory card, thus hiding a serious crime. What I loved the most was the blending of old and new tech, of the general educational feel of this story, and the subtle (and some not-so-subtle) themes of acceptance, sentience, and the good of all.

This graphic novel is PERFECT for teachers, librarians, and any kid looking to learn a little more about coding. It’s got so many great things to it and I can’t wait for the next in the series!

My rating: ★★★★☆

Mirage ★★★★★

32768520.jpgOnce in a while, there comes a book where you go into it with almost no expectations, in a genre you only occasionally read, where you go into it with an open mind. And then it consumes your entire life.

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked up Mirage–part of it came from the fact that I loved the cover. Part of it because I wanted to explore sci-fi more. And part of it because I was eager for a new diverse voice in the market.

And Mirage blew me away. I was caught immediately, and it wasn’t letting me go. It was brutal, beautiful and unabashedly amazing. I loved Amani, I loved the romance (though I tried not to at first) and I loved the world.

THIS WORLD.

Somaiya Daud has an AMAZING voice and showed us an AMAZING world filled with richness and splendor. I saw everything, could feel the things Amani felt and saw. I couldn’t put this book down to the point where I was late getting off my break at work.

I rooted for Amani from the get-go. I watched wide-eyed at how her relationship with Maram and Idris changed throughout the book. I cried (of course I did) towards the end.

And all I need right now is to a) read it again, b) shove it at all my friend’s faces because WOW and c) that sequel because OMG the ending left me shattered.

I can’t recommend Mirage hard enough. If I could float down from the heavens like some sort of Bookish Angel, heralding the good news of how much I loved this damn book, I could. But alas, a lack of wings. But I’ll shout it from every Tweet and newsletter and in podcast episode!

Zero Repeat Forever – ★★★★☆

Pre-order Zero Repeat Forever here!

28945665When the apocalypse comes and the invading Nahx destroy civilization, Raven struggles to survive with her friends in a world that’s slowly burning. A dark and lonely sci-fi story, Zero Repeat Forever was enthralling—but also a little disappointing.

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other…

I will 100% admit that I was drawn to Zero Repeat Forever by its shiny cover. It’s just so pretty. Take a minute to really cherish it.

Now back to this story.

On my list of favorite genres, Sci-fi trails somewhere in the middle of the list; it’s not my favorite, but I don’t dislike it. I find it hard to get into, most of the time. Zero Repeat Forever was half sci-fi, half apocalypse story. I couldn’t even call it a dystopia, since that would mean there was some sort of societal order to the setting, but there was just death and invasion.

I was intrigued by the dual POVs of the story, one of Raven, a human girl lost in the wilderness with some camping friends, trying to survive after the aliens invade, and the other was Eighth, a Nahx boy who’s “defective” and rebels against his people.

The survival plot was intense and definitely the reason I kept reading, but for most of the books, as the characters are traveling to and from certain points, not much happens. As my good friend J.M. Tuckerman likes to put it, “a whole heck of a lot of nothing happens. Twice.”

My biggest gripe with the story was that we didn’t even really get a sense of what the Nahx were doing, even though half of the book is written in one of their perspectives. We don’t know where they really came from, what they were doing on Earth and what their goals were. And I understand not knowing what the characters don’t know, but little hints dropped from Eighth’s perspective, just little bits and pieces we could try to put together would have made the story that much better.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, but the ending was ultimately unsatisfying. Had we known more about what the Nahx were up to and how their process worked, the ending might have had a bit more weight to it. I won’t spoil anything, but I felt like the ending was too abrupt and it’s obvious it’s supposed to be setting up a sequel—but I would have liked at least some loose ends wrapped up, or certain things revealed.

G.S. Prendergast’s Website . Twitter

Zero Repeat Forever releases on August 29th, 2017.

Episode #4: The First Book

 

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http://bookedallnight.podbean.com/e/episode-4-the-first-book/

Listen to this episode and other episodes of the podcast on Podbean.

Jumping off a previous discussion, Maggie and Jess talk about the first book they read in a variety of genres and relive some shameful titles.


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Waiting on Wednesday #5

Want

Publication Date: June 13th, 2017

Buy it here!

71CkxWRUEbL.jpgFrom critically acclaimed author Cindy Pon comes an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thriller, set in a near-future Taipei plagued by pollution, about a group of teens who risk everything to save their city.

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

I’ve been dipping my toes into sci-fi a bit more recently, and Want has everything I seem to like: dystopian, futuristic setting, teens struggling to make a difference, and set in a non-Western location? Heck yeah! Also, look how shiny that cover is!

Beyond the Red ★★★★★

21414439.jpgWhen it comes to the broad sibling genre of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, I’ve always been more in the favor of Fantasy. But Beyond The Red by Ava Jae showed me a whole new world within the Sci-Fi realm, and I have fallen in love.

Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

– Goodreads

I’ve been a long time follower of Ava Jae’s writing advice Writability (and you should be too!), and when I heard that their debut was coming, I was ecstatic. Surely, someone who gives such great and dependable writing advice should have written an amazing book, right? And Ava delivered, beyond all expectations.

Reading the book of someone who you hold in high regard due to their advice can feel like you’re walking on a fine line. On one hand, their book could not hold up to your expectations, and fall flat, thereby disillusioning you to their advice. It could be just plain bad and you’ll forever doubt any sort of advice they may try to give, because clearly their advice wasn’t good enough if they didn’t follow it. But, like in the case of Beyond the Red, it could be everything you could have ever hoped for and more.

I felt deeply connected to Ava’s characters, rooting for them from the start. Ava’s writing is rich and powerful, and their prose is almost lyrical when read. The book has a strong set of characters, all with their different agendas, and the story itself has the potential to become a classic and a staple in the sci-fi/fantasy community.

My one and only gripe comes from the sudden end of the book, which sets up for a sequel, and perhaps it comes from my deep need to know more and submerge myself in the world of Sefara. I want more world-building, more stories, a comprehensive guide to the Sephari language, a history of all things Sephari and how humans came to the world. I essentially want this to become as wide and detailed as Harry Potter or LoTR, where I can learn the language and read everything there ever is to read about this story.

Goodreads . Amazon . B&N . Indie . Author Page

REVIEW: Wind Catcher Review ★★☆☆☆

I read Wind Catcher by Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef for free in exchange for an honest review at netgalley.com Spoilers below the cut!

I was very excited to start this book; the main character, Juliet Stone, is Native American and is caught up in a strange series of ievents and learns she has special powers. Pretty much everything I look forward to in a character. But Wind Catcher was a disappointment from the first chapter.

Silverwood ★★★★☆

cover59131-mediumBetsy Streeter’s Silverwood comes out tomorrow (March 11th, 2015) and believe me, you’re going to want it on your shelf!

At age 14, Helen Silverwood, and her 9 year old brother Henry, are tired of the constant and inexplicable moving. Helen doesn’t understand her recurring dreams about the Tromindox, which, as Henry will explain, are “time traveling predators that feed exclusively on humans… they kill people and eat them.”

Got your attention now, don’t I?

Silverwood ★★★★☆

cover59131-mediumBetsy Streeter‘s Silverwood comes out tomorrow (March 11th, 2015) and believe me, you’re going to want it on your shelf!

At age 14, Helen Silverwood, and her 9 year old brother Henry, are tired of the constant and inexplicable moving. Helen doesn’t understand her recurring dreams about the Tromindox, which, as Henry will explain, are “time traveling predators that feed exclusively on humans… they kill people and eat them.”

Got your attention now, don’t I?