Book Review: Chasing the Shadows

Chasing the Shadows – Maria V. Snyder – Sentinels of the Galaxy #2 – HarperCollins – Published 18 November 2019

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Synopsis

Lyra Daniels is dead. Okay, so I only died for sixty-six seconds. But when I came back to life, I got a brand new name and a snazzy new uniform. Go me! Seriously, though, it’s very important that Lyra Daniels stays dead, at least as far as my ex-friend Jarren, the murdering looter, knows.

While dying is the scariest thing that’s happened to me, it morphed my worming skills. I can manipulate the Q-net like never before. But Jarren has blocked us from communicating with the rest of the galaxy and now they believe we’ve gone silent, like Planet Xinji (where silent really means dead).

A Protector Class spaceship is coming to our rescue, but we still have to survive almost two years before they arrive – if they arrive at all. Until then, we have to figure out how to stop an unstoppable alien threat. And it’s only a matter of time before Jarren learns I’m not dead and returns to finish what he started.

There’s no way I’m going to let Jarren win. Instead I’ll do whatever it takes to save the people I love. But even I’m running out of ideas…

My thoughts

Chasing the Shadows is the exciting second book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy series. As a huge Maria V. Snyder fan, I was thrilled to be able to continue this story that is one part archaeology-action and the other technology-hacking, space science-fiction.

Chasing the Shadows picks up right where the first book left off, and continues Lyra’s investigation into the Terracotta Warriors that grace planets across the galaxy, the looters who are destroying the Warriors, the invisible creatures who attack, leaving planets desolate, and the hacker who has put a target on Lyra’s back. But Lyra, with the help of her archaeologist parents, security officer boyfriend and his head of security father, is more than up for the task of this four-pronged investigation. Especially, as Lyra’s already exceptional worming skills (her ability to navigate the Quantum Net ((think internet on steroids)) without detection) are increasing with surprising results.

Lyra is, once again, our narrator, with her usual humour and propensity of mischief. The writing style puts the reader right alongside Lyra and it’s as if Lyra is chatting to the reader. She continuously makes little asides to the reader, comments on what she is saying or thinking, often as a way to explain or excuse something. This gives her a young voice, which is a little in contrast to her age, her worming abilities, her ideas for improving security and even mature leadership skills (not to mention her increasingly physical relationship with Niall).

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Book Review: War Girls

War Girls – Tochi Onyebuchi – War Girls #1 – Razorbill – Published 15 October 2019

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Synopsis

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.

In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.

Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.

And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.

My thoughts

With heartbreaking reflection of the Nigerian Civil War but with a high-tech futurist twist, War Girls is a homage to sisterhood and family forged by the bonds of loss in a detailed sci-fi war novel.

Onyii and Ify are sisters, living in hiding in a secret camp for girls. Both their lives have been touched by the violence of the war in Nigeria. Climate change, nuclear destruction, famine and political unrest have left the country war-torn by battles led by drones, droids and augmented soldiers (those with bionic limbs and tech implants). When a raid on the camp sees the sisters torn apart, they must reconcile their new positions on opposite sides of the war.

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Book Review: Rogue

Rogue – A.J. Betts – The Vault #1 – Pan Australia – Published 26 June 2018

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Synopsis

There was no going back; there was no choice, anymore. I’d chosen out and this was it: hot-cold, dry-wet, bright-dark and lonely.

Hayley has gone rogue.

She’s left everything she’s ever known – her friends, her bees, her whole world – all because her curiosity was too big to fit within the walls of the underwater home she was forced to flee.

But what is this new world she’s come to? Has Hayley finally found somewhere she can belong?

Or will she have to keep running?

My thoughts

Rogue is the second book in the two book dystopian series, The Vault. As the follow-up to Hive, Rogue took the world of Hive and blew it wide open. With the same curious and ever-searching main character and even more incredible descriptions of the surrounding landscape, Rogue gives readers and Hayley the answers they were searching for in book one.

Hayley had so many questions and when the son gave her the option to leave her confined life behind and explore what else was out there, she took it. Now, Hayley finds herself in a place she never could have imagined, with new creatures, landscapes and rules. But she can’t forget the people she left behind, and, as she learns more about this new world, she isn’t sure if she should let her old world go or if she should share her new-found discoveries.

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Book Review: Hive

Hive – A.J. Betts – The Vault #1 – Pan Australia – Published 26 June 2018

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Synopsis

Hayley tends to her bees and follows the rules in the only world she has ever known.

Until she witnesses the impossible: a drip from the ceiling.

A drip? It doesn’t make sense.

Yet she hears it, catches it. Tastes it.

Curiosity is a hook.

What starts as a drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.

My thoughts

Hive is a unique dystopian story. Intricately crafted, the world beautifully written, this gentle and compelling story is just the start of an exciting two-book series. The narrator, alongside the reader, knows only of the day-to-day rhythm of life and the stories she has been told. As she questions, explores and discovers scant details, she, and the reader, learns there is far more to the world than she could have expected.

Hayley is a beekeeper. It is her job to tend the Hive, just one of the gardeners in the gardener house, one of the six houses, that rely on water from the source and follow the patterns set out by the generations before them. But Hayley has a secret, one that has her questioning everything around and soon the walls of her world seem to hem her in. But will questioning provide the answers she is looking for?

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Book Review: Sherwood

Sherwood – Meagan Spooner – HarperTeen – Published 19 March 2019

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Synopsis

Robin of Locksley is dead. 

When news comes that he’s fallen in battle at the King’s side in the Holy Land, Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on. Betrothed to Robin, she was free to be herself, to flout the stifling rules of traditional society and share an equal voice with her beloved when it came to caring for the people of her land.

Now Marian is alone, with no voice of her own. The people of Locksley, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, are doomed to live in poverty or else face death by hanging. The dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley, and Marian’s fiancé. Society demands that she accept her fate, and watch helplessly as her people starve.

When Marian dons Robin’s green cloak, and takes up his sword and bow, she never intended that anyone should mistake her for Robin, returned from the Holy Land as a vigilante. She never intended that the masked, cloaked figure she created should stand as a beacon of hope and justice to peasant and noble alike. She never intended to become a legend.

But all of Nottingham is crying out for a savior. So Marian must choose to make her own fate and become her own hero…

My thoughts

Sherwood is impressive in every way. From the twists that come from nowhere and endless heart-stopping adventure to the familiar but new cast of characters, Meagan Spooner has breathed new life into this old favourite, classic legend. Sherwood is perfect for fans of retellings or fantasy that focuses more on adventure and historic details. From start to finish this wonderful book swept me away and kept me entranced – I can’t wait to share this with so many readers. It’s going to be one of those books I shove into people’s hands and say, “you must read this, you’ll love it, it’s simply brilliant.”

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Book Review: The Disasters

The Disasters – M.K. England – HarperTeen – Published 18 December 2018

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Synopsis

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

My thoughts

Well, that was a whole bunch of fun. With spaceship chases, a plot to wipe out the population of both Earth and all the new colonised planets, grand theft spaceship, diverse characters, humour, advanced tech, and plenty of space-y action, The Disasters is a fun and thrilling new YA sci-fi. It will entice fans of Guardians of the Galaxy and thrill sci-fi readers.

Nax is being kicked out of The Academy. He and three others have failed in their dream to use the Academy space program to launch themselves to a new life on a planet or spaceship in a different solar system. But as their shuttle is about to leave the Academy on Ellis Station, they witness the attack and brutal murder of all the occupants of the station. Making a daring escape on the shuttle, these four rejects suddenly find themselves as the only people aware of the plot to wipe out Earth, and the only ones who can stop it.

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Book Review: Navigating The Stars

Navigating the Stars – Maria V. Snyder – Sentinels of the Galaxy #1 – Harlequin – Published 19 November 2018

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Synopsis

Year 2471. A new discovery. Those three words thrill my parents – the galaxy’s leading archaeologists – but for me, it means another time jump to a different planet. One so big, my friends will be older than my dad when we arrive. And I’ll still be seventeen. Thanks, Einstein. I really can’t blame Einstein, though. No one expected to find life-sized terracotta warriors buried on other planets. So off we go to investigate, traveling through space and time. With my social life in ruins, I fill my days illegally worming into the quantum net – the invention that allows us to travel in space. Of course the only person close to my age is a hot-but-pain-in-the-neck security officer who threatens to throw me into the brig. But when one of the warrior planets goes silent, we have bigger problems on our hands. The planet’s entire population might be dead. And now my worming skills, along with a translation of an ancient alien artefact, might be the key to finding out why. But my attempts to uncover the truth lead to the discovery of a deadly new alien phenomenon, and also alert those who wish to keep it quiet. The galaxy is in real danger and time is not on our side…

My thoughts

I am a huge fan of Synder’s Ixia Chronicles and her Outside In series, so when I heard she was writing a new sci-fi novel I knew I just had to read it. I am so glad that HarperCollins Australia went ahead with publishing – yay Australia! Navigating the Stars is full of adventure, awesome advanced technology, romance, archaeology, hacking, code breaking and trouble-making. With Synder’s signature writing style and touch of humour and banter, Navigating the Stars is sure to thrill all her devoted fans and entice many new readers to join the ranks of her followers.

Lyra lives on planet Xinji – one of hundreds found after the discovery of the quantum net and the ability to crinkle time, moving tens of years through space in a matter of days. Her parents are archaeologists working to uncover the mystery of the thousands of Chinese Terracotta Warriors buried on planets spread throughout the Milky Way. But when a new planet is discovered, it means Lyra is forced to follow her parents deeper into space, leaving behind her friends and her planned future. But big discoveries await and this time Lyra will find herself right in the middle of the big and dangerous discoveries.

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Book Review: This Cruel Design

This Cruel Design – Emily Suvada – This Mortal Coil #2 – Simon Pulse – Published 30 October 2018

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Synopsis

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.

My thoughts

Absolutely stunning. This Cruel Design is the epic second book in the This Mortal Coil series and it is every bit as incredible, well-written, and addictive as the first book. This Cruel Design lived up to every expectation and high standard set by its predecessor. Fast-faced and intelligent, This Cruel Design ramps up the tension and the stakes, introducing new characters and pushing the boundaries on everything once thought possible for genetics and technology.

Cat might have found a vaccine for the deadly Hydra plague, but the journey has revealed secrets that shattered her world and has left her reeling, no longer truly knowing who she is or what her purpose should be. Camping in the woods with Cole and Leoben, Cat is hoping for a chance to regroup and decide on her next move, but time is running out if she is going to prevent Lachlan from reprogramming humanity. She also needs to learn how to control her new panel and deal with the memory glitches that threaten to reveal more secrets.

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Book Review: Wildcard

Wildcard – Marie Lu – Warcross #2 – G.P Putnam’s Sons – Published 18 September

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Synopsis

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

My thoughts

In Wildcard, Marie Lu once again plunges readers into the neon-coloured sci-fi world of Warcross, where computer gaming is taken to the next level and where the tech that enables a fully immersive experience is now a threat to the freedom of humanity.

After her accidental and startling exposure to the Warcross Championships that led to a fight that put her life on the line, Emika Chen is still reeling from her discovery about tech genius and love-interest Hideo Tanaka’s intentions for his NeuroLink technology. Torn between the boy she has always admired and recently fell in love with and her gut that tells her what he is doing is wrong, Emika is forced to join with the shady Blackcoats. But has she put her trust in the wrong people?

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Book Review: Access Restricted

Access Restricted – Gregory Scott Katsoulis – Word$ #2 – Harlequin Teen – Published 28 August 2018

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Synopsis

At the end of All Rights Reserved, Speth and her friends freed the city of Vermaine from Silas Rog and his oppressive litigation. But now, with the Wi-Fi untethered, the citizens of her city are looking to Speth to lead them. Just as Speth never intended to lead a rebellion of Silents, she has no idea how to begin putting Vermaine back to rights. All she wants to do is break out of the dome and track down her parents, who were sold into indentured servitude years before. Leaving the care of the city in the hands of her friend and mentor, Kel, Speth and a few friends embark on a journey to explore the rest of their world and spread the cause of freedom.

My thoughts

Access Restricted is the sequel to the amazing and scarily possible All Rights Reserved. With just as much action and intrigue, Access Restricted once again delves into a world where every form of communication is owned and fees charged accordingly, where history and knowledge have become propriety information only accessible to those with wealth and standing, where one girl unwittingly became the leader in an uprising, and where that girl must once again risk everything for a chance of a better future.

There has been much debate in my high-schoolers book club, who all adored All Rights Reserved, if a sequel was needed. The first book could, arguably, be concluded and left as it was. Others suggested they were happy with the ending, and that any more could possibly ruin the awesomeness of the first book. Others still, myself included, desperately wanted more -more of Speth, more of her accidental rebellion and uprising, and more explanation of the world in which she lives and the consequences for her actions. Would everything she had already done and sacrificed really change things? Had it really made a difference?

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