Book Review: Amid Stars and Darkness

Amid Stars and Darkness – Chani Lynn Feener – The Xenith Trilogy #1 – Swoon Reads – Published 18 July 2017

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Synopsis

Delaney’s entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on Earth in order to escape an arranged marriage.

Kidnapped by the princess’s head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race.

No pressure or anything.

Factor in Trystan, the princess’s terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets, and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.

My thoughts

Amid Stars and Darkness is an enjoyable science-fiction novel. It mixes lots of romance with a touch of suspense in a story where aliens regularly visit Earth and a human girl is forced to experience life on an alien planet first hand.

When Delaney is mistaken as the alien princess, Lissa Olena, from a neighbouring planet, she is forcibly removed from Earth by Olena’s bodyguard. It’s one thing to know aliens walk around on Earth, Delaney’s even met a few, but it’s very different pretending to be their princess. She will have to convince everyone she is Olena – even Olena’s betrothed – if she is to prevent a war.

Every so often I have the desire to read a really epic fantasy or sci fi. Something that transports me to a vivid place far, far away. Amid Stars and Darkness certainly captured my attention. I enjoyed disappearing into its pages and the world building was good, even if I would have enjoyed seeing a lot more of the society, culture, and landscape of the alien world. The alien world is actually quite familiar to our Earth. It makes it easy to recognise, different enough to feel ‘alien’, but is ultimately very similar. Technology is more advanced, but no more than something Tony Stark might carry with him. The aliens are all physically and anatomically the same as humans, and while they have different names for ranks and roles, most are parallel to those on Earth. There are also no changes in gravity or atmosphere. Food, animals and plant life were the things that were slightly different but all had reference points to earthly things. Actually, this book sometimes felt a little like Stephenie Meyer’s The Host and it does share a few similarities – a girl with another girl’s face and identity, two guys, one seemingly the enemy the other a nice ally, and, despite the universe being much bigger than originally known, a restricted setting.

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Book Review: Defy The Stars

Defy the Stars – Claudia Gray – Constellation #1 – Little, Brown Books – Published 4 April 2017

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Synopsis

She’s a soldier. Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine. Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

My thoughts

Don’t you just love it when a book surprises you? I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Defy The Stars. It just seemed to get better and better. It was clever. It was original. It had so much packed into it. It made me want to desperately read the next book in the series and yet, at the same time, I was totally content with the story just as it was. It made me fall in love with science fiction all over again and reminded me just how good it can be.

Noemi is a solider from Genesis, sworn to sacrifice her life to protect her planet from Earth’s forces who want to destroy Genesis just like they have Earth. Abel is a machine. One of the most advanced robots ever created. But 30 years stuck on an abandoned spaceship has left his wiring a little crossed and he longs for freedom. When Noemi discovers Abel while on a rescue mission, she also discovers that Abel holds the key to protecting her planet from Earth forever. She commands his help and together they explore the galaxy, putting into place her plan. But Abel is growing ever more human, and Noemi is running out of time.

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Book Review: Empress of a Thousand Skies

Empress of a Thousand Skies

Empress of a Thousand Skies – Rhoda Belleza – Razorbill – Published 7 February 2017

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Synopsis

Empress
Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Fugitive
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

Madman
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

My thoughts

Empress of a Thousand Skies is compelling and action-driven science fiction. Planets and their moons, droids, holos, space craft, and a plot to keep the crown princess from taking her throne as Empress, it has a very Star Wars feel to it.

Rhee knows that she must one day take her place as Empress. But before that she plans to enact her revenge on the man who killed her family. Rhee has planned her revenge for years, but an attempt is made on her own life before she can act on her plans. Adrift in the galaxy, she is on the run. Meanwhile, Aly is framed for the princess’s murder and he too becomes entangled in the plot to return war to the planets.

Empress of a Thousand Skies is told in alternating chapters from Rhee and Aly’s perspectives. They come so very close to meeting many times in the novel and yet they never do connect. Instead their story lines run almost parallel as they uncover the motives behind those who killed Rhee’s parents and who plan to kill Rhee.

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Book Review: Split The Sun

split-the-sun

Split The Sun – Tessa Elwood – Inherit The Stars Trilogy #2 – Running Kids Press – Published 6 December 2016

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Synopsis

The Ruling Lord of the House of Galton is dead, and the nation is in shock—or celebrating, depending on the district. Kit Franks would be more than happy to join him.
Kit’s mother bombed the digital core of the House, killing several and upending the nation’s information structure. No one wants the daughter of a terrorist. Kit lost her job, her aunt wants her evicted, her father is using her as a shield against a drug lord, a group of political rebels need Kit to ignite an interplanetary war, and the boy two floors down keeps jacking up her suicide attempts—as if she has a life worth saving.
When Mom-the-terrorist starts showing up on feeds and causing planet-wide blackouts, everyone looks to Kit for an answer. The rebels want Mom on their side. The government needs to stop Mom’s digital virus from spreading before there’s no record of government left. Both sides will do anything, destroy anyone, to make Kit crack. They believe she’s the key to Mom’s agenda and the House’s future. Worst of all, they may be right.
Kit’s having dreams she can’t explain, remembering conversations that no longer seem innocent, understanding too much coded subtext in Mom’s universal feed messages. Everyone, from Mom to the rebels, has a vision of Kit’s fate—locked, sealed, and ready to roll. The question is, does Kit have a vision for herself?

My thoughts

Split The Sun mixes fast-paced and edgy drama, action, family, romance and one hell of a resilient character to create an addictive story.

Kit has achieved a status of notoriety thanks to her mother blowing up their planet’s archive. Kit is left feeling both guilt and hopelessness, despite her ignorance about her mother’s deadly plans, despite what the rest of the planet chooses to think about her. But it seems like no one will let Kit fade into the obscurity she craves – not the crowds who lay blame, the government who seek answers, a rebel group of protestors that think Kit might live up to her mother’s apparent glory, her family who only want to take from her, nor the boy who lives in the apartment above Kit. Kit will need to decide what she will fight for – if anything.

Split The Sun is the second book in the Inherit the Stars series. It is more like a companion book, with a different set of characters and different plot line, but set in the same world and with the same mix of action, sci-fi adventure and romance. I think I enjoyed Split The Sun more than I did Inherit The Stars. Both are great books but I really connected with Kit. I had initially expected Split the Sun to continue the story of Eagle and Asa from Inherit the Stars, but wasn’t disappointed at all in Kit. She is a fantastic character. Continually knocked down, she is on the very edge of giving up and yet she cares so much about people, does everything she can for the people that treat her like rubbish. Her resilience and strength is amazing. 

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Book Review: Infinity

infinity

Infinity – Jus Accardo – The Infinity Division #1 – Entangled: Teen – Published 1 November 2016

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Synopsis

Jump dimensions. Find the bad guy. Don’t fall in love.

Nobody said being the daughter of an army general was easy. But when her dad sends a teenage subordinate to babysit her while he’s away? That’s taking it a step too far.

Cade, as beautiful as he is deadly, watches Kori with more than just interest. He looks at her like he knows her very soul. And when he saves her from a seemingly random attack, well, that’s when things get weird.

Turns out, Kori’s dad isn’t just an army general—he’s the head of a secret government project that has invented a way to travel between parallel dimensions. Dimensions where there are infinite Koris, infinite Cades…and apparently, on every other Earth, they’re madly in love.

Falling for a soldier is the last thing on Kori’s mind. Especially when she finds herself in a deadly crossfire, and someone from another Earth is hell-bent on revenge…

My thoughts

Infinity is the exciting start to a new series, with a complicated love story, sci-fi inter-world travel, a dangerous bad guy set on revenge across worlds, and an independent and feisty protagonist. It sets the scene for what promises to be a fun series.

Kori’s father, general in the US army, has left on duty once again. But not before laying down his punishment for her sneaking away from home in the middle of the night and contributing to her town’s artwork. Some might call it vandalism, she calls it bringing colour and beauty to dark places. But her new babysitters are unlike the stuffy soldiers her father usually sticks her with. Young, loud, messily dressed and hot, Private Cade and Recruit Noah are hiding secrets from Kori – secrets that could throw her life into chaos and change everything she has ever known about her world and family.

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Display: Books From Outer Space

  Outer Space Display

world-space-week

This was a quick display to tie into World Space Week, held this year from 4-10 October 2016. More information about World Space Week can be found on their website.

The titles displayed are all sci-fi titles with some sort of space tie-in, whether it is visitors from outer-space or intergalactic journeys.

I included the World Space Week poster. The stars were left-over from a previous Book Week display, and the Tardis and spaceship complete this simple display. It helps that the board has a black backing. I used the font SF Outer Limits from 1001 Fonts.

Book Review: Spare and Found Parts

Spare and Found Parts

Spare and Found Parts – Sarah Maria Griffin – Greenwillow Books – Published 4 October 2016

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Synopsis

Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?

Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

My thoughts

Spare and Found Parts is a steampunk-like sci-fi, set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world. It is a strange story, hopeful, intriguing and yet slightly off-putting, inspired by Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Nell lives in a world where computers are a word whispered in fear. Computers caused the sickness that spread through the city, killing many and leaving others missing arms, legs or ears. The city is slowly rebuilding and now tech is used only as body parts in place of those that were lost in the sickness. The idea of tech that can think for itself is terrifying. But not for Nell. She longs to construct a machine that can be brought to life, longs to uncover the meaning behind code and understand what computers could do for her city.

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Book Review: Night Speed

Night Speed

Night Speed – Chris Howard – Katherine Tegen – Published 3 May 2016

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Synopsis

Only those young enough can survive the pulse-pounding rush of tetra, a dangerous and addictive new drug that fuels a nine-minute burst of superhuman strength and speed. Alana West has been trained to use the drug so she can pursue the young criminals who abuse its power—criminals like the breakneck who nearly killed her kid brother.

On tetra, Alana is unstoppable. The rush makes her an explosive blur as she surges through New York City, battling to bring down breaknecks before they leave more people dead or injured in their wake. But with the clock ticking down to her eighteenth birthday, Alana will soon be too old for the rush…when just one more dose will prove deadly.

Supported only by her strong and steady handler, Tucker, Alana goes undercover, infiltrating an elite gang of breaknecks to stop the supply of their drug. But when Alana gets trapped on the wrong side of the law, she learns the breaknecks are not quite what they seem—especially Ethan, the artistic boy whose bottomless brown eyes seem to see the truth inside her. With her own dependency on tetra increasing, Alana must decide where her loyalties lie before the rush ends. Forever.

My thoughts

Night Speed is an action-packed thriller but I think it speaks louder as a statement about the tight hold drugs have over the mind and heart, the blurred lines between right and wrong and the fight addicts must go through to reclaim themselves.

Alana started her use of tetra in an effort to fight the breaknecks who take the drug to commit crimes, using the high speed rush to fuel their getaway. But Alana has become enamoured of the rush tetra provides and the distance between the good guys and the bad guys shrinks when Alana is blamed for a breakneck’s death. She decides to go undercover to take down the source of tetra once and for all.

Night Speed addresses a poignant topic considering the parallels to today’s prevalence of drug use. I spent the majority of the book unsure what the underlying message was, that drugs were okay if the rush was worth the fallout or that drugs take everything from you. I think this is reflective of the grey areas of life and it certainly kept me guessing. However, despite the high percentage of rush chases, shoot outs, fights and armed robbery, this was a slow read for me.     Continue reading

Book Review: The Love That Split the World

The Love that Split the World

The Love That Split the World – Emily Henry – Razorbill – Published 26 January 2016

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Synopsis

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

My thoughts

Ahhhh. That ending. Perfect, yet… Arhhhh. Read it. It is so worth reading. Clever, frustrating, sad and charming, The Love That Split the World is an epic story.

It is Natalie Cleary’s last summer in her home town of Union, Kentucky, before she leaves for college. She can’t help but reflect on her friendships, her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and the way she has withdrawn from her life-as-it-used-to-be over the last three years. Natalie is accustomed to being different, both because she is the only Native American in the town and because throughout her childhood she saw and spoke to people no one else could see. It was the sudden absence of these people, particularly the loveable ‘Grandmother’, that changed her life. But when Nat once again starts to see things that ‘aren’t there’ and Grandmother returns to issue a warning “You have three months to save him”, things get complicated, fast, especially when she meets the gorgeous and mysterious Beau who seems to exist as if in another world.  Continue reading