Tag Archive | aliens

Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Series: Starbound #2

this shattered world -amie kaufman & meagan spoonerThe second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.


3.5 Drink Me Potions


This Shattered World continues the epic story weaving of an intergalactic conspiracy with a new strong pair of protagonists. Fairly fast-paced and steeped in underlying romantic tensions, this book would easily please most non-picky readers.

There were many things that went right for this book, which isn’t surprising due to the huge success and popularity of this series. Maybe it was just my high expectations, but there still was just something missing that prevented it from hitting the highest rating. However, the breakdown of likes and dislikes about this book clearly favour an overall favourable impression.

LIKES:

-Strong protagonists ~
Flynn wasn’t just your ordinary cliched male lead. He may have been thrusted into the rebel side of Avon’s war, but sometimes it seemed that he had more empathy for the other side (aka the military on his planet) than the military did for his family of Avon-born citizens. He was the heart of the pairing, while Jubilee “Lee” Chase was the brain. She was by all means a soldier through and through, but I was delighted in seeing how she became more than simply that over time. Her POV was fun to follow and piecing together the fragments of her past kept things intriguing.

-The thrill of a star-crossed romance ~
I don’t know about you, but making the romance seem so much more difficult is always a fun trope in a story. In the beginning it seemed so hard to imagine how these two could ever fall for each other. I liked how it progressed, not being all “OMG, I’m like SOOO attracted to you after just literally meeting you”, but at the same time, it could’ve developed a little faster with a bit more heat. (SEE BELOW)

-Seamless cameos from previous characters ~
For the kind of series where each book features a new cast of protagonists, it’s always exciting to see old and well-loved characters coming back in the new book. We get more than a little cameo of Tarver from book 1 These Broken Stars and a slight feature from Lilac. I was pleasantly surprised by how much “screen time” they were given, and it was a good amount in my opinion. It was enough to satisfy previous fans of theirs to see how they’re doing after the events of their book, but it didn’t take away from what was going on with Flynn and Lee.

-Good pacing of the plot ~
It lagged here and there but the plot did move along well enough. There was always something happening either on the warfront between the military and the rebels, or the secrets Avon carried that our protagonists were investigating. I don’t think this book suffered any Middle Book Syndrome at all, and definitely added details to the war against LaRoux Industries found out in book 1.

DISLIKES:

-Not enough ramping up of their romance ~
I get that the story had so much more to it than just the developing romance between Lee and Flynn. However, it just sometimes felt like it took a backseat to everything. I wanted to feel excited for them, and occasionally it stirred my heart at their few and far between moments, but overall it just lacked a certain spark. At most there was a lot of romantic tensions underlying their actions – which makes sense given they’re enemies – but I just wasn’t so satisfied with this.

-Maybe not enough info on the main plot of this series ~
As mentioned above, there were certain things that added to the overall knowledge about the conspiracy occurring. I may just be picky but I had hoped for a little more than what happened nearer to the end of the book. Most of the plot really focused on the fight on Avon and less on what was started in book 1. I suppose that means book 3 is gonna have a lot of things to wrap up on (hopefully).

Aside from being picky, This Shattered World could easily please many people as it had a lot going for it. I look forward to book 3, no matter what negatives I had to say about this book.

Overall Recommendation:
Kaufman and Spooner have done it again, creating another interesting book in their futuristic world. While featuring two strong protagonists and a fairly fast plot, a sizzling forbidden romance fell between the cracks a little as the other pieces of the story took precedence. Overall, the book does add to the mysteries discovered in book 1, but clearly they are saving up the juicier bits for the conclusion. It’s worth the read as we hurtle a little further towards what would hopefully be a dynamic end to this series.

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Review: Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski

Series: Dare Mighty Things #1

dare mighty things -heather kaczynskiTHE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.

Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.

As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down . . . even if it costs her everything.


3 Drink Me Potions


**Dare Mighty Things comes out October 10, 2017**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

Dare Mighty Things holds tightly to a suspenseful twist that underlies the simplicity of the main plotline, and is surprisingly thrilling upon its reveal. It definitely shocked me out of the predictable rut I had placed it in.

There’s a lot of interesting things that were a first for me in this book. Although it was marketed as a selection process similar to The Selection, it’s a lot more grueling academically and physically. Brilliant young minds from across all of the world competing for a spot in NASA’s joint program in sending someone into space with a crew of seasoned astronauts? Believe me when I say the words here sometimes get so big that even my science-loving brain is trying to figure out the physics.

This bunch of young adults ranging in age from 18 to 25 or so were written in such a realistic way that it felt you could’ve met someone them in person. Their personalities weren’t so cliched as the socially awkward yet ridiculously smart nerds. Instead, they were completely multi-faceted and wholly tangible.

That included the protagonist, Cassie Gupta, an Indian-American girl who identified as asexual. This little tidbit wasn’t made clear straight off the bat, but it was kind of implied under the surface for a while even before it was explicitly identified. Personally, I liked her, all of her. Her mind was brilliant, but seeing how she interacted with others and how she developed from the most anti-social person I’ve read about yet to someone who truly valued the friendships she’s made throughout selection was above all intriguing. Her good friends, Emilio and Mitsuko, were both fun yet understandable characters to keep the story engaging but also relatable. I thought the whole cast was well-written.

There was always a hint of potential romance with foreign diplomat, Luka. Considering she’s asexual, there is still a considerable amount of underlying tension going on that was fun. Whether a true romance in any sense would develop, I’m satisfied with the way things are relationship-wise. Heather did a great job in making it so that we, the readers, aren’t terribly dissatisfied with an element of any YA story that a ton of people look forward to (myself included).

While I’ve been raving about firsts and things that were great, the setback still remains the pacing of the plot. I honestly think the selection process took too long to get through. Nothing much happens until you hit the 70% mark. Sure, people slowly dwindle away as the competition are kicked out of the program, but it kept bothering me that the SECRET about the program wouldn’t reveal itself until almost the end. That’s when the true suspense and action really started ratcheting up. I had to satisfy myself with rampant theories about what it could be until then (I secretly was wondering if the competition wasn’t really getting sent home but might’ve led to a more sinister outcome upon rejection from the program).

I can’t say if I loved the way the story twisted at the end or not. It was a bit surprising, although the more I think about it, the more I should’ve seen it coming. I suppose I was pretty far down the rabbit hole I had dug out for this story in my wild theories to have considered another alternative. But anyhow, Dare Mighty Things brings with it a mighty strong debut filled with a cast of intelligent yet different individuals who have to ask themselves one huge question: just how far are they willing to go to make history for mankind in the vast unknowns?

Overall Recommendation:
Dare Mighty Things has many things that should intrigue a fan of sci-fi, including a mysterious program with an unknown objective into space exploration and a cast of diverse characters. Regardless of the lack of romance that occurs in this book, the friendships Cassie develops (which says a lot for a competitive anti-social girl like her) are just a thrilling as she navigates the challenges in attaining the prized spot among the space crew. I loved the science – albeit the sci-fi type that pushes the plausible – and the simmering suspense of what lay ahead for these brilliant minds to discover. If it wasn’t for the ridiculously slow plot, I’d say this would make it one solid debut. As it is, this book should still satisfy lovers of space and sci-fi.

Review: Illusion Town by Jayne Castle

Series: Ghost Hunters #13

illusion-town-jayne-castleA new adventure begins on Harmony… 
 
With its opulent casinos and hotels, the desert city of Illusion Town is totally unique—and will take you on a thrill ride you’ll never forget.

Hannah West isn’t the first woman to wake up in Illusion Town married to a man she barely knows, but she has no memory of the ceremony at all. For that matter, neither does Elias Coppersmith, her new husband. All either can remember is that they were on the run…

With Hannah’s dubious background and shaky para-psych profile, she could have done much worse. The cooly competent mining heir arouses her curiosity—as well as other parts of her mind and body. And even her dust bunny likes him.

But a honeymoon spent retracing their footsteps leads Hannah and Elias into the twisting underground catacombs, where secrets from both their pasts will come to light—and where the energy of their clashing auras will grow hot enough to burn…


4 Drink Me Potions


This was my first book by “Jayne Castle”, although I happened to have crossed her other contemporary AND historical books as well, under her names Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick respectively.

Illusion Town was a little disorienting at first as I quickly had a feeling that this wasn’t a simple standalone book that I had picked up from the library. There seemed to be alluded references to this whole land of Harmony that I did not know about as a completely new reader. And now looking at how vast this whole series is (with the intricate weavings even across Castle’s other genres), I’m quite impressed with the overall world building that’s been crafted here.

First of all (from what I gathered as an amateur reader in this world), this futuristic set of series written under Jayne Castle is on some alien planet colonists from Earth settled ages ago, but through some mishap, were disconnected from Earth quite permanently and the people here had to make do and thrive somehow.

Paranormal activity is like the new norm here, with people genetically passing on these talents and traits like it’s nothing. The kind of tech here also matches the futuristic theme, but also walks hand-in-hand with the paranormal abilities that people have, such as listening to energy with amber crystals.

Then there’s the land itself and how it’s laid out. 8 Zones split up around some epicentre where some unnatural activity caused some of it to be uninhabitable. It was well-written (albeit still a little confusing for a first reader like me), but I got enough of the idea to still be quite engaged with how this society organized itself.

And of course, there’s the creatures. In particular, the dust bunny.

When I first read about Virgil, the resident dust bunny in this story, I was quite astounded to be honest. Who is this thing and why does it have FOUR eyes? Fluffy yet quite ferocious. I loved it! Castle is very imaginative as she laid out even remote childhood fantasies of dust bunnies (such as I had when I was a kid) into a futuristic story where it becomes as simple as asking “why NOT have it featuring dust bunnies as characters?”. I was overall quite impressed with the setting I had randomly landed myself in.

Then there’s the ROMANCE. It wasn’t the centre of the story, though the intriguing plot line where Hannah and Elias found themselves married to each other was fun enough to draw me in. No, their relationship and budding love for each other was icing on top of the excitement (and dangers!) that were brewing all throughout the book.

From exploring the dangerous Rainforest and Underground areas where I gathered were leftover ruins from when Aliens inhabited this planet (surprise! even more intriguing things just THROWN in here) to finding a long-lost treasure and being chased by a gang of pirates on motorbikes. It was like a rollercoaster of heartfelt emotions and running around adrenaline.

For a novel I randomly decided to read on a lazy Saturday, I think it’s opened me up to a whole new world of possibilities.

Overall Recommendation:
Illusion Town was brilliantly crafted in its imaginative setting on some futuristic planet where people had paranormal abilities and real live dust bunnies as companions. Although this is technically part of a long lineup of books in a series, it still stood out well enough as a standalone (as I had read it ’cause I sure as heck didn’t read any of the previous ones yet). There was enough sweet romance but the action in the plot had me excitedly flipping through the pages. It seems this book has almost everything. This is the kind of world that is unique and should be visited at least once. Be sure to read the previous books first (maybe).