Fantasy

Sneak Peek: TS901 by Stacey Rourke and Tish Thawer

TS901
Stacey Rourke & Tish Thawer
Publication date: August 1st 2017
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult

Tainted water for the good of the people. Fluoride and vitamins to sustain the health of the human race. Added ingredients to extend and elevate the quality of life. All good things, right?

Wrong.

Thia Kelly has been changed by the TS901 chemical in the world’s water supply. Now, forced into hiding with the other inflicted outcasts, she struggles to survive as her powers emerge.

Evan Daniels hunted for others like himself, and finding Thia suddenly brought meaning back into his life. Love blossomed between the strange couple while they searched for a way to reverse the effects. Unfortunately, the Government had something else in mind.

Super-soldier creation on a mass scale was their end goal, and thanks to an unfortunate family tie, Evan became Patient #1.

Good-guy? Bad-guy? The world isn’t sure, but Thia is left with only one choice––save the ass of the world’s first Anomaly who just happens to be her boyfriend.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Can’t wait to read it? Here’s a sneak peek courtesy of my friends over at Xpresso Book Tours! Enjoy.

 

 Evan roared into the barely lit sky, one bowling ball-sized fist slamming a divot into the wall.

“How could you let Thia leave?” he spat in Lance’s direction as the beat-up metal table sitting next to him went flying across the room thanks to his anger and engorged muscles.

“Because,” Mrs. Baker piped in, “she is our only hope, and it had to be this way, Evan. The Maly community needed to see her on her own, ready to take a stand and fight for what she believes in. Now, we need to get moving so we can be in place to help her along.”

“Bullshit!” he bellowed. “All you had to do was keep your mouth shut for just a few more hours, then we could have all gone together, as a team. To keep each other safe …” His words trailed off as he sank to the floor, dropping his head into his hands. Nostrils flaring, he glowered to the floorboards. “How do we know you’re even on our side? All that time being experimented on could have swayed your motives.”

Chest puffing, Lance tapped his index finger against the holster at his hip. “The same could be said for you. After all, she was abducted from her home. You turned your back on your people just to make Daddy proud.”

In a blink, Evan was on his feet. Towering over Lance, his chest heaved in outrage barely held in check. “I thought I was doing what was right.”

“Oh, yeah?” Eyes flashing with challenge, Lance’s head tilted to the side. “How’d that work out for you?”

Boys, there isn’t time for this.” Mama tried to inject common sense into their blatant show of testosterone poisoning.

Ignoring her, Evan’s hands balled into white-knuckled fists at his sides. With the serum pumping through his veins, he knew from grisly past experience that one well-delivered strike could snap the human spine. Still, he held back. “You know the biggest difference between you and I, Nary? I know what it’s like to make the tough choices.”

“Should I go?” Eugene asked, jamming his thumb toward the door. “I feel my talents could be better utilized away from the pissing contest.”

“Tough choices?” Lance snorted, squaring his shoulders in preparation to beat a little respect into Evan. “Like being a puffed-up dickhead when your girlfriend needs you?”

Sucking air through his teeth, Eugene inched to the door. “Yeah. I’m definitely going to go before there’s bloodshed.”

“We’re all going to go!” With a hand on Lance’s tensed shoulder, Mama Baker shuffled in between the two steaming men. Positioning herself in front of Evan, Mrs. Baker reached out to him. “If you don’t trust me, you should learn to trust your woman, soldier. She’s tougher than you think, but she still needs our help.”

Evan hesitantly reached for Mama Baker’s wrinkled hand, jerking as electrical impulses and images shot into his mind. There stood Thia, tall and proud above a restless Maly crowd, her wings expanded and her arms splayed wide. Her face beamed with pride, her posture radiating a confidence Evan had never seen.

When tinges of black crept in around the edges of the vision, Mrs. Baker yanked her hand away. “No. Oh no. Outside, now!”

Jaw clenched, Evan bolted for the door with the rest of the motley crew trailing close behind. The water tower that landmarked The Hive could be seen in the distance, a thick cloud of black smoke licking the sky beside it.

“If you two are over your male drama, we need to get to Thia before it’s too late,” Mrs. Baker commanded through gritted teeth, her cloudy eyes flicking from side to side as she scanned a scene only she could see.

“Let’s go.” Before the words even left Evan’s lips he was plowing through the brush, blazing a trail for them. The others fell in step behind him, doing their best to match his stride. The second wave had moved out, hopeful they weren’t too late.

 

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Review: The Heir by Kiera Cass

The Heir by Kiera Cass
HarperCollins
Paperback
Published 2015
ISBN: 9780007580224
Buy The Heir on Amazon

“I could not hold my breath for seven minutes.”

As a huge fan of the original Selection trilogy (and all of the novellas) I was really excited to hear that Kiera was adding a fourth book to the series. I was doubly excited to find out that it was a time hop into America and Maxon’s future. In fact, when I heard that they had children and that their daughter was having her own selection I think I may have screamed, just a little bit.

It felt so great to be stepping back into Illéa and revisiting some beloved characters. I couldn’t wait to see America, Lucy, Marlie and the rest of my favourites all grown up. But first I had to meet Princess Eadlyn.

I would like to say that I liked her, but she ruined the entire book. Considering her parents, and what we know of their personalities, it shocked me that they could have raised such a self centred, spoilt brat!

From the very beginning she does nothing but whine about how she is being forced to be queen because she was born before her twin. In fact, she complains constantly about literally everything. The work she has to do towards becoming the ruler of her country, the fact that she cannot have a normal life or that parts of her life are not her own and even the fact that she might have to tidy her room with her maid.

It isn’t that Eadlyn is completely selfish. She does see the problems that people around her are facing, but she does nothing about them. For example, when she learns that Lucy is unable to have children. She mulls it over a few times and even gossips with her mother about it. But not once do we see her care enough to sit down and try to find a way to help. The girl is all over the fact that she is going to be a powerful woman, yet she has no inclination to use that power to help?

The fact that she bemoans the crown so much is laughable in itself. Because as soon as she is told that she should consider having a selection to distract the public from rioting and uprisings (more on that little snipe later) she suddenly decides that she doesn’t want to share with a husband!

As for the selection itself:

1. I find it a little embarrassing that anyone would think a selection, basically reality TV, would distract a whole nation from all of their problems. Really? If anything I would think that this would cause even more anger at a monarchy who doesn’t try to help the people, but instead throws money around. Do they really want to starve whilst watching the big lavish parties or to see  Her Royal Brat choose a husband she quite obviously does not want.

2. We don’t meet enough of the selected, and what we do get is a smattering seemingly random dates between massive amounts of Eadlyn’s never ending whining inner monologue.

And wow do we get monologue. Nothing makes this girl happy. Well, one scene makes this girl happy, but it gives her room to complain later.

America and Maxon? Well, this book is 20 years later. These two were eighteen in the original series. So they’re what? 40 almost? And yet they are written as being old, fragile and tired. I am sure with the access to food, healthcare and the best of everything that they are afforded as royalty they would be in their prime at that age.

I am disappointed. This whole book left me dissatisfied. There wasn’t enough story to keep me interested. I simply kept reading to see if Eadlyn ever grew as a person… she didn’t. The book didn’t even really end. It just created enough loose threads to keep the Antarctic in sweaters, then ran out of pages.

So why two stars and not less? Kiera Cass has confirmed another sequel to finish the series. The book is as yet un-named, but I would like to hope that it will contain Eadlyn’s personality transplant, more story that we actually care about, and something that saves this series for me. I’ll give it two stars, because it deserves the chance.

Oh and Kiera… Bring back Celeste. She may have been the original brat, but at least she was classy about it.

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Orion
Paperback
Published 2015
ISBN: 9781409155843
“I hate First Friday”


Synopsis

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

My Thoughts

There are no words right now.

Well, other than the obvious scream to Victoria Aveyard to write the sequel faster.

I have read a lot of dystopian books,  but Red Queen is something else entirely. The book is an amazing mixture of dystopian and fantasy. It feels like an epic cross between R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, and Keira Cass’s Selection trilogy. A winning combination for me. 
The whole concept feels new and unique. Victoria seems to have successfully avoided falling into any overused ideas or formulas and has brought us something that feels fresh and special from the very first page right to the final paragraphs.

Every character is special, even those small parts that don’t last beyond a few pages. Even the unnamed servants who play no part other than to show the divide between the poor Reds and the Silvers. Every character feels real and solid, and brings something to the story.
Mare, the protagonist, is amazing. I love the fact that she is realistic. She doesn’t blindly accept anything that happens to her and questions everything, even when she is told not to. Yet still, she makes mistakes and she doesn’t know all of the answers. Just like a real teenage girl. Her rough, red upbringing has toughened her and given her strong convictions and beliefs. But deep down she’s still a child who is forced to make her way in an unknown world. I loved that and felt like it made her easy to get behind.
Another favourite has to be Evangeline. My only bug bear being that we didn’t get enough of her. It felt like she was being written to be a danger to Mare and her secret, yet she was sidelined as an annoyance rather than a real threat. It was realistic to her character, but I can always wish that she had been used more within the storyline.

The story is non stop action, and the twists… Oh my gosh do they keep on coming. I constantly had to second guess myself because another twist came along and broke my expectations of what was coming next.

I recommend that you read this book immediately. Buy it, borrow it… Just please read it. Red queen has changed the dystopian fantasy genre forever.

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver
HachetteUK
Paperback
Released 2010
Borrowed from Library
ISBN – 978-0-340-98090-3
“They say that before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not what happened for me.”

Synopsis

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night. However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

Thoughts

Have you ever read a book that is so unfair that you want to yell at the author? One that is so heartbreaking that you sob for an hour after you close the cover? One that is so perfect that you hug it for hours?
This is that book. 
At the very beginning though, I hated it. The protagonist, Sam, and her friends were those high school queen bee bitches that we all either were, or hated. 
They lived a perfect little life in a perfect little bubble. Anyone outside of that bubble was outcast, a freak. Juliet Sykes was the biggest freak of them all and they tormented her every chance that the group got. 
Then Sam dies. 
Before I Fall is a fresh take on the “Groundhog Day” concept. Sam dies in a horrible car accident, and wakes up the next day to find that it is actually the first day all over again. She has to relive the day until she works out how to change the outcome and break the cycle. 
I can honestly say that Lauren Oliver has astounded me yet again with her writing. This time with her talent for voices. 
She captures Sam and her friends as popular perfectly. At the beginning of the book Sam’s monologues, and the way that she speaks directly to the reader, come across as spoilt, over confident and self-righteous. 
Gradually, as she grows her voice changes and she reads as slightly more compassionate and caring. 
Sam’s growth is amazing in the story and Lauren’s writing makes the reader really feel it. I went from hating her to really caring about her over the three hundred or so pages. Each day I loved her a little more.
I also loved how the story changed each day instead of Sam simply repeating her actions. This lead to us meeting new characters throughout the story. I enjoyed how they slipped in from the sidelines as though we were seeing them through Sam’s eyes. They had always been there, but not close enough to see clearly. We got to know each of them through Sam. 
This book took 5 stars without hesitation. I tried to find something to criticise or hate but I cannot. I adored it and I will re-read it until it’s spine falls out. (I am buying my own Dearest Librarian. Don’t worry)
Now if you don’t all mind, I’m going to go and sob a little more. 

Review #5 – The Leveller by Julia Durango

Publisher: HarperTeen

Published: June 23rd 2015
Preorder Now (Amazon)
Ebook – 256 Pages
Acquired: eArc via Edelweiss

“TYPICAL COOP, I THINK, CLOSING MY EYES AND SINKING INTO THE MEEP.”

Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller.
Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world.
It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance. 

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them. But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note.

Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why? Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined.

But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?


I never thought that I would be the type to request an ARC.

But this book… this one was the exception. I took the chance and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Leveller is one of those stories that you literally cannot put down. It flows perfectly, with just the right number of twists and turns to keep you guessing. The pages turn because you have to know what happens next, even at 4am.

Julia Durango has managed to create not one, but two amazing worlds within one story. She is able to describe both the real world and the MEEP so perfectly that you can almost smell the salty air and feel the heat on your skin. You are not simply reading about it, you are right there with the characters. You fight their battles with them. You have fun with them and you feel scared or surprised, right there alongside them.

I found myself falling in love with the characters too. Julia has a knack for writing them with so much dimension that they are believable and real. She writes Nixy with power, wit and emotion (and a good pinch of sarcasm) and Wyn as her perfect sidekick.

The story itself is unique and interesting. Considering the current trend for user customisable gaming, and for bigger and better gaming technology, the device that sends players into the MEEP is not unrealistic. This book deals with that possibility and with the very real issues that could happen if it does. Julia still manages to keep the story entertaining and well-paced without it becoming preachy or a warning.

The reason that I dropped a star is because I felt that the final twist was a little obvious. I had a couple of possibilities in my head and wasn’t hugely surprised by the outcome. I wouldn’t say that this ruined the story but I would have liked a surprise.

On a positive note I believe that The Leveller is the first in a series (per Goodreads information) and it has certainly been left open enough to move forward to another book. The immediate issues are all taken care of but there are enough open threads, unanswered questions and possibilities to continue this. I will definitely be looking out for sequels in the future.

I received The Leveller as an eArc from the publisher via Edelweiss. The book itself is to be published on June 23rd 2015 and I thoroughly recommend it to all Sci-fi and fantasy fans as a pre-order.