Monday, May 21, 2018

The Memory of Forgotten Things by Kat Zhang

Title: The Memory of Forgotten Things
Author: Kat Zhang
Genre: Fiction, Middle Grade
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 288 Pages
Publication: May 15, 2018 by Aladdin

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. 

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One of the happiest memories twelve-year-old Sophia Wallace has is of her tenth birthday. Her mother made her a cake that year—and not a cake from a boxed-mix, but from scratch. She remembers the way the frosting tasted, the way the pink sugar roses dissolved on her tongue.

This memory, and a scant few others like it, is all Sophia has of her mother, so she keeps them close. She keeps them secret, too. Because as paltry as these memories are, she shouldn’t have them at all.

The truth is, Sophia Wallace’s mother died when she was six years old. But that isn’t how she remembers it. Not always.

Sophia has never told anyone about her unusual memories—snapshots of a past that never happened. But everything changes when Sophia’s seventh grade English class gets an assignment to research solar eclipses. She becomes convinced that the upcoming solar eclipse will grant her the opportunity to make her alternate life come true, to enter a world where her mother never died.

With the help of two misfit boys, she must figure out a way to bring her mother back to her—before the opportunity is lost forever.
The Memory of Forgotten Things was such a sweet and touching Middle Grade novel. The book is centered around Sophia, a twelve-year-old girl who is having memories of her mom; memories when she was 9, 10, 11…except her mom passed away when Sophia was only six-years-old. So the question is, how is this possible? With the help of two of Sophia’s classmates they find a correlation between the Memories and the solar eclipse…and the possibility of bringing back their loved ones.

The Memory of Forgotten Things dealt with some heavy issues such as death, grief and if given the chance to change the past/future, would you? Or should you? I thought Zhang tackled the topics and packaged it in such a way that was easy to understand and was very well written; especially for the targeted audience. While Sophia is the main character, her fellow classmates; Luke and DJ both had to deal with a family member’s death as well. It was interesting to see how children dealt with death and seeing the aftermath of it of how it affected the family life/those that were left behind. I liked the trio of characters and found them mature for their age. In some scenes it felt as if the children were more mature and understanding than their own parents. For example in Sophia’s case, after the death of her mom, her dad spent his days working or in a daze and asleep. And he depended more on Sophia than the other way around as if the roles were reversed.

I really enjoyed The Memory of Forgotten Things, its a story about learning to move on, acceptance, family and friendship. However, it should be noted that this book is an iota part magic/science-fiction. I initially thought this would fall under magic realism (similar to Bridge to Terabithia) but Zhang surprised me and took it to the next level incorporating fringe science, the theory of parallel universes…do they exist? Is there multiple worlds out there with different variation of ourselves? So just a heads up to those interested in reading The Memory of Forgotten Things. Some reviewers were surprised by this and felt mislead. But I am all for magic/sci-fi and actually liked the unexpectedness of it all. I highly recommend this standalone novel to everyone. It definitely poses a lot to think about!



Friday, May 18, 2018

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs

Title: Silver Borne
Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mercy Thompson # 5

Hardcover, 342 Pages
Publication: March 30, 2010 by Ace Books

Source: Personal Library

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Mercy is smart enough to realize that when it comes to the magical fae, the less you know, the better. But you can't always get what you want. When she attempts to return a powerful fae she previously borrowed in an act of desperation, she finds the bookstore locked up and closed down.

It seems the book contains secrets - and the fae will do just about anything to keep it out of the wrong hands. And if that doesn't take enough of Mercy's attention, her friend Samuel is struggling with his wolf side - leaving Mercy to cover for him lest his own father declare Samuel's life forfeit.

All in all, Mercy has had better days. And if she isn't careful, she may not have many more...
 
I can’t believe it’s been eight years since I read the last Mercy book. With that said, going in and starting Silver Borne was effortless. To my own surprise I remembered exactly where things left off and what occurred in the previous books. That’s a true testament to Briggs for creating such an amazing world and characters. You honestly cannot define the Urban Fantasy Genre without the Mercy Thompson series. It’s truly a UF staple, must have and reading requirement for everyone that loves the genre.

After a traumatic attack on Mercy’s person in Bone Crossed, both Mercy and Adam are trying to work out their relationship; trying to get back to how things were before the attack. But the momentary reprieve from trouble is short-lived when Mercy’s friends get kidnaps and a dangerous fae searches for a book…a book that Mercy is in possession of.

There were multiple subplots happening simultaneously but Briggs weaved the plots seamlessly that every single contained situation fit perfectly all together. In addition to deal with the fae kidnapping, Mercy had to attend to the the usual business of her business, pack business and help her friend, Samuel and his wolf through a crisis. Mercy definitely had her plate full, but then again when doesn’t she?

I really enjoyed Silver Borne and learning more about the supes in Mercy’s world. I am amazed at how much Briggs was able to pack in one single book without it feeling like too much or info-dumped. Silver Borne was a great addition to the series and a solid read. If you haven’t read this series yet; I highly recommend it! 



Friday, May 11, 2018

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Shifts
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels # 8

Mass Market Paperback, 375 pages
Publication: February 23, 2016 by Ace

Source: I received a review copy in exchange for a honest review.

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After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Kate and Curran know that separating from the Pack completely is a process that will take time.

But when they learn that their friend Eduardo has gone missing, Kate and Curran shift their focus to investigate his disappearance. As they dig further into the merc’s business, they discover that the Mercenary Guild has gone to hell and that Eduardo’s recent assignments are connected in the most sinister way…

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece. 

Magic Shifts is the eighth installment in the Kate Daniel series and certainly a big improvement since the last book. Which I previously stated was the weakest book of the series. Kate and Curran have left the pack and are adjusting to living on the outskirt of town; trying to figure out what their next steps are. But there’s no rest in sight when Eduardo, a pack member goes missing and all signs points to the sudden emergence of ghouls and a deadly ancient creature.

Andrews are always tackling new mythos in their books and in this latest book Andrews put their own unique spin on ghouls and Djinns. I have always been fascinated with Djinns and this is probably the second book I’ve ever read that featured them. These Djinn aren’t like your friendly genie from Aladdin, they’re tricky, volatile, and dangerous.I liked how the authors Incorporated the Djinns into the already complex world and plot…it was done seamlessly. Speaking of world, the world of Kate Daniel is a multifaceted one, especially as we’re already two books from the series wrap-up. The characters have developed tremulously over the course of the series as well; every new detail, information, history and character adds to the richness of the story and world and I can’t get enough of it.

This book had a healthy and perfect balance of drama and humor. I loved seeing the usual gang and more of Roland, Cassandra, George etc. And although the last three are new additions to the series, I felt like they were a major integral part of the series now and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There were a lot of things going on in this book and I am curious to see where Team Andrews takes them next.


If you love Urban Fantasy as much as I do, then this series is a must; you literally can’t mention Urban Fantasy without mentioning Andrews and the Kate Daniel series.



Friday, April 27, 2018

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy
Series:  The Lunar Chronicles # 1

Hardcover, 390 Pages 
Publication: January 3,2012 by Feiwel & Friend
Source: Personal Library

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Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder's brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing.

This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it "a matter of national security," but Cinder suspects it's more serious than he's letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder's intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that's been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter's illness, Cinder's stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an "honor" that no one has survived.

But it doesn't take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

I’ve picked up and put down Cinder countless of times. I read the first few chapters and remembered enjoying it but for some odd reason I never finished it. Until now. What initially drew my attention to the series was the re-imagined fairy tale concept. It also didn’t hurt that this was one of the most loved and raved about series. I was determined to finish it and see what the hype was all about. After finishing it, I gotta say…it had it’s moments but it’s nothing groundbreaking or earth-shattering. In my honest opinion, it was over hyped…or I just had high expectations.

Cinder, as the title is a spin on Cinderella. In this case Cinder(ella) is a cyborg, part human,part machine. Color me intrigued. I thought the general concept was cool, it’s why I wanted to read it in the first place but Meyer didn’t deliver on anything… plot, world-building or its characters sadly. Let’s begin with the plot. I’ve seen all the glowing and gushing reviews for Cinder. Many readers praised how innovated and unique this book was…I started to wonder if we all read the same book? Cinder is neither innovated or unique. The plot is pretty basic and oh so predictable. With the first mention of the lost Lunar princess I already knew who and where this story was going and I was barely a few chapters in! It was also slow and uneventful. Even the big “reveal” (should I even call it a reveal when everyone and their mama knew who Cinder really was?) was anticlimactic. I thought the plot was weak and it didn’t have mystery, danger or anything special to the story.

The world building...the real question is what world building? Because it’s nonexistent. I’m sure Meyer thought she was being different by writing a fairy-tale retelling featuring an Asian culture…nope. Just because the city is called New Beijing and the characters’ name are Asian don’t make it Asian. And honestly that’s the only “Asian” thing about this book. Meyer never once went into the background and history of New Beijing. It’s as if she just picked a bunch of Chinese names and threw it in there. Besides the city and characters’ name…I think she mentioned some sweet rolls and dumplings...apparently that sums up the Chinese culture. Then there’s the notorious and feared Lunar people (people that live on the moon). Again there’s no background, explanation of how they came to be, how Levana came to power, or why they have the powers (glamour) that they do. Readers are expected to take everything at face value but that’s not good enough. This is probably the weakest half-assed world building I’ve ever seen. I know my review is gonna get some flack but that’s my opinion. I’m genuinely surprised this series got as far as it did.

And finally the characters. I had a hard time connecting with all of the characters. Just like the world building, the characters were flat and two-dimensional. Cinder is supposed to be this well renown mechanic but in the entire book she didn’t do much. We are told she’s the best of the best but as far as I saw, the only thing she did was pull out a chip from Prince Kai’s robot and presto! (insert heavy sarcasm) It’s fixed. We are also told that Cinder is a special, miraculous (another snowflake) girl that is going to change the world and the citizen of New Beijing but I never once saw any of that. Instead I saw a self-absorbed teenager who thought of only of the prince and occasionally her sick step-sister. The other characters weren’t any better. Prince Kai was a bland of a male lead if I’ve ever seen one, Cinder’s bff robot was as funny and clever as a cardboard box and Levana as the villainous queen was just laughable...my little seven-year-old niece is scarier than her.

I haven’t been this disappointed in a book in a really long time. Cinder not only didn’t meet my expectations but the more I thought about it, the more I disliked it…realizing it is beyond flawed. I remember reading somewhere that Meyer wrote this book in a span of a couple month during NaNoWrimo (or that the idea came during that month) and it clearly shows, the world building and characters were poorly developed, the writing mediocre and plot lackluster. I cannot recommend this book. There are far better sci-fi fantasy series out there but if you are still curious about picking up Cinder, may I suggest checking out an excerpt before purchasing or borrowing from a library or friend. Otherwise save your money and time and give this a pass because I wish I did. 


Monday, April 23, 2018

The Fall of Grace by Amy Fellner Dominy

Title: The Fall of Grace
Author: Amy Fellner Dominy
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 304 Pages
Publication: April 10, 2018 by Delacorte Press

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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Grace’s junior year is turning into her best year yet. She’s set to make honor roll, her print from photography class might win a national contest, and her crush just asked her to prom.

Then the bottom falls out. News breaks that the investment fund her mom runs is a scam and her mother is a thief.

Now, instead of friends, the FBI is at her door. Grace is damaged goods.



Millions of dollars are unaccounted for, and everyone wants to know where all the money went. Can she find it and clear her mother’s name?
The key to repairing her shattered life seems to lie in a place deep in the wilderness, and Grace sets out, her identity hidden, determined to find it.


But she isn’t alone.
 

Sam Rivers, a mysterious loner from school, is on her trail and wants to know exactly what secrets she uncovers. As the pair travels into the wilds, Grace realizes she must risk everything on the dark, twisted path to the truth.


We hear about fraudulent activities all the time in the media but we never really hear about the aftermath or what goes on behind the scenes. How it affects friends and family members. Dominy tackles that issue in her latest novel, The Fall of Grace. Grace lived the posh-life, she had everything...looks, popularity, wealth and recognition being the face of her mom’s company. But she never questioned her lavish lifestyle or how her mother provided for the two of them. Then one day Grace’s life starts to crumble as her mom is accused of a ponzi scheme involving money invested from their own community. Only Grace knows her mom and that what she was being accused of was ludicrous and she’s determined to absolve her mom by finding out the truth.

I’m starting to dig the past and present writing style. The Fall of Grace is narrated in first-person point of view, jumping back and forth, as you can guess, the past and present culminating in the present; days after news about her mother breaks. Readers get to see everything leading up to her mother’s indictment; how she lived before and after.

The plot itself is intriguing but it wasn’t without flaws. I found it perplexing how easily everyone assumed Grace was involved and aided her mom in acquiring 45 million dollars from the investors. What happened to being innocent until proven guilty? I mean, she’s still a kid after all. The verbal and physical attacks Grace endure was disheartening and sad but I could see it from both sides. Grace and Sam were decent leads but at the same time there wasn’t anything that made them standout or memorable. It didn’t help that I wasn’t able to feel any connection to them either…they had their moments.

In my opinion the first half of the book was stronger and better than the second half. I was a bit disappointed in how it ended and wished we had a clear answer such as where did all the money go? I also felt the ending was rushed and too easily resolved, at least in how everything was dealt involving Grace’s mom, Janelle. But overall I thought The Fall of Grace was a solid read with pros and cons and a novel I would still recommend it with reservation. 


Friday, April 13, 2018

[Blog Tour] Q & A with Amy Fellner Dominy + Excerpt of The Fall of Grace

The Fall of Grace by Amy Fellner Dominy, hit stores and shelves this past Tuesday. A YA about a girl in search of the truth to clear her mother's name, who is accused of bank fraud and her answers lies in the wilderness in the middle of nowhere.



Publication: April 10, 2018 by Delacorte Press
Hardcover, 304 Pages
Buy|Amazon|B&N|


Grace’s junior year is turning into her best year yet. She’s set to make honor roll, her print from photography class might win a national contest, and her crush just asked her to prom.

Then the bottom falls out. News breaks that the investment fund her mom runs is a scam and her mother is a thief. Now, instead of friends, the FBI is at her door. Grace is damaged goods.

Millions of dollars are unaccounted for, and everyone wants to know where all the money went. Can she find it and clear her mother’s name?

The key to repairing her shattered life seems to lie in a place deep in the wilderness, and Grace sets out, her identity hidden, determined to find it.

But she isn’t alone.


Sam Rivers, a mysterious loner from school, is on her trail and wants to know exactly what secrets she uncovers. As the pair travels into the wilds, Grace realizes she must risk everything on the dark, twisted path to the truth.

Want to learn more about The Fall of Grace? Check out the Q &A with author Amy Dominy and an exclusive excerpt below!



Q&A with Amy, author of The Fall of Grace


Introduce us to Grace and her mother, Janelle.

Grace is 17, an aspiring photographer who prides herself in finding beauty in the world. Her mother is one of her favorite subjects. Janelle Pierce is glamorous, sophisticated and ambitious—she raised Grace all by herself while building a successful financial business. Grace loves her mom more than anything, and she knows her mother loves her. A mother always loves her daughter. Doesn’t she? 

What would be your elevator pitch for The Fall of Grace?

The Fall of Grace is an adventure-suspense-survival-road-trip-romance.

What sparked the idea of writing The Fall of Grace?

It started with Bernie Madoff. I followed the story of the Ponzi scheme he ran—the biggest financial fraud ever that destroyed thousands of lives. I couldn’t imagine how someone could do that. Then I read that one of his sons committed suicide. That stuck with me—the thought of a child discovering that their parent was a monster. What would that be like? The shame. The sense of betrayal. And what about guilt by association? How would you survive that?  

Fast forward a few months.

A flash of a scene came to me: A girl getting on a bus, carrying a knife and a backpack with her father’s ashes in it. She’s desperate. She’s on a journey. She’s hated. Where is she going? What is she looking for?

That image eventually lead me to The Fall of Grace, and a first scene where a girl is at the bus station, carrying a knife and a backpack. She’s desperate. She’s on a journey. She’s hated. The issues with a father became issues with a mother who was not yet dead…but perhaps dying.

Ultimately, it became a book about family and trust. About how we go on when the people who should love us the most, betray us.

Did you do any research for this book? If so, how did you go about it and why did you feel it was necessary to do so?

As the book began to take shape, I knew I was going to have to do a lot of research.There were so many things I knew nothing about—photography, strokes and comas, the FBI, financial crimes (or financial anything.) The one thing I thought would be easy was the hiking part. Wrong! Even though I’m a hiker, I needed to be familiar with a specific hiking trail. That meant researching mountain trails. Once I settled on Blue Lakes in Colorado, I had to do the hike myself, following Grace and Sam’s path—including taking a wrong turn.

I actually like the research part because I’m learning about interesting things. I about got myself arrested taking pictures of the US Marshals office (not a good idea), but it was very cool meeting with a Federal Prosecutor. The things I learned helped shape the book and I hope that comes through on the page.  

Photography plays a crucial role in the book. Are you a photographer yourself? If not, why did you choose this particular talent for Grace—and Sam?

I’ve always loved photography though I didn’t know much about it other than “point and shoot.” Doing the research was fun but I also discovered there’s a lot of math to it. I struggled to understand f/stops and apertures.

I really wanted them to be photographers because it fit with the greater themes. Grace prides herself on seeing truth in the lens of her camera—but she doesn’t see the truth of her mother. It got me thinking about what do people hide from us—what do we hide from others? I also loved that photography is about the balance of light and shadow. It felt like a perfect fit because Grace and Sam are both dealing with the fact that this is true of people, too.

What was most challenging part of writing THE FALL OF GRACE? Why?

This book goes back and forth between two different time periods. It starts in August, when Grace is leaving town and cuts back to May, when the first news about Grace’s mother comes to light. Weaving in details from two different timelines turned out to work really well, but it was much harder than I expected. Remind me never to do that again. J

The title is perfect. Did you know what you were going to call the book immediately, or did the title come later in the process?

When I started this book, the main character’s name was Eva. I ended up having to change it because, well, I have a weird thing for vowel names. I didn’t realize it until I looked at the names of all my main characters. Ellie (OyMG); Tatum (Audition & Subtraction—this is the one book where my daughter named the character); Abby (A Matter of Heart); Emma (Die for You).  Starting to see a pattern here? So I realized I couldn’t do Eva. Even after I’d come up with Grace, I’d titled the book Half a Step from Heaven. It was my editor who suggested The Fall of Grace. (Thank you, Krista!)

Share a bit about you with us. Have you always wanted to be a writer? What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? What are your hobbies? What is your go to book/music/movie recommendation of the moment?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid—probably because I loved reading so much that I wanted to make up stories of my own. I’ll read anything if the characters draw me in—I’ve had to stop saying I don’t read Sci Fi or horror or thrillers. I read about people I care about whatever the setting and situation (and whether they’re actual people or not.)  


When I’m not writing or reading, I want to be outside. I play tennis and golf. I run, hike, and bike. Pretty much anything that doesn’t require snow or speed—I’m a wimp who is always cold.


Book of the moment: I just re-read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Amazing!

Have you been betrayed? If so, how did you come to terms with it—or the person who betrayed you?

I never thought of it as a betrayal—not until I wrote this book. But I always had an uneasy relationship with my stepmother who raised me. I had an idea in my head of what a mother-daughter relationship was supposed to be. I read about them every year on Mother’s Day when I went to buy a card at the store. And as much as I wanted a loving mom, I didn’t have that with my stepmother. It’s something I struggled with. They say writing can be therapy, and I think that’s part of what drew me to this story. Grace thinks she has a loving relationship with her mom, but discovers that perhaps she never really did. How does she come to terms with that? How do any of us handle imperfect family relationships? After all, these are the people who are supposed to love us the most. In writing this story and letting Grace and Sam work through those questions, it allowed me to do the same. Without giving away the ending, I hope this is a journey that will help readers who grapple with the same issues.

Where can readers find you online?

Instagram is my new favorite hangout: amydominy. Look for me there! I’m also on Twitter (@amydominy), Goodreads, and Facebook (amyfellnerdominyauthor.)





EXCERPT

Is it really only Thursday? I turn off the car and flip open the visor mirror. The golf banquet must have been last night. I wonder if Cecily wore my dress. I wonder if her mother let her. I smooth my hair, spreading it over my shoulders. The deeper shades of brown will start to lighten in the next month or so—assuming I see the sun. It still feels warm from the flat iron. I double-check my makeup. Too much concealer. I rub it in, but the truth is I look like someone who hasn’t been sleeping or eating. 

Martina, who is now my favorite nurse, brings me soup from the hospital cafeteria. I’m so touched that I eat as much as I can. Yesterday, I tried to pay her and her hands flew up. For a second I thought I saw horror on her face. I assumed she must be thinking the things they were saying on TV. 

Stolen money. Dirty money. 

But she gently folded my fingers back over the ten-dollar bill and said, “It’s only soup, Grace, and not very good soup, at that.” 

A car door slams and I jump in my seat, my heart jumping with me. I’ve begun to startle at loud noises. At the sound of footsteps. At the ringer of my phone. I rub at my elbow. This morning in the hospital parking lot something hit me, sharp and sudden. I cried out, and when I spun around, a woman with gray hair and red- rimmed eyes was facing me. At my feet lay a crumpled ball of paper. 

An earnings statement for the Family Fund. 

But there’s no one behind me now. No one in the library parking lot other than a woman with a stack of books in one arm and her hand holding tight to a towheaded boy. 

It’s nice to be outside. It’s the first time I’ve left the hospital before visiting hours ended, and though it’s only been four days, I’ve forgotten how bright the sun can be. How good fresh air and warm asphalt smells. I could lie on the back of my car and nap right here. 

I’ve never been so tired in my life. I’m tired of doctors who don’t come when they say they will or who have nothing to say when they do. I’m tired of scratchy blankets and nurse rotations and terrible food. Mostly, I’m tired of being afraid all the time. Afraid of every odd beep from one of the machines attached to my mom or of the hiss of the blood pressure cuff that I hear in my sleep. Of the sound of every passing footstep, wondering if it’s the FBI. 

The accusations follow me everywhere—even to Uncle David’s house. I’ve been staying there at night, though it’s a half-hour drive from home. Uncle David insisted, worried that it isn’t safe for me alone since the FBI shuttered my mom’s business. People are scared. 

And angry. 

And maybe dangerous. 

Reporters have begun to show up at my uncle’s house, holding annual reports with my face on the cover, asking if I knew my mother was a thief. It’s been hard on my aunt Caroline especially—I knew that—but I was still shocked this morning when I interrupted a whispered conversation in the kitchen. I didn’t hear most of what my aunt and uncle were saying, only the last part, when my aunt said she doesn’t want the stain of fraud to rub off on the twins. 

“I’m not stained,” I said, surprising them at the door of the kitchen. I wanted to say more, but I was crying too hard. I left and I’m not going back. Uncle David came to the hospital a little while ago. He said “I’m sorry” and “It’s a struggle right now with the girls” and “I know you’re innocent in all this,” but he didn’t say “Come back.”

Excerpted from THE FALL OF GRACE. Copyright © 2018 by Amy Fellner Dominy. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.





ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Amy Fellner Dominy is the award-winning author of books for teens, tweens and toddlers. A former advertising copywriter and MFA playwright, Amy’s novels include The Fall of Grace (4/18); Die For You; A Matter of Heart; Audition & Subtraction; and OyMG, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book. Picture books are Cookiesaurus Rex and Cookiesaurus Christmas (2018.) Amy lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, various pets and two children who occasionally stop by for free meals. 

*via author's website.



Monday, April 09, 2018

Outpost by W. Michael Gear

Title: Outpost
Author: W. Michael Gear
Genre: Sci-Fi
Series: Donovan # 1

Hardcover, 422 Pages
Publication: February 20, 2018  Daw Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

Donovan: A world of remarkable wealth, habitable, with a breathable atmosphere, water, and a salubrious climate. Call it a dream come true. A dream? Or a nightmare? Donovan's wealth comes at a price. For Donovan lies thirty light years away--a two-year journey that few survive.

When Turalon
 arrives in orbit, Supervisor Kalico Aguila discovers a failing colony, it's government overthrown, and the few colonists left now gone wild. For Kalico, Donovan offers the chance of a lifetime: one desperate spin of the wheel that will leave her the most powerful woman in the solar system. Or dead.

Planetside, Talina Perez is one the three rulers of Port Authority--the only remnant of a town on Donovan. She's the only law left, and now a Corporate ship has appeared in orbit and is demaning answers about things she's done in the name of survival. Perez is about to lose everything, including her life, when Kalico lands with her Marines. 
For Dan Wirth, Donovan is a last chance. A psychopath with a death sentence looming over his head, he can't wait to set foot on Port Authority. He will make one desperate play to grab a piece of the action. No matter who he has to corrupt, murder, or destroy.

Captain Max Taggart has been The Corporation's "go to" guy when it comes to brutal enforcement. As the situation in Port Authority deteriorates, he'll be faced with committing mass murder in order to dominate the wild Donovanians. Only Talina Perez stands in his way. Or. God forbid, is he getting squeamish in his old age?<

Just as matters spiral out of control, a ghost ship, the Freelander,appears in orbit. Missing for two years, she arrives with a crew dead of old age, and reeks of a bizarre death-cult ritual that forewarns any ship from making the return journey to Solar System.

Does anyone dare space back on Turlon with her wealth of ore, ceramic, gems, and gold? Or do they take their chances on a deadly planet that kills three out of four colonists?

And in the meantime, a brutal killer is stalking all of them, for Donovan plays its own complex and deadly game. One whose secrets are hidden in Talia Perez's very blood. A game which will change everything, forever.

Outpost is the first book in the Donovan series following four very unique characters on an alien planet. Like many civilization there is a chain of hierarchy and readers will get a in-depth look at all class of hierarchy following a captain, a right-hand enforcer/marine, a psychopath killer and a regular every day civilian shaped by the harsh terrains of Donovan. With an inhabitable earth, many folks had to seek refugee on other planets; and that is the case with Donovan. The inhabitants were flown to Donovan with the sole purpose of building a settlement but eventually found themselves left behind and forgotten. Left to their own devices they had to defend themselves from the many deadly creatures that lived alongside them. It is a killed or be killed type of environment.

The world building for Outpost was impeccably done. Grant painted a world that is both fascinating as it is terrifying. As described by the characters, Donovan is a vast planet filled with endless opportunities; you can mine gold, gem, oil, and so much more. The ecosystem is varied in both species and its weather and yet there were still so much that was unexplored and a smystery to those born three generations later. I always stated this, but character driven novel is what I’m all about. The plot and concept of a novel can be poor or mediocre but if it has an amazing cast and a cast that’s developed/multifaceted I’ll stick around till the end. Outpost had some pretty great characters and the world, Donovan is a character in itself for all the reasons mentioned above. And Grant has barely touch the tip of the iceberg with the world as there is still so much uncharted, undiscovered territories.

Two of the most fascinating characters in Outpost is Talina and Dan. Talina Perez is a soldier on Donovan. She is tough as nail and knows what it takes to live on a planet as dangerous as Donovan. She has the survival skills that is unmatched and what makes her more unique is that she has an alien creature, it’s essence living within her giving her a sixth sense and enables her to adapt more to the environment. Dan Wirth is a psychopath serial killer and a stowaway on Turalon. After killing and stealing another man’s identity, Dan arrives on Donovan hoping to start a new life. Not only did he hit the jackpot on getting a new life but he ends up becoming the richest and most notorious man on Donovan. Scheming, threatening, blackmailing and murdering his way to owning the majority of Donovan. We get an inside look of the mind of a killer and business man and the combination is just jarring.

I really enjoyed Outpost. The world building was complex and expertly done, the characters are interesting and well-developed and the pacing and the plot was just right. All in all, a great start to a brand new series and I can’t wait to read more of it!