Starstruck – EXCERPT!

By S.E. Anderson

Heya Bookworms! Today’s post is a little different – because I’m going to tell you a little bit about my new release, my debut novel, Starstruck. It’s a funny, quirky space story about aliens, anxiety and adulthood. And so far, people are really liking it!

“S.E. Anderson’s debut is a hilarious galactic romp with loving nods to Hitch Hiker’s Guide to Galaxy but with a voice all its own. It’s quirky, fun, and utterly enjoyable.” ~Dragon Award-nominated author, R.R. Virdi of The Grave Report and The Books of Winter.

“It’s witty, it’s fast paced, and it’s delightfully tongue in cheek. […] If you like The Doctor, Hitchiker’s Guide or Space Shennanigans, you’ll like this book. Can’t wait to read more.” ~ L. Burke

“My only question is WHEN CAN I READ THE NEXT BOOK?!” ~ C. McGough

“I think anyone who is a fan of things like Doctor Who, Douglas Adams’ trilogy, or even Firefly would feel right at home with this one.” ~ H.

“I’ll be definitely picking up the second book in this series. S.E. Anderson is a skilled writer, and Starstruck’s pages burst with personality, action, and humour. A must-read for science fiction fans.” ~ M. Dyer

But as the author, it would be very odd of me to review it. Though I have said a little bit about it before, right here! So instead, I’m just going to share with you the prologue. Enjoy!


PROLOGUE
It All Begins With a Lot of Sand

The commander raised his binoculars and surveyed the desert. The bleak landscape spread out for an eternity before him, flat as far as he could see, broken only by the crumbling buildings of the city. “Where are you?”

“Um, sir. W-what are your orders?”

The commander drew in a sharp breath. His second might only be a kid—on his first posting, no less—and maybe he hadn’t seen the kind of action that kept the commander awake at night, but he had to keep his face straight. If he thought that skirmish with the fugitives was an actual attack, he was kidding himself. Besides, the men counted on them for strength and guidance, not fear and weakness.

His team waited in silence on the roof beside him. Most were looking anywhere but at the commander, avoiding eye, or any other kind of contact. He did not blame them.

“I want you to find those fugitives.” The commander’s order flew off his tongue like sparks from a fire. “They must be within the city limits or someone would have spotted them.”

“But, sir, we searched the burg, and there was no sign of them.”

“Then look harder,” the commander hissed, raising the binoculars again. He scowled at the empty wasteland. It was the same as always, as it had been for months … well, until today.

“Maybe they’ve, um, braved the desert?”

The commander resisted the temptation to slap him. How his superiors thought the boy ready for the post was beyond him. Maybe it was meant as a slight, giving him children to command, like he was a babysitter rather than a decorated war hero. “Can you see them out there?”

His number two swallowed. “Um, no, sir.”

“Then they’re not there, are they?” The commander shifted his gaze back to the horizon, daring the universe to put the fugitives in his field of vision. “They’re in the town. They can’t be anywhere else, which makes me wonder what you are still doing here.” He turned and glared at his number two. “Find them.”

“Sir!”

A call from the street below made him lower his binoculars. He marched to the edge of the roof and looked down at the cracked pavement, ignoring his second-in-command as the boy scampered off to follow his orders. A soldier looked up at him, clutching a rifle against his chest like a shield.

“What?”

“They’ve been sighted, sir.” His voice cracked. “They’re making a run for it on foot, but they’re not moving very fast. They’ve taken to the desert, by the east bridge.”

The commander spun on his heels, turning from his perch to make his way to the staircase. He gave a curt nod to each of the men standing by, gesturing for them to follow. He would need every soldier assigned to this middle-of-nowhere dump he had been defending for half a century. The atmosphere had been quite cheerful until today, the day when everyone under his command learned what it meant to be tested.

But they’d been seen, finally, and he could take as long as he wanted to get to the East End. The desert was eternal, without shelter or cover until one reached the mountains, and that took at least three days by ‘craft. If they were on foot, all his men needed to do was to keep them in sight, and he would have them.

He ran through the list of rewards he would receive for capturing the elusive pair. Money? Land? A promotion would be in order; he deserved that much, at least. Somewhere nice, somewhere where the sun shone, instead of burning like fire on his constantly covered-up skin. There was a little place he liked not too far away, with sandy beaches and a deep ocean, a post that required plainclothes rather than camouflage.

He marched through the ghost town, realizing how high the sand had risen since his first day all those years ago. It had been a vibrant place back then, with a market on this very street and flags flying from the windows. Now, all that remained were crumbling memories; the rising sands were devouring what lingered. Soon, all they would leave would be a gigantic dune—the only dune for thousands of miles.

“You have them?” he asked as he reached the squadron at the east bridge. The soldiers huddled in a mass, each trying to mask their fear. The broken bridge had all but crumbled away, leaving a cement perch over an ocean of sand, a perfect vantage point from which to see … well, more sand. Only today, just for a change, there was something else out there.

Each of his soldiers bore a mark from the so-called attack: a red-raw neck; a lump or two growing on their head; a small mark in the shape of a cigarette burn, accompanied by the scent of scorched clothing and skin. Their wounds were minor, however, which meant he would capture the two most wanted criminals in the universe without losing a single man. He did wonder how they had managed to get through the fight with such light injuries, though. According to legend, the fugitives could kill hundreds in a single minute—some even said the blink of an eye—though he was sure the stories were exaggerated.

The felons dashed across the arid desert. They wore desert clothes, loose layers of cotton wrapped around their bodies to help them blend in with the sand. The man’s turban was coming undone, fluttering in the wind he created by his sheer speed. The woman danced lightly across the sand beside him; unhindered by the wrap, she was so graceful, she almost floated in the air. It was enough to make the commander freeze as he watched her shrinking from view.

“I have them in my sights, sir,” the sniper announced. His finger hovered above the trigger. The commander found himself staring at it, that lonely digit, reveling in how something so simple could bring such vile things to an end. The rest of his companions stood further back, eyes wide with terror, faces contorted with fear, and legs paralyzed by both. This man had no welts on his arms, no marks or bruising on his neck. No wonder he could still think clearly. The commander ran a hand over the burn on his right wrist, sliding his sleeve to cover it.

“I see them.” He grinned at the sniper, his binoculars trained on the two figures. “Shoot to incapacitate. Then have a retrieval squad pick them up.”

The sniper fired a single shot. A loud, piercing sound broke the silence. Almost instantly, the man fell to the ground, a red spot spreading from the middle of his back, soaking through his cotton garb. The commander sneered. Just minutes away from glory.

His sneer faded when the man stood up; he didn’t seem to notice the bullet, even though the splotch of blood spread. The man fled across the desert unhindered by the wound, his feet pounding rhythmically. “Shoot him again,” the commander ordered, mortified. He clutched his burn as if he could reflect the pain back tenfold upon those who bestowed it.

The shot rang out, seemingly louder this time, but the man kept running, despite fresh blood saturating his shirt. “Again.” Finally, losing his temper he commanded, “Kill him!”

This time, the bullet hit the small of the man’s back, but he didn’t fall. Instead, his hand reached across his back, as if to swat a fly, smearing the blood without slowing his stride.

“This is clearly the wrong approach,” the commander said, forcing himself to keep his composure, though fury flooded his words. “Arms at the ready.”

“What, all of us?” a soldier asked.

“Yes, all of you,” he snapped, raising a hand in the air. “Ready … aim …”

The soldiers had barely raised their guns when the targets just … disappeared. They had not fallen, nor had they escaped upward. The commander scrutinized the landscape, but there was no trace of them; in their place, an unfurled turban floated to the ground in the breeze.

The commander’s fury burst the dam of self-control, and he howled. He ripped off his helmet and slammed it on the ground. It hit the pavement and rebounded, ramming into his shin. He felt none of it; his anger eclipsed his pain, the fury burning through his veins like acid, stronger and hotter than he had ever felt before.

Everything he had heard about them, everything he wished he hadn’t known but had learned to fear about them … it was all true, and there was no better truth than the one he had seen with his own eyes. One second they were there, just out of reach, the next, gone. Just … gone. Bullets didn’t even slow them down. No wonder they had a knack for evading the law.

No wonder they needed to be taken down.

For the first time in his life, the commander dropped his head into his hands, a sob ringing across the empty wasteland, heard only by the cowards behind him. He picked up his helmet, and, seeing the burn marks upon it, shouted words into the desert that his men could not understand. Then, without thought, he tossed it into the desert, watching the dented metal tumble in the air, before falling into the sand and lodging itself there to be covered up by time. With that, the commander fell to his knees, rubbing his webbed fingers over his irritated, sunburned scalp.

They had escaped once again. And with them, his dreams.

Goodbye, money.

Goodbye, land.

Goodbye, promotion and plainclothes.

And he had so wanted that quiet posting on Earth.


Starstruck All Angles

There you have it! Do you want to read more? The first FIVE chapters are available right now, for FREE. Check it out right here!

And if you’d like to buy the book, well that’s easy too! You can find it right here, on amazon.

The Song Rising

The Bone Season, Book 3
Written by Samantha Shannon

I have to say, I’m a massive fan of the Bone Season series. I’ve had this book preordered since last August and just waiting ages and ages for it to release and ship. Downsides of living in France is just how much waiting there is for good books. And with the fantastic twist ending of The Mime Order, well, the wait was unbearable! Spoilers ahead for the first two books if you haven’t already read them.

Summary31451267

Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…

One of the most amazing things about this series is how every book is a different genre. The Bone Season was paranormal fantasy; The Mime Order was murder Mystery; and now, the Song Rising is definite dystopia. Paige is now the Underqueen, and has to lead her people, the voyants of London, as they stand up against the Scion Empire. And it’s not an easy task: there’s betrayal, deceit, new enemies and a whole lot of unhappy voyants.

We finally get to explore more of the world that Shannon has created. Paige’s mission takes her north of London, to Scion Manchester and Scion Edinburgh. We get to see just how much Scion has destroyed the lives of non-voyants as well, and learn more about the dark pasts that haunt our favorite characters. We learn about Scion Sweden, and Nick’s story, which is painful in every way.

Another strength of Shannon is how every book has its own villain, and gives Paige a very distinct goal to strive for. In The Song Rising, we finally get to meet the woman behind the fall of Ireland, Paige’s true home. Vance is a cruel commander who will stop at nothing to destroy everything Paige is trying to create. I would have liked to see more from her, but she was a great enemy to pursue.

The character growth is exceptional, especially for Paige and her relationship with Warden (which doesn’t go where you’d expect). However, I think the author might have spread herself thin by having so many supporting characters also evolving. There were so many to juggle, and I think they might have lost some of their depth on the cutting board.

I have to say the first half of the book was a little slow. it was hard to get into the story, as it was mostly Paige having to deal with annoying people, and hand out pep talks and long speeches to assert her dominance. A bit of a pain. but the last half was gripping to the extreme, and the last fifty pages were insane. So intense! Now I just can’t wait for the next book.

What I’m excited for: Scion France, and TBS à la international spy thriller. Heck. Yes. Sign me up now!

The Space Between the Stars

by Anne Corlett

This novel was nothing what I expected, and yet it is now stuck in my mind like an idea that just won’t go away. It’s one of those books that’s so breathtaking, so gorgeous, it becomes unforgettable. Fair warning, scifi fans: this is not hard scifi, this is not a space opera: it is something different, something more.

Summary30981910

All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit…

Now Jamie finds herself dreadfully alone, with all that’s left of the dead. Until a garbled message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive.

Soon Jamie finds other survivors, and their ragtag group will travel through the vast reaches of space, drawn to the promise of a new beginning on Earth. But their dream will pit them against those desperately clinging to the old ways. And Jamie’s own journey home will help her close the distance between who she has become and who she is meant to be…

Musings

The virus hits, and humanity as we know it is gone. Less than a dozen or so survivors per planet. The virus has consumed so entirely that the dead are nothing but dust in sunbeams. Jamie is one of the survivors, seemingly alone on a frontier planet, so she finds hope by clinging to one idea: she needs to find her ex-husband on Earth, as they promised they would do so long ago. She’s not alone: soon, she finds a religious man with a troubled past; a woman slowly losing her mind; a pilot with a cold exterior, and his engineer; a young prostitute, and a mentally challenged boy. Strays. Stragglers. Survivors. Together, they decide to head to Earth.

The surprising thing about this novel is just how… calm it is. Not so say that the plot isn’t gripping, it’s just that you can almost feel the voices snuffed out. The author juxtaposes small, personal loses (or quite large ones) with the wide scale loss of your entire species. Jamie’s loss of her siamese twin, then unborn child, then the crumbling of her relationship with Daniel are poignant pains that are still valid in front of the collapse of mankind.

It’s really a book about philosophies, and personal beliefs around hope and religion. Some turn towards a god in this apocalypse; others turn away. And some try to take god’s place.  Although some might try to take control, believing they know best, the truth is, all in all, there is no right answer to dealing with loss and grief. There’s no one sobbing in the street and mourning the dead – since this is a massive, collective loss, the hundred or so left might remain in shock forever.

I found that the plot was predictable, BUT, it was the philosophies that kept me hooked. Yes, the ‘twist’ at the end (or big reveal) is evident from about half way through, but I didn’t mind that since the rest of the book was so beautiful. It was very odd that out of the survivors (A little over a hundred out of the billions the human race used to be made up of) the protagonist knew or was related to two of them. The coincidences did feel heavy handed.

The novel really did manage to speak about today, about how our fear of ‘others’ can destroy us all. We hear bits and pieces about the forced emigration when Earth became over crowded; about the protest ships; about the echelons that make up our future society, where our fingers are branded with our class. I would have loved to know more about that, even if that world is now gone.

For fans of Station Eleven and Firefly, this seems to be the perfect combination of ‘ragtag space team’ and the burden of loss and survival. It’s an exploration of grief and hope, and, above all, belief. It’s an exploration of our humanity, what it means to be human when humankind is lost.

And it’s gorgeous.

Expected publication: June 1st 2017 by Pan Macmillan

Taking a short break!

Heya bookworms!

Sarah here. Things are hectic, per usual, seeing a how the semester is drawing to a close and I must prepare for the inevitable exams. So… no review from me this week. I’m a little too overwhelmed to write anything constructive about books! Kenzie is going to post instead!

I did get a chance to listen to the audiobook of The Pale Dreamer, the prequel to the Bone Season series. It’s fantastic, and if you’re a fan it’s definitely worth the read.

Also great news: Dangerous Ways just came out yesterday. And this book, you need to read. I’ll make it easy for you: here’s a link so you can grab a copy!

Currently, I’m reading Angel Tormented, the third book of the Lousiangel series. It’s fantastic, I just wish i had more time to read it!

That’s all for now, bookworms. Have a fantastic holiday season!

Love, Sarah

Happy Birthday to us! + GIVEAWAY

Hello Bookworms! Sarah here, announcing some pretty big news. Our Reacommendations Booklr has just hit 3,000 followers! Huzzah!

We’re also coming up on the second birthday of our blog. On November 27th, we want to do something special for each and every one of you who supported us.

As promised, as a way to celebrate our second anniversary and all the new followers, We’re having a giveaway! Whoopee! I will be buying two lucky winners the books of their choice!

giveaway

Logistics and things:

  • You must be following me on tumblr. It is a giveaway to thank our followers, after all!
  • One winner will be picked via a random number generator. Likes and reblogs of this post count! Just be nice and don’t spam your followers.
  • The winners each get to pick any book under $15 on book depository.
  • You have within 48 hours to respond back to me with the book you want, your name and address. So you have to be alright with giving me your info – no worries, I’ll keep it 100% confidential. Make sure you ask box is open so I can let you know that you have won.
  • I will be sending the books for the book depository, so this giveaway is open to every country it ships to.
  • For extra entries (and all my love) come follow our little baby bookstagram and our twitter!
  • The giveaway will end November 27th, the second anniversary of this blog.
  • If you do not have a tumblr, no fear. Comment on this post for an entry, and we’ll add you to the drawing.

And if we hit 4,000 followers before the anniversary, we’re adding a winner to the mix. Three winners!

Alrighty Bookworms, good luck! And Happy Reading!

Hag-Seed

by Margaret Atwood
Reviewed by SA

I love Shakespeare. I love Margaret Atwood. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect for these two worlds to collide, but they have, and everything is right with the world. If I had to describe Hag-Seed in a word, it would be: Fun. Maybe delightful. In any case, it’s the Tempest you never knew you needed, so pick it up ASAP.

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When Felix is deposed as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival by his devious assistant and longtime enemy, his production of The Tempest is canceled and he is heartbroken. Reduced to a life of exile in rural southern Ontario—accompanied only by his fantasy daughter, Miranda, who died twelve years ago—Felix devises a plan for retribution.

Eventually he takes a job teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the nearby Burgess Correctional Institution, and is making a modest success of it when an auspicious star places his enemies within his reach. With the help of their own interpretations, digital effects, and the talents of a professional actress and choreographer, the Burgess Correctional Players prepare to video their Tempest. Not surprisingly, they view Caliban as the character with whom they have the most in common. However, Felix has another twist in mind, and his enemies are about to find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever. But how will Felix deal with his invisible Miranda’s decision to take a part in the play?
When Felix is betrayed by the devious Tony and kicked out of being Artistic director for a theatre festival, he exiles himself to a shack in the middle of nowhere and begins plotting his revenge. He is accompanied only by the illusion of his dead daughter, whom he sees still living and growing up at his side.

Years go by, and he is hired by a local correctional facility to teach a literature class to inmates. But he does much more than that: he puts on plays. Shakespeare plays, to be exact. And finally, his time for revenge is upon him, and everything is falling into place. Felix will stop at nothing to get his title back.

What’s fantastic about Hag-Seed is how it’s at the same time a retelling of a Shakespeare play, WHILE at the same time being a book about a shakespeare play. And they put on a play within a play as part of the revenge plot. Confused yet? Well, the book itself is clear as crystal, a fun read that might twist your mind with its layers – think Shakespeareception – while ultimately making you smile.

I had a fun time trying to match things from Hag-Seed with the Tempest. It’s great how Miranda, Felix’s daughter, isn’t the miranda from the Tempest, at least, not all the time. Sometimes the connections aren’t immediately evident. Just as Felix modernizes and interprets some of the elements in the Tempest, Atwood does as well, and they invite us to join along and make our own version of events.

I kept expecting something awful to happen, and yet, it didn’t. I loved how the convicts interpreted the characters of the Tempest. I loved the swearing with insults from the Tempest. I loved how they studied the play, and allowed us to be a part of it at the same time. (English teachers are going to have a fun time with this one!) it was just. so. fun.

So if you love Shakespeare – or just haven’t made up your mind about him yet – then pick up this amazing book.

Heroine Complex

by Sarah Kuhn
Reviewed by SA

If you like the superhero genre as much as I do, you probably love a kick ass heroine with something to prove. But have you ever worried about their sidekicks, the ones who have to run their social media page and make sure their image is as badass as they are? Have you been dying to get your hands on a book that not only has an amazing conflict, but also fantastic friendships and POCs? Then hold on tight – you need a seatbelt for Heroine Complex.

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Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

Eight years ago, a portal opened in downtown San Francisco, bringing with it a demon army from another realm. They didn’t last long, but a handful of people gained extraordinary abilities as a result: one of them was Aveda Jupiter, who’s dead set on protecting her city from demonic activity. But protecting the city is only half of the challenge: people have to like her, too.

Cue Evie Tanaka, Aveda’s childhood bestie. She’s the one in charge of Aveda’s public image, and that means following her into action with a phone in hand, ready to capture badass videos of her beating the heck out of demonic cupcakes. But the job is a lot more than that, and Aveda needs her to take on a much, much bigger challenge.

What I loved about this book was how it managed to not only be exciting, but really funny, too. Demonic cupcakes are only chapter number one: you also have to deal with the gossip bloggers and internet trolls, and maybe try to save the world with a karaoke battle when time calls for it. You also might have to put a fire extinguisher next to your bed when things are getting sexy. There’s never a dull moment.

The plot also had some really fantastic, unexpected twists in there. Which, of course, I will not spoil for you. I absolutely loved how some insignificant details could really come back and turn the story around. And the fact that everything was told from Evie’s perspective meant some really eye opening reveals from other characters. I love it when it gets exciting!

Evie is also such a fantastic protagonist. Her struggles, her growth, her logic: combined, they make for a character who’s not only relatable, but also lovable, and somewhat enviable. She’s a very strong female character, one who’s stubborn and not easily pushed around, and I liked how she could stand up for herself unapologetically. Her relationship with Nate is also one of the most modern and natural takes I’ve seen in recent books. And did I mention, sexy?

It’s also one of those novels that deals with issues we all care about: it’s sex positive, deals with consent, with toxic media, with our habit of pitting women against each other rather than raising them up. Very early on, you see the very relatable moment when the internet care more about Aveda’s appearance than her accomplishments, about a zit breakout than her demon ass-kicking (do they even have asses?). Not only does she have to defend her city, but she can’t eat the foods she loves because it would mean a drop in interest from the public. It’s awful, but completely true.

While as a character, Aveda swayed a bit for me, her friendship with Evie is a definite reason i love this book even more. They’re honest, caring people in a good relationship, able to talk things out rather than take it out on each other. They do love each other. So do Evie and Bea, though this sisterly love is another great example of good relationships in this book.

So if you need a great dose of superhero, strong women, great relationships, and cupcakes, Heroine Complex is the book for you!