Take My Money! Sunday

Hella by David Gerrold

Expected Publication: June 16, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: A master of science fiction introduces a world where everything is large and the problems of survival even larger in this exciting new novel.

Hella is a planet where everything is oversized—especially the ambitions of the colonists.

The trees are mile-high, the dinosaur herds are huge, and the weather is extreme—so extreme, the colonists have to migrate twice a year to escape the blistering heat of summer and the atmosphere-freezing cold of winter.

Kyle is a neuro-atypical young man, emotionally challenged, but with an implant that gives him real-time access to the colony’s computer network, making him a very misunderstood savant. When an overburdened starship arrives, he becomes the link between the established colonists and the refugees from a ravaged Earth.

The Hella colony is barely self-sufficient. Can it stand the strain of a thousand new arrivals, bringing with them the same kinds of problems they thought they were fleeing?

Despite the dangers to himself and his family, Kyle is in the middle of everything—in possession of the most dangerous secret of all. Will he be caught in a growing political conspiracy? Will his reawakened emotions overwhelm his rationality? Or will he be able to use his unique ability to prevent disaster?

Why I’m Excited: This sounds like a great idea for a sci-fi. A planet full of giant things and a neuro-atypical young man trying to survive in it. Sign me up!

The Apocalypse Strain by Jason Parent

Expected Publication: June 25, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: A multi-national research team, led by a medical genomics expert suffering from MS, study an ancient pandoravirus at a remote Siberian research facility. Called “Molli” by the research team, the organic substance reveals some unique but troublesome characteristics, qualities that, in the wrong hands, could lead to human extinction. The researchers soon learn that even in the right hands, Molli is a force too dangerous to escape their compound. But the virus has a mind of its own, and it wants out. 

Why I’m Excited: I am a bit obsessed with the idea of plagues running amok and killing off the entire world. I play Plague Inc obsessively, I read books about it, I read historical stuff about past plagues. I am obsessed. And this sounds so good.

The Charmed Wife by Olga Grushin

Expected Publication: January 12, 2021

Goodreads

Synopsis: Cinderella married the man of her dreams—the perfect ending she deserved after diligently following all the fairy-tale rules. Yet now, two children and thirteen and a half years later, things have gone badly wrong and her life is far from perfect. One night, fed up, she sneaks out of the palace to get help from the Witch who, for a price, offers love potions to disgruntled housewives. But as the old hag flings the last ingredients into the cauldron, Cinderella doesn’t ask for a love spell to win back her Prince Charming.

Instead, she wants him dead.

Endlessly surprising, wildly inventive, and decidedly modern, The Charmed Wife weaves together time and place, fantasy and reality, to conjure a world unlike any other. Nothing in it is quite what it seems, and the twists and turns of its magical, dark, swiftly shifting paths take us deep into the heart of what makes us unique, of romance and marriage, and of the very nature of storytelling.

Why I’m Excited: I know what you’re thinking, it’s another fairytale retelling. Sort of. But not really. It’s a “what happens after happily ever after.” And I know that it doesn’t come out for…well forever, but I am too excited not to talk about it. I have scored an ARC for this one, and I cannot wait!

Review: Day Zero by Kelly deVos

9781335008480.inddDay Zero by Kelly deVos

Published on November 1st, 2019 by Harlequin Teen

Buy this book at: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Synopsis: If you’re going through hell…keep going.

Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.

But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.

In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?

Rating: 2 star

Review: To sum it up in one sentence, this book wasn’t very good but wasn’t completely without redeeming qualities. The writing was solid. A bit too much tell versus show at times but the narrative was engaging enough that it didn’t bother me. I liked the introductions to all the characters and felt that those early chapters gave me a really good handle on who everyone was. Except Toby, for the first few chapters I kept forgetting who he was and I am still not sure why I couldn’t remember him.

Jinx was a terrible main character. I could tell that she’s supposed to be smart but she really enjoyed acting like she wasn’t. Her father prepared her for the apocalypse for years, she knows what she should do in the situations presented in the book. She just decides not to do it. And then regrets it once everything goes horribly wrong. Just once I wanted her to follow the lessons of her father and go along with the disaster plan. But, alas, she did not. I tried really hard to like her as a character but I just couldn’t do it.

Charles was an absolutely delight as a character, which was completely unexpected for me. I did not expect to like him but he stole my heart. I wanted to protect him in his anxiety and fear. And to quite frank, he was a lot smarter than his older sister too.

My biggest problem with this book however was the political overtones. I don’t mind books that are commentaries on the current political climate. But, is it really so hard to disguise that a tiny bit? Somehow the current political parties have been replaced by The Spark and The Opposition. I have no idea how that happened because the author didn’t bother to tell me. The Spark is basically the Democrat party. Socialist, popular with “educated” folks who majored in political science, and the goal is take rich people’s money and spread it around so that everyone has a mediocre existence. They have been in power for about 10 years according to the book. Their leader is Rosenthal. Everyone in the book repeats the party catch phrase ad nauseum “Everyone’s for Rosenthal.” And if anyone in the book even hints that they might not be for Rosenthal they are immediately attacked with “so you just hate people? you just want to hoard your stuff instead of take care of people?!” Yawn. Boring. The Opposition is the Republicans, allegedly. Led by Ammon Carver, an enigmatic billionaire who owns the largest bank in the country and since “Everyone’s for Rosenthal” he obviously cheated in order to win. Is this sounding familiar at all? Oh yes, everyone in The Opposition wears red hats, carries shotguns, has a poor command of the English language, has a pickup truck, and obviously wants the world to descend into anarchy so they can keep all their stuff. Oh and every other character immediately labels them a Neo-Nazi seemingly without any evidence of that at all. Is this sounding familiar now?

I didn’t mind the political themes at first because after the first 20 pages or so they seemed to largely move on to other things. But then it comes back at the end in such a heavy handed way that I wanted to scream. It felt like the author was beating me over the head with a MAGA hat screaming “I’m talking about Trump and 2016!!!” I get it. Okay? Honestly. I get it. I am not so stupid that I didn’t see your glaringly obvious theme. I was so tired of it by the time we got to the big twist at the end that I mostly just wanted the book to end. I don’t mind politics in my books, but please refrain from beating me over the head with your own opinions. I don’t need the brain damage.

And then we come to the twist. It wasn’t that good either. I started figuring it out about halfway through the book. I was completely sure that I knew what was going on shortly after. It was so blatantly obvious that even another character basically says to Jinx, “Hey isn’t all this stuff weird and suspicious? Do you think there might be something odd going on here?” And Jinx just laughs and says “Of course not!”. Then she is oh so shocked when the traitor is revealed. Um, that other character literally told you all that stuff about 40 pages ago. Are you really that dense?

Overall, not a good book. I won’t be reading the next book but it gets some credit for the exciting middle portion and for Charles.

Progress Updates: Day Zero and Recursion

42046112

On page 230 of 329.

All of a sudden I feel like someone whacked me over the head and dropped me into the movie Inception. There are 10,000 things happening at once. And they are also un-happening all at once. And then different things are happening but also un-happening. My head hurts. I am hoping he can bring this tugboat to port but I am completely lost right now.

 

9781335008480.indd

On page 201 of 302 pages.

This one has been an interesting ride. It’s been full of action but I don’t particularly like the main character. One of the big reveals was not that surprising to me, I called it early on. Jinx makes some really awful decisions. The entire book seems to be along the premise of “always have a plan so that when disaster strikes you are prepared” and then Jinx acknowledges that she should follow the plan, but then decides not to.

Review: Penitence by Mark Campbell

43083591._SY475_Penitence by Mark Campbell

Published July 10, 2018 by Darkest Hour Publishing

Buy this book at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

Synopsis: 

A deadly influenza pandemic.

An escaped convict.

A single mother desperate to protect her only child.

As the insidious virus cripples society, providence brings two survivors together in an unlikely partnership to survive in a world fraught with chaos.

In a small poultry farm located in Delaney, Georgia an antigenic shift causes the H7N9 bird flu virus to jump species. The contagion burns through everything in its path despite the federal government’s ham-handed efforts to mask the mutated virus’ true nature. Its unprecedented mortality rate paralyzes the nation and paves the way for FEMA’s martial law to be established across the country.

At a maximum security federal penitentiary south of Tucson, Arizona, Inmate Teddy Sanders’ world of structure and routine crumbles to dust, as the virus starts spreading within the confines of the prison. As the virus callously strikes down guards and inmates alike, the administration loses control and Teddy finds himself fighting enemies both old and new. Circumstances force him to form precarious new alliances in order to escape what has effectively become a concrete tomb.

Meanwhile, fifty miles away from the penitentiary, a young woman named Jane risks it all to keep her young son Danny safe in a residential tower in the heart of downtown Tucson. Surrounded by armed looters and desperate survivors, Jane ventures out on her own to forage for supplies. Not only does she have to contend with those left behind, but she also faces an increasingly hostile military presence.

As their paths cross and inalterable choices are made, will the unwitting pair find salvation?

Rating: 4 star

Review:

***I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. Thank you NetGalley and Darkest Hour Publishing!***

I am a sucker for an apocalypse novel, especially if there are killer viruses afoot. One of my favorite mobile games is about trying to develop a disease that wipes out the population of the planet, so this is something I have a dark fascination about. I am always willing to pick up a novel with that theme. Often times they disappoint, this did not.

We start the book with Teddy. He is our main character and I expected him to be more of an anti-hero. You don’t want to be rooting for him because he was in federal prison for doing bad things to people, but the world is ending and he’s one of few who survived so go Teddy! He was a bit of what I expected, but also came across as a really big boy scout. I mean, come on, we all know the things you did. We all know because you told us fairly quickly and bluntly. So can we please stop acting like he’s a good ole boy who just got caught in an unfortunate circumstance? I really didn’t like that about him. You don’t end up with a life sentence in federal prison because you had a bad day. But, regardless, the plot was enough to move me along despite my irritations with Teddy. In the end I just had to disregard what I thought his character should be and accept what he was and then we got along just fine.

Jane and Danny were fantastic. Jane is a woman after my own heart and I would like to think that in similar circumstances I could show the same resilience. I enjoyed them both immensely and I sincerely wanted to see the three of them ride off into the sunset together. They made me laugh, they made me cry, and I love it when that happens.

The plot was not quite what I expected but I liked how it worked out, which is always a nice surprise. I didn’t expect so much of the story to take place in the prison. But despite not expecting it, I loved it. A completely contained environment that gets infiltrated by a virus that kills nearly everyone it infects. How do you keep order and at the same time try to keep people healthy too? You’re still dealing with bad people who are violent and unpredictable in nature, add in the threat of death and things can spiral out of control very quickly. And spiral out of control they did. It was deliciously devilish.

I liked how the book ended. I understand that the book is expected to be a series, so it makes sense in that aspect. But if I never read the second book I would also be satisfied with how it ended. Teddy is still looking for redemption, trying to be the man that he might have become if not for the prison stint, and being put into a situation that is at once completely alien but oddly familiar. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host

And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host

Published October 1st, 2012 by the author

Synopsis and cover picture from the Goodreads book page

Buy this book at B&N / Amazon / Smashwords

Synopsis:

Come for the apocalypse.
Stay for cupcakes.
Die for love.

Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings.

None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world – and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind.

Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending.

Rating (out of 5):

Review:

Allow me a moment to sound like a lovestruck teenager please.  I love this book, cue sigh.  No, I lurv this book!  Cue more dramatic sighing.  Okay, lovestruck fangirl moment has passed, let’s get on with this reviewing business.  I admit that the synopsis of this book made me think long and hard about if I wanted to read it or not.  But I do love apocalypse novels and the idea of potential alien invaders was fantastic.  It piqued my interest enough that I requested a copy for review.  Part of me wants to rave about this book from the rooftops all night, but first let’s get the things that got on my nerves out the way.  Don’t worry, it’s short.

The descriptions of the dust coming down from the sky and covering everything was interesting at first, but I thought that it went on a little too long.  After awhile I found myself thinking, “Okay, I know, the violet dust is EVERYWHERE!  Now please talk about something else.”  I found that this happened a few other times as well, where I just felt that some things went on a bit too long and I was skimming for a few pages until we moved on.  For example when Maddie was looking through empty apartments that was rather cumbersome and when they were planning their attack on the invaders I wanted to get to the actual attacking sooner than I did.  These were minor annoyances and frankly didn’t really impact how much I enjoyed the book but I thought it should be mentioned.

Now for the good parts, Maddie was fantastic.  She is the YA heroine I have been searching for for months!  She is strong, smart, kicks ass when she needs to, and knows when to step aside and let someone else take charge when necessary.  I love this heroine so much.  All of the female characters in this book were like her in a lot of ways.  In general, the characters were very genuine and authentic and not stereotypical or cliche at all.  Oh, and we also have a lesbian couple in the book…you don’t see it until near the end but there is.  That is rare in YA as well, putting in any LGBT characters.  Tyler, I am not quite sure if he was transgendered or a crossdresser but he is in there as well.  There are Asian characters and white characters, and lesbian characters, and transgendered characters and NONE OF IT SEEMED FORCED.  All of the characters were natural and fit in this world and that was so refreshing to see.  No token “a black man walked down the street” moments in this one!

The plot was also very unique and interesting.  I loved the idea of it and also the way it was written.  Everything was explained without feeling like the information was just being dumped on me.  I liked the way the plot played into social structures in our society without hitting you over the head with it.  It was a statement about our society but was never preachy. And the ending was a cause for celebration and also sadness.  It made me cry, and I rarely shed tears at a book.  I felt the emotions of these characters very clearly and my heart broke for them.

I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this book.  It is a worthy book to buy and I doubt it would disappoint.  Give it a try, even if the synopsis doesn’t seem like your thing.  It just might turn into one of your favorites by the end.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.  No monetary compensation or promise of a positive review was given.