ARC Review – ‘Victories Greater Than Death’ by Charlie Jane Anders

TITLE: Victories Greater Than Death
AUTHOR: Charlie Jane Anders
GENRE: YA Sci-fi
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 400 pages (paperback)
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Titan Books on April 13th, 2021

Blurb from Goodreads:

A thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war with international bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders at the helm in her YA debut—think Star Wars meets Doctor Who, and buckle your seatbelts.

Tina has always known her destiny is outside the norm—after all, she is the human clone of the most brilliant alien commander in all the galaxies (even if the rest of the world is still deciding whether aliens exist). But she is tired of waiting for her life to begin.

And then it does—and maybe Tina should have been more prepared. At least she has a crew around her that she can trust—and her best friend at her side. Now, they just have to save the world.

From internationally bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky) comes a thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war—Anders’s long-awaited YA debut.

In many a book, the main character is the Chosen One with a special destiny which they are often unaware of and thrown into the plot with confusion and complaints of ‘Why me?‘ I’ve always wanted to read a story where the protagonist DIDN’T resist the Call To Adventure and embraced it whole-heartedly like many of the sci-fi nerds among us would if given the chance. Victories Greater Than Death gives me that story I’ve been waiting for with a great subversion where our Chosen One Tina is well-aware that she’s a clone of an alien commander just biding her time growing up hidden on Earth until she’s old enough to rejoin the war. Far from railing against her fate, we meet her impatiently testing out ways of activating the beacon inside her which will summon the aliens to reclaim her!

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Book Review – ‘Dead Space’ by Kali Wallace

TITLE: Dead Space
AUTHOR: Kali Wallace
GENRE: Sci-fi/Horror
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 336 pages (paperback)
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Berkley on March 2nd, 2021

Blurb from Goodreads:

An investigator must solve a brutal murder on a claustrophobic asteroid mine in this tense science fiction thriller from the author of Salvation Day.

Hester Marley used to have a plan for her life. But when a catastrophic attack left her injured, indebted, and stranded far from home, she was forced to take a dead-end security job with a powerful mining company in the asteroid belt. Now she spends her days investigating petty crimes to help her employer maximize its profits. She’s surprised to hear from an old friend and fellow victim of the terrorist attack that ruined her life–and that surprise quickly turns to suspicion when he claims to have discovered something shocking about their shared history and the tragedy that neither of them can leave behind.

Before Hester can learn more, her friend is violently murdered at a remote asteroid mine. Hester joins the investigation to find the truth, both about her friend’s death and the information he believed he had uncovered. But catching a killer is only the beginning of Hester’s worries, and she soon realizes that everything she learns about her friend, his fellow miners, and the outpost they call home brings her closer to revealing secrets that very powerful and very dangerous people would rather keep hidden in the depths of space.

Kali Wallace is an author who refuses to be pigeon-holed and jumps at whim from one genre to another, writing for various age groups from dark YA fantasy novels to whimsical middle grade fantasy to adult sci-fi horror. Her first offering in the latter category was the phenomenal Salvation Day in 2019 and she has returned to that well in the upcoming Dead Space.

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Release Day Review – ‘A Dark and Hollow Star’ by Ashley Shuttleworth

TITLES: A Dark and Hollow Star
AUTHOR: Ashley Shuttleworth
GENRE: YA Fantasy
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 512 pages (hardcover)
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Hodder & Stoughton on February 25th, 2021

Choose your player.

The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.

For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.

Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?

Wish them luck. They’re going to need it.

In this ambitious debut by Ashley Shuttleworth, A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR injects magic into modern day Toronto with the existence of secret magical communities partitioned away from regular humans, but still nestled alongside them. That choice gives the book a unique feel as most stories about fae portray them in a separate world altogether, but keeping mundane mortals in the mix adds higher stakes, more complicated politics and a bunch of fun pop culture references.

My favorite part of this book is that all four main characters are queer. Normally I hope in vain that an author will have just ONE character with LGBT+ rep and my cup overrunneth with joy at the f/f and m/m ships we’re treated to here! 

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Book Review – ‘The Ever After’ by Amanda Hocking

TITLE: The Ever After
AUTHOR: Amanda Hocking
GENRE: YA Fantasy
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 416 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Pan Macmillan Australia on January 12th, 2021
RRP: $17.99 AUD (paperback)

Blurb from Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking concludes the magical world of the Trylle with The Ever After, the final book in her last Trylle arc.

Nestled along the bluffs of the forested coast lies the secret kingdom of the Omte–a realm filled with wonder…and as many secrets.

The Ever After closes the last trilogy of the long-running Trylle series.

My mind is reeling from the thrilling conclusion to the Omte Origins trilogy, what a rollercoaster ride! The first book was a pretty cozy read that set the scene for new readers, gently ushering us into the Omte universe. Things cranked up a couple notches in book 2 and then all hell broke loose for the finale! The word ‘epic’ barely conveys the grand scale of adventure, disaster and frantic adrenaline that lies in store for you.

Some readers may find the plot slow at the start because the memories of our heroes have been wiped after the end of the previous book, but given that my recollection was hazy and I couldn’t remember what happened, it worked well for me to see Ulla piecing together her experience and filling in the gaps since we last saw these characters. It felt so creepy knowing that they went through a traumatic event which they couldn’t recall, then realizing there is a big threat coming but not knowing precisely what it is creates this riveting tension. I couldn’t turn the page fast enough to see what happened next!

This is a fast-paced action-packed story that combines surprising revelations about character backgrounds and sheds new light on the history of the troll kingdoms with grim and gritty battle scenes, creative expansions on the world-building and bittersweet love and loss. A great wrap-up to a trilogy that has much to offer long-time Trylle fans while functioning as a good entry point to this world for new readers.

Disclaimer: Physical copy provided by publisher free for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Review – ‘The Good Sister’ by Sally Hepworth

TITLE: The Good Sister
AUTHORS: Sally Hepworth
GENRE: Contemporary, Thriller
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 336 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Pan Macmillan Australia on October 27th, 2020
RRP$32.99 AUD (paperback)

Blurb from Goodreads:

From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.

Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all. 

This was my first time reading Sally Hepworth and I’ve turned into an instant fan thanks to this book! It’s a mesmerizing, tightly plotted domestic thriller that alternates between sweet, heartwarming scenes and then disturbing, uncomfortable moments that jolts the reader out of their complacency.

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Book Review – ‘Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares’

TITLE: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
AUTHORS: Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
GENRE: YA, Contemporary
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 276 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Allen & Unwin on December 1st, 2020
RRP$19.99 AUD (paperback)

Blurb from Goodreads:

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

I binge-read this book over the weekend weekend, it’s such a sweet holiday read! 

I love that this is a romance between two bookworms who connect without meeting in person and develop feelings for each other while exchanging notes and dares, it’s the most adorable plotline. Not even remotely realistic, there’s so much that had to go just right for Dash and Lily’s budding romance to flower, but I found it very easy to lose myself in this bibliophile’s wish-fulfillment fantasy. 

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Book Review – ‘Defending The Galaxy’ by Maria V. Snyder

TITLE: Defending The Galaxy
AUTHOR: Maria V. Snyder
GENRE: YA, Sci-Fi
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 544 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Harper Collins Australia on December 2nd, 2020
RRP$19.99 AUD (paperback)

Blurb from Goodreads:

Year 2522. Oh. My. Stars.

Junior Officer Ara Lawrence here, reporting for duty. Again. It’s situation critical for the security team and everyone in the base – including my parents – with a new attack from the looters imminent, a possible galaxy-wide crime conspiracy and an unstoppable alien threat. But this all pales in the face of my mind-blowing discovery about the Q-net. Of course, no one believes me. I’m not sure I believe me. It could just be a stress-induced delusion. That’s what my parents seem to believe…

Their concern for me is hampering my ability to do my job. I know they love me, but with the Q-net in my corner, I’m the only one who can help the security team beat the shadowy aliens from the pits we discovered. We’re holding them at bay, for now, but the entire Milky Way Galaxy is in danger of being overrun.

With battles on too many fronts, it’s looking dire. But one thing I’ve learned is when people I love are in jeopardy, I’ll never give up trying to save them. Not until my dying breath. Which could very well be today…

First things first, this book has the most stunning cover I’ve ever seen. ❤ I adore the color scheme and composition, so all the awards to whoever designed it! 

As the final entry in the Sentinels of the Galaxy trilogy, this book neatly ties up loose plot threads even as it delves deeper into the mind-blowing revelation from the previous book to create new obstacles and threats. But fear not, everything is tidily wrapped up by the ending which is uplifting and satisfying for fans of this series. If you loved the previous two books, you should find this one to be immensely enjoyable as well. 

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Book Review – ‘ALL THIS TIME’ by Mikki Daughtry & Rachael Lippincott

TITLE: All This Time
AUTHOR: Mikki Daughtry & Rachael Lippincott
GENRE: YA, Contemporary
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 336 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Simon & Schuster on October 7th, 2020
RRP: $17.99 AUD (paperback)

ALL THIS TIME is a wonderfully moving YA novel that flirts with melodrama on occasion, but succeeded in making me invest in the protagonist and root for him to heal from the immense trauma he suffers and find new meaning in life. 

Kyle tragically loses his high school sweetheart in a car accident that leaves him seriously injured and adrift in life. To say he’s depressed would be putting it mildly! While he’s reluctant to reconnect with old school friends, he finds himself forming a bond with a fellow mourner at the cemetery, Marley, who is recovering from the loss of her twin sister. I found the development of their friendship to be super sweet and while I’m not normally into friends-to-lovers, their dynamic really worked for me because they were both so broken and being with each other helped them recover from grief. 

There were a couple of crazy blindsides in this book that had me stunned and applauding the authors for flipping the script so thoroughly. I didn’t expect it from a cozy contemporary novel and that really elevated the reading experience. 

Recommended for fans of starcrossed romance, complex friendships and sad but ultimately hopeful stories about characters dealing with loss.

Personal Rating: 4 out of 5 kitties recommend this book.

4cats2

Disclaimer: Physical copy provided by publisher free for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Blog Tour: Cute Mutants Vol 1: Mutant Pride by SJ Whitby

MTMC Tour Banner - Cute Mutants

Today I’m excited to participate in the Bookstagram & Creative Tour for Cute Mutants Vol 1: Mutant Pride by SJ Whitby! In this YA Superhero novel, a teenager X-Men superfan gets powers and discovers she’s not the only one. Now she’s part of a group of queer superheroes struggling to control their powers, defeat the villain and, most difficult of all, make friends. Cute Mutants Vol 1 & 2 are out now, and Vol 3 releases on December 8th, 2020!

TITLE: Cute Mutants (Vol 1: Mutant Pride)
AUTHOR: SJ Whitby
GENRE: YA, superheroes, LGBT+
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 416 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by SJ Whitby on August 1st, 2020
PURCHASE FROM: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository | Blackwell’s

cute

Blurb from Goodreads:

My name is Dylan Taylor, human incarnation of the burning dumpster gif, and this is my life.

I always wanted to be an X-Man. Except people and me never got along, and apparently you need social skills to run a successful team. Cue Emma Hall’s party. One hot make out session with the host herself, and I can talk to objects like my pillow (who’s far too invested in my love life) and my baseball bat (who was a pacifist before I got hold of him). Now there’s a whole group of us with strange abilities, including super hot ice queen Dani Kim who doesn’t approve of how reckless I can be. The bigger problem is a mysterious mutant causing unnatural disasters, and we’re the ones who have to stop him. Except trying to make a difference makes things blow up in my face and the team’s on the verge of falling apart. Can I bring them back together in time to stop the villain from taking revenge? Have I mentioned I’m not a people person? Magneto help us.

This book made my nerdy fangirl heart so happy! I’ve been wanting to find a story where someone wakes up with powers and is PSYCHED because of all the pop culture they’ve obsessed over instead of angsting about having paranormal abilities, so it’s like this book was written for me! Dylan is a huge X-men fan so finding out she and a bunch of her peers have powers is basically her dream come true.

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Release Day Review – ‘Plain Bad Heroines’ by Emily M. Danforth

TITLE: Plain Bad Heroines
AUTHOR: Emily M. Danforth
GENRE: Gothic Horror, LGBT+
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 640 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Harper Collins Australia on October 21st, 2020
RRP: $32.99 AUD (paperback)

Blurb from Goodreads:

Our story begins in 1902, at The Brookhants School for Girls. Flo and Clara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, the author of a scandalous bestselling memoir. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it The Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, the setting of their wildest happiness and, ultimately, of their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered with a copy of Mary’s book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of stinging, angry yellow jackets. Less than five years later, The Brookhants School for Girls closes its doors forever—but not before three more people mysteriously die on the property, each in a most troubling way.

Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkind writer, Merritt Emmons, publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the “haunted and cursed” Gilded-Age institution. Her bestselling book inspires a controversial horror film adaptation starring celebrity actor and lesbian it girl Harper Harper playing the ill-fated heroine Flo, opposite B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells as Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern heroines arrive on set to begin filming, past and present become grimly entangled—or perhaps just grimly exploited—and soon it’s impossible to tell where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins.

A story within a story within a story and featuring black-and-white period illustrations, Plain Bad Heroines is a devilishly haunting, modern masterwork of metafiction that manages to combine the ghostly sensibility of Sarah Waters with the dark imagination of Marisha Pessl and the sharp humor and incisive social commentary of Curtis Sittenfeld into one laugh-out-loud funny, spellbinding, and wonderfully luxuriant read.

In the early 1900s, a series of deaths at the Brookhants School for Girls leads to its closure with rumors of a curse plaguing the school. In the present day, Brookhants is reopened for the filming of a movie about those tragic past events, spurring a new rash of strange and inexplicable events…

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