Owlcrate – October 2018: ‘Lost In The Bookstore’

OwlCrate is a monthly book subscription service that provides you with a newly released Young Adult novel plus other bookish extras, such as jewelry & accessories, bookmarks, stickers & prints, toys, etc.

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Here is my very late review of the October box – I’ve been having issues with connecting my phone to my laptop and I couldn’t get my photos off it til last week. Just in time as my phone has now died and I have to get it fixed, agh.

OwlCrate
Cost: $29.99 USD monthly, $86.98 for 3 months or $167.94 for 6 months.
Shipping Costs: $7.99 to US, $10.59 to Canada and $19.99 internationally.
Payment Method: Debit and Credit Cards.
Mailed Out: around the 20th of each month.

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ARC Review – ‘The Mansion’ by Ezekiel Boone

Title: The Mansion
Author: Ezekiel Boone
Genre: Horror
Date of Publication: 4th December, 2018
Word/Page Count: 432 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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After two years of living on cheap beer and little else in a bitterly cold tiny cabin outside an abandoned, crumbling mansion, young programmers Shawn Eagle and Billy Stafford have created something that could make them rich: a revolutionary computer they name Eagle Logic.

But the hard work and escalating tension have not been kind to their once solid friendship—Shawn’s girlfriend Emily has left him for Billy, and a third partner has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. While Billy walks away with Emily, Shawn takes Eagle Logic, which he uses to build a multi-billion-dollar company that eventually outshines Apple, Google, and Microsoft combined.

Years later, Billy is a failure, beset by poverty and addiction, and Shawn is the most famous man in the world. Unable to let the past be forgotten, Shawn decides to resurrect his and Billy’s biggest failure: a next-generation computer program named Nellie that can control a house’s every function. He decides to set it up in the abandoned mansion they worked near all those years ago. But something about Nellie isn’t right—and the reconstruction of the mansion is plagued by accidental deaths. Shawn is forced to bring Billy back, despite their longstanding mutual hatred, to discover and destroy the evil that lurks in the source code.

I absolutely adored Ezekiel Boone’s ‘The Hatching‘ trilogy, which is incredible given how I’m terrified of spiders, but that series was perfectly written with well-developed characters, fast-paced action, stunning twists and TONS of death and mayhem. I knew going into The Mansion that this wasn’t going to be on a similarly apocalyptic scale of disaster, but I hoped the same magic would be at work here and that just wasn’t the case. :/

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Book Review – ‘Zero Sum Game’ by SL Huang

Title: Zero Sum Game
Author: SL Huang
Genre: Thriller, Sci-Fi
Date of Publication: 2nd October, 2018
Word/Page Count: 336 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Cas Russell is the geek’s Jack Reacher… ZERO SUM GAME is a smart, accessible sf thriller with blockbuster appeal.

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower…until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she’s involved. There’s only one problem…She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.

I originally gave up on this maybe a quarter of the way through, but as I had requested a copy for review on Netgalley, I felt guilty about abandoning it and decided to return and try to power through. It ended up being a really fun read and a couple of the issues I had at the start turned out to have plot-related explanations, so color me shocked and intrigued!

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Book Review – ‘Light Years’ by Kass Morgan

Title: Light Years
Author: Kass Morgan
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Date of Publication: 9th October, 2018
Word/Page Count: 384pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Reeling from the latest attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is finally admitting students from every planet in the solar system after centuries of exclusivity.

Hotshot pilot Vesper, an ambitious Tridian citizen, dreams of becoming a captain – but when she loses her spot to a brilliant, wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, it makes her question everything she thought she knew. Growing up on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can get to escape his dead-end life and join the Academy – even if he has to steal someone’s identity to do it. Arran was always considered an outsider on icy Chetire, always dreaming of something more than a life working in the mines. Now an incoming cadet, Arran is looking for a place to belong – he just never thought that place would be in the arms of a Tridian boy. And Orelia is hiding a dark secret – she’s infiltrated the Academy to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone there. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it’ll be her life on the line.

These cadets will have to put their differences aside and become a team to defend their world from a cunning enemy – but the danger might be lurking closer to home than they think…

I wanted to read this because of the diverse characters, and Light Years did not disappoint on that front. Aside from the gay relationship hinted in the blurb, we had a character with a prosthetic leg who was shown to have a fulfilling and prestigious career, racial diversity and also an examination of class differences now that the Academy is including citizens from the ‘lesser’ planets into its hallowed halls, to the dismay of some of the elite!

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I didn’t expect the  latter and was pleasantly surprised at how it was incorporated with a great level of nuance with subtle nods at the characters’ different backgrounds, for eg. a wealthy privileged Tridian automatically offering a handshake to a Devan character to whom this was a foreign concept, as Devans grow up in a toxic environment where they would never expose themselves to harm like that.

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ARC Review – ‘A Curse of Ash and Embers’ by Jo Spurrier

Title: A Curse of Ash and Embers
Author: Jo Spurrier
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Date of Publication: 24th September, 2018
Word/Page Count: 272 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic. Some people knit socks by the fire at night. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters. But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it’s Elodie’s job to clean up the mess. When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she’d find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep. Gyssha’s final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie’s help, whether she likes it or not. And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it’s still better than going back home.

I am two-for-two with YA books that promise to focus on the bonds between two female characters and actually follow through! There was a whiff of romance with a minor character, but the central dynamic that is the heartline of A Curse of Ash and Embers is the one between Elodie (Dee for short), a 16 year old girl leaving home for the first time, and Aleida, the witch she was hired to serve. If you’re keen on a story with an endearingly sensible female protagonist who ends up in a mentor/protege dynamic with an acerbic, self-deprecating, morally grey witch, look no further!

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ARC Review – ‘What The Woods Keep’ by Katya de Becerra

Title: What The Woods Keep
Author: Katya de Becerra
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Sci-fi
Date of Publication: 26th September, 2018
Word/Page Count: 352 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

With its spooky cover and intriguing blurb, What The Woods Keep has been on my TBR for a while. I crossed my fingers and requested this book from the publisher – and to my utter delight, I received a copy in the mail soon after! Even better, this lived up to my high expectations, so winning on all fronts here. 😀

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ARC Review – ‘The Echo Room’ by Parker Peevyhouse

Title: The Echo Room
Author: Parker Peevyhouse
Genre: YA, Sci-fi
Date of Publication: 11th September, 2018
Word/Page Count: 320 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Rett wakes on the floor of a cold, dark room. He doesn’t know how he got there, only that he’s locked in. He’s not alone—a girl named Bryn is trapped in the room with him. When she finds a mysterious bloodstain and decides she doesn’t trust Rett, he tries to escape on his own—

Rett wakes on the floor of the same cold, dark room. He doesn’t trust Bryn, but he’ll have to work with her if he ever hopes to escape. They try to break out of the room—

Rett and Bryn hide in a cold, dark room. Safe from what’s outside.

But they’re not alone.

This wasn’t a bad book, but it’s a case of expectations shaping my reading experience – from the cover and blurb, I assumed this was a horror/thriller and was in the mood for an entirely different story from what it shaped up to be in the end. It didn’t help that on Netgalley, it was only filed under YA and the description was of ‘a smart, claustrophobic, speculative young adult thriller with an immersive psychological mystery‘, which backed up my assumptions. However, if you take a look at the Goodreads page, (spoiler alert) its genre is listed as YA science-fiction/time-travel which is much more accurate.

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ARC Review – ‘Beneath The Citadel’ by Destiny Soria

Title: Beneath The Citadel
Author: Destiny Soria
Genre: YA, Fantasy, LGBT
Date of Publication: 9th October, 2018
Word/Page Count: 480 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.

In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.

I’ve been having a streak of good luck with my Netgalley ARCs – this is yet another that has fallen in the category of ‘addictive enough to keep me up all night reading’! I’m really in love with this one, I need to add it to my collection once it’s published! ❤

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Litjoy Crate – July YA book box review: ‘Warriors of the Stars’

LitJoy Crate is a book subscription box service that offers a quarterly Middle Grade box aimed at ages 8-13 and a monthly Young Adult box for ages 14 and older. This is a review for the July YA box, which includes a new release book and themed bookish goodies.

At the time of this review, the July YA box is available to purchase in Litjoy’s store.

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LitJoy Crate

Cost: $29.99 USD
Shipping Costs: $13.05 within the US, $14.82 to Canada and $24.99 internationally
Payment Method: Credit Card
Mailed Out: 20th of each month

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Shelflove Crate – July 2018: ‘Let The Games Begin’

Shelflove Crate is a YA book subscription box that is “specially assembled with a newly released Fantasy or Sci-Fi YA book and 3 or more theme-based items”.

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Shelflove Crate
Cost: $29.99 USD
Shipping Costs: $7.99 for US, $14.99 for Canada and $22.99 worldwide
Payment Method: Credit Card
Mailed Out: from the 20th onward each month

This box was ridiculously late – it was delayed about two weeks as a manufacturer didn’t have an item ready in time, so all the boxes were held up. This July box only just arrived on August 15th!

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