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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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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ARC Review – ‘A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor’ by Hank Green

TITLE: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor
AUTHOR: Hank Green
GENRE: Contemporary, Science Fiction
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 320 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Hachette Australia on July 14th, 2020
RRP: $29.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

April May and the Carls are back in the much-anticipated sequel to Hank Green’s #1 New York Times bestselling debut novel, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing.

The Carls disappeared the same way they appeared, in an instant. While they were on Earth, they caused confusion and destruction without ever lifting a finger. Well, that’s not exactly true. Part of their maelstrom was the sudden viral fame and untimely death of April May: a young woman who stumbled into Carl’s path, giving them their name, becoming their advocate, and putting herself in the middle of an avalanche of conspiracy theories.

Months later, the world is as confused as ever. Andy has picked up April’s mantle of fame, speaking at conferences and online about the world post-Carl; Maya, ravaged by grief, begins to follow a string of mysteries that she is convinced will lead her to April; and Miranda infiltrates a new scientific operation . . . one that might have repercussions beyond anyone’s comprehension.

As they each get further down their own paths, a series of clues arrive—mysterious books that seem to predict the future and control the actions of their readers; unexplained internet outages; and more—which seem to suggest April may be very much alive. In the midst of the gang’s possible reunion is a growing force, something that wants to capture our consciousness and even control our reality.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor is the bold and brilliant follow-up to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It’s a fast-paced adventure that is also a biting social commentary, asking hard, urgent questions. How will we live online? What powers over our lives are we giving away for free? Who has the right to change the world forever? And how do we find comfort in an increasingly isolated world?

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was an exciting rollercoaster ride of a book that gave me thrills and chills, a barrel of laughs and then caused me to internally screech in agony with a killer cliffhanger. I’ve been desperately craving this sequel for 18 months so it had a LOT of expectations to live up to…but wow, this book completely smashed through and exceeded them! ❤

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Book Review – ‘The Evolution of Claire’ by Tess Sharpe

Title: The Evolution of Claire
Author: Tess Sharpe
Genre: YA sci-fi
Word/Page Count: 400 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Scholastic Australia on May 1st, 2019
RRP: $16.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Discover the beginnings of one of Jurassic World ‘s most beloved characters–Claire Dearing–in this original action-packed young adult novel.

During the events of Jurassic World, Claire Dearing faced the savage fury of dinosaurs unleashed . . . but it wasn’t the first time. In this entirely new coming-of-age story, Claire lands an elite internship working for Simon Masrani and soon discovers his plans to build an all-new theme park–Jurassic World! Along the way, Claire establishes valuable relationships with both her peers and the prehistoric creatures she studies, but when the situation turns dangerous, she begins to see the dinosaurs in a different light. Fans of Jurassic World will delight in filling in the gaps of Claire’s past, all while gaining insights into the experiences that transformed her into the strong woman we know today.

This is such a brilliant movie tie-in! I’ve been a huge fan of Claire’s and loved Bryce Dallas Howard’s performance in the two Jurassic World movies, but there were some contradictory aspects of her character and inconsistencies that I couldn’t reconcile between the two movies. Being a huge action block-buster, the movies aren’t suitable for a character study, but The Evolution of Claire delves into her past and showcases the events and people who shaped her, providing the missing pieces to the puzzle.

What makes this book such a success is that if you’re already fond of Claire, it does justice to her character and will delight those who want more from her than the movies had room to provide. If you DIDN’T like Claire, there’s every chance that reading her coming-of-age story will win you over. 😉

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Book Review – ‘Shadow Captain’ by Alastair Reynolds

Title: Shadow Captain
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Publication Details: by Hachette Australia on 8th January, 2019
Word/Page Count: 432 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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The gripping sequel to the Locus award winning science fiction adventure, Revenger, tells a story of obsession and betrayal as two sisters hunt for the greatest treasure in the universe.

Adrana and Fura Ness have finally been reunited, but both have changed beyond recognition. Once desperate for adventure, now Adrana is haunted by her enslavement on the feared pirate Bosa Sennen’s ship. And rumors of Bosa Sennen’s hidden cache of treasure have ensnared her sister, Fura, into single-minded obsession.

Neither is safe; because the galaxy wants Bosa Sennen dead and they don’t care if she’s already been killed. They’ll happily take whoever is flying her ship.

Shadow Captain is a desperate story of cursed ships, vengeful corporations, and alien artifacts, of daring escapes and wealth beyond imagining … and of betrayal.

Even though there was a lot left to explore in the Revenger universe and that book had an open ending, I still somehow didn’t expect a sequel as the main character’s arc seemed to have run its course. Well, I did comment in my review that: “I had no idea what to expect from one page to the next; there was no safety net, no predictability whatsoever!” so of course the author would surprise me with a sequel!

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Book Review – ‘Navigating The Stars’ by Maria V. Snyder

Title: Navigating The Stars
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Published byHarperCollins Australia on 19th November, 2018
Word/Page Count: 464 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Navigating the Stars is the first book in a new science fiction series.

Terra Cotta Warriors have been discovered on other planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. And Lyra Daniels’ parents are the archaeological Experts (yes with a capital E) on the Warriors and have dragged her to the various planets to study them despite the time dilation causing havoc with her social life.

When one of the many Warrior planets goes silent, and looters attack her research base, Lyra becomes involved in discovering why the Warriors were placed on these planets. And, more importantly, by who.

I loved Maria V. Snyder’s Poison Study books, which is a dark and gritty fantasy series, so I was intrigued to see what a different genre from her would look like. This felt COMPLETELY different with a younger more naive protagonist and the writing reflected that as it’s in a casual first person POV with Lyra addressing the audience at points (“Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.”) But I really liked that! I thought the author switched gears effortlessly in the move from fantasy to sci-fi and crafted a snarky, independent and resourceful heroine. I rooted for her from the very start and enjoyed following her journey.

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Book Review – ‘Nightchaser’ by Amanda Bouchet

Title: Nightchaser
Author: Amanda Bouchet
Genre: Romance, Science Fiction
Published by: Hachette Australia on 2nd January, 2019
Word/Page Count: 416 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Tess Bailey: the galaxy’s Most Wanted.
Captain Tess Bailey is in deep trouble. She and her crew are on the run, pursued by a tyrant who’ll take them dead or alive. Tess’s best hope is a tall, dark, and much-too-appealing stranger, Shade Ganavan, who says he can help her. But his motivations are far from clear…

Shade Ganavan: arrogance, charm…and that special something that makes you want to kick him.
With the dreaded Dark Watch closing in, what Tess and Shade don’t know about each other might get them killed…unless they can set aside their differences and learn to trust each other before it’s too late.

This was a delightful easy read that I breezed through over a few nights – as a sci-fi romance, it thrilled me with the world-building and made me invest in the relationship between Tess and Shade! It is definitely important to note that there is a heavy romantic element to the storyline, so if that doesn’t sound appealing, then this may not be for you. But if you like some sexual tension and flirty banter mixed in with space battles and intergalactic banditry, I’m happy to recommend this! 🙂

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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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