Book Review: The Daybreak Bond by Megan Frazer Blakemore

“Maybe fate and superstition were just our brains’ way of making sense of the world around us, creating a story to explain events.”

The Daybreak Bond by Megan Frazer Blakemore (Chapt. 5, page 34)

The Daybreak Bond by Megan Frazer Blakemore is the sequel to The Firefly Code, a middle-grade science fiction story set in the future. I love a sequel, especially when the first book captivated me with its story and characters.

Everyone is back in book two, Mori and her closest friends from Firefly Lane in Old Harmonie, the community run by KritaCorp. By the end of book one, we know new girl Ilana is a form of AI and the scientists from KritaCorp have decided to disassemble her. The kids decide to intervene and run away from Old Harmonie with Ilana on a mission to save her life. The Daybreak Bond opens with the Firefly Five outside Old Harmonie and on their own trying to make their way to Cambridge and the campus of MIT. At MIT, they hope to find Dr. Varden, the one scientist that may be able to help keep Ilana alive. 

I like stories where the characters/heroes are on a journey and must overcome obstacles, and The Daybreak Code delivers on that. Blakemore gives the reader five kids who leave their “utopian” community to brave the wilds of the countryside and rough cities where they know no one. On the 24-mile journey the face everything from dangerous dogs to electric fences and kids who know how to survive outside a KritaCorp community. Things get rough and not everyone comes through unharmed. However, the Firefly Five meet new friends and learn to trust others outside their group, while choosing to follow their hearts.

The Daybreak Code is a solid sequel to The Firefly Code, effortlessly combining lite sci-fi with dystopian elements and the universal truths of childhood friendships. I definitely recommend both books for middle grade readers and teens. As an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed the stories and as a parent it’s nice to have books that you can enjoy with your kids.

Be sure to visit author Megan Frazer Blakemore’s website for more information about her books.

Book Review: The Tesla Legacy by K. K. Pérez

“The truth was so much more X-Files than Lucy could have imagined.” (pg. 177)

Readers looking for a young adult, sci-fi thriller with mystery and even a bit of romance can find it all and more in The Tesla Legacy by K. K. Pérez. The story follows Lucy Phelps, an intelligent 18 year old in the last few weeks of her senior year of high school and the “shocking” information she uncovers about herself, her family, and the legendary Nikola Tesla.

Lucy has epilepsy, or so she’s been told her entire life. Because of that, she’s been sheltered by her parents shunned other kids, especially when she was younger. A budding and brilliant scientist, Lucy just wants to venture out on her own terms and that means getting away to college. She does have the love and support of her best friend Claudia, but things are a bit rocky with her boyfriend Cole. When Lucy accidentally discovers a hidden message in a photograph of her younger self, it leads her into New York City and an experience that will change her life.

After discovering the hidden Tesla room in New York, Lucy has her hands full. She’s promised Claudia she’d help with the lighting design for prom, there’s issues with her boyfriend, she needs to keep working on her science experiment, and there’s also this little (not!) issue of her newfound abilities that involve her ability to manipulate and control electricity. And let’s not forget the handsome new teaching assistant that’s taken an interest in her as well as the two rival, ancient, alchemical societies that each want Lucy for their own agendas.

I enjoyed The Tesla Legacy immensely. It kept me entertained and engaged, even during its science-y moments. For me, there was a nice balance between sci-fi and action as well as between the sci-fi and romantic elements. Lucy is a likable character and I found myself cheering her on as she takes a stand.

Author K. K. Pérez provides enough twists to keep a reader guessing, but not too many where it becomes tedious. I do like that we’re set up for a sequel and when it’s released, I’ll definitely be adding it to my TBR list.

Please go check out the other books by K. K. Pérez at her website and grab a copy of The Tesla Legacy today.

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

“It was the dawn of new era, one where most of the human race now spent all of their free time inside a videogame.”

(Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, Chapter 0005, page 60)

Fun and entertaining—Ready Player One by Ernest Cline delivers more than just a nostalgic look at the games and pop culture from my childhood. The story is as immersive as the fictional OASIS, a mix of dystopia and sci-fi with plenty of action and references to satisfy my inner geek.

RPO

I did not read the book before I saw the movie and I’m glad I saw the movie first. Full disclosure, I really enjoyed the Ready Player One movie directed by Steven Spielberg and I’ve watched it multiple times. It’s the movie that prompted me to check out the book and want to read it; and I’m really glad I read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.

My advice: Don’t go into reading the book expecting to find the movie jammed between the pages. While they share the same title, characters, and overall theme, the Ready Player One book and movie really are two separate entities, both with their own merits.

Now, if you read the book first, I can see why maybe you didn’t care for the movie. Or maybe you did. Whatever. It’s my review and I liked them both, but have no issue keeping them as two different stories.

Let’s get back to the book. I liked it and plan to re-read it because there’s a lot to take in. It’s very detailed (okay, at times rambling) but I enjoyed the references and it didn’t take long for me to become invested in the journey of Wade Watts.

Wade Owen Watts (yes, his initials are W.O.W. and how fun is that when they’re entered into the high scorers screen of an old-school video game) spends his free time in the OASIS: the Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation. It’s 2044 and the world is a mess due to many factors including the Global Energy Crisis. The OASIS is a virtual utopia where humans can escape their depressing reality. Its creator has died but left behind a challenge; a game for gamers. If they can find the Easter egg Halliday hid in the OASIS, they inherit his vast fortune.

Halliday left three keys that had to be found followed by challenges to be won/solved before moving to the next key. Wade is on the hunt, one of the “gunters” going for egg, and his OASIS avatar is known as Parzival or “Z”.

Along with his best friend Aech (pronounced like the letter “H”) and other gunters known as Art3mis, Shoto, and Daito, they vie to reach each key and claim the ultimate prize. Throw in the corporate baddies and their leader Sorrento and the race is on.

The book is told in first person from Wade/Parzival’s perspective. It’s extremely detailed, almost too much at times, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the overall story and rooting for Wade to get to that egg and not let Sorrento win.

Do I recommend Ready Player One by Ernest Cline? Yes, I do for fans of light sci-fi that’s filled (brimming!) with 80s pop culture and gamer references.

Book Review: Vector Prime by R. A. Salvatore

My summer of re-reads continues with Vector Prime by R.A. Salvatore, the first book in Star Wars saga, The New Jedi Order. There are 19 books total in this series and you can find the complete list here.

vectorprime.jpg

Vector Prime released fall 1999 and it gives readers of the Expanded Universe their introduction to the Yuuzhan Vong, a race that’s quickly to become the biggest threat the New Republic has ever faced.

The story takes place 25 years after Star Wars: A New Hope, according to the official timeline. Main players include our original trio: Luke, Han, and Leia as well as Luke’s wife Mara Jade Skywalker, the three Solo children, Lando, a few Jedi, a brave scientist, and the indomitable Yuuzhan Vong.

The action is plentiful as is the political intrigue throughout Vector Prime. Leia is back in the thick of things as a diplomat, Luke is busy leading the Jedi, and Han—well, Han is Han, until the unthinkable happens. The Solo kids are right in the center of it all, and it’s young Anakin Solo that has the heaviest burden to carry by the end of the book.

…And no, I won’t post spoilers even though this book is almost 20 years old, that’s not my style. If  you want to know why this may be one of the hardest books for any die-hard Star Wars fan to read, then you need to read it and be prepared for a devastating loss. I will tell you that the first time I read Vector Prime, I threw the book across the room at the end of chapter 17. And I cried. Yep. True. Cried again, reading it this time through. Still gets me.

I love the Expanded Universe books and The New Jedi Order series remains one of my favorites. I think the Yuuzhan Vong are an interesting enemy and terrifying in their alien-ness as well as their devotion to the battle. It’s disturbing. It also can be hard to watch characters you love suffer and make mistakes, but the series overall is engaging and one I highly recommend.

Book Review: AFTERMATH: LIFE DEBT, a Star Wars novel by Chuck Wendig

“Life Debt” from Chuck Wendig is the second book in his Star Wars series “Aftermath”. The Aftermath series takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far away (okay so I felt the NEED to say that) and after the battle of Endor, the explosion of the second Deathstar, and the death of the Emperor. However, the timeline of “Life Debt” is several years before “The Force Awakens”.

z-aftermath-life-debt

Life in the galaxy after the fall of the Empire is less than awesome. The New Republic is working for order, while the remaining Imperial remnant is struggling to keep their grip after their devastating losses. Readers met Norra Wexley and the Halo crew in the first “Aftermath” book, and this motley group is back, this time pursuing Grand Admiral Rae Sloane. Norra and the crew are diverted from their pursuit of Sloane when they answer the call of Leia Organa Solo — seems her husband Han has gone missing while helping the Wookiee Chewbacca liberate his homeworld of Kashyyyk.

Norra Wexley, her son Temmin, and the rest of their crew face many challenges and hardships throughout “Life Debt”. Doing the right thing, isn’t always easy. Everyone is put to the test, even the scoundrel smuggler Han Solo. In the meantime, Leia finds herself having to make difficult decisions both as a politician, wife, and former Rebellion leader.

“Aftermath: Life Debt” has a great pace, memorable characters, and effortlessly continues the saga of Star Wars without breaking stride. It’s a nice balance of new and traditional Star Wars, and I can’t say enough how much I love Mister Bones. And Sinjir — he remains my favorite character in this series.

I’m looking forward to Book 3: “Empire’s End” and if you’re any level of Star Wars fan, I highly recommend this series by Chuck Wendig.

You can find a link to the book here. And you can find all things Chuck Wendig over on his blog terribleminds. If you’re a writer, I highly recommend Wendig’s books on the craft of writing — awesome stuff there. My personal favorite is “The Kick-Ass Writer”.

Book Review: Bloodline by Claudia Gray

I have officially added Bloodline by Claudia Gray to my collection of Star Wars books. Being a huge Expanded Universe fan (Expanded Universe is now known as Legends), I admit to having a few reservations about this book — I bought it anyway and I have no regrets.

z Bloodline

Claudia Gray’s book Bloodline is a prequel story to the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens and is set about six years before we meet Rey, Finn, Poe, and BB-8. It’s Leia’s story and Gray did a great job with Leia Organa — princess, senator, wife, mother, and granddaughter of Darth Vader.

Bloodline follows Leia while she’s serving in the New Republic Senate. There’s conflict between the Populists and the Centrists as well as a greater threat to the star systems lurking just around the corner. Han is off doing his thing, Leia is trying to save the New Republic (no surprise there) and Gray even teases readers with a hint of the great Luke Skywalker who’s busy training the Solo’s son in the Jedi arts.

Bloodline gives readers a classic Star Wars adventure with heroes to cheer for, bad guys to boo, politicians with an agenda, starship pilots not afraid to take chances, and a nicely balanced combination of familiar faces mixed with new, exciting characters. Bloodline has intrigue, some great dialogue, a solid story that helps set up some of the events in the movie The Force Awakens, and quite a bit of action. It’s great to see Leia getting her hands dirty and kicking ass. There’s also a poignant moment as Leia comes to a startling realization about her father, Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker — you’ll have to wait for it, as it comes almost at the end, but it’s good.

I like author Claudia Gray’s style for moments like this:

Someday was the sun disappearing behind a cloud, a morning lost to darkness long before night should have come.”

And

“They lifted their glasses and clinked them together, and the darkness in their pasts seemed farther away than it had before.”

And my favorite:

“The sun is setting on the New Republic. It’s time for the Resistance to rise.”

I recommend Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray to any fan of the Star Wars books and/or movies. You can check out more Star Wars books here. My personal favorite is the X-Wing series.

Find out more about author Claudia Gray here.

Book Review: Alien Like Me by Sherilyn Putnam

You may remember, a few weeks ago I posted the cover reveal for “Alien Like Me” by Sherilyn Putnam. Today, I’m happy to share my review of the book.

Author Sherilyn Putnam‘s new book, “Alien Like Me” offers readers an imaginative journey and look at the world several years after an alien invasion. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a middle-grade book and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to read this one.

Alien Like Me Cover Reveal

In “Alien Like Me” we meet Max, barely a teen and alone in a world that’s been invaded by aliens. Max is a survivor and he’s smart. Yet, Max also has a sweet and vulnerable side that makes him endearing. When we first encounter Max, he’s trading for supplies — when a substantial portion of the world’s population has died due an alien invasion, getting your hands on necessities like shoes means cultivating savvy bartering skills. Author Putnam paints a vivid picture of a post-invasion world and draws her reader quickly in with the challenges Max faces.

Max is on a journey for answers, his destination a research facility with scientists working to figure out why the aliens invaded. What did the aliens want then and what do they want now? Max feels a connection to the “Blueys” but what does it mean and why haven’t they tried to kill him too?

I really liked Max. Sherilyn Putnam has a created a genuinely likable character who is smart, funny, and compassionate. One of my favorite things about this book is that Max doesn’t have any close human friends or  “sidekicks” along for journey. He’s one his own and we even get to see him question his own humanity after spending so many years alone. But don’t worry about Max, he does meet a little buddy and develops an unusual friendship.

I received a copy of “Alien Like Me” as an ARC in exchange for an honest review, and I happily report that I truly enjoyed this story and recommend it as a good read for all ages — from middle grades through middle age and beyond pick up a copy of “Alien Like Me” by Sherilyn Putnam today.

You find out more about Sherilyn Putnam and her books here.

Cover Reveal: Alien Like Me by Sherilyn Putnam

Alien Like Me Cover Reveal

Seriously, how AMAZING is that?!?

Author Sherilyn Putnam is releasing her newest book for middle graders on April 30 and you won’t want to miss it! Let’s just take a minute to ogle that gorgeous cover before we dive into the story’s blurb . . . still ogling? Yeah, me too.

Alien Like Me

by Sherilyn Putnam

With the Earth still recovering from an alien invasion, one boy goes about life the only way he knows how. Survival. It’s working well until he realizes that the aliens have seemingly singled him out.

Now he is left with the decision of staying the path he has picked for himself, or venturing into the unknown. Once he makes the decision, his life will change dramatically. But is it for better or worse?


You can check out my dear friend and author Sherilyn Putnam at her website here or just stalk her like I do on social media (really, she loves it!) at the following links:

Sherilyn Putnam on Facebook and on Twitter.

So go on, go check her out right now. Go. I’m done here.

And don’t forget to mark your calendars for April 30 for ALIEN LIKE ME.