Tag Archives: science fiction

Blog Tour: Catalyst by Tracy Richardson

Brown Books Publishing Group
TBP June 2nd 2020
248 Pages

Marcie Horton has a sixth sense. Not in the “I see dead people” way, but . . . well, maybe a little. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained-an intuition that goes beyond the normal. Then there was that one summer four years ago, when she connected with a long-departed spirit . . . But nothing that incredible has happened to Marcie since.

This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archaeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds-something Marcie knows only vaguely that her brother has also had experience with.

Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken, and she and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history. It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting. – Goodreads

Welcome to my stop on the Catalyst Book Tour!!!!

This was an interesting read because I felt like I should have read the first book. There were a few references to what happened previously but nothing specific in there that threw up a flag. However, the way the book was written it was as if the events from the first book was the elephant in the room that was only occasionally looked at from the side eye.

Beyond this the events of this book was not what I was expecting. It is science fiction but VERY science fiction and it was unexpected, which is a good thing. Predictability drops book ratings.

But the story. . .  not my cup of tea. Marcie is extremely honest and open. It not even her being naive, its her willing to be this way after the events from the previous book. She is young and she tries to come off older and wiser than what she is and it doesn’t exactly flow well.

What I liked about the book was the archaeological dig and the history that surrounds it.  I would have liked to have seen actual Natives discussing this history with the students and professors, it would have added much more depth to the novel. 

The pace of the novel moves pretty fast but there is a clear direction with some surprising turns.

Overall, the foundation of this novel  (because it is read as a standalone) is a good start to a series that can be detailed, historical and just genuinely cool.  I wanted more, especially seeing the science fiction aspect of it.

 

Book Review: Timothy Mean and the Time Machine by William A.E. Ford

Self Published
January 17th 2019

With Timothy Mean’s amazing imagination and time machine, anything and anywhere is possible!

Join Timothy on a magical rhyming adventure as he skips through time and pranks with pirates, gets daring with dragons, and even teases a T-Rex! – Goodreads

I would like to thank the author, William A.E. Ford for reaching out to me and sending me an arc to one of the most adorable picture books, I have read in a long time.

Timothy Mean builds this time machine at a point of looking for something new to do and as fast as he can think of it, he goes to another time period.

What I loved about this is it gave me the Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day feel. Yes, they are two different books but something about this read made me feel very nostalgic and I was for it.

I loved the artwork. Its whimsical with bold colors that doesn’t take away too much from the text.

 

Manga Review: Please Save My Earth by Saki Hiwatari

Viz Media
Published 1987

Part science fiction, part fantasy, and completely engrossing, this provocative manga stars sensitive high school student Alice Sakaguchi, who has a recurring dream that she’s part of a team of alien scientists on the moon! She doesn’t really believe it, until new evidence arrives.

Now even her eight-year-old neighbor is acting strange! Alice’s dreams of being a lovely woman living on the moon are a respite from her job babysitting the holy terror Rin! When he goes one step too far, she slaps him, causing him to fall off a balcony and into a coma.

When he awakens, he seems changed–and strangely connected to Alice. Meanwhile, at school, Alice meets a pair of boys with an oddly close relationship. Soon she learns they too have dreams–of living on the moon!- Goodreads

I was recommended this read by Barnes and Noble. It seemed like something I could get into even though it is over 30 years old and the artwork is a bit outdated.

To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. This was a good manga that is deep into reincarnation. Alice isn’t much of a interesting character. She is very soft spoken, a bit spacey and cries a lot. She doesn’t have a back bone at all and I genuinely did not care for her.

Although she is one of the most important characters within this manga, I had to tune out the whiny voice. However, Rin moved this story along as he was the hate to love. His reasoning for what he was doing made sense, although how he was doing things was wrong, which made me think how exactly or where is the author going with this.

Because of Rin, there is almost zero predictability within this series. It literally can go in a few different ways and I stuck with the series to see what way it would go because without him and the whole theme of reincarnation, it would just be another romance with a fragile girl that everyone loves.

The books moved slow, so if you are expecting fast pace in any form, you won’t get it. I felt that science fiction aspect of the series was more interesting than what was presently happening. This could be due to my love of fantasy and my interest in the not normal but as the entire series is based off the past life, I was more drawn to that.

Overall, I would recommend this manga, especially if you are into love triangles, conflicted feelings and betrayal.

3 Pickles

#UltimateBlogTour Day 9: After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward

Self Published

They tell me the country looked different back then. 
They talk of open borders and flowing rivers. 
They say the world was green. 
But drought swept across the globe and the United States of the past disappeared under a burning sky. 

Enora Byrnes lives in the aftermath, a barren world where water has become the global currency. In a life dominated by duty to family and community, Enora is offered a role within an entity that controls everything from water credits to borders. But it becomes clear that not all is as it seems. From the wasted confines of her small town to the bowels of a hidden city, Enora will uncover buried secrets that hide an unthinkable reality. 

As truth reveals the brutal face of what she has become, she must ask herself: how far will she go to retain her humanity?- Goodreads

Before jumping into the review, you all have to understand that After the Green Withered won the 2018 Best Indie Award in Young Adult Fiction! So congratulations, Ms. Ward!

Enora Byrnes isn’t exactly having the time of her life. Her parents, who no longer feel or act whole, follow a system called “company.” You know its one of those we are here to help you because the world you once knew ended but Enora doesn’t agree with this lifestyle, which creates a divide between her and her parents. I know that this sounds typical; something that has been done before, however, this book has a completely different feel.

I chalk this up to writing style and a form of familiarity.

With all dystopia books, there are references to technology and modern world. I liked that. I like feeling a connection with a book beyond the characters and that is what the book gives. Despite literally the world being nothing like we know now, there is a connection to what is happening now i.e. the constant invasion of privacy, the constant looking over your shoulder because you don’t know who to trust because someone can turn in on you. It sounds weird but I like that the author was able to add this specific feeling into her novel.

However, the book was slow. There is a lot of building, which is fine but when things reached the peak, I did not feel the YES! I was waiting for. It just felt like “well alright. At least we are getting somewhere.” Do I think the author did a good job developing the story, setting and characters? Yes, it just happened to be a bit slower than I expected and wanted.

In regards to characters. . . Enora was alright. There is a lot of growth with her and I am actually looking forward to see how she grows in the next book. The ending made it very clear things weren’t done and I am cool with that. The cliffhanger didn’t exactly make me upset that there was a cliffhanger but I was more like thinking if I want to read another book. And the answer is yes, yes I would.

Overall,

3 Pickles

When you get the chance, check out the other posts on this ultimate blog tour!

A Tale of Two Pages
Out of This World SFF Reviews
Hiding Behind Books
Never Enough Books
Looking Glass Reads
Cats Luv Coffee
The Artsy Reader
Bookmarks and Stages

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New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color by Nisi Shawl & Rebecca Roanhorse (Contributor)

Solaris
TBP: March 14,2019
384 Pages

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings.

These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichés, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius.- Goodreads

I am trying to expand my reading tastes; especially when it comes to Black or other authors of colors. It is so easy to pick up more white authors especially if they are the ones being promoted more.

So when I came across this book I was extremely excited for it despite my dislike for short stories. With that being said, I wasn’t exactly disappointed in this book; there was a lot of good but then a lot of so so.

Dear Dancer written by Kathleen Alcala was the first short story that showed promise. The author was able to get me interested in the who and what the main character Tater was. There was a backstory that called for more and then ending left a ‘well why’ sitting at the tip of my tongue. This could be extended into a longer story or at least a novella leading to a full novel.

The Fine Print by Chinelo Onwualu is great as it is. I don’t enjoy reading stories about Djinn as a Muslim they creep me out. This story was no different but beyond that it packed a punch. It was creative and there was a twist that was well thought out. *insert shocked gif* This was good.

Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex by Tobias S. Buckell gave me Fifth Element vibes. Was it as good as the movie, no but it was a solid read that deserves attention not only in the story but in the author.

The remaining stories weren’t bad but they were not my cup of it. They didn’t draw me in nor did they provide the wow factor.

This collection is worth reading because it brings attention to new authors that given a longer word count may be worth investing time into.

Overall, since there were more eh stories than good ones

2 Pickles

Book Review: Want by Cindy Pon

Simon Pulse
June 13th 2007
336 Pages

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?- Goodreads 

It took me some time to get into this book even though it was surprisingly short (short as in less than 20 chapters). I wasn’t getting sucked into the story, which was disappointing at first. But when Jason actually gets to work, I was like alright this could be a solid book.

I liked Jason and I loved the internal conflict he was experiencing. He was struggling with doing what is right and how to complete the mission without catching feelings. Its a classic battle but it was written really well. Jason is a likable character, despite the overall slow moving plot.

What I liked most about the book was the literature references. Jason proves how smart he is by being able to hold a conversation and show off his intelligence without actually trying to belittle people. He is very conscious of how he is viewed, no matter when he didn’t have any money to when he had money to blow.

Jin Corp which is the villain of the novel and for me they weren’t as evil enough. Their role in the novel was basic as in they kill people for $ and on principle. They do not care about the little people and will do anything to stay on top. True classic villain and I am not even made at it.

However, there was predictability within this book. The author tries to add shock value for certain things but it was stating the obvious because you saw it coming when the story began.

What I wanted more from the book was a bit more backstory on Jason’s team. They made a lot of things possible and I don’t think there was as much credit as they deserved. I felt that their voice could have been stronger, especially since the book itself was a bit slow.

I will give the author credit for that ending. It made me want to read book two. There is a thrill I feel that book two will have that this book did not and that is what I am looking forward to.

Overall,

3 Pickles

Book Review: Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Crown Books for Young Readers
Published July 17th, 2018
400 Pages

Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.

Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.

But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?– Goodreads

If you have not picked up this series, you really should. Emmett is everything you want in a main character. Emmett’s heart and perception is everything you want in a series.

However, despite my love of Emmett, I didn’t get sucked into this story as much as I did with the first book (read my hype here). This book is a build up to what will be an epic finale. The thing about this book is there is so much build up that my focus was going in an out at time. But let me explain.

Emmett is ready to take Babel out. After forcing him into a corner that now has him looking constantly over his shoulder, Emmett is done when he sees Babel’s disregard for the Adamite’s lifestyle & culture. It is a history being repeated. Although the author does not use the term “White people trying to take over things” colonization is used and that is exactly what it is. It pisses Emmett off, rightfully so. Babel is trying to loot the planet as much as possible for their own financial means.

But the Adamite are much more clever that Babel thinks so and its not surprising because colonizers have a tendency to belittle and underestimate the people they want to ruin. I slightly digress but it is hard not to compare real life history to what is happening  in the book. The author does a really good job of not blunting calling it what it is but making the reader as well as Emmett aware of what is happening.

The whole premise of this book is to show that nothing is what it seems and the author does a really good job hiding intentions. I was surprised at some points. My issue with this book was there was a lot of downtime. The downtime makes sense and it is completely appropriate to have considering what happens at the end but it didn’t excite me as much as the first book. Although the pace is really good and there is a lot of things to pay attention to, this read wasn’t as strong as the first book.

Overall, it is important to read this book and not skip because everything comes together at the end. Everything makes sense.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Zero Repeat Forever by Gabrielle Prendergast

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
August 29, 2017
496 Pages

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival depends on trusting each other…- Goodreads

1 Pickle

I normally do not provide a rating for a book nor would I normally review a book that I rate lower than 2 Pickles but this was an arc and I feel that a review is needed for this one.

This read started off okay. It was pretty obvious where the author is going in regards to growth of the characters the moment you start reading. Eighth and Raven have a chip on their shoulder even before they both go through their life changing situation. Which is fine but when reading Raven’s point of view, I didn’t like anything about her. She was clingy/needy and she has tools to stand on her own and she acts such like a badass but none of it is real.

Eighth’s character made more sense. His reactions, thoughts and movements made complete sense and it match the story or at least the summary much more than Raven. However, because the author switches between Eighth and Raven, I felt that there was a lot of story lost. What drove the story was emotion, be it rage, sympathy or love, I didn’t feel like the world was ending and that  Eighth and Raven were the ones that were going to change it.

It was weird because a majority of the book I was waiting for that explosive intensity to make me want to dive into the book. But it never came.

The story felt dragged out, Raven was unlikable, not enough meat to the story and not enough depth.

I did not like this book and that is unfortunate because there was a lot the author could have done to make this spectacular.

Book Review: Binti Series by Nnedi Okorafor

Tor.com
Published Sept 22nd, 2015
96 Pages

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.- Goodreads

*This review is for all three books. 

I am going to start with the rating. The first two books, I gave 3 Pickles while the last book I gave 2 Pickles.

The thing about this series is although it is considered science fiction, there wasn’t a whole lot of science fiction in it. Yes, there is space, mathematics and the use of advanced technology but all those things came second. They weren’t are prominent in these books as I thought there would be. I don’t necessarily have an issue with this as I am not the biggest science fiction fan and am slowly trying to get into that genre. However, strangely enough I wanted more of it. The really cool thing was the use of math in this series but I wanted more about the technology and how it is used and who uses it in what way. For the most part, it was brushed over.

What I loved about the book was the culture. Ms. Nnedi may not breakdown every tribe  in full detail. But the ones that are focused on in this book had a lot of detail, imagery and life. It didn’t feel like I was reading a history lesson. My only issue with this is because this is a short story, there was still so many questions I had in regards to each tribe. I am glad Ms. Nnedi didn’t go so far into the history because it would have taken away from the book but a companion book would be fantastic for this series.

But here is why I gave the book 3 & 2 Pickles.

Binti.

She is an amazingly talented, strong and smart girl. At 17 years old, she does a whole lot to prove herself not only knowledgeable but also capable. My issue with her is she whines and complains every step of the way. I get not wanting to change but her who action is change. She set herself up for change and then when there are consequences to the decisions she makes, she starts having a fit. Crying and all of that. This is throughout all of the books. She has some character development, which you see in book two but in book three, I didn’t see it at all. Bigger things are at stake in book three and she just a short of falling out on the floor and kicking her feet screaming.

Binti is way better than this and the fact that all personal growth stopped at book two bothered me. Does she increase her knowledge? Yes. . . reluctantly but yes. But did she grow as a person not necessarily. She is a child and most if not all her actions reminded me of such. With that knowledge and everything she went through, she didn’t mature enough. Her constant complaining and crying really made the last book more difficult to read.

So overall, the entire series gets a total of 2.7 Pickles if you average and total. I enjoyed it for what it was and really love Ms. Nnedi writing style and have every intention of reading her other books.

Book Review: Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen

Mira Books
TBP: Jan. 29th 2019
384 Pages

Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in I.T., trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

Their mission: return Kin to 2142 where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember.

Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.- Goodreads

Wildly creative. I was extremely impressed with this book from the moment I began reading nothing prepared me for the emotions I felt while reading.

This book is unlike any science fiction book out there. If it wasn’t for the whole time traveling aspect of it, it would be considered science fiction. Obvious? Yes. But what specifically I mean is although the time travel is the thing that is holding the book strong, it isn’t the most important aspect of it nor is it the biggest. It’s the foundation for the book and it grabs your attention but it doesn’t keep it.

What keeps your attention is Kit. Talk about a man, who is confused as all crap but only wants to do what is right and protect his family (both of them). His range of emotion and sometimes desperate measures pulls at your heart string or at least it did mine. I got so frustrated when it seemed like everyone was against him. They were completely unsympathetic for an error on their part. The entire time I was like really, you expected him not to live a life? 18 years sent by.

Beyond this, not a whole lot happens in this book. As previously mentioned, the time traveling aspect is a foundation and its the pink elephant in the room but there are only two situations where time traveling actually happens. Did I want more? No. It was the perfect amount for what I believe the novel was trying to get at.

But what was the novel trying to get at? Family, love and what a person is willing to do for the family they should have technically never had.

Overall, a smooth novel with some great transitions. Emotionally charged, amazing detail and a cute minor romance.

4 Pickles