a puff of smoke against a white backdrop, with "Survival" in green script below that

Book Review: Survival

It’s been an interesting week, with school shopping, some family drama, friends having drastic problems, and a bunch of job interviews. And it seems that the closer we get to the school year starting, the more time speeds up! I’m not quite ready! I mean, I’m excited, but not ready yet! In the meantime, I just finished a novella called Survival by Rachel Watts. It’s a post-apocalyptic Blade Runner-ish kind of book, and a compelling read.

a puff of smoke against a white backdrop, with "Survival" in green script below that

What Is Survival About?

From Goodreads:

The world has suffered economic collapse and multiple environmental crises. In a flooded city, Ava Murasaki is searching for her activist sister Sophia. Meanwhile, Valerie Newlin lives in the secure complex of the Scylla Corporation, the world’s only remaining multinational. There, she finds evidence of something horrifying in the Corporation medical research data. Set in a searingly real near-future, Survival is a story of what people will face for those they love. This is a devastating vision of a post-climate change world in which governments have collapsed and corporations rule with an iron fist.

It takes place in a flooded city where a dam failed five years ago and there wasn’t enough left of the government to clean up the mess. So some people moved to higher ground, but most just built shanties and docks on the water and took over the office towers that had once housed businesses but whose lower floors were now permanently submerged. And in the middle of the squalor sits a giant corporate complex on dry land, walled off and impenetrable, a city unto itself.

Although it’s this dichotomy that should drive the conflict of the book, it’s more about the dynamic between Valerie, a corporate scientist who discovers an awful secret about the corporation and wants to reveal it to everyone, and Ava, a young woman from the outside trying to find her sister. Their paths cross, their goals align somehow, and they have to work together to infiltrate and bring down the corporation.

Who Would Like Survival, And Why?

If you like dystopian books, you might like this book, but it’s not the dystopia of books like Matched by Ally Condie or Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. There is no romance or heavy-handed government. Thankfully, there’s no killing competition either, even though the title would suggest that there is. The characters are older and deal with darker things. There is some death.

If you like books written with style, such as Maggie Steifvater’s Dream Thieves, you’ll definitely like Survival. These lines are very representative of the narrative’s flow and imagery:

Ava stepped out...and walked through the floating suburb, feeling hundreds of invisible eyes on her. They settled on her, carved into her, made her brittle.

Keep in mind that it’s basically a short story, and comes with four other shorter stories by the author, which is part of what you pay for.

What’s The Deal?

The Kindle version of Survival is just $2.99!

Nutrition Facts, Anyone?

Profanity (d*, f*, sh*): 6

sex: none

violence: some

negative themes (greed, selfishness): throughout

positive themes (familial love): throughout

 

 

The words "Atlantia" in large white script above a seashell just touching water and sending out a small ripple. "Ally Condie" below that.

Atlantia by Ally Condie: Well-Crafted and Inexpensive

Can you believe it’s time to start getting kids ready to go back to school? On the one hand, I’m looking forward to watching my oldest start high school and my youngest go into fourth grade. On the other, though, I’ve enjoyed the good times we’ve had this summer, playing at Lagoon, going to the movies, and taking “road trips” (i.e., fishing expeditions where I didn’t catch anything but everyone else did). I’m thankful for the relative peace we’ve had, and our health! I also love that I found Atlantia by Ally Condie, and that I can share a great deal on it with you! It’s such a well-crafted book.

What Is Atlantia About?

The words "Atlantia" in large white script above a seashell just touching water and sending out a small ripple. "Ally Condie" below that.From Amazon:

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamed of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose. Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

Who Would Like Atlantia, And Why?

I love when a well-crafted plot draws you in as it unfolds to reveal many pleats and twists, and then closes in around you as all those twists fold back in on themselves to make a nice little braid of detail. The fact that this plot takes place primarily in an underground city that is vivid and clear adds to the charm of this book. The only thing that keeps me from giving this book 10 stars is that, in the end, I couldn’t quite identify with the main character, Rio. I’m not sure that I could put my finger on the reason why, but it has something to do with a slight lack of emotion, or lack of the whole spectrum of emotions in her. Other than that, this was a great read. So, anyone who likes a well-written book will like Atlantia.

Also, if you like fantasy books like The Selection by Kiera Cass or the Matched trilogy, also by Condie, you’ll like Atlantia.

What’s The Deal?

You can get the hardcover version of Atlantia, which sells for $18.73 on Amazon, for $4.59 on Thriftbooks. Dude. Hardcover. You can get a used paperback copy in decent condition for $3.79.

The words "To Ride Pegasus" above the image of three women gathered around a man in wizard's clothes, and behind all of them, a horse.

Book Review and Deal: To Ride Pegasus, An Informing Read

Can I tell you why I’m fascinated by science fiction, as both a reader and a writer?

  1. it allows so many opportunities to explore the possibilities of our scientific knowledge, technology, ability to space travel, etc.
  2. In a way, it provides me with hope that we as a species will be able to overcome the problems and contentions we’re currently experiencing and emerge even stronger.
  3. It’s a relatively new genre, having only begun in the 1930’s and hit its stride in the 1960s and ’70s. Soft science fiction, which is the subgenre some of my manuscripts belong in, only emerged in the 1980s. This means there are so many story ideas that haven’t yet been explored!
  4. Women who have had successful science fiction writing careers are particular examples of perseverance and talent.

 

A picture of Ann McCaffrey in her later years, seated, with white hair, a multi-color jacket, and a cane.
credit: Wikipedia

Ann McCaffrey is one of those women. Before she passed away in 2011, she had a 46-year career as a science fiction writer, publishing 120 books, short stories, and novellas. She was the first woman to win a Hugo Award for fiction and the first to win a Nebula Award. Her 1978 novel The White Dragon became one of the first science-fiction books to appear on the New York Times Best Seller list. I totally want to be her.

One of her many books, called To Ride Pegasus, is somewhat characteristic of the New Age of science fiction, during which writers in that genre placed a greater emphasis on style and storytelling than previous writers who had focused more on premise. To Ride Pegasus, as a representative of that age of science fiction writing, is a fascinating read.

What Is To Ride Pegasus About?

From GoodReads:

They were four extraordinary women who read minds, healed bodies, diverted disasters, foretold the future–and became pariahs in their own land. A talented, elite cadre, they stepped out of the everyday human race…to enter their own!

What Is The Deal?

You can get To Ride Pegasus for $3.79 on ThriftBooks, which is more than $4 less than the $7.99 you can get it for everywhere else.

Who Would Like To Ride Pegasus, And Why?

I would argue that anyone who considers themselves any kind of a science fiction has to have read at least one Ann McAffrey book, and this is a good one to start with. This isn’t my favorite of Mrs. McCaffrey’s because the conflict wasn’t particularly focused, the main point-of-view character switched to someone else a third of the way through the book, and the climax and denoeument took place in all of about five pages. This is a book you read to become a more knowledgeable fan of the superhero sub-sub-genre of science fiction, of which books like Steelheart are more recent, typical examples.

 

A Book That Is More Than It Seems: More Than This by Patrick Ness

More Than This, by Patrick Ness, is an interesting book. Indeed, by its title, you would think that there was more to the book than what it appears to be about. Or you might think that the main character would be seeking something more than the life he or she has been given. You might even think that the theme—the underlying story, if you will—is that we all need to recognize that there’s more to this life than what we think there is. If you read this book and thought any one of those things, you would be right…in a way. It’s a book that some would say is slow-moving and simplistic, the story of a teenage boy who wakes up in a place he’s not supposed to be who strives to make sense of his environment.  But you don’t have to think about it much to realize that its message is more than that, a deep message about life.

What Is More Than This About?

From Amazon:

Seth drowns, desperate and alone. But then he wakes. Naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. And where is he? The street seems familiar, but everything is abandoned, overgrown, covered in dust. He remembers dying, his skull bashed against the rocks. Has he woken up in his own personal hell? Is there more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

Who Would Like More Than This, And Why?

Anyone who likes good writing, the kind that sweeps you along like a gust of summer wind, the kind found in books like The Giver by Lois Lowry or If I Stay by Gayle Forman, will like More Than This.  If you’ve read The Knife of Never Letting Go, also by Patrick Ness, you’ll probably like More Than This too, although it’s a different kind of book. Know that there are sci-fi-ish elements like those in Ready Player One by Earnest Cline, and dystopian elements like in Nemesis by Brendan Reichs. I can’t tell you what they are because that would give away a good portion of the plot.

What’s The Deal?

You can get a used copy of More Than This through Thriftbooks.com for $4.89.

Nutrition Facts, Anyone?

Serving size: 480 pages (print), 5430 locations (ebook)

Swear words (d*, f*, sh*, g*d*): 70

Incidences of violence (suicide, murder, death): ~15

positive themes (familial effort & love, charity): ~7

negative themes (selfishness, criminality, meanness): 3-5 big ones

gay characters/mentions: 1 (m.c.)

other (mention of masturbation): 1

Visual

via GIPHY

Favorite Quote

 

A mysterious eye, set in a dark-skinned, painted face, over the title "Truth Seer"

Book Review & Deal: Truth Seer – an Adventure Read

How was your 4th of July? What did you do? We went to two family gatherings, one for my side of the family and one for my husband’s, and ate a ton at both. I feel like it was a mini-Thanksgiving. Of course, I spent a little bit of time reading and looking for deals, and I wanted to tell you about a book that just came out that’s only 99¢! It’s Truth Seer by Kay L. Moody, kind of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider with superpowers.

What’s Truth Seer About?

From Amazon:

Egypt, 2121. Imara Kalu knows how she wants her future to go: become a police interrogator in Kenya and then graduate as a truth seer in her last semester of the summer training program. But her plans fall apart when a group of terrorists take over the school and carry out a desperate kidnapping. Devastated that her sister is among the victims, Imara leads a rescue team and descends into the dangerous catacombs where the hostages are rumored to be hidden. Although suspicious of others because of the truth she sees, Imara knows the rescue team will need her help as a truth seer to bypass the lethal illusions laid by the abductors. But as the terrorist traps escalate, Imara realizes how much truth she’s been ignoring and that holding back could get her sister killed. Throughout the journey, Imara confronts her past and amplifies her abilities as a truth seer only to discover that her sister’s kidnapping is just one piece of a much darker secret.

Who Would Like Truth Seer, And Why?

Aside from the Lara Croft movie, like I said, Truth Seer reminded me of two books: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, which I reviewed here, and The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall, which I’m reading right now. All three are about people trying to work their way through a series of very obtuse clues to discover a mysterious but great boon in some kind of ancient structure or structures. In Unearthed, it’s a temple on an alien planet. In Conspiracy, which is sort of a YA Davinci Code, it’s places like the Cathedral of Notre Dame. In Truth Seer, it’s a catacomb in future Egypt.  Imara, the main character, can see people’s emotions, an ability that she hopes will help her find and rescue her sister from kidnappers but which also affects the dynamics between her and the other people who help her explore the catacombs. This book is adventure, emotion, and intrigue. I had a little bit of a hard time connecting with Imara, but can’t put my finger on why.

What’s The Deal?

If you buy Truth Seer on Amazon, where it was published, in the next 24 hours, you’ll only pay 99¢. After that, the ebook will go up to $4.99 (which is still a good deal) and the print book will be $12.95.  I’ve got a free physical copy to giveaway to a random winner selected by Rafflecopter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ve got an exclusive interview with Kay Moody, the author, coming out tomorrow to all my subscribers. If you haven’t subscribed to be sent newsletters and notification of new posts, you should do so now, on the right sidebar of my main page!

Nutrition Facts?

Profanity (D*, S*, H*, F*): 0

Sex scenes: 0

Good stuff: lots

Visual?

via GIPHY

 

young woman in red sleeveless dress, under the title "Supernaturally"

Supernaturally Book Review & Deal: Fun Ghost Read & Super Cheap

Last week, I said that The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand reminded me of Supernaturally by Kiersten White, a book that I read quite a while ago and really liked, and realized I’d never reviewed it here. So, I decided to review it this week and when I started searching for deals on it, I immediately found a great one! If you’re looking for a light-hearted, fun paranormal read, you need to read not only Supernaturally, but its prequel Paranormalcy and sequel Endlessly as well. In the vein of the Men in Black movies, they’ll have you LOLing constantly while also, occasionally, pondering the meaning of “normal.”

What is Supernaturally About?

young woman in red sleeveless dress, under the title "Supernaturally"To tell you that, I’ve got to first tell you what the first book is about. Here goes (from Goodreads):

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through supernatural glamours. She’s also about to find out that she may be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal.

Fun, right? Here’s Goodread’s description of Supernaturally:

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be…kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees. But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.


Who Would Like Supernaturally, And Why?

Obviously, anyone who liked the aforementioned titles will like Supernaturally. Readers who enjoy YA reads like Echoes of Silence by Elana Johnson will like this book. Basically, anyone who likes to have fun.

What’s The Deal?

I’m so excited to tell you about this super good deal! I found Supernaturally on sale on Amazon for $2.97 for a new paperback copy! That is such a good deal! It’s 63% off what I bought it for originally. I love it when I find good deals like that! While searching for that deal, I came across another book by Kiersten White that I hadn’t read yet—Mind Games—for $2.74 for a Kindle copy. Done!

Nutrition Facts?

Profanity (D*, S*, F*, H*): 12 (all H* in reference to Hell itself)

Sex scenes: 0

Nudity: 0

Visual?

via GIPHY

Tune back in on Wednesday for a giveaway of a new book: Truth Seer by Kay L. Moody!

an old man staring into the distance, with a Newbery medal under the title

Book Review: The Giver, a Quick, Thinking Read

If you’re ever needing a quick but thought-provoking read, check out The Giver by Lois Lowry. You know those times when you’ve got maybe five minutes between picking one kid up from space camp and dropping another off at a friend’s house, or ten minutes after work, before you’ve got to fix dinner and/or clean the house, but you’re not in the mood for some silly beach romance? The Giver is what you should read.

What Is The Giver About?

From GoodReads:

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

Printed in 1993, this was the original dystopian novel. It came before Divergent, Matched, and Hunger Games, any of those. It’s fascinating to me that the central premise of this book, and of many others that have followed it in this sub-genre of science fiction, is that society has had to resort to strictly-regimented uniformity and almost-total if not complete separation from the freedom and excesses of the past. It’s like these authors are trying to tell us that there is only one way that the American love of freedom without regard to its attendant responsibility can end up–in ruins–and that, if we survive that ruin, we’ll have no choice but to give up our freedom and our memories of the past if we want to have any hope of surviving as a race. Maybe that’s extreme. What do you think?

Who Will Like The Giver, And Why?

Despite that heaviness, this book is meant for a middle-grade audience: kids between the ages of 8 and 12. Its main character was only 12, and the plot and settings are laid out only as a 12-year-old would describe them.  While there is some hinting at mature content, such as when Jonas, the main character, discovers that some people are purposely “released” (i.e., poisoned and dumped in the trash) if they’re not wanted or considered necessary by The Community (e.g. if they’re an identitical twin or aberrant in some way), there is no swearing, sex, or violence. As such, I would recommend it for middle-grade readers. I would also highly recommend it to those of you who liked the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, or Divergent by Veronica Roth, keeping in mind that, as adults, you’ll probably thirst for more detail. If that’s the case, just read the book’s sequels because they flesh things out nicely.

What’s The Deal?

You can get a good-condition used paperback from Thriftbooks.com for $3.79. That’s 50% off the original price! And the movie (HD version) is only $9.99 on Amazon. This is one of those classic books that should be in everbody’s libraries.

YA sci-fi book cover: black page with "POD" in big blue letters, the blue being a black orb

Book Review: Pod is a Tight Read, With A 20% Off Deal

Whew! My site was down temporarily, and I was stressing out! My apologies. My domain hosting company had somehow put my site on a different server, connected to a different account, but the problem has been fixed. I spent the time scouting for deals, though, because I get excited thinking about bringing them to you and helping you get better entertainment for less! I’ve got some good sales to tell you about tomorrow. In the meantime, let me tell you about POD by Stephen Wallenfels, a YA sci-fi. It was a tight read, one that’ll have you chewing your nails even if you’re not a nail-chewer.

What Is POD About?

From GoodReads:

POD is the story of a global cataclysmic event, told from the viewpoints of Megs, a twelve-year-old streetwise girl trapped in a hotel parking garage in Los Angeles; and sixteen-year-old Josh, who is stuck in a house in Prosser, Washington, with his increasingly obsessive-compulsive father. Food and water and time are running out. Will Megs survive long enough to find her mother? Will Josh and his father survive each other? 

Sample:

Surviving a massive alien siege is one thing-surviving humanity is another. I’m all cried out. I’m still alone. The sky is full of giant spinning black balls that kill anyone stupid enough to go outside. I’ve only been out of the car twice-once to pee and once to look at the sky. That one look was enough for me. Now I sit alone in the car, staring out the window like a rat in a cage. But I don’t have anyone to look at. The parking garage is empty, except for twisted-up cars, broken glass, and the smell of leaking gasoline.

Who Would Like POD, And Why?

If you like tight plots, like those found in Glimmer by Phoebe Katanidis or A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, you’ll like POD. Its plot, which could’ve been boring in the wrong hands, since it’s about enduring an alien siege, is terse, interesting, and mentally challenging because of the intense emotions expertly shown. You’ll find yourself wanting a sequel.

What’s The Deal?

On Amazon, you can get a new paperback copy right now for $6.39, which is 20% off of the normal price. A Kindle copy is only $4.99! Dude! So worth it.

 

Book Review: Steelheart, A Steely Read

Challenges can be tough, y’know? Mine right now is hard to put into words, but I’m lightened by friends and family who reach out to me and let me know that they care. I read Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart, and I think there are a lot of you that would enjoy this book and the deal I found for it!

What Is Steelheart About?

From Amazon:

How far would you go for revenge if someone killed your father? If someone destroyed your city? If everything you ever loved was taken from you? David Charleston will go to any lengths to stop Steelheart. But to exact revenge in Steelheart’s world, David will need the Reckoners—a shadowy group of rebels bent on maintaining justice. And it turns out that the Reckoners might just need David too.

The premise is that twelve years before the story begins, an object dubbed Calamity appeared near Earth and burst in the sky, emitting a strange radiation that gave a small group of humans super powers and near invincibility in apparent defiance of the known laws of physics. They all have different types of powers and weaknesses, with no apparent rhyme or reason. Dubbed Epics, these super-humans took to crime. Existing government proved absolutely incapable of controlling the Epics, the most powerful of which replaced government authority and enslaved the rest of humanity. there are a bunch of people with superpowers, but they’re all bad and have taken over the world. The Reckoners is truly intriguing and generates a good conflict for the main character. David, in witnessing his father being killed by Steelheart, the Epic who took over Chicago and enslaved everyone there, thinks he knows the Epic’s one weakness and bands together with the Rebels to defeat him.

Who Would Like Steelheart, And Why?

Fans of Brandon Sanderson’s Wheel of Time, Mistborn, Way of Kings, or Elantris books might be a little surprised by the YA superhero angle of this story, but it’s still an amazing story, and should be read by all of Sanderson’s fans. The characterization is thorough. Though the middle seemed to go really slow for me, the first third is action-packed and the last third, once it gets going, is super intense. I finished the book having thoroughly enjoyed how he tied all the threads together into a compelling tapestry. 

What’s The Deal?

The cheapest you can get the paperback of Steelheart on Amazon is $7.99, unless you get a used copy, and even then, the cheapest you can get it is $4.99. If you get it through Thriftbooks, however, you can get a used copy in good condition (I get these all the time) for $3.79. And, since I recently became a Thriftbooks affiliate, I’ll get a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Obviously, this doesn’t affect your cost. The commission will enable me to keep reviewing books and finding deals for you, my wonderful readers!

 

Book Review: Trail of Lightning, A Visceral Read

Because I’m trying to get published, and because I have this wonderful book blog on which I get to talk with you guys about cool books, I follow a lot of publishers, literary agents, and authors on Twitter. A few months ago, an agent I follow tweeted about a new book coming out from one of her clients: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. It’s post-apocalyptic, written by a Native American woman. How cool is that? I tweeted back to Sara that I had to have a copy of this because it sounded so awesome, and she sent me a galley copy! I just finished reading it, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a heart-in-your-throat, visceral read:

What’s Trail of Lightning About?

From Goodreads:

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology. As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.

Who Would Like This Book, and Why?

Anyone who likes

will like this book. It’s really intense, told in first-person present-tense from Maggie the Monsterslayer’s perspective. She’s convinced she’s a monster, a supernaturally gifted killer on the outside but on the inside a scared human who’s seen and caused way too much death. In that respect, she reminded me a little of Edward in Twilight. She goes around killing monsters, so there is ALOT of violence. She thought she’d found a redemption of sorts in her one-time mentor Neizghani, but spends most of the book mourning his abandonment of her a year before the book starts. The book’s plot is propelled forward more by the appearance of monsters and those who would either help her fight them or feed her to them than by decisions she and Kai make, as she’s trying to distance herself from her evilness and any reminders of it, the main one being Neizghani. Because of that, Maggie seemed a little hard to follow and even harder to empathize with, but I still dearly wanted her to find happiness…and romance, if possible.

The main reason I liked this book, other than the premise, was the writing. Amazing, techni-color writing.

Nutrition Facts?

Swear words (D*, F*, S*, H*, G*D*): 72

Sex scenes: 0

Violence (some extreme [i.e., references to cannibalism, etc.]): 8

positive messages/relationships (e.g., love + effort, charity, hard work, goals, etc.): 2

negative messages/relationships (e.g., no love, or love +(-effort), meanness, laziness, selfishness): 5

LGBTQ+ relationship(s): 1

Visual?

via GIPHY

Deal?

This book doesn’t come out until June 26th. It’s priced at $7.99 on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, for their respective ebook editions. If you preorder the ebook or paperback version from Barnes & Noble, using the code SUMMERFUN at checkout, you’ll get 15% off, which means the ebook would be $6.79 (USD) and the paperback would be $11.03, both of which are very good deals for a not-yet-released book.