Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

these broken stars

 

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: Disney – Hyperion

Pages: 374

Published: December 10th, 2013

Links: Amazon |  Goodreads  |  Barnes & Noble

Author Links:  

Amie Kaufman:  Goodreads  |  Website  |  Twitter

Meagan Spooner:  Goodreads  |  Website  |  Twitter

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

THESE BROKEN STARS made me think twice about my aversion to a romance centered plot.  I’m also starting to become quite fond of books written by multiple authors.  It’s ironic that despite the instant attraction between Lily and Tarver, they spend the majority of the book fighting with each other.  Like the Borg say, “Resistance is futile.”

Tarver’s post-adventure military interview mixed into the narrative not only provides insight on the setting/universe, but also plants clues that will purposely mislead the reader.  It’s also a well-needed break in the narrative, as Lily and Tarver’s love/hate relationship is center stage for much of the novel.  It’s perfectly executed so even non-romance fans like me will be entertained.  It’s amazing how different their exterior actions are to their interior feelings.  I loved it.  But I also like a plot, and if it wasn’t for the constant clashes between Lily and Tarver, then this would be a very boring book.

However, this only enforced how well written and designed THESE BROKEN STARS was.  Despite the lack of action, the characters made this a page-turning novel.

The difference between a book based on magic and one based on science is that the former needs to be consistent, while the latter needs to be plausible.  With magic, you can turn a tulip into a turnip without explanation.  With science fiction, you better have a basic understanding of some scientific theory that will convince a layman that it could happen in our universe.  THESE BROKEN STARS convinced me of the plausibility of the technology on the ship, the way that Lilac and Tarver survive the crash, but not how the planet’s technology functions.  It was too inconsistent and my mind formed too many questions.

In the final chapters, there is a completely unexpected turn of events.  I missed it.  I didn’t realize what happened until the next chapter.  I had to re-read it to catch it.  I’m just saying that something that crazy should have been more clear in the narrative.  Freaking bold it if you have to.  There should have been more of a climax.  Period.

Overall, I think that THESE BROKEN STARS will unite romance and science fiction fans, at least until the last page is read.

B rating

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)

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Tour the deep sea station featured in the ENDURE series with author S. A. Huchton

guest post image

Step aboard with an exclusive look at the DWRC ENDURE STATION, the setting for the sci-fi/romance ENDURE series by S. A. Huchton

*****

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UNCLASSIFIED FOIA PRESS RELEASE

PUBLIC INFORMATION ON DWRC ENDURE STATION INFORMATION

*****

 

Welcome to the Deep Water Research Command Endure!

 

This ten-story compound is home to over five thousand UN, military, and civilian personnel, all dedicated to peace and furthering the scientific understanding of our world. Built in less than one year, the Endure is the crowning jewel of the UN’s subaquatic outpost network. Its one-mile, cylindrical frame supports not only human life, but is home to its very own dolphin pod, who are an experiment in partial captivity. If you look closely, you may see them utilizing the outer tubes as we approach, and might even get lucky and catch a glimpse of them in the open water surrounding the facility.

Running along the perimeter of the Endure are also the channels for the Station Access Train. Over thirty-one miles of electromagnetic track run around each of the ten floors of the station, providing the inhabitants with a convenient way to get from point A to point B. Also upon approach, you will note the large, clear dome at the very top of the construction. This addition is new and completed only recently. Visitors and staff alike can now enjoy a three hundred and sixty degree view of the surrounding ocean from the Observation Deck.

The Depot is the heart of the Endure. All shuttles, transports, supply craft, and expeditionary vessels are docked here, allowing for the constant flow of goods and personnel. There are eight autotransporter tracks running down the center of the Depot; four for cargo and four for passengers. Cargo goes to the warehouse levels below for distribution, the others will take you to one of ten other gates, all scattered around the station.

Depto Gate 9 leaves you on the level with the Pod Research lab, where researchers study the resident dolphins inside the Endure, the largest of the three medical facilities on board, Med Bay 1, and the Bridge, where all of the life support, defense systems, and communications are handled. Over twenty personnel man these stations around the clock, keeping the station running in perfect order.

The remainder of the station is comprised of laboratories, crew berthing, and facilities for the detachment of deployable military personnel who function as first responders in crises within the Endure’s area of operation.

The various labs aboard research everything from technology to biology, with applications reaching far outside the scope of subaquatic living. Among the researchers are some of the most brilliant minds of our age, including young Nobel Laureate, Dr. Lydia Ashley and computer prodigy Daniel Brewer, son of the Endure’s Commander, Captain Samuel Brewer.

Each berthing level consists of multiple sectors, all including their own crew lounge where the inhabitants can relax and unwind after a long watch or day scientific study. Here, personnel can unwind with over five-hundred entertainment feeds broadcast onto wide screen displays or engage in an assortment of video games or books. Enlisted personnel have shared berthing aboard the Endure, with private staterooms for senior officers, research staff, and VIP visitors. All are equipped with comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and personal computer terminals for placing private calls, watching entertainment feeds, or accessing the station’s internet. Three galleys and an officer wardroom provide the best in food service for the Endure’s hungry population, and a new addition is in the beginning stages of construction to accommodate families for the elite personnel stationed here.

All of this and more await you in this exciting step in man’s exploration of the uncharted reaches of our planet!

MAVEN_450x600 Maven (The Endure Series, Book 1) by S. A. Huchton

Genre: Science Fiction Romance (New Adult)

Published:  June 3rd, 2013

Formats available:  print, .mobi, PDF, ePub

Cover Artist: Starla Huchton

Links:   Goodreads

Print copy: CreateSpace  |  Amazon

eBook:  Amazon Kindle  |  Smashwords  |  Barnes & Noble

How far would you go for love?
Since losing her parents at 14, young prodigy Dr. Lydia Ashley has focused on one thing: an appointment on the Deep Water Research Command Endure. Now 21, she’s about to realize that dream, but nothing is how she imagined it would be. Her transitional sponsor forgets her, her new lab is in complete chaos, and, as if that weren’t enough, she’s about to discover something so horrific it could potentially destroy all life on the planet.

Daniel Brewer, a noted playboy and genius in his own right, may be exactly what she needs… Or he may make everything worse.

Has she finally found a puzzle she can’t solve?

 

NEMESIS_450x600

Nemesis (The Endure Series, Book 2)  by S. A. Huchton

Genre: Science Fiction Romance (New Adult)

Published:  August 26th, 2013

Formats available: print, .mobi, PDF, ePub

Cover Artist: Starla Huchton

Links:  Goodreads

Print copy: Amazon

eBook: Amazon Kindle  |  Smashwords

 Tech genius Daniel Brewer isn’t the only one with a romantic history. Already weighed down with the impossible problem of the Maven Initiative’s plans for world domination and disaster, Dr. Lydia Ashley is finding it more and more difficult to keep things in balance. With an old flame reappearing and the schemes of a vindictive new rival thrown into the mix, her hopes for a life with Daniel may be on the brink of annihilation.
When Lydia’s past is brought to light, one big secret could destroy everything.

 

about author

Starla Huchton released her first novel, The Dreamer’s Thread, as a full cast podcast production beginning in August 2009. Her first foray went on to become a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. Since her debut, Starla’s voice has appeared in other podcasts including The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, The Drabblecast, and Erotica a la Carte. She is also a voice talent for Darkfire Productions, and narrates several of their projects, including The Emperor’s Edge series, This Path We Share, and others. Her writing has appeared in the Erotica a la Carte podcast, a short story for The Gearheart (earning her a third Parsec nomination), and an episode of the Tales from the Archives podcast (the companion to Tee Morris and Philippa Balantine’s Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series), which garnered her a second finalist badge from the 2012 Parsec Awards. Her second novel, a Steampunk adventure entitled Master of Myth, was the first place winner in the Fantasy/Science Fiction category of The Sandy Writing Contest held annually by the Crested Butte Writers Conference. Maven is her third completed novel and the first in a planned series of four, being released under the name S. A. Huchton, with Nemesis being the second in the series.

After completing her degree in Graphic Arts, Starla opened up shop as a freelance graphic designer focusing on creating beautiful book covers for independent authors and publishers. She currently lives in Virginia where she trains her three Minions and military husband.

 

Website  |  Goodreads  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Amazon Author Page

 

 Expect a review of Maven in the upcoming months!

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A to Z Bookish Survey

AtoZsurvey-1017x1024

This survey is going around the blogging universe right now, so I decided to join in!  The A to Z survey was created a few weeks ago by Jamie at the Perpetual Page-Turner.

Author you’ve read the most books from:

I’ve been a reading fanatic since high school and it wasn’t until recently that I started branching out into reading authors that I’ve never heard of.  So, here’s my list of authors that I’ve read OVER 20 books by.

R. L. Stine – 112

Sadly, that’s not a typo.  I’ve read 52 of the Goosebumps series, 36 Fear Street, and 24 books from other series/non-series by him.  Fortunately for my parents, most of the books were purchased at yard sales for 5 or 10 cents a piece.  My dad would never let me spend more than 25 cents per book.

  • Christopher Pike – 32  (I read the entire Last Vampire series by him as well as most of his YA books.)
  • Piers Anthony – 30  (I loved his Incarnations of Immortality series and think he’s the king of puns after reading Xanth.)
  • K.A. Applegate – 31  (Animorphs was one of the few series that I purchased at full price.)
  • Anne Rice – 23  (I loved both her Vampire series and Mayfair witches series.  She was my first “adult” author.)

I also read most of the Babysitting club series and the Sweet Valley high series, but I didn’t “love” them.  I read them because they were cheap at a yard sale and I wanted something to read.

Best Sequel Ever:

Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.  The first book of the series is Red Dragon.  I absolutely loved the interaction between Hannibal and Clarice and weirdly enough, I think Hannibal might have been my “book boyfriend” in high school.

Currently Reading:

So many books all at once.

Drink of Choice While Reading:

I’m horribly addicted to Pepsi, although when it’s cold I like to drink hot coco while reading.

E-reader or Physical Book?

I love physical books.  I have more patience while reading and I spend less time worrying about how much I still have to read.  I go through paper withdrawal if I read too many ebooks in a row.

the fault in our stars

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

I’m not sure.  I really like Chris from Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young, but the guy I’d more likely date is Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I like his view of the world, especially back in high school.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I only read it because everyone said it was the BEST BOOK EVER!  It wasn’t an all time favorite, but I still enjoyed it immensely.

Hidden Gem Book:

Vida Nocturna by Mark Diehl

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Finally deciding to read Harry Potter even though I thought it was a kids book.  It opened my eyes to MG fantasy.

Just Finished:

This is due to change by the time I publish this post, but currently Charmed Vengeance by Suzanne Lazear.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

I don’t like books where I know the ending and I hate HEA books, since I feel that a perfect ending for every character is completely unrealistic.  Generally speaking, I avoid romance books.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

One of my favorite books, The Magician by Raymond Feist was originally one book at 984 pages, but split up into 2 pieces because the publisher thought it would be too much.  And yet there are other books that I’ve read MUCH LONGER.

  • The Witching Hour by Anne Rice – 1207
  • The Stand by Stephen King – 1153
  • A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin – 1,016

Major book hangover because of:

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken.  Dystopias and high fantasy books make it difficult for me to return to reality afterwards.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

3 currently, but one is actually a converted DVD rack that I hijacked for more book space.  I’m on the hunt for another bookshelf…or two…or three.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

I cheat!  Harry Potter series.  I’ve re-read the earlier books every time a movie came out or a new book was released.  So, the first 4 books have been read at least 5 times a piece.

There was this one book that basically taught about childhood morals that my dad made me read dozens of times.  I think it was to balance out all the secular reading I did.  Well, all I learned from that book was that people, even religious ones, are pretty fucking judgemental.

Preferred Place To Read:

Outside.  I like feeling connected to nature.

the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

I think this quote sums up people pretty well.  Happiness doesn’t come from money.  It comes from doing the things you like with the people you like.

““This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”
― Douglas AdamsThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Reading Regret:

I regret those couple of years (2005-2008) where I got out of touch with reading.  Granted, I was POOR and had no money, but there was a library not too far away that I could have taken advantage of.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

Percy Jackson.  I have all the books.  I’ve read the first four and loved them, yet I never decided to pick up the fifth book.  Now, I think I need to re-read the first four before starting the fifth, since it’s been so long.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

  • The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, since it portrays the legend of King Arthur from the traditionally bad gal of the story, Morgaine
  • Merrick by Anne Rick, since it combined my two favorite series by her
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, since it teaches life lesions in a humorous manner.  ”Don’t panic.”

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Anne Rice.  No matter what she does now, her earlier work has inspired me to push the limits of my own writing and creativity.

between the devil and the deep blue sea

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke .  Horror + YA = bliss

Worst Bookish Habit:

Starting a series and never finishing.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

I’m going to cheat because I have 3 bookshelves!

Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady, Remember Me Trilogy by Christopher Pike, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling.

Your latest book purchase:

I picked up 7 books in the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, 2 books in the Twilight series (one of them was the wrong book and I have to return), 2 books by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Exiles #2 by Melanie Rawl, Jaran by Kate Elliot, and Stephen King’s The Gunslinger…all for $37 at Goodwill.  Most of the books were replacements for books that I used to own and loved but lost in various moves.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

Just like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young.  It was an ARC that the author gave to me personally because she knew I loved her books, so I had to finish it like RIGHT THEN.

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Book Review: Choose Your Shot: An Interactive Erotic Adventure (3 stars)

Warning — Mature content, adults only.  Review is PG13.

choose your shot

Choose your shot: An Interactive Erotic Adventure by Christine D’Abo

Genre: Erotic

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages: Depends

Published: August 12th, 2013

Links: Amazon |  Goodreads

Author Links:  Goodreads  |  Website  |  Twitter

Come explore the newer, naughtier Maverick’s, where you are in control of the story.

It’s been a year since the decadent BDSM club was gutted in a fire. Tegan has scored an invitation to the grand reopening, where she can finally indulge the needs she’s ignored for too long. On her wicked wish list: a thorough spanking, adventurous playmates and complete erotic satisfaction.

As a switch, Tegan can find pleasure as either a sub or a Domme. The question is, what—and who—is she in the mood for tonight?

Master Grant: dominant and drop-dead gorgeous, he hasn’t forgotten their last encounter. He’ll make sure Tegan gets what she craves—if she submits to him alone.

Eli: the sexy switch has always wanted more from Tegan. But taking their relationship to the next level could mean risking their friendship.

Adam: the last man Tegan expects to encounter at the club, but one she’d love to see more of—if he behaves…

Choose which ending you want for Tegan, or explore all of the sensual possibilities.

I don’t typically review erotic books, but I had to make an exception when it came to a choose your adventure type of book.  I was absolutely infatuated with these types of books as a teenager.  I like to be able to choose my destiny.  And I think this fits perfectly with the erotic genre.  Sometimes I’m in a mood for one way, sometimes I’d like the opposite.

CHOOSE YOUR SHOT is technically the fifth book in the series, but it is not necessary to read any of the previous books to understand what’s going on.  The other characters from previous books are revisited in this book, but enough introduction is made from each for the reader to not get lost/confused.

Unfortunately, there were several of the options in CHOOSE YOUR SHOT that weren’t fully explored.  When I clicked the “go to orgy” button, I was kind of expecting Teagan to join in and not just watch.  Same for the sex machine option.  I wish those options has as much depth as the ones where she choose a specific partner.

The ending felt bleh to me.  Considering that it is an erotic novel, I was expecting one last sex scene at the end.  So, while the concept I hope will become standard in erotic ebooks (I’ll definitely be looking for more), I wasn’t all that satisfied with this one.  There were scenes that were excellently performed and then those that just felt like the author didn’t want the main character performing certain deeds.  If you’re looking to try an interactive erotic book, then this is a good book to start you off.  But the potential to be better keeps it from a perfect rating.  I think when I do buy erotic books in the future, they will HAVE to be a choose your adventure type after being spoiled with this one.

rating C plus rating

(I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)

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Review: Angel on the Ropes by Jill Shultz

angelontheropes

 

Angel on the Ropes by Jill Shultz

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Self-published

Pages: 287

Published: June 1st, 2013

Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Dazzling trapeze artist Amandine Sand leads a perilous double life. Will her secret—and her choices—save her planet or ruin it?

 

Amandine walks a high wire between two lives—hobbled by a life-threatening secret. She’s a “leopard,” one of the spotted humans wrongly accused of being a plague carrier. Leopards like her are hunted by zealots to protect their offworld colony from the scourge. Despite this threat, Amandine spends her days guiding other leopards to an underground shelter run by the pacifist Seekers. At night, with her own spots hidden, she takes to the air, the one place this extraordinary artist feels free and gloriously alive.

When the persecution of leopards explodes into widespread violence, the Seekers demand more of her time. But her circus is teetering toward bankruptcy and desperately needs her, too. She has no time to breathe…and then she meets a stranger who leaves her breathless. And might just be the biggest risk of all. If her trust is misplaced and she’s unmasked, everyone she loves—and everything she’s fought for—could crash.
In her darkest hour, Amandine must draw upon everything she’s learned from the circus and Seekers to bring peace to her fractured society. Can a reluctant angel fly beyond her limits to save her life, her love, and her world?

Within the confines of the circus performance, ANGEL ON THE ROPES brings forth the magic.  Scenes involving complex stunts high up on the trapeze with circus partners, Jango and Amadine, are so breathtakingly written that I forgot I wasn’t watching a live performance.  Half the book occurs under the high tents, yet not once did I ever get the sensation that the performances were repetitive, mechanic, or boring.  While the performance aspect of the book blew me away, the book lacked in other areas.

The (parenthesis) words aren’t explained early enough in the novel, leaving me wondering if the characters had some form of telepathy.  Eventually, I understood that (parenthesis) meant that the characters were speaking through a form of sign-language.  I wish that this was explained much earlier in the novel, since the lack of knowing drew me out of the story every time the (parenthesis) was used.  I also don’t think that the concept behind the Plaguellants was polished enough.  They come across as highly religious and paranoid of disease, yet the lack of testing within their ranks makes no sense.  The ending nearly ruined the book.  It forced characters to switch personalities and forgo habits that they displayed throughout the rest of the novel.

Amadine begins the novel in a relationship with Malaga.  It’s clear from the beginning that the two are not soul-mates, yet Amadine is reluctant to part from Malaga.  Until the very end, Malaga is pigeon-holed as a shallow and selfish person.  There is a twist at the end to explain her behavior, but it’s too little and too late for me to feel that her character had any real depth or believablity.  The romance that develops slowly over the course of the novel, however, tugged at my heart-strings.  I think that the sex scene in this novel was probably the sweetest and most romantic in any novel I’ve ever read.  Coming from a reviewer that typically passes over sex scenes because of boredom, that is quite an accomplishment.  I absolutely adore Amadine’s mid-story lover and wish that I could find a guy like him.

The performance of this author’s debut novel nearly brought me to my feet in applaud, however the out-of-place ending and some questionable character decisions by Malaga and Sterling kept me in my seat.  I’ll probably still buy a ticket to her next show, but this one disappointed me with its wasted potential.

rating Cplus rating

(I received a copy of this book from the author/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review)

about author

(Information and photo borrowed from author’s website.   I included the 10 things because I thought they were pretty cool.)

Jill-Shultz angel on the ropes author

Jill Shultz earned her B.S. in Biology from Cornell University and M.S.T. in Environmental Sciences from Antioch University. For most of her career, she zigzagged between environmental and arts organizations. It seemed she’d bag every independent Audubon Society in New England, but missed by half. She’s been a land steward, zookeeper, lab assistant, naturalist-teacher, science writer, and the program director of Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, her second-favorite job (#1 is being a novelist). Born in Brooklyn before it was cool, Shultz now lives in upstate New York with her love, Bill Altman, where she dreams of a well-kept garden and enjoys slurping books, visiting museums, hanging out with friends, and watching wildlife.

Ten odd things about me . . .

  1. Although my novel is about a trapezist, I am petrified of heights.
  2. In my last two jobs, I wrote about pyrotechnics—for fireworks displays and bird control.
  3. I still have a recipe for anteater mush. No, it’s made for them.
  4. Once, when paying for groceries, a shrew skull fell out of my pocket onto the conveyor belt. (It was from a forgotten owl pellet.)
  5. I endured “Amazing Grace” played on the bagpipes more often than anyone should have to, especially in one afternoon.
  6. A ruffed lemur tried to undress me in public.
  7. I graduated from an Ivy League and a hippie school. And needed both.
  8. Home has included a barrier island, the Burned-Over District, a town of 1,000 and a city of 7 million.
  9. I was 1/5 of the multimedia artist Leonardo Vandinsky, created for an April Fool’s Day art exhibit.
  10. Hardly ever wear makeup but will gleefully goop my face.

Webiste  |  Goodreads

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