Tag Archives: ya sci-fi

Cut From Stone by Brendan O’Meara Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A teenager living in a world split in half between two different factions is chosen to be one of several teens to be transformed into elite soldiers in author Brendan O’Meara’s “Cut From Stone”. 

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The Synopsis

The world is fresh from humanity splitting in half – the BlankZone in the East and the Federation in the West. As an inevitable attack from the BlankZone looms, the Federation makes swift, mysterious, and unexpected moves to prepare.

James, a 17-year-old living in the Federation, is drafted by the military. He learns he has been selected to join a group of skilled teens who will be transformed into elite human weapons. Follow James and his friends as they mature from teenagers to lethal warriors. Together, they will face life altering events as they navigate a new existence dedicated to protecting their friends, families, and humanity at all costs. 

The Review

This was a brilliant YA Sci-Fi and Dystopian read. The author did an incredible job of layering the narrative with world-building and an atmosphere that took on the quality of futuristic historical fiction in many ways. The tension and drama that the author brought to life did an incredible job of highlighting the struggles of this dystopian future in which our world is divided, and the detailed way the settings were brought to life really made this world feel alive and realistic in a lot of ways.

Yet to me, the biggest draw of this novel was the author’s incredible character growth for his cast of characters and the pacing of the action itself. While a military dystopian YA read, the book did a great job of keeping the narrative more character-driven than action, allowing the more bloody aspects of this narrative to be something alluded to or trained for before actually heading into the thick of things. The relatability of the characters and the complex journey the protagonist in particular goes on allows readers to really become invested in his struggles and keeps the reader grounded in this new reality fully.

The Verdict

Harrowing, entertaining, and captivating, author Brendan O’Meara’s “Cut From Stone” is a great first chapter in the author’s “Crafting Humanity” series and a brilliant must-read sci-fi and YA dystopian read. The twists and turns in this world and the physical and emotional toll this adventure takes on the chosen teens allow for a more personal and driven approach to the genre than ever before, and readers will be hard-pressed to put this book down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Raised in White Plains, New York, Brendan O’Meara formed a love of stories and books from a young age. He has spent his free time over the last decade crafting his debut novel, Cut From Stone, book one in the Crafting Humanity series.

It began in Philadelphia where he attended college daydreaming about a dystopian reality. With a vivid imagination (as described by his middle school teachers) and a passion for adventure, Brendan’s novels will transport you to a different life and capture you from cover to cover.

Brendan lives in Washington, DC with his daughter, wife, and two dogs. You will find him on the weekends drinking a beer watching the Packers and Notre Dame football games. He is an avid reader with a specific interest in sci-fi, anything dystopian, fantasy, history, and all levels of fiction.

Brendan would love to hear from you, feel free to contact him any time at brendan.omeara@craftinghumanity.com.

Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Amazon.

https://www.cutfstone.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B788Q3QX/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F62063908-cut-from-stone%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3D00QYLqM3k8%26rank%3D2&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Hobson’s Void by Simon Jones Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The consequences surrounding one’s choices become the central theme of a story about a young woman and her friend who find themselves questioning their place in a brutal society and the fate that will put their world in their hands in author Simon Jones’s “Hobson’s Void”.

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The Synopsis

Picking fruit on a farm one day, deciding the fate of humanity a few days later. A harrowing journey of discovery in between.

Leena is a young, small-town woman, known for her questioning nature yet destined to live out her life like the others: in servitude to the Bright One, under the guidance of the Vicar.

Suffused with holy purpose, the Vicar demands the neighboring towns be ‘cleansed’, for through him the Bright One speaks. His townspeople are faithful and will follow.

Mord, a hard, hard woman, head of the Vicar’s Blackcoats, leads the way without hesitation or mercy.

Floss, Leena’s best friend, has doubts. These doubts will run them afoul of Mord and the Vicar.

Over the next few days, Leena will be tested to the limits of her body and spirit, discover secrets unknown to humanity, and come to understand the nature of her world.

Because the world wants her to make a choice.

The Review

This was such a powerful and incredible sci-fi and YA read. The author perfectly captures the almost feverish mob mentality that small, rural religious townspeople can pitch themselves into when their everyday life and wellbeing are dependent on the words of their local religious leaders. The commentary on blind faith versus awareness and the consequences of our actions and choices that this novel makes was truly phenomenal. The balance found between the religious fervor and the scientific discovery and sci-fi tropes the author blended beautifully into the narrative was divine, pun intended. 

The character development was exceptional in this novel, especially concerning the protagonist Leena and the character Mord. Each of these women seemed to be reflections of the same coin, with Leena showing the struggles of a lifetime of faith clashing with her own moral compass and the discovery of the truth behind the blind faith she’d been told to exhibit, and then Mord, who revealed the consequences of blind faith and the dark path it can lead towards when one’s conviction in their faith ironically brings them closer to the darkness they are so sure they are combating. 

The Verdict

Entertaining, thought-provoking, and powerful, author Simon Jones’s “Hobson’s Void” is a must-read novel of 2022 for all fans of sci-fi and YA action reads! The depth of the character development elevates the sci-fi action and tropes. The incredible world-building and mythos that the author constructed perfectly captured the powerful and soulful themes of blind faith, choices, and consequences. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Simon is a writer, conversationalist, and author (not always in that order) of the new novel Hobson’s Void. 

With three decades of dreaming while on the job, Simon has amassed a multitude of science fiction and fantasy stories. Working in a hospital laundry (for example), mindful to avoid flinging around the blood of dead people while sorting through their used bedsheets, offered ample opportunity for inspiration. Some of those mental wanderings even turned into completed stories. 

Sitting at a computer, writing his next novel or, sometimes, actually working for a living, is usually where you will find him. Sometimes, bravely, Simon will venture outside with his wife, two kids, and a dog, for a play on their lifestyle property. Resolutely ignoring the lengthening grass. 

https://gibbonstales.com/

Lies My Memory Told Me by Sacha Wunsch Review 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman whose parents have developed a memory sharing system discovers her parents hiding secrets from her, and the young man she’s most comfortable around appears to be fearful of her in author Sacha Wunsch’s psychological mystery novel, “Lies My Memory Told Me”.

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The Synopsis

From the thrilling voice of Sacha Wunsch comes a heart-stopping psychological mystery in a world where memories can be shared—but maybe not trusted.

Enhanced Memory changed everything. By sharing someone else’s memory, you can experience anything and everything with no risk at all: learn any skill instantly, travel the world from home, and safeguard all your most treasured secrets forever. Nova’s parents invented this technology, and it’s slowly taking over their lives. That’s where Nova comes in. She can pick up the slack for them—and she doesn’t mind. She knows Enhanced Memory is a gift, and its value outweighs its costs.

But Kade says Nova doesn’t even know the costs. Kade runs a secret vlog cataloging real experiences, is always on the move, and he’s strangely afraid of Nova—even though she feels more comfortable with him than she ever has with anyone. Suddenly there are things Nova can’t stop noticing: the way her parents don’t meet her eyes anymore, the questions no one wants her to ask, and the relentless feeling like there’s something she’s forgotten.

But there’s danger around every corner, and her own home might be the most dangerous place of all.

The Review

The author did a fantastic job of building the tension and suspense of this YA Sci-Fi read! The story starts by integrating this futuristic new mythos and technology into the settings of this narrative, and it really highlighted the highs and lows of advancing technology in our own world and the way virtual worlds and experiences have slowly begun replacing the real-life experiences this world has to offer. 

The character arcs here held the biggest twists and turns in the narrative. The protagonist, Nova, evolves into such a complex and emotionally invested hero in this YA world, and the twists not only in her story but in her relationships were shocking to read. The heart and emotional pull of this narrative came in the exploration of the morality of technology, and what truly defines our identities as well. 

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The Verdict

Highly entertaining and a great balance of suspense and world-building, author Sacha Wunsch’s “Lies My Memory Told Me” is a must-read YA Sci-Fi read of 2021! The shocking finale will have readers truly invested in the characters and their arc, and the only critique I can offer is that the Epilogue in this book feels a bit rushed, and leaves enough room for world-building and mythos to have hope the author will revisit this world again someday. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Sacha Wunsch grew up dividing her time between the family farm in Canada and traveling to numerous fictional worlds. She was a bookseller before discovering her love of writing mind-twisty novels – which has proved an excellent job since she gets to blame all the TV she watches on her love of storytelling. She now splits her time between the city and the lake, and still travels to made-up worlds as often as she can.

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/lies-my-memory-told-me/9781335018274 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lies-my-memory-told-me-sacha-wunsch/1138272834 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lies-My-Memory-Told-Me/dp/1335018271 

Target: https://www.target.com/p/lies-my-memory-told-me-by-sacha-wunsch-hardcover/-/A-83991421 

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Lies-My-Memory-Told-Me-Hardcover-9781335018274/212186456 

LibroFM: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781705040577-lies-my-memory-told-me?bookstore=wakefieldbooks

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sacha_Wunsch_Lies_My_Memory_Told_Me?id=vdo5EAAAQBAJ

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/lies-my-memory-told-me/id1541146528

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/in/en/ebook/lies-my-memory-told-me

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://sachawunsch.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sachawunsch

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sachawunsch/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55920773-lies-my-memory-told-me?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=yWdh9NEb7s&rank=1 

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Excerpt From “LIES MY MEMORY TOLD ME”

Prologue

The platform was a hundred and fifty feet up.

I tried not to look down.

I hadn’t even known I was afraid of heights until the moment I stood up there.

The stranger came up to me, grinning. “You’re going to love it,” he said.

I swallowed.

My entire body was sweating, most notably my palms, slipping as I tried to grip the safety harness.

Was I really going to do this?

No. I was going to get unclipped, turn around, and simply climb back down what felt like the millions of stairs stretching below me.

And then, just as I started to turn, someone pushed me off the platform.

I screamed as I dropped, nothing but air beneath me.

And then… I started to glide.

The scream kept coming a few seconds more, but my heart did a flip before it could reach my mind. I was soaring. Over the treetops. Whizzing along the zip line at high speeds. It was the best thing I had ever felt.

I had never been this free. Which made sense, I was essentially flying, after all.

Giggling was very much not in my nature, but there I was, giggling anyway. I closed my eyes to get a better sense of the wind on my face, but when the sweet scent of fresh-blooming flowers greeted me, I opened them again. Sure enough, the trees several yards below my feet were blooming some kind of large purple flower.

I sucked in a breath, wishing I could inhale the whole scene, wanting to appreciate it as much as I could—savor it—knowing it wouldn’t last forever, and landed gently on the other side.

I did not have to be pushed off the second platform—barely able to wait my turn to jump again. I soared from platform to platform, wishing nothing more than for this to go on forever, grinning all the way, and realizing only at the last second that the final landing platform wasn’t a platform at all, but a deep, cooling pool.

I sucked in a breath, and with a final burst of adrenaline, I splashed into the crystal-clear water.

TWENTY MINUTES EARLIER

“Come on, open it,” Mom said, her smiling beaming.

I held the small, beautifully wrapped box, unable to imagine what it was. My parents knew I wasn’t really that into jewelry, and neither were they really, but what else could be in such a small box?

I tore into it and flipped the lid open.

Which confused me even more. It wasn’t a ring or a pendant, just a small metal disk.

Dad sensed my confusion. “Give it a second,” he said, beaming even brighter than Mom.

In a blink, a form emerged, a hologram above the disk. There was no sound, but it looked like the person in the hologram was gliding through the tops of trees high in the air.

“This is…really cool,” I said, and meant it, but couldn’t help but feel like I was missing something.

Mom was practically bouncing on the couch. “We wanted to do something special for your birthday.”

“Thank you” was all I could really think to say. The disk was pretty cool, but what the hell was with their enthusiasm?

“You’re welcome Nova,” Dad said. “But this isn’t the whole thing. It’s the experience of it that’s the real gift.”

“The experience of it?”

Mom had gotten up and gone to the desk by the front door. She picked up another box, this one unwrapped, and pulled something from inside.

“Here, you put this on,” she said, handing me a clunky set of headphones plugged into a small handheld device about the size of a phone.

“The disk goes in there,” Dad said, and showed me how to open it, setting my new present inside.

And then I experienced my first ever zip line.

As the experience ended, I blinked my eyes open, a hundred percent sure I’d be soaking wet, but I was sitting right back in my living room. The sensation was a bit disorienting, but my parents were staring at me like they were about to explode.

“What was that?” I asked, grabbing the hem of my shirt, which I couldn’t quite comprehend being dry.

“That was Enhanced Memory,” Dad said, but the look on his face said so much more—like if he’d had feathers, they’d be plumaged out like the most badass peacock of the bunch.

“What did you think?” Mom asked, clasping her hands like she had so much energy whizzing through her body she had to do something to hold it in.

“Well obviously it was amazing, but by the way you two are acting, you already know that.” I couldn’t help but grin. They were just so cute sitting there all proud of themselves. “But seriously, what is this? What is Enhanced Memory?”

I’d seen 3D movies and had even tried virtual reality once, but this was way beyond either of those. This was next level.

“It’s simple,” Dad said. “The headphones are equipped with dozens of…well, let’s call them electrodes for sake of ease, though really, they’re more advanced than that.”

“Okay,” I said, mostly with him still, although knowing Dad it wouldn’t be long until the science-y droning took hold and steered him right off the layman’s term trail.

“And these,” he said, taking the disk out of the machine and holding it up, “are Memories.”

“Memories.”

Mom nodded. “We discovered a way to extract memories and reproduce them.”

“Wait, you guys created this?”

Mom nodded, her smile huge and eyes wide. “This is what we’ve been working toward all these years.”

My mouth dropped open. I knew my parents had been working on some kind of project for a long time, but I guess I hadn’t really been that interested in what it was.

Mom laughed at my stunned expression while Dad came over to give me one of his signature kisses on the top of my head.

“Happy birthday, sweetheart,” Mom said, beaming.

I mean, they were scientists and science was basically the last thing I wanted to pay attention to, so I never really asked many questions.

But this was way beyond science. This was…actually kind of awesome.

A smile crept across my face. I couldn’t wait to try it again. 

Excerpted from Lies My Memory Told Me by Sacha Wunsch, Copyright © 2021 by Sacha Wunsch. Published by Inkyard Press. 

Star Song by Edward Willett Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young boy searching for answers to who his long lost parents were holds a powerful instrument with the power to put his innermost feelings into the hearts of the listeners around him, and together with a young girl he must not only discover the instrument’s origins, but prevent ruthless villains from getting the instrument and turning it into a weapon in author Edward Willett’s YA Space Opera and Sci-Fi novel, “Star Song”.

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The Synopsis

From an Aurora Award-winning author comes a thrilling young adult outer space adventure in the spirit of Robert A. Heinlein and Andre Norton.

When the old woman who raised him in a remote village is murdered, Kriss Lemarc finds himself alone on a planet where he’ll always be an outsider.

His only link to his long-dead, unknown parents is the touchlyre they bequeathed him, a strange instrument that not only plays music but pours his innermost feelings into the minds of his listeners.

When Tevera, a girl of the space-going, nomadic Family, hears Kriss perform, she is drawn to him against her better judgment and the rules of her people. With her help, though mistrusted and even hated by some of her comrades, Kriss seeks to discover the origin of the touchlyre, the fate of his parents, and a place where he truly belongs.

But the touchlyre proves to be more than just a musical oddity. Powerful, ruthless people will stop at nothing to get it—and Kriss and Tevera are all that stand in their way.

The Review

Such a vast and creative world the author has created! The novel expertly weaves new mythology, complex galactic politics, and a classic theme of a young hero rising to stop a powerful threat. The atmosphere of the novel really captures that feeling of destiny and family that series like Star Wars have in the past while tying the narrative into a very YA genre storyline.

The characters really were the heart of the novel, however. Kriss and Tevera were brilliant protagonists, each bringing a different corner of this galaxy into the narrative. Incorporating Earth’s past and history into the “lore” of the narrative helped elevate the character’s struggles and developments. Kriss’s desire to be part of a family was a struggle so many readers can identify with, as was Tevera’s need to explore the universe beyond her Family’s ship. 

The Verdict

A memorable, entertaining, and truly wonderous YA-Sci-fi, author Edward Willett’s “Star Song” is a must-read novel of 2021. A great contender for the top sci-fi read of the year, the author’s approach to storytelling and utilizing great detail to enhance the imagery that brings this universe to life in the reader’s mind creates a narrative that feels both grand and personal all at once. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Edward Willett is an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy and non-fiction for both children and adults.

Born in Silver City, New Mexico, Willett lived in Bayard, New Mexico and Lubbock and Tulia, Texas, before moving to Weyburn, Saskatchewan with his family when he was eight years old.

He studied journalism at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, then returned to Weyburn as a reporter/photographer for the weekly Weyburn Review, eventually becoming news editor. In 1988 he moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, as communications officer for the Saskatchewan Science Centre, and in 1993 he became a fulltime freelance writer. He still resides in Regina.

Willett is now the author or co-author of more than 60 books, ranging from computer books and other nonfiction titles for both children and adults, to science fiction and fantasy for all ages.

His science fiction novel Marseguro (DAW Books) won the 2009 Aurora Award for best English-language science fiction or fantasy book by a Canadian author. He has also won a Saskatchewan Book Award for his YA fantasy Spirit Singer. He has been shortlisted for the Aurora Award and Saskatchewan Book Awards multiple times.

His most recent novels include Worldshaper and Master of the World, the first two books in his new series Worldshapers, and The Cityborn, a stand-alone science fiction novel from DAW Books; the Masks of Aygrima trilogy, YA/adult crossover novels published by DAW and written as E.C. Blake; the five-book YA fantasy series The Shards of Excalibur, published by Coteau Books; and the stand-alone YA fantasy Flames of Nevyana (Rebelight Publishing). He’s also the author of the Peregrine Rising duology for Bundoran Press (Right to Know and Falcon’s Egg).

Other novels include SF novel Lost in Translation (DAW Books), Terra Insegura (sequel to Marseguro, DAW Books), Magebane (DAW Books, written as Lee Arthur Chane), YA SF novels Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star, Andy Nebula: Double Trouble, and The Chosen; and YA ghost story The Haunted Horn.

Shadowpaw Press recently released his short story collection Paths to the Stars and re-released Spirit Singer, a YA fantasy that won a Saskatchewan Book Award and other awards.

His non-fiction titles run the gamut from science books for children on topics as diverse as Ebola Virus and the Milky Way to local history books like Historic Walks of Regina and Moose Jaw for Red Deer Press, awarded a Municipal Heritage Award by the City of Regina in the education category and A Safe and Prosperous Future: 100 years of engineering and geoscience achievements in Saskatchewan, published by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS). He’s also written biographies for children of Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Andy Warhol, Orson Scott Card, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Ayatollah Khomeini.

You can find Ed online at www.edwardwillett.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @ewillett.

His is represented by literary agent Ethan Ellenberg (www.ethanellenberg.com).

Besides being a writer, Willett is a professional actor and singer who has performed in dozens of plays, musicals and operas in and around Saskatchewan, hosted local television programs, and emceed numerous public events.

He’s married to a telecommunications engineer and has one daughter.

https://edwardwillett.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/edward-willett