Book Tour & Review - Autonomy by Jude Houghton + #GIVEAWAY


Autonomy


Author: Jude Houghton
Published: July 29th, 2016
Pages: 565
Audience: New Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia, Cyberpunk


Source:  I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.


Blurb:

Balmoral Murraine works in a Battery, assembling devices she doesn’t understand for starvation pay. Pasco Eborgersen is the pampered son of an Elite, trying to navigate the temptations of the Pleasure Houses, the self-sacrifice of the Faith, and the high-octane excitement of Steel Ball. They never should have met, and now they will rip the world apart. 

What happens when ninety percent of the world lives on skaatch – a jellyfish and insect composite? 
What happens when mankind spends more time in alternative life sims instead of in the “real” world? 
What happens when economic interest is the sole determinant of global decision making? 
What happens when a single secret is discovered that calls into question everything we have ever believed? 

Welcome to the Autonomy. Welcome to your future.



About Jude Houghton:

Jude developed a love of fantasy from a relatively early age after realising an innate talent for making stuff up could result in something other than detention. Working across the globe in fields as diverse as journalism, data entry, sales, management consultancy and babysitting, Jude has partially succeeded in putting an English and History degree from Oxford University to good use. A somnambulist, insomniac, lover of letters, Jude writes late into the night, most nights, tumbling down the rabbit hole to dream of other lives. Jude currently lives in Pennsylvania with an over-enthusiastic family and absurdly entitled dog.


Book Tour & Excerpt: The Departed by @kristycooperYA


The Departed


Author: Kristy Cooper
Published: July 6th, 2016
Pages: 176
Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Religion


Source:  I received this book for free from YA Bound Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.

FREE on Kindle Unlimited


Blurb:

What if someone tried to fake the rapture?

When hundreds of thousands of people disappear in the middle of the night, including sixteen-year-old Gwen's best friend Lana, no one knows why. Some believe they were taken in the rapture, while others are convinced that it can't be true. Doomsday prophecies abound that involve horrifying tales of plague, famine, earthquakes, and more.

At first, Gwen doesn't know what to think. While she is busy mourning Lana, many people around her are getting taken in by the cultish True Believers Temple, including Gwen's dad and her friend Mindy. It is clear that more and more people are going to be pressured to join this church, as it starts taking over the media and the government, gaining zealous followers all over the world.

Then Gwen starts receiving emails from Lana. She claims to have been forced into hiding with thousands of others in an underground compound. Gwen is convinced the emails are real and the only other person who also believes her is Isaiah, her moody crush. Together they resolve to find out where everyone is hiding and help set Lana free.


My Review:

The Departed Excerpt from Chapter 1

The first strange thing that happened was that my best friend Lana didn't text me back that morning. This is the kind of statement that makes adults roll their eyes, and at first I didn't think anything of it either. We usually exchanged about twenty-plus messages every morning before we got to school. I figured that she may have just gotten in trouble and her parents had taken her phone away, which happened pretty often. One time they took her phone away because she had been caught texting during a church service. Another time they took it away just because her lip gloss looked too "lipsticky"—whatever that means. They were super strict like that.

The next weird thing that happened was when I came down to the kitchen for breakfast and found my mom completely absorbed in her tablet. This was only weird because she had a rule about anyone using devices during "family time," which the ten minutes it took me to eat breakfast were supposed to constitute.

Normally, she would immediately put it down when I came into the room in order for me not to think she was being a hypocrite. Instead she continued her concentrated scowl in the glow of her tablet's screen, despite the fact that I had already poured my cereal and was sitting across from her at the table.

"Ahem," I finally said with my eyebrows raised.

Mom looked up at me sheepishly. "Sorry about that, Gwen," she said, putting her tablet down. "What do you have planned for today?" I figured whatever she was looking at must not have been that important if she didn't think it was worth mentioning.

"The usual. You know, going to school and stuff." I knew how much my mom hated vague answers to specific questions. She prided herself on having open communication with her teenager.

"Okay, I deserved that."

I smiled. "I think Lana is in trouble again," I offered.

"What else is new?" she laughed.

"She hasn't replied to me yet all morning."

"Holy rollers can be such buzzkills. Aren't you lucky to have cool parents that are not punishing you all the time?"

"Yeah, you guys are so cool . . ." I said, rolling my eyes. I considered that maybe I should find some friends whose parents were obviously cooler so my mom didn’t let it get into her head that she is such a "cool" parent. "There's totally nothing cooler than parents who point out how cool they are all the time."

"Well, if we don't point it out, you might forget," my dad said as he walked into the kitchen. "What's going on this morning?"

"Lana hasn't texted Gwen back yet this morning. So obviously something catastrophic has happened," Mom answered.

"You know, she could just be in the shower or something?" Dad pointed out. "Or do you guys bring your phones in the shower now too?"

"Yeah, it's been like a half hour. No one showers that long."

"Well, I would if I didn't have to go to work every morning."

"Great story, Dad . . ." I said and took another bite of my cereal.


About Kristy Cooper:

Kristy Cooper found herself often contemplating unusual what-if scenarios and knew it was time to start writing them down. She worked as a librarian for years and is now busy raising small children and writing YA novels. 

Stay up to date with her books at kristycooper.com, follow her on twitter @kristycooperYA, and find her on facebook at facebook.com/AuthorKristyCooper.


Book Review: The V Girl by @MyaRobarts + #GIVEAWAY


The V Girl


Author: Mya Robarts
Published: June 20th, 2014
Pages: 334
Audience: New Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Sexual Abuse


Source:  I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.


Blurb:

In post-apocalyptic North America, rape and sexual slavery are legal. Lila Velez, desperately wants to lose her virginity before the troops visit her town and can take it away by force. She makes plans to seduce her only friend, Rey, the most attractive man in her town. Lila does not love him but he is the only man who has shown her true affection, an affection she is willing to take as a substitute of love.

Lila’s coping mechanism to her mother’s rape and kidnapping is her secret. A secret that will bring her closer to Aleksey, a foreign, broody man. Lila does not trust him because his links to the troops and his rough, yet irresistible appearance. Aleksey offers Lila an alternative to her plans, a possibility that terrifies her…and tempts her in spite of herself. 

All the while Lila will have to find a way to live in the constant company of death, slavery, starvation, sexual abuse and the danger of losing the people she loves the most.

Due to mature content, this book is intended for +18 readers.


My Review:

Let’s be honest, I was wary going into The V Girl. Sexual violence is not a subject I typically expose myself to because it’s triggering and honestly Dystopia’s are a subject I try to avoid because of burnout, but I was drawn in through the idea of Lila’s world.

“I’m not afraid of what could happen to me. I fear for my family.” – The V Girl, Mya Roberts

Roberts has created a terrifyingly realistic world that, if the multiverse theory is true, could be one of the many futures of America. Lila’s world is cruel, unforgiving, and violent. The military recruits not only for soldiers, but they force others into sexual slavery for the military. As if being a slave isn’t bad enough, when you are picked, you will be raped on a stone before your entire community. All live in fear of recruitment and knowing that the soldiers will be coming to town, Lila is on a mission – that her first time be with someone she cares about, not against her will. And her eyes are set on her best friend Rey.

“Unfortunately, the twins have witnessed sexual violence and death. In wartime, you can’t protect children from the cruelest facts of life.” – The V Girl, Mya Roberts

Lila is an extremely likeable character. She is strong, yet is naive when it comes to love, relationships, and life. One of my favorite quirks of her character is her compulsion to be a voyeur. As a girl who fears being raped, she watches a loving couple engage in sexual acts to remind herself that sex can be a loving act even if her actions of peeping may seem as something sick. I understood her on a deeper level in those moments.

“Watching lovers may be a perverted act, but I need to remind myself that sex can be an expression of love.” – The V Girl, Mya Roberts

Lila repeatedly makes dangerous mistakes while on her quest to seduce her friend Rey. Her father and brother are disabled causing her entire family to be outcasts in the community. This raises Lila to the status of main provider, so she has to travel out of town – a dangerous activity for a V girl – to work. Lila isn’t taken in by either side of this war that has torn the United States apart – she is loyal to how it was before when everyone is free and that gives her an edge from many of the other characters.

“I wonder why girls, in his mind, couldn’t be fighters. Are we only brides, baby carriers, or recruits?” – The V Girl, Mya Roberts

Love is a complicated matter in The V Girl and although looking from the outside in, I can understand the frustration at Lila for not seeing that Aleksey is a good man who is trying to save Lila and her family. In her world, I’m sure many men have used the savior/sweet angle to lure girls. I think her hesitancy is completely based in fear – half for fear of if Aleksey is truly dangerous and half in fear that he’s not.

That being said, although I liked Aleksey as a man and character in this world, there were many aspects of his personality that seemed too intense and I had to remind myself that he’s a product of the world just like Lila. By the end of the book, I was enamored with him though. He and Lila are truly a good match.

 “Now that familiarity has set in, I have discovered all of the men inside Aleskey’s body: the expert lover, the dominate alpha, the honorable soldier, the poet, the child inside the twenty-five-year-old man. – The V Girl, Mya Roberts

The V Girl is a dark, gritty tale that is nothing like you’d expect it to be. Rape and romance are two subjects that you would never expect to be in the same story, but it works. The sweetness of Alesky’s and Lila’s romance brings light to a very dark tale.



About Mya Robarts:

Mya Robarts is a bookaholic who regrets nothing. She aspired to be a contemporary dance choreographer when she discovered a pull for expressing her choreography ideas in written form.

After years of writing short stories. Mya will release her debut novel "The V girl" in two languages.


Book Review: Revolution by Jessica Frances

Revolution

Author: Jessica Frances
Publisher: Jessica Frances
Published: January 26th, 2016
Pages: 334
Audience: YA
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

I was raised in a world where humans no longer rule. 
In the past, we made a terrible mistake by creating a new species we thought would serve us as our army, which led to our downfall. 
There was a war, we lost, and many lives were massacred. It was the end of life as we knew it and the beginning of a hell we were now trapped in. We became enslaved to what we now called Superiors, becoming pets to them, simply there to entertain. 
In a world so miserable, I managed to do the unthinkable: I fell in love. But even that was doomed, because to love a Superior was forbidden.
What the rest of the Superiors didn’t know was how deeply a human could love or how resilient we became when we were hurt.
The Superiors never could have imagined an uprising, which was why they never saw it coming.
Humans deserved to be free, and I would stop at nothing to deliver that promise.
My name is Tilly, and I am still alive with one sole purpose: to begin a revolution.

~

I had been raised to believe humans were worthless. We owned them and controlled them, and when we were done with them, we threw them away. Therefore, I never thought I would ever feel more for Tilly than disinterest. I never expected to want to save her.
It was forbidden for a Superior to love a human. No one had ever crossed that line, but I did. I fell madly in love with her, so it was no surprise how we ended up.
I was raised to be a soldier, and that was what I was always going to be. However, I was not a soldier for the Superiors, not anymore.
I became a soldier for humans, and I would stop at nothing to help them. They deserved to be free, and I would die protecting them.
My name is Johnny, and I am here with one sole purpose: to finish a revolution.


My Review:

In Revolution, we find ourselves in a world where human technology progresses to the point of its own destruction by creating an advanced race of human. These Superiors enslaved humanity – treating them like animals and sometimes less than that. Hope is found when a human girl and a Superior boy fall in love.

I wanted to like this book. Really I did, but it didn’t catch me. Honestly, I almost gave up around 3%, but I decided to push through it. What hung me up the most (other than me not connecting the Tilly) was that there was a lot of repetition – the same thoughts mentioned within the same chapter and throughout the book. It was distracting. I also wasn’t a fan of the writing style it was at times to formal and other’s it just didn’t flow – but that is my issue. Although it started out slow, the story did progress and became interesting enough to capture my attention until the end.

“I have never been much of a crier, used to the abuse and bleak life I have often have to face. However, since I have been down here, my tears have been endless, and suddenly, everything feels like it is too hard.” – Revolution, Jessica Rowse

My favorite aspect of Revolution was the narrative. It is split between the two main characters Tilly and Johnny, but the catch is that you find out rather quickly that Johnny is dead. Johnny’s narrative starts in the past and Tilly’s is present day. The two narratives are woven together well and despite knowing about Johnny’s fate, it didn’t negate from the tension.

Tilly wasn’t a character I clicked with. Did I sympathize with her? Hell yes. Did I root for her? Yes. Did I like her? Not really. I can’t tell you why I didn’t click with her, I just didn’t. She seemed a little too well-rounded for a girl who spent most of her life a slave. Yes, she had Charlotte and Johnny – but the abuse she endured was something I feel would have left her with more pronounced emotional scars.

Johnny’s story was endearing and I loved every single one of his chapters. Watching him struggle with what he was told and what he sees with his own eyes that leads him down the path of loving Tilly was heartwarming.

“I hope my eyes are no longer the blue Tilly mentioned liking earlier. My default appearance was something she liked, and I don’t want to steal that comfort away from her. For some reason, I can’t bear the thought of hurting her while I looked like that.” – Revolution, Jessica Rowse

His past chapters detailing the abuse his father gave not only to Tilly, but to him and his sister were offset by Charlotte – his human-loving, caring sister. Over his chapters, Johnny struggles with discovering his emotions – something that is obvious to us the readers, but not in an annoying way.

I really enjoyed the moral implications of Revolution. How it exaggerates racism to its extremes, exploring what life would be like if the entire human race was subjected to super beings who hated them. This moral that makes the core of Revolution is important – even in its exaggeration – it is something that I feel needs to be written about more. 

Book Review: Saven: Deception by @SiobhanDavis


Title: Saven: Deception

Series: Book One of the Saven Novels

Author: Siobhan Davis

Published Date: December 23rd, 2015

Audience: YA

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian


Blurb from Good Reads:

THE TRUTH DOESN'T ALWAYS SET YOU FREE

I’ve fallen hard for an alien, but he’s harboring secrets.
Massive secrets that threaten the very essence of humanity.
How can I give him my heart when his race plans on taking my future?

Sadie Owens has been slowly dying inside. Bit by bit, piece by piece, day by day. Trapped in a life she hates, she relies on only one person—herself.

Despised by her family and betrayed by an unscrupulous government, Sadie dreams of a different life. When she is chosen to participate in the government’s new social experiment, she is ecstatic at the prospect of spending six months in Thalassic City, the shiny new city under the sea.

Immediately drawn to Logan Chandler, Sadie is captivated by the beautiful boy with the ocean-blue eyes. Logan seems to embody everything that has been forbidden, but he isn’t all he appears to be.

Confused over Logan’s true intentions and concerned when best friend Jenna starts transforming in front of her eyes, Sadie partners with newcomer Jarod in a bid to uncover the government’s real agenda. The truth is more shocking than anything she could ever have imagined.

When Sadie finally understands why the Saven walk among us, will it be too late to save her heart and the human race?


My Review:

Saven: Deception has the makings of a great Sci-Fi novel – corrupt government, aliens, abductions, mystery, but all of that is overshadowed by the romance (I know, I can’t believe I just said that either). A romance, I might add that was just too weird, but I’ll get on that more later.

I’m going to start with the world building – fantastic. A good dystopian pulls issues from modern society and exaggerates them to their extremes. In the case of Saven: Deception, Davis takes our modern social-class issues and amplifies them to where the inner circle/ bullion's (upper class) have freedoms and luxuries while the outer circle/ stars (lower class) are oppressed in the most extreme measures bordering on slavery. The underwater city was so creative, but I felt that the story could have been better if Sadie were more keen to discover its secrets before the romance began.

“There are so many things about this new life I don’t understand, except for the acknowledgement that fear goes hand in hand with ignorance.” – Saven: Deception, Siobhan Davis

Davis’ pacing was excellent and I enjoyed how we – the reader – are given nuggets of information throughout the story, leaving you begging to know what’s happening beyond the romantic drama between Sadie and Logan.

Throughout the first 1/3 of the book, I was wondering when the aliens who were featured in the prologue going to come into play - I would have known if I had re-read the blurb before reading, but I'm going to consider my mistake a perk. The beginning, was mostly world building and character building for the main character, Sadie. It took a while for the real reason the aliens were among us to come to light (other than hooking up and making the main character fall in love you them). But, when they did show up, it was fare more interesting than I imagined. From what little is known, the Saven are an fascinating race and their reasons/ actions are equally horrendous and logical (for them not us). I’m not sure about certain things and I hope the following books will explain more.

If you read the book, you'll see what I did here. :D

If you read the book, you'll see what I did here. :D

Sadie, like her romance arc, is a product of two extremes. In the beginning of the story she’s totally reserved and a bit of a doormat, which I totally believe due to her environment and family dynamics. I also believe that a girl like Sadie would jump at any chance to leave her home and experience life and while on this new adventurous path, decide to become a better version of herself. What I didn’t believe about this was the way Sadie’s character arc progressed once she was settle in her new environment, the change was instantaneous. There was no naturally progression of Sadie’s personality evolution (except maybe one or two internal dialogue moments).

I think it was that dramatic change that turned me off to Sadie. Not that I hated who she was before or after the big personality switch-a-roo, but it just didn’t seem real to me. That change coupled with her tendency to be a little dramatic when it came to Logan…

“I was right all along. No one like him would ever be interested in someone like me despite the relaxation of the laws. It was more than naïve to allow myself to wallow in the dream: it was destructive on a massive scale.” – Saven: Deception, Siobhan Davis

… and this little nugget that I just couldn’t swallow…

“I’ve never vomited before.” I’m not sure why I felt the need to explain that. “It’s an experience I’d rather not repeat.” – Saven: Deception, Siobhan Davis

… added together just made her hard for me to really connect with. I mean, who has NEVER thrown up before? NEVER? In all your 17 years of life? Beyond her faults, Sadie is a strong female heroine who is loyal to her friends. She has strength of mind and character which pushes her to better herself beyond the lot she’s given in life. When she’s not blinded by love/lust, she’s intelligent and clever. I hope those traits are highlighted as her story continues.

Then there is Logan. Let me start off by saying that I feel like he was a very real character to me, especially after his history was revealed and I liked him as a main character – although, I don’t like him as a love interest for Sadie. He started off sweet and a little sappy and then drama happens and he’s a jerk. More drama and he’s sweet. More drama and he’s a jerk again. Then surprise, surprise he’s sweet again.

“I’ve never let any guy in. You’re the first one I even dared to like. But you play with my feelings like they aren’t real.” – Saven: Deception, Siobhan Davis

I get his reasons. They’re good ones, I suppose, but he just comes off as domineering and disrespectful to Sadie. IE: boxing her in, grabbing her and forcing her to talk to him. That’s taking the alpha male romantic trope too far and tip-toeing into creepsville, but it’s all cool in Sadie’s mind because he smells good and their connection is too irresistible.

Which brings me to the romance… I adore first loves. ADORE THEM. Especially the ones with major chemistry - they are always wild, unpredictable, and all-encompassing. One never forgets them. That is why I totally believe Sadie’s emotional roller-coaster when it comes to Logan. Honestly, everything about how she reacts to Logan is spot on until they’re in close proximity. That is when she completely loses her mind, becoming a slave to an aggressive physical and emotional attraction that takes away her free-will and I find it a little appalling.

**** SPOILERS AHEAD ****

Davis explains this attraction as them being Eterno or soulmates and although I’m a firm believer in soul mates myself – I don’t approve of the notion that having one automatically makes you so attractive and irresistible that you can ignore negative personality traits or for the attraction to be so over powerful that you feel compelled to do whatever the other says. That is my BIG issue with the romance in Saven: Deception.

**** SPOILERS ENDED ****

Anyway...

The side characters are great from what little is learned about them. The only one I felt any real connection to was Jarod who - as a result - was my favorite, but I think he would have been even if the others were more developed. He had a complex story that was far more interesting than any of the others. I hope in the coming books, there will be more backstory and depth to the others.

Going back and re-reading my review, it kind of sounds like I hated it, but I really didn’t. The story has a great concept with great writing and pacing. There were plenty of twists to keep me interested beyond the love story and a cliffhanger ending that made me say “What the crap?” in a good way. I will have to read the next one because I don’t like when there are BIG loose ends to a story – especially when the poo hits the fan.

Net Galley provided a copy of The Spaceship Next Door in exchange for an honest review.


Dystopia vs The Caelian Cycle

Hello Beautiful People!

As an indie author, I love it when readers sends me messages about how much they enjoyed my books. Each one makes my day! But I have noticed lately a trend in the reviews, questions, and messages labeling The Caelian Cycle as a Dystopia. I’d like to explore this train of thought.

What is a Dystopia?

A Dystopia is a universe where society is under an oppressive control while the members of said society are under the illusion of a perfect control. The control usually comes in the form of one or more of the following mediums:

Corporate- one or more large corporations control society through advertising/products as in Minority Report, Blade Runner, and Wall-E.

Technological- Computers, Robots, or other man-made scientific means control society as in The Matrix or Terminator.

Religious- A philosophical or religious ideology is enforced through a dictatorship or theocratic government such as in The Handmaids Tale

Bureaucratic- Society is controlled by through an incompetent government ensnared in red tape and regulations as in 1984 and Brave New World.

Dystopia’s are an exaggerated worst-case scenario often reflecting the authors present day societal flaws, norms, or even their government. There are certain characteristics present in a dystopian society. Most always there is some form of propaganda used to control or satiate the citizens and information, freedoms, or independent thought are discouraged or restricted. Citizens in a dystopian usually live in fear, are under surveillance, and forced to live in uniformity (individuality is discouraged). But the main thing that makes a Dystopian is that society is an illusion of a perfect world.

Picture © Dylan Glynn at http://www.dylanglynn.com/utopia-dystopia/

Picture © Dylan Glynn at http://www.dylanglynn.com/utopia-dystopia/

Not all Dystopia’s have those characteristics, but most do. Although The Caelian Cycle has some attributes above, I don't feel that the series should be labeled as a Dystopia. The Caelian Cycle is my way of exploring racial discrimination through introducing a new species of human to the world, but unlike a Dystopia I am not taking that discrimination to an extreme such as a holocaust or enslavement. The Caelian Cycle is set in an alternative United States where the Caelian’s have banded together to form families that give their members education, jobs, and stability. Throughout the series you will see some similarities between the civil rights movement of the 1960’s and the struggle of racial discrimination today with the Caelian’s trying to live in equality with the “norms”.

I can see how a reader could relate the “Talent Suppression Act” and the various discriminatory acts of violence throughout the book as a bureaucratic Dystopia, but if you think about it, the laws mentioned in the book are just a reflection of the many racial segregation laws our local, state, and even federal governments held until the civil rights movement. As far as the Caelian’s living in fear because of violence against their people, well I can post articles and videos all day long on the treatment of minorities in America just in the past year alone.

If the evils, either “norm” or Caelian, in The Caelian Cycle succeed in their prospective quests then yes, The Caelian Cycle can upgrade to a Dystopia society. (You will have to see how that goes once the final book is released).

I guess you can say that The Caelian Cycle is Pre-Dystopia.

When I started marketing Lost, I labeled the book as a Young Adult Science Fiction. That in itself is a broad spectrum, but if I were to give The Caelian Cycle another sub-genre it would be an Alternative Reality Science Fiction due to the meteorite that altered the genetics of humanity during WW1 changed the future and therefore, shifted reality.

Anyway, that’s my two cents/ soap box.

Stay Awesome!