Replaced Parts

Author: Stephanie Hansen

Series: Transformed Nexus #1

Publisher: Fire & Ice Young Adult Books

Release Date: January 5, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A sci-fi thriller for young adults that will take them to far away planets with action, suspense and nothing is as it seems.

It’s the year 2163 and our world and government are more corrupt than ever. Not only here on Earth, but their control reaches to other planets as well. Sixteen-year-old Sierra is on a mission to save animal test subjects and help those she can. Her father disappeared years ago and when she discovers clues as to where he is, she knows she has to go try to find him and bring him home. Together with a friend she has never met in real life, only online, she takes off on an interplanetary mission to bring him home. Once she gets there, she discovers her father is secretly trying to save the human test subjects and stop the mad scientist, Cromwell. Sierra must decide if her original mission of bringing her dad home is worth abandoning the ones he has been trying to help or if she now needs to join his cause.

If you are a fan of Science Fiction and dystopian novels, this is definitely one you need to put on your list to read. If you are like me and that is not the normal genre that you like to read, it might be a little difficult for you to get through. I enjoyed most of the book, a few parts went over my head as it is not the normal kind of book I pick up to read, but overall it was enjoyable. The writing is well done for a sci-fi thriller, lots of different lingo and words that coincide with a book set in the future and on another planet, and characters that are very different from the kinds of people we would expect to see in a book set in modern times and here on earth. All those points make it what it is intended, a good sci-fi read, they also make it hard from someone that is not used to reading in that genre to follow. But like I said, it is well written for the intended audience. I picked this one up looking for a good YA read, for me though I just had trouble getting into the story and connecting with the characters enough to really enjoy the story as much as I could have. This is the first in a series and I see it being one that I recommend to sci-fi lovers.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Project Hail Mary

Author: Andy Weir

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Release Date: May 4, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Andy Weir is back with an incredible science fiction novel that will have fans of The Martian excited to find out what happens next!

When Ryland Grace wakes up, he realizes that something is very, very wrong.  His memory is gone, and it feels like he has been asleep for years.  When he finally able to get out of bed, he can’t figure out why he is so sluggish and then he realizes, it’s because gravity is heavier than normal.  But that doesn’t make sense.  Perhaps someone has placed him in a centrifuge, but that can’t be because of the amount of gravitational force that he is experiencing.  There is only one other possibility: he is on a spaceship.  Once he makes his way to the control room and sees the panel, he realizes that not only is he on a ship, the star he is heading towards is in a completely different solar system than his own.  As his memory begins to return in bits and pieces, he realizes that he is on a last-ditch effort mission to save Earth and all the people who live there. 

How to review this book without giving anything away?  Let’s just say that if you loved The Martian and where then slightly (or horribly) disappointed in Weir’s second book Artemis, then you are not alone.  But rest assured, this book gets back to what Weir did best in The Martian.  Readers will ride alongside protagonist, Ryland Grace, as he struggles to understand why he is on this mission.  His amnesia allows readers to discover the same tidbits of information at the same time he does so that the revelation is gradual.  Grace is a microbiologist with a great understanding of science that explains everything to readers.  It does get technical at times, but the plot and story line make up for anything that readers may not fully understand.  I’m married to a mechanical engineer and he got even more out of this book than I did.  Plus having the science mixed with humor throughout makes for several good laughs.  Readers will also experience some emotion throughout the book, but you’re just going to have to read it for yourself to understand why.

Compared to the previous books, there is only a fraction of foul language.  There is also some discussion of sex, but nothing graphic and it is written in a humorous manner.  I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoyed The Martian or just love science fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

No Unturned Stone

Author: David James Warren

Series: The True Lies of Rembrant Stone #2

Publisher: TriStone Media

Release Date: April 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The second edition in The True Lies of Rembrant Stone pulls readers even deeper into the story and has left me dying for more adventures with Rembrant and the gang!

After receiving a watch that helps him travel back in time and solve cold cases, Rembrant Stone returns to the present, but nothing is as he remembers it before going back in time. He solved the past crime and saved lives, but upon his return, his family is gone and he is a shell of the man he once was. To fix what he messed up, he must break the one rule of time travel, don’t mess with the past.

Rembrant Stone is the perfect book if you are looking for an escape, adventure and characters that will make you feel as if you’ve known them your whole life. The second installment picks up right after the first left off and has more twists, turns and jaw dropping moments. When Rembrant returns and nothing is the same, he was warned not to mess with the past, but he can’t help it; going back might be the only way to save what’s ahead of him.

Each new chapter brings new adventure, drama, tension, and more. As with the first in the series, No Unturned Stone shows what happens when powerhouses, Susan May Warren and James Rubart team up with David Warren to give us some of the best storytelling I have read in a very long time. These stories read so incredibly fast you can sit and read in one day. Short and to the point with no extra fluff that makes the story drag. Plenty of description to make the readers feel as if they are right there with the characters and experiencing what they are at the same time with the bonus of clean writing that can be recommended to anyone. So many stories today have such harsh language or mature themes that aren’t appropriate for younger readers and it is refreshing to have a good, well-written story that has nothing like that. I recommend this book to those that are looking for a story that will be both entertaining and engaging, even if you haven’t read anything by any of these authors this is the perfect series to start with. You really need to start with the first in the series and enjoy a time traveling masterpiece that will transport you to a whole new world. 

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Falling From Trees

Author: Mike Fiorito

Publisher: Loyola College

Release Date: February 9, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great collection of short stories that will make readers think about future!

Mike Fiorito crafts a series of short stories that contain both science fiction and speculative fiction.  Most of the science fiction stories are geared toward space travel, in one form or another, or with alien presence.  I like how the aliens in each of the stories are more altruistic than what they are usually presented as in books and/or movies. 

The stories with speculative fiction center around climate change and the future of our planet.  This trend has been increasing across the board as the genre seems to be leaving behind the traditional destruction dystopian stories for stories of weather impacts and how we as a race are going to manage those in the future.  I found myself thinking about these events as it seems all too realistic and what I would do if the world suddenly changed.  I think that is the mark of a good author when they are able to make you think beyond the story you are reading.

Some of the stories have some mild language, which makes this book more appropriate for older young adults forward.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Cast the First Stone

Author: David James Warren

Series: The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone #1

Publisher: TriStone Media

Release Date: February 9, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The start of the new series by superpower writers Susan May Warren and James Rubart along with David Warren will knock the socks off readers! This will be at the top of my best of the year list without a doubt!

Rembrandt Stone left his career of being a Minneapolis Police Detective to be home with his wife and daughter and avoid the dangers the job brings. After his former mentor dies and leaves him a box full of cold cases and an old watch, Rembrandt is pulled back into a world from long ago, a world he thought he left behind. Not sure if it is a dream or some new reality, Rembrandt finds himself in his world from twenty years ago, back at the scene of the crime of the first cold case he opened from the box. If he can solve the cases that have haunted him for decades, maybe justice will be served. But at what price? Will it change just the past or will his future be changed as well?

This is a review I have had to sit and ponder on for a few days. The story was so good, so fast, and so great that I am dying to get my hands on the rest of the series. This is a spectacular time-travel story that deals with regrets, second chances, mistakes and how important it is to appreciate the things we have and to not only wish for what we don’t. As Rembrandt finds himself in the past trying to solve his old cold cases, readers see him struggle with trying to remember the details but also wondering how he got there. The raw emotion on the pages pulled me in and held me so tightly I had trouble doing anything else until I turned the last page. This is a story with relatable characters full of flaws, passion, and so much more.

Honestly, there wasn’t much about this story that I didn’t enjoy. I’ve read Susan May Warren and James Rubart for years. When I heard they were collaborating on a new series, I knew it would be epic, but I had no idea how great it would end up being. The story read so quickly it will be one readers can pick up and read in one sitting, If you have never read anything by Warren or Rubart this is a great place to start, and if you have read others by them, be prepared to be blown away with this new series. The fact that there are five more coming all this year makes me giddy. Books like this are the kind of escape we need with the crazy world we have right now. I recommend this book to all readers that love thrillers, time travel, suspense and all the things that make up a great novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Spin

Author: Patricia Cornwell

Series: Captain Chase Novel #2

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Release Date: January 12, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A little bit sci-fi, a little bit mystery, and a whole lotta personal issues make up this Captain Chase novel.

Captain Calli Chase is back in a new adventure that kicks off with murder!  Shortly after a murder is discovered, a rocket launch is hacked and NASA is forced to destroy the rocket carrying necessary supplies to a space station.  As an investigator, Calli has been at the heard of it and is discouraged to find her twin sister is apparently involved.  But when her truck is hacked, likely by her sister Carme, she follows the GPS coordinates to a location where she indeed finds her.  But not everything is as it seems.  Calli finds herself agreeing to be upgraded in the program that she and her sister have been a part of only to wake up a few days later with new skills that she will have to master in her sister’s destructive wake of acting as Calli while she was out.  As the investigation heats up, she realizes that she is in for more than she bargained for as it takes her to not only the White House to brief the president, but even outside of earth’s atmosphere!

Let me start off by saying that I haven’t read the first book in this series and I think I am missing quite a bit of backstory.  From what I can tell, this one pretty much picks up where the first one left off, so most of the character development for Calli, Carme, and many of the supporting characters had already happened.  That said, the story line is pretty intriguing.  Being NASA, there are a lot of acronyms thrown around.  They are all explained, but with so many, readers may continually have to backtrack to remember what they meant throughout the book or just give up and continue the story line.  One thing is certain, Calli is insecure compared to her twin sister and she likes to eat.  There was so much description of food from different fast food restaurants that I started to want to go pick up an order or two.  The book is pretty clean for the most part and I feel that fans of science fiction will probably enjoy this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Fractured Tide

Author: Leslie Lutz

Publisher: Blink YA Fiction

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Not at all what I expected, but in the best of ways! Leslie Lutz has crafted a fun, chilling and engaging tale that will leave readers glued to the edge of their seats.

After her father is sent to prison, Sia ends up helping her mother run their scuba diving tours business. Still a teenager, she has taken on more responsibility than most her age. Together they go out and explore the reef and find secrets in sunken crafts. On their latest dive things don’t go as planned, a mysterious creature emerges from the deep, their boat sinks and Sia washes up on the shore of a deserted island with even more mystery. When she finds the other survivors from the boat, it is the first good sign since they started out that morning. The island isn’t what it seems and Sia’s best hope for finding answers are at the center of the island where the most danger is also. With their last hope fading and Sia looking to save herself and the others, they make their way through the jungle to hopefully find a way off the island and back to their families.

This was unlike any book I have read in a long time. The science fiction element to it was interesting and kept the story flowing quickly and fluidly. Writing this from Sia’s diary was interesting and unique. For a little while I wasn’t sure what to think of all that Sia was being put through. Even at the end, I had to scratch my head at the way it all played out. Without giving anything away, I will say I am still satisfied with the ending even with the questions I have. That’s a rare combination, to be satisfied and still have questions, not something that happens often and only a very talented author can do that with their writing and please the reader. Sia’s relationship with each of the other characters is what made the story work. She is a great protagonist and the story wouldn’t be the same with anyone else in that role, but I really liked the interactions with Sia and Sarah, their relationship was real and genuine. There weren’t any fake niceties between the two of them and every aspect of why they acted the way they did towards each other made perfect sense with the story. I love when a story unfolds as it should and nothing feels forced.  I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy a well-crafted science fiction thriller that will give you goose bumps and knowing the next book you pick up won’t be near as good.  

Devastation Class

Authors: Glen Zipper & Elaine Mongeon

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: September 8, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A story packed with self-discovery, action, tension, and great characters!  Young readers will enjoy flying through this action-packed story!

Set in the distant future, Earth’s Alliance forces have gone through a nine-year war with the vicious alien Kastazi race. The battle was hard fought and even though Earth won, things are not the same. The Alliance Devastation Class starship California heads out on a scientific exploration mission with a small crew of both officers and civilian students along with a small group of military cadets to see what is left in the universe. The cadets use this mission to prove their worth, especially JD Marshall and Viv Nixon, who both have high ranking parents in the alliance and know they are being watched closely. Their mission does not go as planned as they are ambushed with a second wave of Kastazi forcing JD and Viv to lead a mutiny and take over their ship when those in charge freeze at the most critical moments. They use all their skill and knowledge but quickly run out of options and activate the ship’s blink Reactor, a new technology that is supposed to send them a safe distance away. However, it takes them to a future even more dangerous than what they left.

While there was a quite a bit I didn’t totally understand in this book, there was also a lot I really did enjoy. The characters are engaging and fun to follow on their journey, the story is fun, exciting and a new adventure than most of what I have read before. The story does go back and forth between several different viewpoints, but it is done in a way that is easy to follow, broken up by chapters with the character’s name at the top of the chapter for whose view point readers are about to follow. Just when you think the story is wrapping up, another surprise shows up and ramps up the action. One thing is for sure, there was never a lack of tension that propelled the story forward. I loved the dynamic between JD and Viv, so much there that I can’t wait to see explored further. This is the first in a new series and I foresee it being a trilogy, this first part was wrapped up nicely while also leaving it on a pretty good cliffhanger for the reader to be itching for more. I will be grabbing the second as soon as it comes out to see what happens with these characters. I recommend this to readers that enjoy science fiction and characters that are fun and easy to follow.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Ancestor

Author: Lee Mathew Goldberg

Publisher: All Due Respect Publishing

Release Date: August 20, 2020

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A very intriguing premise with back and forth timelines and a hint of the supernatural with greed, anger, and love at the heart of the story.

When Wyatt Barlow wakes up frozen in the Alaskan wilderness, he has no idea who he is, where he is, or more strangely when he is. The only thing he has with him are a journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He watches and sees another man hunting close by and realizes the man looks exactly like him, minus the beard. Wyatt follows the other man home and studies him with his family. It doesn’t take him long to realize he is no longer in his own time and his family is long gone. Wyatt soon befriends Travis, his lookalike and concludes Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt originally came to Alaska looking for gold and sets his mind at finding it once again and hopefully a family as well.

The Ancestor is an interesting premise with touches of the supernatural that just didn’t finish strong for me. There was no surprise or twist that I didn’t see coming. I was really hoping for a strong ending, instead it fell completely flat with what was easy. For the most part, I didn’t find a connection with any of the characters that made me care enough to be invested in their stories. The dialogue was forced in most instances and the language was too harsh for my liking. Supernatural or Science Fiction is not my usual genre to read, but I decided to give this one a try after first hearing about it and being intrigued. There was not enough evidence or background to show how this might have happened to Wyatt. Even with a science fiction novel you want the story to make sense, but this book didn’t provide that, it was just written and we were expected to believe it without anything to back up the claims. While I think Science Fiction fans will enjoy this one, it just wasn’t for me. I recommend it to those that enjoy sci-fi and speculative fiction without wanting much explanation for the events they read.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Time Collector

time collectorAuthor: Gwendolyn Womack

Publisher: Picador

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Great story interweaving science fiction and history

Roan West has made a very comfortable living as an antique collector. He has an unfair advantage as a psychometrist, which means he can sense the past imprint by touching an object.  He has been able to find many valuable artifacts throughout his life, but he has also found that touching something that spans too many years might kill him.  His friend Stuart introduced him to a group of psychometrists that have been looking into artifacts that seem to have been misplaced through time known as ooparts.  Its strange that a ring appears in a cretaceous rock.  When part of the group begins working on solving the mystery, one ends up missing and another dead.  When Stuart doesn’t show up to a rendezvous with Roan, he knows something is amiss.  On the flight back to New Orleans, he discovers that a young woman named Melicent Tilpin has just used her gift in front of the world on Antiques Roadshow.  When it appears she might become a target, Roan decides he must help her and find his friend Stuart as well.

This was a really interesting read that wove several different parts of history into a common thread. Having the ability to sense the past by touching an object would be really cool, but could also be deadly as shown time and again in this book.  My favorite part was the stories that were shared by touching the objects as a first person account.  I also really enjoyed getting to see Roan and Melicent’s relationship bud as the story grew.  I think my only drawback to the story was the way it wrapped up.  For 300 pages there is such tension and excitement as the plot builds and the characters develop and then it just kind of finishes out over the last 50 pages.  I would love to see this story expanded upon.  I’m not a big fan of stories that have too much fluff, but this one was just building it up and could have kept it going.  Hopefully there is a sequel coming up that will help explain the overall mystery of the oopart.

There is some occasional harsh language as well as an implied sex scene, but nothing graphic.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.