Tag Archives: aliens

R.C. Lewis’s Spinning Starlight – where science fiction meets fairy tale in such an unexpected way!

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R.C. Lewis’s Spinning Starlight – where science fiction meets fairy tale in such an unexpected way!

This companion novel to Stitching Snow is a pretty impressive combination of science fiction and fairy tale.  I enjoy this author’s work, and I think if you give her a shot, you will as well.  Stars and science, and something alien – it was a five star read for me.

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Goodreads Summary

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

My Thoughts

I honestly just can’t get enough of this author.  Her fairy tales are science fiction set in universes that are alien but universal in their conflicts.  Her female protagonists are tougher than they know, and they are always engineering savvy.  I honestly can’t say I’ve read anything exactly like them, but I do know they are the books I want to hand out by the armfull to every girl I meet!  Spinning Starlight is the second book by this author, and I didn’t think it was possible, but I might have enjoyed it more than Stitching Snow, which was one of my top picks last year.  This book is a standalone reimagining of The Wild Swans, which I haven’t read.  I think part of my enjoyment came from the fact that I didn’t know what to expect, so I’ll keep it basic.  Liddi doesn’t feel like she lives up to the family name, but when her seven older brothers are trapped in a dangerous situation by a trusted family employee, Liddi is the only one who can save them.  Voiceless and uncertain, Liddi must go on a journey that will take her to unimagined places and force her to see how much she really can trust her own instincts.  This  book is smart and strange, and I couldn’t put it down.  There is romance and there is adventure.  There are aliens and there are enemies.  I do have to say Spinning Starlight was a little more hardcore science fiction than Stitching Snow because it incorporated alien beings, weird names, and unusual customs, but the author eases readers in to it, so it shouldn’t be a deterrent.  I think my high school students will enjoy it as much as I did, and  I added it to my classroom library wishlist long ago.  I think readers who enjoyed Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress will enjoy this book as well, and of course, fans of Stitching Snow will find it engaging.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+, but interest level is high school and beyond.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Everything You and I Could Have Been if We Weren’t You and I 

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Everything You and I Could Have Been if We Weren’t You and I 

This book is one I hesitated to blog about simply because I’m not sure there is much of an audience for it in the American readership.  Certainly if you are looking for something experimental or if you just like giving something unique a try, this is a book to consider.  I personally only gave it a three star rating, but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy this mix of science fiction and magical realism.

 

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Goodreads Summary

Can you imagine a future where everyone has given up sleeping?

From the creator of the television series Red Band Society and author of the international bestseller The Yellow World comes this uniquely special novel.
What if I could reveal your secrets with just a glance? And what if I could feel with your heart just by looking at you? And what if –in a single moment– I could know that we were made for each other? Marcos has just lost his mother, a famous dancer who taught him everything, and he decides that his world can never be the same without her. Just as he is about to make a radical change, a phone call turns his world upside down.

My Thoughts

This is a strange little work of science fiction that reads like a dream – literally, it reads like a strange dream.  That is rather fitting as the book opens with the main character contemplating taking an injection designed to take away the need for sleep.  His mother has died and the idea of dreaming in a world without his mother is too much.  Then a couple of things stop him from pushing the plunger on his dream life.  He sees a girl in the plaza outside his window and his boss calls him to work because a suspected alien life form has been discovered.  These two events will change his perceptions about life and death forever.  Reading this book is quite a lot like watching a foreign film.   The ideas and plot are going to be different from a traditional American novel.  It has the magical realism that is almost entirely absent in American literature, and it takes a more open minded American reader to suspend their disbelief long enough to enjoy it.  It also might make you feel dumb when you don’t “get it” or when you are afraid you didn’t “get it.”  I certainly felt there were parts of the story that eluded me, but overall, I enjoyed it for its strange, dream-like situations and prose. However, I was disturbed by what I inferred about the mother/son relationship in this story, but I wasn’t really sure if I was inferring too much.  I do think that some readers will be annoyed by this story and feel like it was a waste of time.  If you can’t enjoy a strange foreign film, or even an American remake of one like Vanilla Sky, I think you should just skip this.  If, however, you can loosen up your ideas of what a story should be or do and let the words take you to somewhere new and unexpected, you might enjoy this.  While this book was listed as YA on NetGalley, I don’t think this is a YA read.  The experimental feel of the style paired with the leisurely pace don’t really lend themselves to the average YA reader’s expectations.  There is also a lot of thought and philosophy about sex which I didn’t really feel was appropriate for Just any teen reader.  It isn’t graphic, but it is just a casual attitude towards sex that I think some parents would object to.  It would certainly prompt a lot of discussion as a book club selection, though, and I think it is an interesting and thought provoking read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Polaris Awakening May 26

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Polaris Awakening May 26

If you enjoy science fiction, especially YA science fiction, this anthology surely has something for you.  I don’t read many short story collections because I never order an appetizer when there is steak on the menu, but I’m glad I gave this one a shot. Space, aliens, rebellion, young love, revenge, giant desert space lizards – the variety is guaranteed to give you something you will adore.  As a matter of fact, there was only one story I didn’t like.  So, even if you just buy it for your coffee break reads or, you know, as bathroom literature, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

  
Goodreads Summary

ZEUS PROTOCOL 000101: REBOOT, SCAN. 

DANGER DETECTED. 

THREAT LEVEL: UNKNOWN. 

RECOMMENDED ACTION: INCREASE MILITARY PRESENCE.

There’s trouble brewing on Polaris. Under the watchful eye of the space station’s supercomputer, Zeus, the lower classes are awakening to the corruption of their wealthy, privileged, and protected leaders. When the quiet voices of protest get louder and alliances form, change dawns on the horizon. But the small acts of resistance won’t be enough to subvert the system for long. Zeus is alert to the growing threat level, and he will do whatever’s necessary—including purging the lower levels of Polaris—to preserve stability for all.

Inspired by the mythology of the constellations hung around Polaris, the seven stories in Polaris Awakening reimagine the classic characters in a futuristic world where alien creatures are commonplace, combat arenas are used for entertaining foreign dignitaries, slaves and soldiers stand side by side, and music orchestrates a revolution. And their first acts of defiance are just the beginning. Polaris will never be the same.

ZEUS PROTOCOL 000099: ENGAGE THREAT. 

My Thoughts

This is a strong YA science fiction anthology. Each story is connected to the Polaris space station, a station whose systems are indicating a higher rebellion and threat level than before.  Causes are unknown, but readers will soon see how love, betrayal, greed, revenge, and the universal conflicts of growing up contribute to the unease.  I enjoyed all of the stories, but I also remembered why I don’t particularly like short story anthologies – I wanted all of them to continue!  While I initially felt baffled by the intro, I quickly picked up on the social and political systems behind the society in and around Polaris.  Some stories connect with only the overall structure, while others have crossover elements, but each one has a unique plot and a set of characters that readers will care about.  My favorite story was “Gemini” by Janna Jennings.  It involves a missing space princess, a seriously upgraded boxing match, and a regret that left me dying to finish what this story started.  

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From A Distant Star by Karen McQuestion: Not Even Aliens Could Tear Us Apart

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From A Distant Star by Karen McQuestion: Not Even Aliens Could Tear Us Apart

If you like a sweet enduring romance that can survive anything, even an alien possession, this might be the lite scifi romance you have been looking for.  From A Distant Star isn’t as polished as something from a publishing house, but for an indie (and an indie price), it isn’t too bad.  I think if you still want to read it after the first sentence of this introduction,you have a good shot at enjoying this.  On the other hand, if you snorted a beverage out of your nose when you read the intro sentence, you should probably pass.  I gave it a shot, and it does have some redeeming qualities, but it ultimately pushed my suspension of disbelief too far.  I also felt this way about one of the same author’s contemporary mysteries, though, so I might just not be a fan. I gave it three strange stars.  It publishes May 19, 2015


No one was around when something crashed behind the barn late one night.  No one even paid much attention to the noise because they were keeping vigil around Luke’s deathbed.  When Luke makes a miraculous recovery and government agents show up searching for something that fell from the sky, Emma, Luke’s devoted girlfriend, begins to believe it wasn’t her love that brought him back.  Something is different about Luke, but Emma isn’t willing to settle for anything less than her soulmate, and she will do anything to get him back, even if it means believing the impossible.  True romantics will sigh over the certain and unshakeable love that Emma feels for Luke, the type of love that makes even insurmountable obstacles easy to ignore.  And though readers mostly encounter the real Luke through memories, it is easy to see why Emma thinks he is worth fighting for.   This is a quick and easy read, paced to introduce the situation without drawing out any part of the action for too long.  The SciFi elements are simple and readers won’t have any trouble with the mechanics, but they are expected to accept some rather vague explanations, so think SciFi Lite.  This is a far-fetched premise and the blurb makes that pretty clear, so be prepared to suspend your disbelief for the entirety of the book.  Strangely enough, I had a harder time accepting the examples of human kindness that Emma encounters more than anything else.  The narrative begins from a unique perspective, and I can’t help but wish it circled back and ended with that perspective to wrap things up, but it had a satisfying ending.  The decision to give “Luke” a distinctive voice was completely reasonable, but it does result in some choppy prose and dialogue.

I received an invitation to read this book from the author via Goodreads and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Michael Buckley’s Undertow is YA scifi that asks who the real monsters are

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Michael Buckley’s Undertow is YA scifi that asks who the real monsters are

Undertow is a book for fans of the movie District 9 and Rick Yancy’s The Fifth Wave.  The oppressed in Undertow are from the sea, and they have some rather terrifying traditions and mutations.  In the time honored method of ridding ourselves of things that are different, humans have segregated them and protested them and studied them in secret labs.  Like most science fiction, this book’s themes touch on the hot topics relevant to our current society – the treatment of illegal aliens and foreign refugees. While I found the pace to be  slooow, I think that many YA readers will still be interested, and it rated very highly among other reviewers. Undertow publishes on May 5, 2015.

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Lyric’s family has been laying low since the Alpha, a race of water beings, invaded and encamped on the Jersey Shore three years ago.  The only way out of the zone is three forms of identification, something Lyric’s mother doesn’t have.  When the government decides to integrate Lyric’s school, tensions run high and Lyric finds herself in the middle of a war fueled by prejudice, fear, and hate.  While this book ultimately had a satisfactory ending, there were times when it felt like it would never resolve.  Most readers will accept the pacing as a necessary evil for developing a believable romantic relationship, but the plot did feel like a hamster wheel at times.  Lyric is a smart and spunky girl but she is forced to hide her personality.  She willingly sacrifices for those she loves, but it takes a toll on her.  Readers will connect with her, and share her frustration with her impossible choices.  Themes are relevant to current social issues, but are presented with too heavy a hand.  You are definitely not going to miss the point here.  I found the romantic interest creepy, so I didn’t buy it, but I’m old and have no sense of romance anymore, so.  Undertow reminded me of District 9, especially the despair I felt as humans begin to lose their humanity in the face of fear.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mind you wife. Mind your kids. Aliens Abductin’ Erbody Out Here

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Mind you wife.  Mind your kids. Aliens Abductin’ Erbody Out Here

They thought she was dead. It had been five years. People had moved on. Then Kyra shows up. She hasn’t aged. She can’t explain where she has been. Sometimes the simplest answer is the hardest to swallow.

If you want something engaging and a little strange, this is the ticket. I read it straight through. Near the end, it strained even my ability to suspend disbelief, but I promise I’ll be reading the next book in the series. Fans of The X Files, The 4400, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind will enjoy.
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Goodreads Summary

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

Aliens Kidnapped My Brother

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Aliens, decimated human population, and a strong female protagonist on a quest are the key components of Broken Skies by Theresa Kay. I find all of those things compelling, so I started this book with high expectations. It didn’t take me long to get through this book, and I enjoyed it well enough. It wasn’t until it was time to reflect that I realized exactly how many times this book sidestepped great opportunities to develop a more fully realized world. YA readers who enjoyed Blood Red Road or The Fifth Wave will probably be interested in this book, but they will find Broken Skies a little anemic regarding world building and emotional punch when compared side by side with either of those books
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Broken Skies (Broken Skies, #1)Broken Skies by Theresa Kay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Jax lives in a future where 90% of the human population died out and aliens occupy a portion of the lonely world. The aliens keep to themselves for the most part, but in a chance encounter, Jax’s brother is kidnapped by them and she is left saddled with a wounded alien. The mission to get her brother back will require Jax to ally herself with this enemy. This is a mix of things I like — strong female protagonist, journey through a deserted and dangerous world, alien encounters. The romantic elements that develop are not the overly emotional ones seen in a lot of YA, and the relationships that Jax forms with others hold true to her character. I loved that the deep felt mistrust between humans and aliens wasn’t erased by a few days of knowing each other and kept me from ever really knowing who was trustworthy. As with many abrasive characters who can’t seem to follow directions given for their own good, it was hard for me to like Jax in the beginning. She eventually grew on me, but it took awhile. The action and pacing were uneven — the journey, especially, rushed and dragged in intervals. The language and situations are appropriate for 7th grade and up.

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