Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Finder by Suzanne Palmer

Title: Finder
Author: Suzanne Palmer
Genre: Sci-Fi
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 391 pages
Publication: April 12, 2019 by Daw Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

His latest job should be simple. Find the spacecraft Venetia's Sword and steal it back from Arum Gilger, ex-nobleman turned power-hungry trade boss. He'll slip in, decode the ship's compromised AI security, and get out of town, Sword in hand.

Fergus locates both Gilger and the ship in the farthest corner of human-inhabited space, a gas-giant-harvesting colony called Cernee. But Fergus' arrival at the colony is anything but simple. A cable car explosion launches Cernee into civil war, and Fergus must ally with Gilger's enemies to navigate a field of space mines and a small army of hostile mercenaries. What was supposed to be a routine job evolves into negotiating a power struggle between factions. Even worse, Fergus has become increasingly--and inconveniently--invested in the lives of the locals.

It doesn't help that a dangerous alien species thought mythical prove unsettlingly real, and their ominous triangle ships keep following Fergus around.

Foolhardy. Eccentric. Reckless. Whatever he's called, Fergus will need all the help he can get to take back the Sword and maybe save Cernee from destruction in the process.
Finder had me at “…thief, con artist, repo man.In my opinion, all the best stories involve them. Finder introduce readers to Fergus Ferguson on a mission to recover (steal back) the spacecraft Venetia’s Sword. His goal is to get in and get out without complications, but that optimism is blown to kingdom come when his life entangles with the Vahns. Fergus suddenly finds himself in a middle of a war of his own making and half of Cernee and the entire galaxy gunning for him.
I really enjoyed Finder, it was a fun, action packed space adventure! The world building had all the familiar sci-fi techno baubles and jargon; various terrains, interesting and unique species, a governmental council, tyrants and rebels. The little pocket of space that Fergus found himself in was ran by five main gangster-type syndicates, all dabbling in some sort of illegal activity which was no surprise that one of syndicates stole The Sword. What I liked most about Finder was the perfect balance between seriousness, tender-moments and humor as well as the characters themselves. I thought Fergus was a great character. Throughout the book Fergus probably broke hundreds of rules and isn’t necessarily a good guy but he does the right thing when it mattered. Which is really ALL that matters. I loved his personality, his lightening fast thinking and sheer luck in narrowly escaping every predicament he found himself in. The vibrator and tennis balls were ingenious and hilarious! Mari, Fergus’s teenage companion was the perfect sidekick. They worked well as a team and their banter made for amusing dialogue.
A reviewer compared Finder to Guardian of the Galaxy and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a fun and light sci-fi read that will appeal to those who like unconventional heroes and an all-around good space adventure. I’m a bit bummed that this is a standalone but am glad I got a chance to read this book because it introduced me to Palmer’s work. Looking forward to reading more of it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Guest Post with Kirstin Cronn-Mills

I have a special guest post with Kirstin today on the blog. Kirstin is the author of many YA novel such as The Sky Always Hears Me: And the Hills Don't Mind , Beautiful Music for Ugly Children and Wreck, which released in stores/e-retailer everywhere Tuesday, April 15th. In today's post, Kirstin shares some memorable moments from her career as a published author.

Ten years of being a published author—WHO FREAKING KNEW?
Thank you for hosting me!
I had no idea I would write young adult novels—I’ve told that story in several places—and now I’m almost ten years (this fall) into being a published author. WHO FREAKING KNEW? Not me, friends. Never me.

And there is no bigger honor in my life (aside from being the mom to an awesome son) than being a published writer. I know the books that mean the world to me, and times I’d faint if I met particular authors. I can’t imagine someone feeling half as excited for my book, or for meeting me, so when that kind of stuff happens, it’s mind-blowing.  

Here are some of the most incredible things that have happened to me in the last ten years (in no real order). These are people-connection things, which are the best parts of being a writer:
• having my first book read on six continents (only missing Antarctica)
• seeing my book in a classroom, with students who are discussing it

• having a reader’s eyes light up when they find out it’s me

• having someone send me a photo of my book in Powell’s Bookstore

• the emails I’ve gotten saying “your book helped me” (so HUGE to me, SUCH an honor)

• seeing my book in a library

• seeing my book in a bookstore
My four individual favorite moments are as follows:
1) Immediately after Sky was published, I got an email from a woman who lives in Manhattan. She picked up Sky in a Midtown Barnes and Noble because she noticed my name was the same as one of her favorite teachers, back when she was growing up in North Platte, NE (about an hour from where I grew up). She opened the book and realized I had dedicated that book to her favorite teacher—my grandma. 

2) My stepmom was walking through one of her art classrooms (in Papillion, NE) and saw Sky on top of one of the student’s desks. Surprised and pleased, she said, “My daughter wrote that.”  The student said, “It’s my favorite book ever.” My stepmom was dumbfounded.
 3) In Beautiful Music, Gabe buys a prosthetic called a Mango. A therapist in Boston—who happens to be the partner of the trans man who helped me with my initial research for Beautiful Music—wrote me to say that one of her clients (another trans man) is the man who invented the Mango.

4) Some eighth graders in Toronto, Ontario, read Beautiful Music and then made projects about gender, with the help of some teacher candidates from a nearby university. Then some researchers from the same university made a film about the whole process. They invited me to Toronto to see their film and meet some of the kids. All of that was INCREDIBLE, but a mom told me her son’s life was saved by reading Beautiful Music. It helped him understand who he was. There are no words for that.

Career-building stuff (awards, nominations, reviews, stars) is important, but it’s not what I love about this work. My writing life has been one of the ways that I know the Oneness (my name for the Divine) is sending me love, and this work is way I send love into the world. I don’t think I can adequately express how much it means to me that people read my books—whether they adore them or hate them. Despite the bumps and bruises I’ve acquired from publishing industry itself, taking a book from idea to shelf is still a process full of magic, and one I am still surprised to be a part of. When I meet and interact with readers—even though they have no idea I think this way, and they wouldn’t believe it—the honor is, always and forever, all mine.
Sometimes loss has its own timetable.
Set on the shores of Lake Superior, Wreck follows high school junior Tobin Oliver as she navigates her father’s diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Steve’s life as a paramedic and a runner comes to an abrupt halt just as Tobin is preparing her application for a scholarship to art school. With the help of Steve’s personal care assistant (and family friend) Ike, Tobin attends to both her photography and to Steve as his brain unexpectedly fails right along with his body.

Tobin struggles to find a “normal” life, especially as Steve makes choices about how his own will end, and though she fights hard, Tobin comes to realize that respecting her father’s decision is the ultimate act of love.

According to geographers, the American West begins at the 100th longitudinal meridian. Thanks to the fact that this meridian is the main street of her hometown in Nebraska, Kirstin Cronn-Mills grew up six blocks east of the West. Yes, there were cowboys around.

Kirstin is a self-proclaimed word nerd. She learned to read when she was three (according to her mother) and she hasn't stopped since. Her grandmother and her father passed on their love of language to her, and that love became a love affair when she started writing poems in the sixth grade. She still writes poems, but now she focuses on young adult novels. She's pretty sure that teenagers are the funniest, smartest, coolest people on the planet.

In 1992 Kirstin moved from Nebraska to southern Minnesota, where she lives now. She writes a lot, reads as much as she can, teaches at a two-year college, and goofs around with her son, Shae, and her husband, Dan. Her first novel, The Sky Always Hears Me and The Hills Don't Mind (Flux), was a 2010 Minnesota Book Award finalist in Young People's Literature. A short story epilogue to Sky, "The First Time I Got Stranded in the Big Empty," appears in the e-anthology The First Time (Verday and Stapleton, 2011). She also published a middle-grade science book in 2009: Collapse! The Science of Structural Engineering Failures (Compass Point Books). Her short story "Header" will appear on the Young Adult Review Network (YARN) website sometime in the fall of 2012, and a nonfiction book about the lives of transgendered Americans will appear from Lerner in 2014. (via Amazon)

Connect with Kirstin! |Website|Twitter|Facebook|

Friday, April 12, 2019

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray

Title: A Million Worlds With You
Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy, YA
Series: Firebird # 3

Hardcover, 432 pages
Publication: November 1, 2016 by HarperTeen

Source: Personal Library.

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.
Ending a series is always sad, it’s probably why I’ve put off A Million of Worlds With You for over two years. I absolutely adored the first two books in the Firebird series and wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the world and the characters. A Million of Worlds With You starts exactly where we left Marguerite and Theo, or in this case Wicked and Theo from the Triad Universe ; the two hatching a plan to destroy other worlds.

The final installment in the trilogy has Paul, Marguerite, Theo and her parents jumping from universe to universe, recruiting other worlds to fight against Connolly and the Triad. Readers are taken to new locations such as London, Singapore, and even outer space! Previous locations were also revisited, and at one point in the novel, all the Marguerite(s) from the other universe all convene together thanks to a universe with clones. It was interesting to see updates and the aftermath of having Berkley-verse Marguerite inhabit them; and for the first time since she left their bodies, they were able to tell her exactly what they felt and thought on the matter.
While I was always a fan of Marguerite, sensible as she was, I found her much more careless, immature and vexing in the last book.  The other characters weren’t much better. Paul was more self-deprecating than usual with his splintering and Theo had little page time, but even then, he was in his own little bubble. Million of Worlds With You didn’t have the same spark as it did before. I’m not sure if it’s been too long since I read the last book, but I felt everything was chaotic and rushed. The ending while happy, felt too easy and convenient.
This was my least favorite of the series and honestly, quite disappointing. I was expecting a big, crazy showdown but it felt more like a hide and seek, cat and mouse chase with unmemorable scenes. A Million of Worlds With You was well-written, had a decent plot and was overall okay-good; I just wished there was something a little more, like that magic high I had in the first book. With that said, I'd still recommend the series, especially for those who love destiny love-stories and time-travel.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Gates of Stone by Angus Macallan

Title: Gates of Stone
Author: Angus Macallan
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Lord of the Islands # 1

Paperback, 544 pages
Publication: February 19, 2019 by Ace

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.



Just before her sixteenth birthday, Princess Katerina is refused her rightful place as heir to the Empire of the Ice-Bear--solely because of her sex. Determined to regain her inheritance, she murders the foreign lord she's been ordered to marry and embarks on a perilous voyage to the lush, tropical islands of the Laut Besar in search of the vast wealth and power she needs to claim the Empire for herself.


On a small island kingdom, Prince Arjun's idyllic life is shattered when a malignant sorcerer invades, slaughters his people and steals the sacred sword of Jun's ancestors. With his royal father dead and his palace in ruins, Jun reluctantly tracks the sorcerer and the magical blade far across the pirate-infested waters of the Laut Besar.


Long ago the powerful relics known as the Seven Keys were used to safely lock away the terrifying evils of the Seven Hells. With Jun's ancient sword in his grasp, the sorcerer Mangku has claimed the first Key, and begun his mission to unleash catastrophe upon the land.

As the destinies of these three entwine in the lawless islands of the Laut Besar, the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. For if the sorcerer cannot be stopped, the world itself will be unmade...
There’s been a huge wave of POC/diverse novels and authors the past year which led to many Asian-Inspired novels. But it was something I saw more prevalent in the Young Adult genre. I haven’t seen many adult Asian Fantasy, at least none that piqued my interest until Gates of Stone. I was intrigued by the ambitious princess willing to do whatever it took to regain her throne and the prince on a quest to hunt his father’s killer. From reading the synopsis, I thought for sure the prince and princess’s path would cross and together they would fight the evil sorcerer hellbent on destroying the world…I was way, way off. 

Gates of Stone follows four characters in my opinion, not three. We have Katerina, Jun, Sorcerer Mangku and a sneaky merchant named Farhan. For about 85% of the book, the character’s stories are somewhat self contained, their threads don’t converge until the last 15% of the book, though some won’t meet face to face until the second book. What I liked about Gates of Stone was that Macallan used a medley of various Asian cultures, incorporating influences predominately from Indonesia, China, Japan and India. Something I don’t see often enough and done very well. 

I thought the world building was very complex and detailed. It was a bit difficult in the beginning keeping track of all the locations and characters mentioned but Macallan explained everything thoroughly and after a few chapters I was able to get into the flow of the writing and differentiate whose narrative I was reading. I also thought Macallan did an excellent job with the characters. Each character was unique in their personality, goals and flaws. However, none of them were good people or likeable…not even decent. This book was full of politics and everyone had their own agenda, doing everything and anything to get to the top of the ladder from bribery, lying to backstabbing and murder. And speaking of such, Gates of Stone is extremely graphic and violent, at times a bit too much and unnecessary in my opinion. It was so off-putting I had to stop reading and put it down for a length of time. Has anyone else noticed that fantasy (adult and YA) is getting darker and more brutal?  

Overall, Gates of Stone was a pretty good start to a new series. I may not be a fan of the characters, but I am still interested in seeing how everything plays out. Will Mangku succeed in finding all seven of the special artifacts? What will happen when Jun and Katerina meet? If you’re looking for a good Asian-inspired fantasy, then I think Gates of Stone is worth checking out, just be warned it is bloody violent and not for the faint of heart.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Chicagoland Vampires 10th Anniversary Blog Blitz + Giveaway

Ten years ago today, Chloe Neill introduced the world to Merit, a grad student turned vampire. Readers followed along Merit's journey over the years as a young fledgling to House Sentinel, and it's been one helluva ride. After spanning 13 novels and multiple novellas, the series concluded in 2017 with Blade Bound and a final novella, Slay in 2018.

I remember discovering the series late 2009, having stumbled upon it by chance. At that time there were tons of vampire novels saturating the market. However, none of them had a female lead in their early 20's or taking place in a college setting. I was intrigued (I don't believe the New Adult genre was acknowledged yet back then either)! If you're looking for a relatable, funny, and kick-butt heroine then look no further, because Merit has it all. Definitely one of the best Urban Fantasy series ever.

Happy 10th Anniversary Chicagoland Vampires!

Let's take a look at the book that started it all, SOME GIRLS BITE. Don't forget to scroll down to the end of the post for a special giveaway.


They killed me. They healed me. They changed me.
Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was Merit’s. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker–and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead.
Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she’s traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude–and servitude.
But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan’s attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone’s still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war–and there will be blood.

The amazing folks at Penguin Random House is offering one lucky reader the ENTIRE SERIES, yes you read that right, all 13 books in the series!

 To enter please click >>HERE<<! 

Good luck!