Book Review | Broken Valley, Owen Lach

Goodreads Blurb:

Adan Testa is on the run. Somehow he can use the centuries-old tech left behind by Neska’s original colonists. And that makes him the target of powerful forces willing to do whatever it takes to learn Adan’s secret for themselves. With relentless Union operatives hot on his heels, Adan and his friends begin a perilous journey along the 500-year-old trail to find the only thing that can give Adan the answers he seeks.

Don’t miss this thrilling new addition to the smash hit Queer YA Sci-Fi series The Neskan Chronicles from best-selling author Owen Lach!

My Thoughts:

I love a good sequel. I feel like book two is always the hardest of a series to get right (book one aside, and other than maybe the last in a series). It’s the one that – as much as book one – convinces the reader that they should keep going. I know I find it much harder to stop reading a series if book two is great. Broken Valley by Owen Lach – second in the Neskan Chronicles – has certainly done just that.

The story picked up pretty much where book one left off which I really liked for this novel. It was nice just settling back in with the characters and their story. Like with book one, I found myself on the edge of my seat for the most part, anxious for the fate of these characters on the run. Though things were a little slow at first, the pacing ramped up quickly enough to make for an exciting read. With some of the intense fight scenes some of my favourites in the book.

The development of the relationship between the protagonist Adan and his boyfriend Garun was really sweet. Especially with how gentle and supportive they were with one another as they dealt with the stress of the events of the last book.

I also really enjoyed the further exploration of the world where this novel is set as well as its history the more the protagonist Adan learned. Lach has created an interesting world with a very in depth history which I think enhances the story.

This was a reality great book for my first read of the year. I recommend this novel for anyone looking for an exciting sci-fi novel, with great characters and an intriguing plot. Just make sure you’ve read book one ‘Founder’s Mercy’ first!

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for gifting me this ARC (Advanced Review Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title will be published 24th January 2023

Book Review | The Voidstalker Extraction, Liv Evans and Jay Thomas

Goodreads Blurb:

The galaxy is a dangerous place. Habitable planets are controlled by powerful factions, and the space between them is fair game for pirates and expansionists alike. The best way to get ahead in the Void is by hiring mercenary companies to use their ships and mechs to claim and defend territory.

Most mercenary groups are run by morally gray upstarts who will do anything for the right price. One company is the exception: the Triple C. Led by former mech pilot Henri Durroguerre, it has gained a reputation for honoring contracts and minimizing collateral damage.

Astera Ramos, a runaway turned mech pilot, is new to the Triple C. Eager to prove herself, she volunteers for a supposedly straight-forward reconnaissance job on Baldalan that quickly turns deadly.

Astera Ramos, a runaway turned mech pilot, is new to the Triple C. Eager to prove herself, she volunteers for a supposedly straight-forward reconnaissance job on Baldalan that quickly turns deadly.

My Thoughts:

It’s been a while since I’ve read any Sci-Fi as I have been on a bit of a Fantasy and Romance kick lately and it was so good to get back into the genre. Especially with a book like this one! ‘The Voidstalker Extraction’ is a great plot driven Sci-Fi that is action packed, full of vibrant characters, and has just the right amount of romance threaded through it (and romance wasn’t something I was completely expecting from this one, so it was a nice surprise, especially as it didn’t take over the plot).

This novel started right in the thick of the action and I love it for that. I was already stressing over the characters within the last pages of Chapter One and from that I knew I was in for a wild ride. I was completely taken in by the language used to create these really intense scenes, helping me to really feel like I was there with them. What came with this though was a lot of technical language which I loved, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t understand within the context, but just take this into consideration when wanting to read this. For me though, it really immersed me in the world.

One thing I did find a little confusing (and only very early on), was some of the naming conventions in this world. Basically most of the characters had their name, and then their callsign (so a code name) used on missions. Once I got my head around it, it was great, and I think, used really well for some plot points later on in the novel. With some of my favourite lines occurring as a result.

The characters in this novel were wonderful! Side characters were given the same amount of care as the main characters so they all felt as vibrant as the other, just the main characters had more story time. I think this is mainly due to the multiple point of views this novel was told in, as each character was seen through different sets of eyes. I loved the main character, Aestera, it was great to follow her story throughout the novel.

Pick this one up if you are looking for an exciting Sci-Fi novel with a gripping plot and memorable characters, and elements of the story that keep you guessing right to the end.

Thank you to the publisher and the authors for gifting me this ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title will be published 11th December 2022.

Book Review | Graphite and Turbulence, Jami Fairleigh

Goodreads Blurb:

He will need courage, resilience, and a bit of magic—to survive fatherhood.

Artist Matthew Sugiyama finally has a location to start his search for his birth family, but no one prepared him for the turbulence of a scowling, unhappy child. Not only is the depot is far away, his fledgling parenting skills are not cutting it… and everyone has plenty of advice to offer on fatherhood. Before Matthew can find his bearings, Akiko disappears.

In a blink, Matthew’s priorities change. Time is running out and when old friends and enemies arrive in the depot, the situation leaves Matthew scrambling. He needs a plan—and he needs help—but who can he trust?

A profoundly moving father daughter story of the search for love and connection, Graphite and Turbulence celebrates the magic that transforms friendly strangers into family.

My Thoughts:

It was so nice to dive back into the story of Matthew and his search to find his home. Especially now that he is travelling with Akiko, his adopted daughter. This sequel read quite similarly to it’s predecessor – in that it is a cosy, travel story which allows for the focus to be on the characters and their relationships. This is why I loved this so much – I find the novel to be more focused on character than plot (while the plot does hold it’s own).

This was an emotional rollercoaster of a read, I am so invested in these characters that this novel had me on edge – stressing about what would happen next. I love the false sense of security I get from the early chapters as I sit down to read about Matthew’s travels and then get hit with fear, chaos and confusion. This is all evened out though with the beautiful characters and the friendships they make. There are some wonderful additions to Matthew’s found family this novel, as well as some side characters I am going to miss. Jami Fairleigh has a knack for creating these really vibrant characters, which are some of my favourite parts of this novel.

As I said before, plot-wise, things got intense! I loved how the story continued on from the events of Oil and Dust (Book 1), and while it answered some questions, it also asked so many more. There is so much on the line for these characters, and I found that the story had a nice mix of stressful scenes as well as light hearted. Fairleigh writes beautifully, and really has created such an interesting and complex world for this story to unfold in.

I think one of my favourite things about this novel is the found family aspects. Found family makes me melt emotionally. Here, I am so invested it’s not funny! I recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a cosy read with wonderful characters and an exciting plot. Though it goes without saying, read Oil and Dust first! You’ll love it!

Thank you to BookSirens, the author, and the publisher for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title was published 1st March 2022.

Book Review | Founder’s Mercy, Owen Lach

Goodreads Blurb:

The Bolvar Union provides everything a good citizen needs, only asking one thing in return: total devotion to the State. Teenage best friends Adan Testa and Bo Shen have other ideas. They plan an unlikely heist to earn their way over the wall, escaping Bolvar before serving their mandatory five years in the Bolvar Union Defense Force. But Adan doesn’t know he possesses a secret talent that no one has seen in the five centuries since the First Explorers colonized Neska. And when the Union discovers Adan’s hidden gift, they’ll do anything and everything they can to discover his secret. Even if it kills him.

Fans of Alex London’s Proxy or M.R. Carey’s Ramparts Trilogy won’t want to miss this engaging and inclusive sci-fi dystopian thriller.

My Thoughts:

Founder’s Mercy was such a fun read! I loved the concept of the dystopian future on the backdrop of past colonists to the planet with varying results. The alternating chapters switching between of the present day and the captain’s log from the first settlers of the planet made for an interesting read. Especially when I made connections between the information being revealed in the logs and the events of the novel’s chapters.

While the plot was gripping and exciting, I think my favourite thing about this novel were the characters. I loved following Adan and Bo in their bid to escape their constrictive lives under the thumb of ‘The Union’. A body of government that claims to have their citizen’s best interests at their focus, but it doesn’t always seem that way. The friendship between these two main characters was wonderful to read amongst the dark backdrop if the setting. The friendship itself was so genuine and caring. The other main supporting characters were all so interesting to read, and I loved learning more about them all and following their crazy journey.

There were some little things I found with this novel that I had a small issue with. These were things that didn’t take away from the plot too much but were noticeable to me as a fellow writer. I didn’t feel they affected the narrative voice much, but without them would have enhanced the work. I also found the romances to be a little rushed – they seemed to develop very quickly. I know this can happen (I’m not that cold hearted). I just felt that a little more time (timeline time) spent with the romances might have made them more believable to be. Don’t get me wrong, the relationships were sweet, and I am totally onboard and emotionally invested. No turning back now!

Something I really loved was the casual inclusion of pronouns within the character’s conversations when they introduced themselves. I also loved how Adan would use neutral pronouns for people he met until he knew for sure. This is something I would love to see more of in other novels.

Overall, I love how much fun this novel was to read. It had a high stakes plot, secrets and lies everywhere you look, and some exciting scenes to read. The romances were really sweet, and I loved all the characters and their depth. I recommend this for those who enjoy dystopian sci-fi with strong plotting and some really fun characters.

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title was published 22nd March 2022.

Book Review | This is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Goodreads Blurb:

Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal-El Mohtar and Max Gladstone.

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.

Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?

My Thoughts:

This one was recommended to me by a friend and she was absolutely right in doing so. This is How You Lose the Time War was such an incredible read! Going into this I didn’t have any expectations, nor did I really know much about it, but I think that gave the novel the space to do what it needed to do. It is hard to put into words my feelings on this novel, as it is one which illuminates the power of words and their meaning beyond the surface. One of the characters notes at one point how words themselves, with their power to describe and create – can also compress. This is something I do not wish to do with my own review, so I will be brief, and I encourage you to pick this one up yourself.

At it’s heart, This is How You Lose the Time War is an epic, slow burn romance. It forges a love story through time as a game of tag neither side wants to end. As the novel progresses and the game continues, it becomes something more than either side could have expected. The game of tag comes in the form of forbidden letters, hidden in signs and symbols meant for the gaze of the main characters Red and Blue.

The language throughout this novel is rich, and almost fierce, but delicate when needed. It is poetic, lyrical, and it noticeably grows in passion as the story progresses. The words used both in the letters and as descriptors are almost tangible in the way that they bring the thoughts and feelings of the characters to the forefront. As I read, I could feel the urgency and the longing through the words and the way that they were collected together.

The novel itself is short, but to me it felt as if there was so much more that I read within the story than the near 200 pages the book held. This novel was a beautiful read, and for me, a lesson in language, and the power and emotion it can hold. I finished this last night, but I can still feel the words on my mind hours after I have closed the book. This is How You Lose the Time War really is something special.