ON SALE FOR 99c!! Chimera Trilogy by Anca Antoci!

On the brink of war, the freedom of chimera outcasts and vampires hangs in the balance.

All seems lost when the Council runs coordinated attacks and destroys the Resistance’s secret camps. It’s time for shifters, vampires, and creatures of the Underworld to set their differences aside and make a united front. They expect the Huntress to lead them to victory, but they don’t know the truth about the prophecy that gives them hope. For Rae to save them all, she will be consumed.

After becoming a shadow and training her magic, Rae is ready for a new challenge. Unfortunately, the only constant in her life is that nothing ever goes as planned. When an army of witches gets ready to obliterate what’s left of the Resistance, Rae strikes a deal with a hellhound to save her friends.

An unexpected visit into the Underworld gives Rae a new perspective, an unlikely ally, and a fighting chance, but at what cost?

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookbub

Shattered Midnight by Dhonielle Clayton

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Shattered Midnight

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

Book Series: The Mirror Book 2

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Black MC and characters

Recommended For…: young adult readers, fantasy, retelling, historical fiction, romance, diverse reads

Publication Date: January 18, 2022

Genre: YA Fantasy Retelling

Recommended Age: 14+ (child abuse, religious abuse, death, violence, gore, murder, language, romance, racism, segregation, sexual harassment)

Explanation of CWs: There are scenes of child abuse in the book, but nothing graphic. It’s mainly neglect scenes. There are small acts of religious trauma too, like being sprayed with holy water and religion being forced upon another. There is death and murder in the book, as well as some violence and gore. There are a couple of instances of cursing. There is romance in the book. There is also racism, segregation, and a couple of small instances of sexual harassment in the book.

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 297

Synopsis: Zora Broussard has arrived in New Orleans with not much more than a bag of clothes, a beautiful voice, and a pair of enchanted red shoes. Running from a tragic accident caused by her magic, Zora wants nothing more than to blend in, as well as to avoid her overbearing aunt and mean-spirited cousins. Music becomes Zora’s only means of escape, yet she wonders if she should give it all up to remove the powers that make her a target, especially as a Black woman in the South.

But when Zora gets the chance to perform in a prominent jazz club, she meets a sweet white pianist named Phillip with magic of his own, including a strange mirror that foretells their future together. Falling into a forbidden love, Zora and Phillip must keep their relationship a secret. And soon the two discover the complicated connection between their respective families, a connection that could lead to catastrophe for them both. In the era of segregation and speakeasies, Zora must change her destiny and fight for the one she loves . . . or risk losing everything.

Review: I absolutely loved this read! It was sweet and had the a lot more oomph in it than the first book did. The book did well to develop the characters and surprise me in the end. The book is full of music references and I love that the MC loved music. I also loved seeing her come into her power and I can’t wait for the third book to see what happens from here. I also loved seeing all of the historical references to New Orleans life in the 1920s/30s. I also thought the book was well written, well developed, and it’s a definite favorite of mine this year.

The only issue I had with the book is that it read a little older than the first book, but other than that the book was great and I can’t wait to reread it!

Verdict: Highly recommend!

In Every Generation by Kendare Blake

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: In Every Generation

Author: Kendare Blake

Book Series: Standalone for now

Rating: 4.5/5

Diversity: Part indigenous character, Lesbian character, Black character, Asian side character

Recommended For…: young adult readers, urban fantasy, paranormal, retelling, Buffy fans

Publication Date: January 4, 2022

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy Retelling

Recommended Age: 14+ (Violence, Gore, Death, Language, sexual content)

Explanation of CWs: The book had a lot of violence, death, and gore. The book made a few sexual content references, but nothing explicit or romantic. The book also had some slight cursing.

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 392

Synopsis: Frankie Rosenberg is passionate about the environment, a sophomore at New Sunnydale High School, and the daughter of the most powerful witch in Sunnydale history. Her mom, Willow, is slowly teaching her magic on the condition that she use it to better the world. But Frankie’s happily quiet life is upended when new girl Hailey shows up with news that the annual Slayer convention has been the target of an attack, and all the Slayers—including Buffy, Faith, and Hailey’s older sister Vi—might be dead. That means it’s time for this generation’s Slayer to be born.

But being the first ever Slayer-Witch means learning how to wield a stake while trying to control her budding powers. With the help of Hailey, a werewolf named Jake, and a hot but nerdy sage demon, Frankie must become the Slayer, prevent the Hellmouth from opening again, and find out what happened to her Aunt Buffy, before she’s next.

Get ready for a whole new story within the world of Buffy!

Review: For the most part I really enjoyed this book! I was scared going into it in the beginning because I haven’t watched any of the Buffy episodes so I was worried that this would be above my knowledge level of the series, but it wasn’t. The book did well to explain the important bits and it had a few moments where I think inside jokes would be placed. The book was wonderfully well written with well developed characters and the world building was well done as well. I also really loved where the book left off and I’m excited for the second one already!

The only issue I had with the book is that the book had a lot of POV switching and it was confusing to switch into different people suddenly. The book was also fast paced, which I enjoyed for the most part but I really would have liked some slower moments like during battle.

Verdict: It was great! Highly recommend for Buffy fans!

Swan Song of My Era by Elsie Swain

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Swan Song for My Era

Author: Elsie Swain

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5

Diversity: Malaysian/Asian characters, SE Asian queer vitiligo MC, SE Asian queer MC, Sapphic f/f romance

Recommended For…: young adult readers, contemporary, ownvoice, romance, SE Asian

Publication Date: April 19, 2021

Genre: YA Contemporary

Recommended Age: 16+ (Body shaming, Bullying, Divorce, Childhood trauma, Homophobia, Grief, Romance, Slight gore, Slight Language)

Explanation of CWs: There is body shaming, homophobia, and bullying in this book. The book touches on divorce and childhood trauma. There is slight gore and some cursing. There is romance in this book and it’s Sapphic friends to lovers. The book shows grief as well.

Publisher: Ukiyoto Publishing

Pages: 415

Synopsis: What happens when Hope Vale, an aspiring Vitiligo make-up artist who wants to eradicate the market of whitening products meets Spes Zrey, an arrogant Hugo-Boss awardee struggling to shape her Designer dream, as they envision reshaping Asia into the next Fashion empire together?

‘Set in Malaysia, this Contemporary Fiction is all about the gruelling ambition against all hurdles of reality to break the confinements of Gender and the stereotypes of preferred white beauty in Asia.

Review: For the most part this was an okay book. The book did well to talk about Asian beauty standards and it takes them down. The book is ownvoice and is honestly written. The book has well developed characters and beautifully detailed world building. I also loved the romance and the platonic interactions in this book.

However, this book takes forever to get into. The book is so slow paced and the beginning feels like a crawl instead of a walk. The book finally picked up at 40% but there were a lot of times I wanted to DNF it. The book is also very flowery in its writing and that took a bit for me to work out.

Verdict: It’s great, just hard to get into.

Book Info:

Swan Song of my Era by Elsie Swain

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Publishing Date: April 19, 2021

Synopsis:

What happens when Hope Vale, an aspiring Vitiligo make-up artist who wants to eradicate the market of whitening products meets Spes Zrey, an arrogant Hugo-Boss awardee struggling to shape her Designer dream, as they envision reshaping Asia into the next Fashion empire together?

‘Set in Malaysia, this Contemporary Fiction is all about the gruelling ambition against all hurdles of reality to break the confinements of Gender and the stereotypes of preferred white beauty in Asia.

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57833608-swan-song-of-my-era

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Swan-Song-Era-Elsie-Swain/dp/9814989312/ref=sr_1_1?__mk_pl_PL=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%95%C3%91&dchild=1&keywords=swan+song+of+my+era&qid=1623072617&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble: https://www.amazon.com/Swan-Song-Era-Elsie-Swain/dp/9814989312/ref=sr_1_1?__mk_pl_PL=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%95%C3%91&dchild=1&keywords=swan+song+of+my+era&qid=1623072617&sr=8-1

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Swan-Song-My-Era-Elsie-Swain/9789814989244?ref=grid-view&qid=1634060040811&sr=1-1

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9789814989244

About the Author:

Elsie has always been an individual firmly on the phrase “A picture speaks a thousand words”. She wrote her first book at the tender age of 10 on Indian Mythology. The world of books hasn’t been the only source to drive her passion. Her interest in art is a beautiful pictorial representation of her writings, bringing the best of two worlds together. Elsie’s drive not only comes from her parents’ constant support but also from her will to perfect the criticism she faces. In this book, she showcases not only her views on the perspectives of society but also her desire to research on Alzheimer’s Disease. She wrote her first book ‘TRIAL OF IDENTITY’ at the mere age of fifteen.

Author Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/elsie_iyle

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elsie.iyle/?hl=en

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19458695.Elsie_Swain

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/29Jf6X4tfjDQFfVTl4qAiQ?si=Zh-GEpMKQzGIr6jscqAqvg&dl_branch=1&nd=1

Tour Schedule:

Tour Link Submission: When your blog post or Instagram post is online, please submit the link to the post so we can easily access them. Thank you!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdDraJ02nyLMGc5nmmTobDfA78LzDkKynSYVMbWDDG51MMKqA/viewform?usp=sf_link

Branded by Joseph T. Humphrey

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Branded

Author: Joseph T. Humphrey

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 2/5

Diversity: MC in Foster Care and Orphaned

Recommended For…: young adult readers, urban fantasy, fantasy, monsters

Publication Date: November 16, 2021

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Recommended Age: 14+ (bullying, abelism on mental health, drugs mentioned, violence, gore slight, parent death)

Explanation of CWs: There is bullying shown in this book. There are some comments made about mental health that are abelist. Drugs are mentioned. There is violence, including gun violence, and slight gore. There is also parent death mentioned and shown.

Publisher: Intrepid Pen Publishing LLC

Pages: 494

Synopsis: Henry Murphy’s parents never told him he was from another realm. They couldn’t, because they have become as unaware as Henry. Everything was forgotten—memories siphoned away by the dark force that stalked them. For the last seventeen years, Henry has been living a lie.

All those years of hiding have been compromised. Henry’s parents fled as refugees after stealing the location of the furnace—a source of power that would have allowed the Nekura uncontested rule over all life. But with their memories silenced, the Nekura have closed in on them unnoticed.

The first warning was the screaming girl. After she broke into Henry’s high school classroom and screamed for him to run, she was hauled away and disappeared. The only friend Henry finds to help him is Charley, a strong-willed orphan girl with a fractured past.

Henry is thrust into a reality he never knew existed and must fight against sinister creatures he cannot touch for reasons he doesn’t understand. What he doesn’t know can still hurt him, and it is hunting him down. Their only hope is the Light—a legendary force that bestows intangible power for those connected to it. Henry must uncover the shrouded memory of his family’s past and race to find the furnace before the Nekura tear his family apart and destroy both worlds in the process. Henry will learn the heartache of the forgotten, the joy of the reclaimed, strength beyond himself, and the unbreakable ties that bind family together.

Review: I thought this was an ok book. The book did good with multiple POVs and the character development was well done. The book had an intriguing plot that kept me going throughout the book and I felt that the book had a decent story.

However, the book feels a bit underdeveloped. I think there’s some good stuff in the book, but the book is fast paced and confusing. The pacing doesn’t help the reader get used to the elements in the book and the writing doesn’t develop the world building or the magic system beyond a couple of plot points. I got severely lost in the book and it felt like nothing was well explained.

Verdict: It was ok.

Beyond the Lavender Fields by Arlem Hawks

Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Beyond the Lavender Fields

Author: Arlem Hawks

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4.5/5

Recommended For…: historical fiction, French Revolution, romance

Publication Date: February 1, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction Romance

Recommended Age: 17+ (romance, sexual content, violence, gore, death, language)

Explanation of CWs: There is romance and some slight sexual content in this book. There was some violence, death, and gore in this book. There is also some slight cursing in this book.

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Pages: 368

Synopsis: 1792, France

Rumors of revolution in Paris swirl in Marseille, a bustling port city in southern France. Gilles Étienne, a clerk at the local soap factory, thrives on the news. Committed to the cause of equality, liberty, and brotherhood, he and his friends plan to march to Paris to dethrone the monarchy. His plans are halted when he meets Marie-Caroline Daubin, the beautiful daughter of the owner of the factory.

A bourgeoise and royalist, Marie-Caroline has been called home to Marseille to escape the unrest in Paris. She rebuffs Gilles’s efforts to charm her and boldly expresses her view that violently imposed freedom is not really freedom for all. As Marie-Caroline takes risks to follow her beliefs, Gilles catches her in a dangerous secret that could cost her and her family their lives. As Gilles and Marie-Caroline spend more time together, she questions her initial assumptions about Gilles and realizes that perhaps they have more in common than she thought.

As the spirit of revolution descends on Marseille, people are killed and buildings are ransacked and burned to the ground. Gilles must choose between supporting the political change he believes in and protecting those he loves. And Marie-Caroline must battle between standing up for what she feels is right and risking her family’s safety. With their lives and their nation in turmoil, both Gilles and Marie-Caroline wonder if a révolutionnaire and a royaliste can really be together in a world that forces people to choose sides.

Review: I really liked this book for the most part. I thought it was a very well done and well researched story about the French Revolution. The book was well written. The book had well described characters and world building. The pacing was also on point. I really liked how realistic this book felt and I’ve become a fan of this author’s work now.

The only issue I really had with this book is that I felt like the plot got a bit away from the author in the middle of the book, but for the most part I enjoyed reading this one.

Verdict: It was well done! Highly recommend.

Light Years From Home

Light Years from Home : a novel 

Mike Chen

On Sale Date: January 25, 2022

9780778311737

Hardcover

MIRA Books

$27.99 USD

352 pages

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Back again with his trademark “sci fi with feelings,” Mike Chen brings us a Space Opera/Family Drama mash-up. When Jakob Shao reappears after fifteen missing years, he brings turmoil to his sisters, Kass and Evie, and intergalactic war on his heels.

Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.

Fifteen years ago while on a family camping trip, Jakob Shao and his father vanished. His father turned up a few days later, dehydrated and confused, but convinced that they’d been abducted by aliens. Jakob remained missing.

The Shao sisters, Kass and Evie, dealt with the disappearance end ensuing fallout in very different ways. Kass over the years stepped up to be the rock of the family: carving a successful path for herself, looking after the family home, and becoming her mother’s caregiver when she starts to suffer from dementia. Evie took her father’s side, going all in on UFO conspiracy theories, and giving up her other passions to pursue the possible truth of life outside our planet. And always looking for Jakob.

When atmospheric readings from Evie’s network of contacts indicate a disturbance event just like the night of the abduction, she heads back home. Because Jakob is back. He’s changed, and the sisters aren’t sure what to think. But one thing is certain — the tensions between the siblings haven’t changed at all. Jakob, Kass and Evie are going to have to grow up and sort out their differences, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and possibly an entire alien armada, too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mike Chen is the author of the award-nominated Here And Now And Then and featured in Star Wars: From A Certain Point Of View—The Empire Strikes Back. He has covered geek culture for sites such as Tor.com, The Mary Sue, and StarTrek.com and used to cover the NHL for Fox Sport and other outlets. A member of SFWA, Mike lives in the Bay Area with his wife, daughter, and rescue animals.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://www.mikechenbooks.com/ 

Twitter: @mikechenwriter

Instagram: @mikechenwriter

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/light-years-from-home/9780778311737 

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/light-years-from-home-mike-chen/1139205091 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Light-Years-Home-Mike-Chen/dp/0778311732

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/light-years-from-home

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/light-years-from-home/id1562318173 

Google Books: https://books.google.com/books/about/Light_Years_from_Home.html?id=t00oEAAAQBAJ

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Light-Years-from-Home-Hardcover-9780778311737/732092225 

Chapter 1

Jakob

Everything in front of Jakob Shao was dark.

His eyes adjusted after several seconds, turning the void into a black sheet laced with brilliant white dots, countless stars coming into focus.  Jakob raised a finger and poked at the nothingness, only to feel a magnetic pushback from deflective impulses. Force fields, really, as Jakob still used the Earth terminology brought from a childhood of movies and comic books. Whatever they were called, they kept the vacuum of space from sucking him out, freezing him, possibly imploding him. 

The atmosphere dock of the Awakened ship wasn’t much more welcoming than deep space. It didn’t help that he stood barefoot and nearly naked, only an ill-fitting cloth halfway between a burlap sack and a poncho draped over him. The Awakened probably used it more to maintain their hostage’s body temperature than comfort, and definitely not for fashion. But where were his captors?

Where was anyone?

Then a voice called out.

A familiar voice, a not-human one that strained to yell his name in a vocalization that came halfway between a crow’s caw and an electronic blip. The implanted chips between Seven Bells soldiers constantly translated for species, but nothing came through here. Something must have burned out the chip, leaving only natural expression, a human word forced into alien physiology.

It called Jakob’s name.

Jakob ran to the voice, tracing the sound while rumbles vibrated the floor. Spigots of steam and gaseous vapor burst onto him, and his bare feet crunched on jagged debris. He turned a corner and though different lights flashed and fluctuated through the dim space, he saw a familiar figure.

Henry.

The unmistakable silhouette of curling horns and humanoid frame of Henry’s native species stood out against beams of light, and Jakob called out. “Henry!”—The simplest name he could assign to his friend given the physically impossible way of pronouncing their culture’s names. A harsh draft blew dust in his face, fragments hitting his bare shoulders as he charged forward. “Henry! We need to go right—”

Except Henry would not be able to go anywhere.

Stripped of his standard armor and clothing, his friend’s set of eight eyes all focused on him, their face angling away. One arm reached out to Jakob, straining to move. 

The other remained frozen, a statue pose as the crystallization took over, organic matter gradually desiccating from the bottom up. Jakob paused, slowly putting together what it all meant.

Jakob was in the Seven Bells first wave of defense, but his power-armor mech had been damaged and he was captured in space. Henry was to lead the second wave, an on-the-ground defense squad that took advantage of his native planetary knowledge.

They must have failed. Which meant Henry’s homeworld had fallen to the Awakened, their technology analyzed and usurped, their population and wildlife crystalized to be used as building material.

Jakob took his friend’s hand, a pincer-like claw with small sensory tentacles in the palm. “I’m so sorry. So sorry,” Jakob said repeatedly, taking far too much time given the exploding craft around him. Henry’s shoulder froze, body crystalizing from elbow to forearm to claws until the whole appendage stiffened and the sensory tentacles stopped moving. Jakob leaned forward as an invisible weight suddenly pushed in on his skull, a pressure from the center outward.  He looked at Henry, only their head and neck remaining, eyes closed, but tilted his way. 

Jakob knew what to do, what Henry wanted. It was the way their species passed on generational knowledge during final moments. 

He let Henry in.

And several seconds later, Jakob absorbed information, secrets, devastation, all of the things that Henry saw and felt while Jakob had been captured. And a number. 

A sixteen-digit number that could change everything.

“Go,” Henry managed in their unearthly voice before the crystalization process inched upward, eventually taking over their entire head with a sparkly dead texture.

Then his friend collapsed, their transformed body falling apart like a sand castle imploding under its own wait. Henry’s remains scattered, spilling everywhere and getting between Jakob’s toes. When he turned, he felt the grind beneath his feet.

But there was no time to mourn or be disgusted. He needed to go. But where?

Jakob sprinted, checking all corners and hallways. But whatever had happened before he came to had caused the ship to be evacuated, mostly ransacked of anything useful. At a hanger bay, his captured half-wrecked mech sat, stripped of any useful tools. The only thing intact was a decryptor—a tool for espionage. Not escape.

That wouldn’t help here, though he grabbed the device anyway—technically, a neural encryptor/decryptor—and looked for a way out. In the corner, a holographic interface flickered on and off. 

That just might do it. 

A closer look had Jakob laughing at his luck: the half-functioning interface was the ship’s compressed-matter transporter system, something he was familiar with since the Seven Bells regularly scavenged them from downed Awakened craft. He craned his neck up at the too-tall interface next to him, fingers flying over controls he understood just enough to operate. It hummed to life, a low vibration nearly eclipsed by the ongoing rumbles of various decks exploding above him. A white glow signified it was ready to fire him across space. 

Him—and the knowledge he’d stolen. 

But what destination would provide safety until the Seven Bells recovered him?

A star chart glowed in front of him, and the vast pool of space lay at his fingertips. One of those tiny dots represented a chance. He just had to figure out which one—fast.

Jakob scanned the possibilities, already tensing for the brutal gauntlet of compressed matter transport: an invisible bubble sealing around the body, then throttling it through a newly generated wormhole that collapsed upon exit. He needed somewhere safe, somewhere primitive that the Awakened would completely overlook. Only then could he track his fleet without putting them in danger. Solar system upon solar system whirred in front of him, the options coming and going until he paused at one choice.

One obvious, hilarious, completely impossible choice.

Earth. The place he’d departed fifteen years ago. 

Jakob zoomed in on the image, examining its projected rotation. Pure dumb luck handed him a win here; they were passing through within three light years, perfectly within the edge of the transporter’s radius. The holographic light pulsed, indicating the system was ready to go. 

But what if the Awakened chased him, captured him again? He could hide his body, yet his mind still represented a risk: specifically, the device implanted in his head that connected to the Seven Bells command fleet, activated only when speaking the right words. The Awakened were known for torturing to the point of unconsciousness, trying to pry secrets that might tip the war one way or another, except he’d been trained to protect the activation phrase with his life.

His life for the entire fleet’s life.

But did the Awakened have other ways to extract that information, something more strategic than pain? If they tracked him down, could they try some type of mental probe or memory scanner?

Jakob turned to think, his bare foot kicking against a smooth object that suddenly caught his attention. 

The decryptor he salvaged—a basketball-sized device that could scramble certain parts of his memory. A way to blank out the activation phrase from his mind, guaranteeing its safety—and thus, the fleet’s safety—in any situation   until the Seven Bells located him.  Jakob calculated the risks. As one of the Seven Bells’ leading engineers, patching up damaged equipment in the heat of battle was standard procedure. But scrambling and patching up his own mind? 

There was a first time for everything.

Jakob held the decryptor to his forehead, pressing it firmly and thinking as hard as he could about the specific phrase to activate the skull implant’s emergency communications signal. A very quick, very sharp zap hit him, and with it, scrambled that memory, now unlockable solely with this very device. 

 But he suddenly realized that if the zap’s blast radius scrambled tangential memories, he might lose more: what had happened, what he needed, his whole mission. Jakob’s eyes darted around, searching the broken space for something that might provide a way to give himself tangible backup clues.

The pipes on the walls.

Whatever liquid they contained might be as good as ink.

He grabbed jagged shrapnel off the floor and smashed the line, neon blue dripping out. It didn’t produce steam or eat through the floor. Good enough. His finger stung a little under the viscous liquid, and with it, he wrote words on his exposed skin. 

SIGNAL. WEAPON.

Dizziness and nausea struck as details blurred out of existence, and Jakob knew disorientation would hit soon enough. He held the decryptor close, hugging it while activating the scan sequence of the transporter. A thin beam of light trickled over him, a tingle crawling over his skin while the transporter calculated the shape and strength of its protective bubble. It nearly finished when sparks flew from the far side of the room, another shake knocking him off balance.

“Shit, shit, shit,” he said while reinitiating the scan, uttering Earth curses that still stayed with him. The scanning beam re-appeared, only to stop halfway down his body. He tried again and then again, but each time, it refused to move past the decryptor.

Jakob squinted at the repeated message on the transporter’s interface, but without the supporting communications tech from Seven Bells on him, it was incomprehensible. He looked at the decryptor in his hand, then back at the interface, then over at the message.

Maybe that was it. Jakob with the device might be too much. 

He set the decryptor on the floor and retargeted the scan beam. Several seconds later, a planetary image indicated a target destination. The decryptor shot off across space, a simple white flash as it vanished.

He’d have to find it. But what if the decryptor’s memory fallout erased those details? What if the transporter veered him off course on his own journey? How would he even know where to start?

Jakob turned back to the holographic map; the decryptor had been sent somewhere on the west coast of the North American continent. The Bay Area. Images flashed through his mind, faces surfacing after so many years of disconnecting from that life. 

Mom. Dad. Kassie. Evie.

Home. 

Such a word felt weightless, devoid of any meaning now. But it gave a shorthand to the decryptor’s location. 

He jabbed his finger into the smashed pipeline, dipping into enough alien goo to write  one more message. GO HOME, he wrote across his left shoulder. That would point him in the right direction, no matter where on Earth he started.

Jakob took in a deep breath, then hit the controls again on the transporter. The beam returned, scanning him up and down. Seconds passed and the air changed, like he was encased in a layer of plastic— pressurized energy protecting him across the vacuum of space. Around him, various hums and vibrations indicated the system would activate in moments. 

The room shook as a hole tore open in the ceiling, fire and shrapnel showering him. 

“Weapon. Signal. Go home.” He told himself, repeating the words. If all the writing dissolved or washed off, he could try to remember these few words. He readied himself, and only now did he notice bits of crystalline sand stuck to his legs and feet. Nausea hit Jakob, but whether it came from the decryptor process or seeing Henry’s remains, he wasn’t sure. Fists formed with tight fingers and tensed arms, and he forced himself to picture Henry’s crumbling body, a reminder of why he needed to do this.

“Weapon. Signal.” 

He had to make it to Earth safely. He had to retrieve the decryptor and contact the fleet.

Because he wasn’t just a Seven Bells soldier trying to find a way back. Those sixteen digits Henry had chiseled into his mind would win the war.

He just needed to tell them first.

“Go home.”

Excerpted from Light Years from Home by Mike Chen, Copyright © 2022 by Mike Chen. Published by MIRA Books. 

When The World Turned Upside Down by K. Ibura

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: When The World Turned Upside Down

Author: K. Ibura

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Various races are mentioned, but nothing exact is specifically mentioned. There is one disabled character, a character with depression, and a non-binary character in the book as well.

Recommended For…: middle grade readers, children’s readers, contemporary, realistic fiction

Publication Date: February 1, 2022

Genre: MG Contemporary

Recommended Age: 10+ (COVID, panic attack, parents fighting, depression, animal starving, police brutality, systematic racism, gore)

Explanation of CWs: COVID, police brutality, and systematic racism are discussed and/or shown in the book as they’re the background of the book. There is a panic attack shown in the book. There is depression shown in the book. There are a couple of scenes where some parents are shown fighting. There is one scene where an animal is shown starving (but it is alright and saved). There is also one scene with some slight gore.

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Pages: 275

Synopsis: Nobody expected a tiny little virus to change the whole world in such a big way, especially not Shayla, Liam, Ai, and Ben. But when school closes to keep everyone safe, their lives turn upside down. It is one thing to learn that the outside world isn’t safe, but why does it seem that the virus is causing trouble inside their homes too? As they each struggle to adjust to life in quarantine, they discover they are not alone: their apartment building is full of people who need their help. Working together, they begin to see that there is power in numbers. When they cooperate, they can ease each other’s challenges and help their neighbors through tough times. It’s a lesson they’ll need when protests explode in the streets. Soon, each friend has to decide what it means to be part of a community—and how much they’re willing to do to make this world safer for everyone.

Review: I really loved this book! The book did so well to show the scariness of the beginning of the pandemic but in a kid friendly manner. The book did well to discuss accurate COVID information (a valuable asset in today’s society) and how scary the sickness can look like. The book also went into detail about the BLM protests and what happened with not only George Floyd but numerous other people who lost their lives due to police brutality. The book showed rioting, but informed it in a manner that it is “…the language of the unheard” (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) and showed police brutality in the midst of even peaceful protests as well. I absolutely adore this book and its brutal honesty because children are smarter than a lot of people give them credit for and they can understand these bigger topics if you just explain it to them in terms they can understand, such as this excellent book does. I thought the book was extremely well written and the characters sounded their age and were developed well. The world building was great as well.

The only issue I had with the book is that the pacing was a bit too fast for me (but it would be perfect for a child I think!) and the book does randomly change POVs throughout the chapters, so it sometimes gets a little confusing to follow who we’re following at times.

Verdict: I highly recommend this one!

January Hot Tea Month!

Hey bookies! While I don’t really like anything to drink except for apple juice and water (swearing off caffeine has been so hard) I do love how much love there is around tea on bookstagram! There’s so much that there’s a few boxes who always give some tea with their books and some shops who just specialize in teas with a bookish twist! Here’s some recs if you’re looking for your next great sip:

Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Tiger Honor

Author: Yoon Ha Lee

Book Series: Thousand Worlds Book 2

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Korean Characters, Nonbinary Character mentioned, Deaf Sapphic Characters mentioned

Recommended For…: middle grade readers, sci-fi, Chinese mythology inspired and based

Publication Date: January 4, 2022

Genre: MG Sci-Fi

Recommended Age: 10+ (violence, abandonment)

Explanation of CWs: There is some violence in this book. There is also some abandonment of family in this book.

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents

Pages: 247

Synopsis: Sebin, a young tiger spirit from the Juhwang Clan, wants nothing more than to join the Thousand World Space Forces and, like their Uncle Hwan, captain a battle cruiser someday. But when Sebin’s acceptance letter finally arrives, it’s accompanied by the shocking news that Hwan has been declared a traitor. Apparently, the captain abandoned his duty to steal a magical artifact, the Dragon Pearl, and his whereabouts are still unknown. Sebin hopes to help clear their hero’s name and restore honour to the clan.

Nothing goes according to plan, however. As soon as Sebin arrives for orientation, they are met by a special investigator named Yi and his assistant, a girl named Min. Yi informs Sebin that they must immediately report to the ship Haetae and await further instructions. Sebin finds this highly unusual, but soon all protocol is forgotten when there’s an explosion on the ship, the crew is knocked out, and the communication system goes down. It’s up to Sebin, three other cadets, and Yi and Min to determine who is sabotaging the battlecruiser. When Sebin is suddenly accused of collaborating with the enemy, the cadet realizes that Min is the most dangerous foe of all…

Review: This is a wonderful sequel to Dragon Pearl! I loved seeing Min again and I am excited to see how Sebin will fit into the story. The book is inspired by Chinese mythology and I loved seeing Sebin’s backstory and how his family clan is female led. The book had a great plotline and I loved seeing Sebin’s development. The character development is great. The world building is marvelous. And I can’t wait for the next book!

The only thing I didn’t like is the pacing is a bit too fast in places and I wanted more of Sebin’s inner conflict and the end scene.

Verdict: It’s great! Highly Recommend.