What Lies Within by James Morris

October 29, 2015
Book Review, What Lies Within, James Morris, InToriLex
THREE POINT FIVE STARS
What Lies Within
You’re going to die”

Shelley Marano is an ordinary, unexceptional high school senior…until the day she receives a cryptic text message, and her world tilts sideways. Now she’s in real danger, although she doesn’t know who would want her dead, or why. As she starts to unravel the mystery, the truth about who she really is proves to be more frightening than she ever imagined. With the lives of her and her friends hanging in the balance, one thing is certain:

Nothing will ever be the same.

Packed with suspense, What Lies Within is a page-turning, plot-driven rollercoaster ride that fans of Stephen King, James Patterson and Rick Yancey will be sure to enjoy.
 

REVIEW:

What Lies Within, James Morris, Book Review, InToriLex
I enjoyed this book, however this short fast paced novel was not without it's flaws. The mystery and science fiction elements were interesting and explained well. However I wanted to know these characters more than the author developed them in the story. Shelley is faced with a literal identity crisis, where she questions who she will be and who she is. We get to know her as she's thrust into danger and faced with growing up faster then she can cope with. Shelley's best friend Winston brings some much needed rational thinking to Shelley's decisions and the dynamic works well.
"She was frightened and confused and no matter how she tried to present herself to the outside world, that's what shone through."
This book includes action, death and danger in healthy doses. But the disbelief and actions of the people who love Shelley brings the story back into the realistic fiction realm. This novel dealt with relationships and the non-fairy tale endings they often take in our lives. Shelley can't wish her way into a new reality, and has to slowly learn to move forward. But the way she moves forward involves violence, inner turmoil and memory lapses, which made this story engaging the whole way through.

If your a fan of thrillers, that can squeeze a little bit in about love and the hard parts of life, definitely give this book a try. At times I was grossed out by some gory descriptions, while other times cheering on violence but for the right reasons. There's also some humor and good visual cues, which keeps it lighthearted. If this book was a bit longer it would have probably been able to focus on the characters more, but the writing with more development could go far.

This ebook was provided to me from the Author in exchange for a honest review. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


James Morris is a former television writer who now works in digital media. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching 'House Hunters Renovation', or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles.
4 comments

Broken (Extrahumans #1) by Susan Jane Bigelow

October 26, 2015
THREE POINT FIVE STARS
Broken (Extrahumans, #1)

~Amazon~

SYNOPSIS:

In a post-war future world where First Contact has been made, humans are colonizing the stars, and the nations of Earth have been united under a central government, Extrahumans are required by law to belong to the Union. When a young man with visions of the future sets out on a mission to define the course of human history, he encounters a devastated former hero, a fascist dictatorship bent on world domination, and the realities of living in a society where affiliation is everything.

Broken figured she was done with heroics when she lost the ability to fly and fled the confinement of the Extrahuman Union. But then the world started to fall apart around her, and the mysterious Michael Forward entered her life, dangling the possibility of redemption and rebirth.

Michael Forward can see the future, but all he wants is to escape the destiny he has struggled against all his life. When the moment comes, though, he finds he can't refuse. Now he needs the help of a homeless ex-superhero to save a baby who may be the key to humanity's freedom.

Monica had a good life with her large family, until two strangers and a baby showed up at her door. Now her family is gone, her life is in ruins, and she's on the run from the law.

In a time of spreading darkness, when paranoia and oppression have overtaken the world, can three unlikely allies preserve a small ray of hope for a better, brighter future?

REVIEW:

I expected something very different, but this is a solid read for sci-fi and alien lovers alike. The sci-fi elements were interesting, but seem tacked on instead of weaved in  the story. Mostly this book describes how Broken and Micheal come to terms with who they are, and how to move forward after heart break. I wanted to know more about this world ruled by a misguided government after a war destroyed North America. However the world building took a back seat to a sparse prophecy about a baby who will change the future.


Despite the glaring similarities this has to X-men, the Extra-humans are used and abused at every turn by the government. They are stripped of their identity and manipulated into completing other people's dirty work. We also see some variation of powers such as being Lucky, Bringing peace and being able to see future possibilties rather than a set future. Racism, xenophobia, and sex are all things that are spoken of freely and make the story more real despite the futuristic setting. There were some great action sequences where futuristic weapons were met by Extrahuman force. Although some of the action was gory violence, it definitely kept me engaged and was believable.
"Like we're something extra. Not Really human. Just something else that the rest of them don't need."
There is a alien race that has made contact with humans, but does not enjoy a peaceful existence on earth. I wish the author went into more depth with some of the awesome and interesting ideas she introduces. I know that this will be a series, however there were too many unexplained elements,  first in series books should still be able to stand on their own merits. Overall this story had a lot of cool ideas and was engaging, I just wished it was a bit more developed. Definitely a great read for sc-fi lovers, who enjoy character development rather than a solid sci-fi narrative.

I received a copy of this book from the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 
2 comments

The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj

October 14, 2015
The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj, Book Review, InToriLex
FOUR STARS
The Stars Change
~Amazon~

SYNOPSIS:

The Stars Change: an erotic science fiction novel-in-stories. On a South Asian-settled university planet, tensions are rising, and as they reach the brink of interstellar war, life (and sex) continues. Humans, aliens, and modified humans gather at the University of All Worlds in search of knowledge... and self-knowledge... but the first bomb has fallen and the fate of this multicultural, multispecies mecca is in question. Some people will seek solace in physical contact, some will look for spiritual answers, while others will find their strength in community, family, and love. Some will rush home to make love to their wife. Or wives. Or husbands. Or indeterminate gender human and/or alien partners. Others will be forced to decide where they stand -- what is worth fighting for, or maybe even worth dying for.

In The Stars Change, author Mary Anne Mohanraj presents a multi-layered, thought-provoking, and far-reaching work on sexuality and the connections between people--whether male or female, human or alien. The Stars Change is part space opera, part literary mosaic of story, poem, and art.

It is fitting that a book that emphasizes the power of community was funded through Kickstarter. Begun as a project entitled "Demi Monde," The Stars Change is the result of the money raised by supporters that went to pay for not only the art and illustrations in the book, but the author's time, allowing her to focus on writing for that crucial interval.

REVIEW:

This was a book club read with Boston Radical Women of Color Book Club. I couldn't make the actual book club to discuss it, so I can't speak to what others thought. This was a unique read with a under developed plot, but the colorful characters and different alien species more then made up for that. Kimsriyalani, Amara, Narita, Gaurav, and Chieri, were beings thrust into difficult situations while in turmoil within their personal life. As this peaceful academic haven is threatened, we learn about different species in this world and  their struggles to come together past any culture differences. The illustrations were also very well done and placed within the novel (Illustrations by Jack Kotz).

The erotica took a back seat while reading to me, which puzzled me because it is marketed as a erotic sci-fi novel. The sex described was done tastefully. I did wonder how different species would adapt to have sex with humans, but the author didn't go there. Instead most of the novel described relationships, no matter the gender or species,the emotions described were relateable and familiar. This book explores alot about identity and how love can have a huge impact on how you look at yourself and trust others. The characters have all been deeply affected by their love for someone else, and have to come to terms with that.
"Old Friends meet in the house of God seeking clarity amidst the shouting."
The novel explores alot of concepts but same gender relationships  wasn't a conflict with the characters. Class divides, human modification, religion and non-humanness were the points of division that were explored, but done so in a way that shed light on all sides. Although there were many concepts and ideas brought up they were not explored for more then a chapter. The short length of the book and focus on characters more than plot, made the flow and organization disjointed. Despite any downfalls, if you are a sc-fi fan, who appreciates memorable characters I would definitely recommend this book for you. There are definitely passages that make you think and recognize some of yourself in the pages, so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
2 comments

The Culling (The Torch Keeper #1) by Steven Dos Santos

October 5, 2015
The Culling (The Torch Keeper #1) by Steven Dos Santos, Book Review, InToriLex, Netgalley
TWO POINT FIVE STARS
The Culling (The Torch Keeper, #1)

~Amazon~

SYNOPSIS: 

Recruitment Day is here...if you fail, a loved one will die

For Lucian “Lucky” Spark, Recruitment Day means the Establishment, a totalitarian government, will force him to become one of five Recruits competing to join the ruthless Imposer task force. Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance to the next level. Those who fail must choose an “Incentive”—a family member—to be brutally killed. If Lucky fails, he’ll have to choose death for his only living relative: Cole, his four-year-old brother.

Lucky will do everything he can to keep his brother alive, even if it means sacrificing the lives of other Recruits’ loved ones. What Lucky isn’t prepared for is his undeniable attraction to the handsome, rebellious Digory Tycho. While Lucky and Digory train together, their relationship grows. But daring to care for another Recruit in a world where love is used as the ultimate weapon is extremely dangerous. As Lucky soon learns, the consequences can be deadly...

REVIEW:  

I tried my hardest to give this book a fair chance, considering there are a lot of critiques centered around how similar this was to hunger games. Unfortunately the writing and ideas involved seemed better on their own, then working together to give a compelling narrative. Lucky the protagonist who has to work to save his brother just did not connect with me in a meaningful way. I did appreciate the non-straight romance, but even that seemed underdeveloped.

InToriLex, Book Review

The trials described in the book were challenging, gory and had too much going on. It's good to have world building to help immerse the reader but most of the book included too many elements that made it hard to suspend my disbelief about what was happening. The writing itself wasn't bad per se, but definitely included some sentences that were overly cheesy and eye roll worthy. For Example:

"I finally force myself to pull away. It literally hurts my flesh, as if somehow our skin's bonded together by the most powerful adhesive of all."

I did enjoy many of the action sequences that happened, and that the characters included strong and weak men and women. But overall the book could have used less ideas and more well developed elements that would have given the reader enough unique elements they could remember and separate it from other similar dystopian YA. Overall it was a ok read, that I wouldn't recommend because of the many other far superior dystopian and well written, young adult novels. 

I received a copy of this book from  the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
2 comments
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