Time Bomb: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau which is due out March 13th, 2018 from HMH Books for Young Readers. I was sent a galley in exchange for an honest review.

It is important for readers to know that this book contains mentions of: terrorism, Islamophobia, death, cancer, suicide along with suicide ideation, and blood.

This book has been circulating around my twitter for quite some time and I was immediately drawn in by the promise of a multi-faceted, thrilling young adult novel. After having devoured this in a day, I can say that Joelle does not disappoint. Time Bomb is fast paced and doesn’t leave you waiting long to launch into the story. We are given six points of views, each a different character who we wind up following as a bomb rips through their school. Joelle gives everyone a questionable motive to be at the school and while I figured out who caused the destruction early on, it is not an easy task. There are a lot of curve-balls and distractions that are meant to push the blame onto someone else and distract you from looking at the real culprit.

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However, this book is more than just a guessing game as to who set off a bomb. Time Bomb forces a reader to confront stereotypes, racism, and the political dialogue behind these kinds of attacks. For example, Rashid, despite having conflicts with his faith, is a practicing Muslim and a lot of his story arc is dealing with Islamophobia and how he wishes people would separate him from his religion. On the other hand, he also wishes more people would take the time to understand what his religion teaches. He pushes back against harmful accusations and ridicule and is one of the more compelling characters. We also have Diana, the daughter of a senator, who brutally points out that rescuers and the media will be talking about her and the group she’s with because of her relation to politics.

Joelle does her best to examine the framework of the media with these kinds of attacks and does not handle the material lightly. This is a book that will stick with you because of the honesty that is unraveled at your feet. She forces not only the reader, but her characters to confront what they may know about people and what comes from society’s expectation of people: what they should be like, how they should present themselves, and how we need to untangle our discourse from our prejudices and in some cases, blatant racism.

My only main critique of this book was I felt as if some of the points of view were not as developed as others and some motives may not have been as clear as they could have been, but overall, Time Bomb is a book that will stick with me. It could open up some important conversations that need to be had.

This gets 4/5 stars from me!

Till Next Time,

Xx

Megan

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New Year, New Publication

Hello Readers & Writers,

Though I approach every new year with a bit of hesitation, this one has kicked off to a good start. A short story of mine has been published in an anthology and it is available for purchase on amazon! -insert confetti here-

The story in this anthology, Chaos of Hard Clay, was one I wrote a few years ago, taking a favorite character of mine I had written on the side and giving him his own story. With the help of my friend Erin, who created the second main character, Verity was born. It follows the protagonist Aleks, who has been living in exile after waking up to find his life for the past year was an illusion created by the government. He reunites with his best friend only to learn about what a disaster the world has turned into.

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A graphic I put together in order to represent Verity 

This story is close to my heart and I hope to do more with the characters in the future. Anyone who has a writer’s brain knows that stories appear out of nowhere and you can’t forget the characters closest to you. They also tend to chat in your brain regardless of your opinion on the matter.

That being said, if science fiction excites you, then consider buying this anthology as it contains twenty story of post apocalyptic disasters, alternative worlds, insane experiments and plot twists. Also, me and the other authors will be super appreciative. The full synopsis is as follows:

51pP-2IwknL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Imagine a world gone horribly wrong. Nuclear war. Climate Change. Zombies. Aliens. Science Gone Mad. Twenty authors present twenty horrific scenarios detailing the end of society. The good guys, the bad guys, and the murderers are all here, eking out a scant survival…or destroying all they come across. Who will live? Who will die? And will there be an Earth left when they do? Read these compelling, shocking stories to find out. Crystal Leflar: NO TEARS TO SPARE Daniel Willcocks: WHEN THE WORLD FLED EAST David Henderson: GAME OF TAG G. H. Finn: GRIM DIESAL Hákon Gunnarsson: WHAT’S BELOW THE SURFACE Han Adcock: A SHORT HISTORY OF THE FUTURE Jack Stone: AFTER Jessica Mizell: BEEN HERE BEFORE Jim O’Donnell: HANGING, JUST OUTSIDE THE WORLD Justin Bloch: THE BEGINNING, AGAIN Kamron Taylor: WHAT REMAINS Luke Kondor: DUST AND FINGERS Megan Manzano: VERITY N. J. Reynolds: BLACK WATER Ray Prew: HOW DO THEY LIKE IT Roxanne Dent: GHOST WOMAN Olin Wish: TAKE ME TO YOUR FUCKING LEADER Vonnie Winslow Crist: DEAD WRONG Steve Bissonnette: AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT! G. Allen Cook: ENDGAMES AND EPILOGUES

Purchase on [Amazon]

Read any of these stories, or even mine? Leave your thoughts below. I’d be happy to hear them. And as a final shout out, this anthology wouldn’t be possible without G. Allen Cook who put so much work into this project and believed in my story. I am still in awe of his drive and constant communication.

Till next time,

xx
Megan

Chainbreaker: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Chainbreaker by Tara Sim which is due out January 2nd, 2018 from Sky Pony Press. I was sent a galley in exchange for an honest review.

CaptureThe first thing I noticed about Chainbreaker was it had a very different feel than Timekeeper and I don’t mean this in a bad way. Timekeeper focused strictly on Danny as a main character and we got to follow his journey as he learned about what was happening with the clock towers, as he fell in love, as he fought to save his home town and his father. Chainbreaker expands the world that Tara built in the first installment. Not only do we get several more POVs, but we are taken to India, learn more about time, the clock towers, and their existence in the world. We’re even given a chunk of history.  While for some books, expanding the world this sharply could be a problem, Tara handled it flawlessly. To put my enthusiasm into perspective, I read two-thirds of the book in one sitting. Why did I stop? I had to be an adult. Gross, I know.

The main premise of Chainbreaker is clock towers are being destroyed in India, but time isn’t stopping as it’s prone to do. Danny and Daphne are sent from England to India in order to investigate the strange occurrences, but get way more than they bargained for.

There were tons of things that stood out to me about Chainbreaker. Getting Colton’s POV was a delight as we were able to see how he thought and snippets into his past. (No spoilers, I promise. You just have to read the book.) We got another round of Danny who was once again, a great character to follow, with strong morals and a fighting spirit. Then, perhaps my favorite of the bunch, was Daphne. Like Daphne, I’m biracial. Though I don’t share an Indian heritage with her, I have struggled with similar thoughts of what culture I belong to and what it means to not look like where you come from.  Daphne’s journey and thoughts resonated with me in a way I wasn’t expecting, but welcomed all the same.

This cast of characters and the world building create an engaging read in the Steampunk genre. You root for them. You get to know them and by the end, you want to solve the mystery as much as they do.

Though I’m still freaking out about the ending, (Tara, how could you?), I am beyond excited for book three. I need to know where these characters wind up and hopefully, I won’t have my heart broken.

This book gets 5/5 cogs from me.

Xx

Megan

These Things I’ve Done: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips which published August 2017 from Harper Teen. I received this title from Eric Smith, (thanks so much again!) as a review copy. There will be no spoilers so don’t click away. Though I will warn you that:

  1. This book surrounds the theme of death. Please take caution while reading.
  2. There is an incident of sexual harassment and it is talked about through some parts of the story.

These Things I’ve Done will punch you in the gut as it deals heavily with grief and its different stages: anger, guilt, understanding, etc. It has been on my list to read for the longest time and it did not disappoint.

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It is told in two alternating time periods, before and after the death of Dara’s best friend, Aubrey. These tales do eventually weave together in order to create a cohesive past as well as help the reader understand Dara’s relationship with Aubrey, and who Dara was before the incident. After reading both the first chapter of before and the first chapter of after, it broke my heart to see the stark contrast in Dara’s personality. Phillips did an amazing job at depicting a believable stage of grief, but it didn’t stop there. She dug into the layers of Dara’s psyche to show a teenage girl who was suffering, who didn’t know how to find forgiveness within herself.

The main premise is Dara returns to her hometown over a year after the death of Aubrey. She believes it is time to face the consequences of her horrible action and drown in the suffering she thinks she deserves. Her parents are unsteady around her and her little brother who she was once so close with is afraid of her. All of her former friends want nothing to do with her.  None of this compares to seeing Aubrey’s little brother, Ethan, someone who had been a huge part of her life prior to Aubrey’s death. Reacquainting with him leads to a roller coaster of emotions, unresolved problems, and finding acceptance. It also allows us as readers to gain a better sense of who Audrey was, both as a friend, and as a sister.

The story doesn’t leave you with a bleak outlook on life. It does have some sad bits and a lot of lines that will cling to your heart and not let you go, but it offers hope. It shows a way out of the darkness especially when you believe choices and actions cannot be undone. It shows that there will always be people to accept you and pick you up during the most difficult moments of your life.

Overall, it gets 4/5 stars from me and I will definitely be keeping an eye on whatever Rebecca Phillips has in store next.

Xx

Megan

SST Blog Tour: This Mortal Coil

This Mortal Coil

Hi Readers & Writers,

In case you couldn’t tell by the banner above, I am a part of the Sunday Street Team This Mortal Coil Blog Tour! If you haven’t read or heard of This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada, it’s time to change that. The dystopian world was one of the most unique I ever read and I loved the blend of science and technology that Emily weaved into the pages. You will find twist after twist as the novel progresses to the end, but of course, I won’t spoil anything. You’ll have to read it yourself.

In the meantime, you can enjoy the synopsis, an interview with Emily, a giveaway, and where the Sunday Street Team is heading next!

Synopsis: 

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

Goodreads Link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33876440-this-mortal-coil

Preorder Links:
Amazon- US: This Mortal Coil
Barnes & Nobles: This Mortal Coil
Book Depository:This Mortal Coil

Before I proceed, I want to give a huge thank you to Emily for answering my questions!

1: Part of what sucked me into This Mortal Coil was the science involved, or rather the idea of being able to hack and change genes. Did you always want to write a story like this or did it unravel as you were brainstorming?

I’ve always been a science nerd, ever since I was a kid – so it’s natural that I’d include a lot of science in my writing. However, the first book I wrote (which will never see the light of day) didn’t really involve any science. It was a few years ago, and there wasn’t as much interest in STEM then, so I didn’t think readers would be interested. However, it was hard to keep my nerdiness out of my writing, so I started working on This Mortal Coil as a passion project. I didn’t know if anyone would be interested in so much wild future science, and honestly didn’t know if it would get published – but since then I’ve found so many readers who’ve loved the science aspects of the book, which fills my heart with so much joy!

2:  Would you have a genkit if they were real and if so, what app would want to have on there? I would totally go for one that allowed my hair to be all kinds of bright colors.

I would definitely have a genkit! I think I’d delve into amateur genehacking. I’d really like a skullnet and the ability to write and work without typing. I’d also like super-human eyesight and magnetoreception. I hate being cold, so the ability to grow a little fur in the winter doesn’t sound bad, either.

3: What do you hope readers take away from your story?

I really hope that readers will be intrigued by the moral questions about genetic technology that the book raises. We’re already able to edit DNA, and though the process is complex, specific and expensive, it’s almost a guarantee that one day it will be cheaper, flexible and easy. We as a society have a lot of conversations ahead of us about how to approach that frontier, and a lot of today’s teens will grow up to become the scientists who’ll shape our future. Starting to ask these questions now isn’t just fun and interesting – it’s important.

Also I hope they take away the fact that they really, really need book 2 (mwahahaha…)

4: Describe This Mortal Coil in three words.

Scientific, convoluted, and explosive!

5: What’s one scientific discovery you’d like to see happen in your lifetime?

I really, really hope to see robust solutions to antimicrobial resistance – which is when bacteria evolve and antibiotics stop working on them. The problem of fast-evolving ‘superbugs’ is a very real one, and it poses a serious threat to society. There’s a lot of cool work going on with CRISPR-based drugs and modified bacteriophage (real-world genehacking is happening right now!) so I’d love to see these treatments become mainstream before simple things like infections from a graze or cut become life-threatening, as they once were, back in pre-penicillin days.


6: Can you tell us one thing you worked on in regards to coding that you particularly enjoyed?

I love everything about coding! I’ve enjoyed every coding project I’ve tackled – but my favorite thing has to be playing around in a language I’ve never used before. When I’m getting familiar with a new language, I like choosing small, fun projects to teach myself how to use it. I’ll spend hours looking at other people’s work in that language, googling how to do specific things, and generally messing around. It’s so much fun. I particularly enjoy projects that create a visual or interactive experience – like a button that shows you a picture, or plots a chart of data – those are really rewarding once they’re working!


7: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

When I was kid, I used to get in trouble in class for reading books under my desk. I’d sit back in my chair and lay a book across my lap and read it surreptitiously. I didn’t get caught often 😀

About the Author:

Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.

Author’s Social Media:

Blog: http://emilysuvada.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/emilysuvada
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16320871.Emily_Suvada
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emilysuvada
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emily.suvada/

GIVEAWAY: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c3165933117/

 

Tour Schedule:

11/5 Tour Stops

Interview – Megan Manzano

Review  – Books N Calm

Review – Dani Reviews Things

Interview – Fly Leaf Chronicles

Unique Post – Book Stacks Amber

11/12  Tour Stops

Guest Post – Mikayla’s Bookshelf

Interview –Reading is Dreaming with Eyes Wide Open

Review – Sarcasm and Lemons

Unique Post – Downright Dystopian

Review – Here’s To Happy Endings

11/19  Tour Stops

Interview – Books, Boys, and Blogs

Review – Emily Reads Everything

Review – The Book Corps

Unique Post – Life of a Literary Nerd

Review – Bay in Wonderland

11/26 Tour Stops

Review – A Gingerly Review

Review –  Pretty Deadly Blog

Interview – Library of a Book Witch

Guest Post – The Hermit Librarian

Girl Made of Stars: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the wonderful honor of receiving a copy of Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Blake from HMH Teen. This book is due out in May 2018.

Before I start this review, there are two things to note:

  • This review will contain minimal spoilers so no need to click away.
  • If you are triggered by sexual assault, please take caution reading this book. Sexual Assault is the plot and deals not only with this, but with consent, slut-shaming, victim blaming, and how sexual assault is handled by the criminal justice system.

With that being said, let’s dive in.

Girl Made of Stars is one of the most powerful, heartbreaking, and hopeful books I’ve ever read. I will not say it is an easy read, because the subject matter is heavy and an overwhelming problem in society, but this book puts it all on the table. Ashley Blake challenges the notion of choosing the easy way out, of being complacent, of what happens when trust is obliterated.

31351689The story opens up with a glimpse into Mara and Owen’s lives. They are twins and they are as close as expected, a pair that has always found comfort in storytelling and constellations. You immediately feel their genuine bond and their unwavering security in one another. You also get a glimpse into their family and social circles. For being teenagers, their lives have a solid foundation.

But all of this unravels quickly as Hannah, one of Mara’s closest friends, doesn’t show up to school and a phone call to her parents reveals Hannah’s family wants to sue for what Owen did to her. It doesn’t click in Mara’s head at first. Her brother wouldn’t rape anybody, let alone Hannah. On the opposite end, Hannah wouldn’t lie about being raped. Quickly, Mara is thrown into a whirlwind of not only deciphering what’s real and what’s not, but memories of her own past she hasn’t allowed herself to discuss. She is also dealing with breaking up with her girlfriend Charlie, as she doesn’t want their friendship ruined by dating.

Throughout the story, we see Mara break apart and the strings connecting her to her family and to her twin snap. We see her trying to deal with a past that has been weighing her down for so long. We see her trying to reconcile with Hannah, if there is anything she can say that will fix what her brother has done. We see her trying to figure out if she is immediately a bad person because of her brother’s actions and if there is any way to mend that relationship. We see her trying to understand love. Ashley Blake tosses us into a whirlwind as Mara breaks apart and it is up to her how she chooses to piece herself back together.  There is no easy way to deal with rape, to have the image of someone you’ve known all your life be destroyed. She is pulled in two directions: needing to be what her family wants her to be and doing what she knows is right.

This book made me angry for all the stories that get swept under the rug, for everyone this happens to without any justice.

This book made me sad because my heart broke for Mara and for Hannah and for anyone who has suffered this.

This book made me hope because Ashley Blake doesn’t leave her readers drowning in darkness and confusion and pain. She offers stepping stones, small bits of light to cling to, to pull yourself up.  She in no way makes it sound as if dealing with sexual assault is easy.

You will not forget this book. I know I won’t. It is thought provoking, emotionally challenging, and leaves you speechless. It takes a close look at sexual assault and how many people it truly affects.  It pulls at your heart strings and it is so well done.

When this book comes out – if you’re able to – pick it up and prepare yourself for a powerful narrative that needs to be read.

Xx

Megan

The Hazel Wood: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, publishing late January 2018. I received this title from Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. There will be no spoilers so don’t click away.

I heard so much going into this read and I can say this book did not disappoint. As children, fairy-tales are supposed to be comforting stories that we read, that are passed down from generation to generation. It is usually when we’re older we discover the truth behind the stories and how not everything is as perfect as we thought. Reading The Hazel Wood was very similar to this experience. It took traditional fairy-tale elements, spun them on their head, and spat out creepy, alternative versions. Needless to say, that is no reason to not read it. If anything, that is the reason you should.

35390838The book follows a teenager named Alice who hasn’t had the most stable life. Her and her mother, Ella, constantly move locations when bad luck shows itself. Alice has never known the feeling of a permanent home, but she has accepted this lifestyle. If anything, she is simply happy to have her mother around.

We learn that Alice is the granddaughter of Althea Proserpine, a woman who wrote a successful collection of fairytales, and received a cult like fame. Alice however has never met or seen the woman before. So when Alice receives news that Althea is dead, it is both a shocking and unexpected realization. She’ll never get to meet her grandmother, but she also has to wonder if her grandmother ever cared about her in the first place. Ella’s reaction is entirely different, one of relief almost. Alice doesn’t understand why, but she is given little time to process her mom’s reaction for she goes missing. Her only clue is a note that says to stay away from Hazel Wood.

It is after Alice receives the note that we plunge into a world of fantasy, darkness, and mystery. I found myself wanting to know more about Althea, but also the fairy-tales she created that took on such a following. We are given two major ones in the novel and I wanted to know them all after reading. They stick with you and you understand how Althea derived the following that she did. You can see where the seeds of obsession can grow. 

Aside from the tales, we get vivid descriptions of scenery, delicious prose, and an overall haunting vibe that paints every word you read. You also get a teenager who wants to fight for the only person she has ever had. The motivations made me sympathize greatly with Alice as well as made me root for her to succeed no matter the obstacle, no matter what awaited her.

The biggest selling point of this book is the world that Melissa Albert creates and the subversion of a typical fairy-tale. She doesn’t guarantee a happy ending nor does she guarantee a predictable read from start to finish. What she does guarantee is stepping into a world very different from our own and one that plays on how much we can trust our reality. The noise you heard, the shadow you saw, the person that looks just the slightest bit odd – are they real or are they your imagination or are they something else entirely? Overall, I could barely put this book down and if you’re into a dark fantasy read with tropes that get squashed and moved around, this is it.

The Hazel Wood gets 5/5 icicles from me. You’ll understand this reference once you dive in and read.

Do it. Do it now.

Xx
Megan