Book Review: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

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Let me just start by saying it’s been forever since I’ve read a Star Wars book, and that alone made this a fun book to read. I read a lot of the Young Jedi Knights books and other Kevin J. Anderson stuff back in the day, but I honestly can’t remember how long it’s been.

I’ve gotten to where I don’t mind a little romance in books – at least if it’s handled well and isn’t the focus of the plot – though I’ll admit I’m still usually pretty leery about YA romance. I’m one of those people who thinks Hunger Games would be better without all the Team Peeta/Team Gale nonsense. At least in Lost Stars, I expected it. I’d read enough reviews that I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into, and I was willing to dive in anyway. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the romance aspect of the story was fairly low-key and handled really well, and I didn’t think it took away from the plot. If anything, it gave us a deeper look at the characters.

Those characters were also very well done. I can sometimes be leery about YA characters too because they’re often so angsty and overly dramatic. That’s not to say there wasn’t any angst and drama in this book, but Ciena, Thane, and the supporting characters were intelligent, resourceful, and tough (which is still what I love most about Hunger Games). I really loved the way each of their backgrounds/upbringings influenced their decisions and actions throughout the story.

Also, as a Mass Effect fan, I still can’t get over Thane’s name…

I’ll admit I pictured the characters being older than they were (maybe late 20s) because, at least in my experience, no actual 19-year-olds are this mature 😉 Their ages/actions definitely seemed more realistic in the latter parts of the story.

Being YA, it was pretty fast/easy reading, but the story didn’t suffer for it. I loved the glimpses we got of characters and events from the movies, and there was something about the dynamic I really loved. We had the girl sticking with the Empire and the guy joining the Rebel Alliance and trying to win her back, when I feel like it’s often the other way around. Seeing each of their unique perspectives was interesting too, because – for the majority of the time, anyway – they both thought their side was trying to do the right thing.

And the ending. Oh, the ending. Flawless. And very appropriate after everything that had happened. I liked how it tied in with the upcoming movie.

This isn’t the type of book I’d typically give 5 stars, but reading a Star Wars book was so refreshing after all these years and I can’t remember the last time I was this relaxed while reading. When you’re doing a read-for-review or beta reading, you have to pay close enough attention that you can’t completely relax. This was clearly a young adult book, but I’d recommend it to Star Wars fans of any age.

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Star Wars – Facebook

Book Review: Rath’s Gambit by Piers Platt

27211683I was given a free advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

4.5stars

 

After completing Book 1 – Rath’s Deception – I was excited to continue with this series. It has elements from many of my favorite sci fi stories; the tech is like Terminator, the environments are like Blade Runner, and the structure is like the Bourne Series. There were even hints of – I couldn’t believe it – Fallout, which, as those of you who follow me regularly know, is my current obsession.

Once again, I thought I might end up rating this book 4 stars. I’m not sure if I enjoyed it quite as much as the first one, but when I gasped, grinned, and said “oh no” out loud at a certain part toward the end, I knew it had sucked me in enough to warrant another 5-star rating.

That said, it was different than Deception in that there was a little less action and a little more intrigue. The story picked up right where the last one left off and continued following all of the plot threads that were previously left open. There are also some new political elements introduced that seem kind of unrelated at first, but as the story progresses, these new details start shedding light on some of the “whys” and “hows” readers might have been left with after Book 1.

I mentioned in my last review that I didn’t particularly like Rath as a character, but he has really started to grow on me. I think it has a lot to do with the way his character has matured over the course of the story. Like Jason Bourne, he’s no less skilled now that he’s on the run, but he’s dealing with a lot of pain and regret and is having to find new ways to apply his skills in order to avoid the lifestyle he has come to hate. As another reviewer mentioned at one point, he’s “an assassin you can root for.” Paisen/Contractor 339 is turning into a great character too. She’s focused on the future and (mostly) just wants to do what’s right these days. She’s resourceful but only uses her more destructive skills in the direst of circumstances (which she does find herself in at several points in the book). I’m glad we got to know her character a little better, though I was honestly a little disappointed that we didn’t see more of her. But based on the cliffhanger ending we were left with, I have a hunch she’ll play an even bigger role in Book 3.

With some new allies AND new enemies thrown into the mix, I’m excited to see what becomes of this pair in Rath’s Reckoning !

 


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Rath’s Gambit releases December 1, 2015! Look for it on Amazon and Goodreads. You can also grab a Kindle copy of Rath’s Deception for $2.99 – $2 off the regular price – for a limited time!

 


About Piers Platt:

7265977“I grew up in Boston, but spent most of my childhood in various boarding schools, including getting trained as a classical singer at a choir school for boys. I joined the Army in 2002, and spent four years on active duty, including a year-long deployment to Iraq in 2004 as a tank and scout platoon leader.

When I’m not spending time with my lovely wife and daughter, I’m frantically working on my next book.

To be the first to hear about new releases – and get a free e-book! – sign up for my newsletter HERE.”

Book Review: Sidespace by G.S. Jennsen

Let me just start by saying that it has been an absolute honor to beta read for and work with this wonderful lady over the past couple of years. This sprawling saga she has created has become one of my favorite stories ❤


 

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When I finished Transcendence, I was satisfied. I knew the story wasn’t over – there were plenty of hints that there was much more to come – but the Aurora Rising trilogy had been wrapped up nicely. There was something else coming, but I had no idea what it was.

Then I started reading Sidespace. At first I was thinking, “Whoa, I totally wasn’t expecting this!” but after a while that thought transformed into “Well obviously this was bound to happen!” Things happened that I would never have imagined while reading Starshine and Vertigo (and even Transcendence) but once the concepts are introduced, you realize everything has been flowing inevitably toward them the entire time.

Sidespace is the Starshine of the Aurora Renegades trilogy. That’s not to say it IS Starshine; in discussing the book with Ms. Jennsen earlier this fall, she mentioned never wanting to be accused of just repeating the same story, and that’s certainly not the case here. Sidespace is like Starshine in that it’s clearly an introduction to this second act inAurora Rhapsody. Yes, it’s a continuation of the story we’ve been reading, but there’s so much new material and you just KNOW it’s going to end up having a huge impact on both the plot and the characters. It’s by far the most unique book of the whole series so far. The plot switches back and forth between the post-war turmoil and political intrigue within Aurora and the mystery and adventure within the pocket universes through the Metigen portal. The latter reminded me a lot of classic, old-school sci fi with space explorers, alien life, and some sort of behind-the-scenes plot by an evil entity.

It was also great to see so many familiar faces. I think back to reading Starshine and remember what a hard time I had keeping track of all the characters, but now, even though they don’t all have huge roles, they’re like old friends. It has been fun to see certain characters shine from book to book too. A couple of my favorite minor characters played larger roles in this story, and that was fun to see.

We’ve once again been left with a glimpse of what’s coming next, and I’m very excited to find out what it is!

 


 

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Sidespace is Book 1 of the Aurora Renegades trilogy, the second act in the three-part Aurora Rhapsody series. Find it on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats!

In addition, you can get the complete Aurora Rising collection for $0.99 for ONE MORE DAY. This collection includes the Aurora Rising trilogy (Starshine, Vertigo, and Transcendence) as well as two Restless short stories. Restless Vol. I is also available for free via Amazon.

You can find all of my reviews on Goodreads.

 


 

 

About G.S. Jennsen:

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G. S. Jennsen is a science fiction author, futurist, geek & gamer (as well as a recovering lawyer and software engineer).

In less than two years she has become an internationally bestselling author, selling in excess of 50,000 books since her first novel, Starshine, was published in March 2014.

When she isn’t writing, she’s gaming or working out or getting lost in the Colorado mountains that loom large outside the windows in her home. Or she’s dealing with a flooded basement, or standing in a line at Walmart reading the tabloid headlines and wondering who all of those people are. Or sitting on her back porch with a glass of wine, looking up at the stars, trying to figure out what could be up there.

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