Recommended: STRONGER, FASTER, AND MORE BEAUTIFUL by Arwen Elys Dayton

stronger faster and more beautifulToday, I’m over at the Winged Pen with my thoughts on STRONGER, FASTER, AND MORE BEAUTIFUL by Arwen Elys Dayton. This book provides a fascinating yet terrifying exploration of the future of the human body.

Read more here.

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Recommended: HULLMETAL GIRLS by Emily Skrutzkie

hullmetal girlsPublisher’s Description

Aisha Un-Haad would do anything for her family. When her brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor’s salary isn’t enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to protect and serve the governing body of the Fleet, the collective of starships they call home. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother.

Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she’s from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past.

In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha’s and Key’s paths collide, and the two must learn to work together–a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintain unity.

With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties. They will have to put aside their differences, though, if they want to keep humanity from tearing itself apart.

Rebecca’s Thoughts

I picked up this book because of the promise of kick-butt girls in space. It had that and more!

The book pulled me immediately into the life and motivations of Aisha. Her religious beliefs give her every reason to NOT allow her body to be enhanced – except that it’s her only chance to protect her sick brother and younger sister. Aisha’s closely-held beliefs feel genuine and make her a stand-out in the YA spec fic market. The fact that she’s caught between her beliefs and the cybernetic enhancements she’d taken on creates a constant source of tension in the story.

Aisha’s beliefs also put her in direct contrast with Key, a girl of action, not faith. But beneath her tough exterior, Key struggles to hide her faulty memory, a difficult thing to do since their team has been augmented with mental connections which allow them to read each other’s thoughts and emotions and therefore perform well as a team. Both girls struggle with the mutual acceptance and cooperation they’ll need work together effectively and earn a spot among the elite units protecting the fleet.

I found this a quick read for space sci fi. Skrutskie includes plenty of world-building, but not world-building for its own sake, only as needed to move the plot forward. The story is told in first person, alternating perspectives, which allows the reader to really get to know both girls and move with them through the story. Twists and turns along the way keep the plot interesting. It will appeal to readers of Nyxia by Scott Reintgen and LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff.

Hullmetal Girls will be released on July 17th. You can check it out on Goodreads or order from IndieBound, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

I requested an advanced reader copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book recommendation was originally posted on TheWingedPen.com. If Hullmetal Girls sounds good, you might also like other young adult books discussed on The Winged Pen.

Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson
Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

REBECCA J. ALLEN writes young adult science fiction with heroines much braver than she is and middle grade stories that blend mystery and adventure. She reviews young adult books, is a judge for the CYBILS YA Speculative Fiction book award and fangirls all things bookish. Find her on Twitter and Instagram, or on TheWingedPen.com.

Recommended: LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

Lifelike, Jay Kristoff, YA science fictionPublisher’s Description

On an island junkyard beneath a sky that glows with radiation, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. Seventeen-year-old Eve isn’t looking for trouble–she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she spent months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, she’s on the local gangster’s wanted list, and the only thing keeping her grandpa alive is the money she just lost to the bookies. Worst of all, she’s discovered she can somehow destroy machines with the power of her mind, and a bunch of puritanical fanatics are building a coffin her size because of it. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it. The problem is, Eve has had a worse day–one that lingers in her nightmares and the cybernetic implant where her memories used to be. Her discovery of a handsome android named Ezekiel–called a “Lifelike” because they resemble humans–will bring her world crashing down and make her question whether her entire life is a lie. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic sidekick Cricket in tow, Eve will trek across deserts of glass, battle unkillable bots, and infiltrate towering megacities to save the ones she loves…and learn the truth about the bloody secrets of her past.

Rebecca’s Thoughts

Full of awesome future tech and kick-butt characters fighting their way out of one tight-corner after another, this book will keep your heart thumping fast and the pages turning! Each of the characters is grappling with their own secrets, ones that at times unite them to fight common enemies and later force them to question who they can trust. The slow reveal of the secrets makes the story a sci fi-adventure-mystery mash-up.  Kristoff writes secondary characters who you’ll want to befriend with voices that will keep you smiling.

Fun read! Highly recommended!

LIFEL1K3 will be released on May 29th. You can check it out on Goodreads or pre-order from Amazon Barnes & Noble or IndieBound.

I requested an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Need more book suggestions? If LIFEL1K3 sounds good, you might also like other young adult books discussed on The Winged Pen:

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
The Takedown by Corrie Wang

REBECCA J. ALLEN writes young adult science fiction with heroines much braver than she is and middle grade stories that blend mystery and adventure. She reviews young adult books, is a judge for the CYBILS YA Speculative Fiction book award and fangirls all things bookish. Find her on Twitter and Instagram, or on TheWingedPen.com.

Recommended: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

unearthedPublisher’s Description

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution humanity has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and their message leads to the planet Gaia, a treasure trove waiting to be explored.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an ancient alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Despite their opposing reasons for smuggling themselves onto the alien planet’s surface, they’re both desperate to uncover the riches hidden in the Undying temples. Beset by rival scavenger gangs, Jules and Mia form a fragile alliance… but both are keeping secrets that make trust nearly impossible.

As they race to decode the ancient messages, Jules and Mia must navigate the traps and trials within the Undying temples and stay one step ahead of the scavvers on their heels. They came to Gaia certain that they had far more to fear from their fellow humans than the ancient beings whose mysteries they’re trying to unravel. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more Jules and Mia start to feel like their presence in the temple is part of a grand design–one that could spell the end of the human race…

Rebecca’s Thoughts

Aliens secrets in ancient temples? Puzzles reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie that must be unlocked to continue exploring? Traps have already left members of the first International Alliance team dead? A scholar and a scavver who have opposing reasons for coming to Gaia but must work together to survive? YES PLEASE!

Unearthed is full of conflict and action from page one. It’s a quick read. And its promise of alien mysteries and confusion about their motives don’t disappoint. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more hard science in the space travel and communication. Travel times from Earth to Gaia seemed rather short even with a portal left behind by the aliens to help things along. But the richness of this book is in the two teens, each on Gaia for something they desperately need and with opposing goals. A slow burn romance as Jules and Mia learn they must work together facing the highest stakes propels the story forward as much as the action. Highly recommended!

No advanced reader copy on this one! I was excited enough about the concept to request from the library right after it released. You can check it out on Goodreads or order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Indiebound.

Need more book suggestions? If Unearthed sounds good, you might also like some of the young adult fantasy and science fiction releases I’ve reviewed including:

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
5 Must-Reads from the CYBILS YA Speculative Fiction Award nominees.
– 5 More Great Reads from the CYBILS YA Spec Fic Award nominees.

REBECCA J. ALLEN writes young adult science fiction with heroines much braver than she is and middle grade stories that blend mystery and adventure. She reviews young adult books, is a judge for the CYBILS YA Speculative Fiction book award and fangirls all things bookish. Find her on Twitter and Instagram, or on TheWingedPen.com.

Recommended: NYXIA by Scott Reintgen

Nyxia, young adult books, book reviewEvery life has a price in this sci-fi thriller that has the nonstop action of The Maze Runner and the high-stakes space setting of Illuminae. This is the first in a new three-book series that will take a group of broken teens to the far reaches of the universe and force them to decide what they’re willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune.

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.
Excerpt taken from Netgalley.com

Could you turn down an offer of immense wealth and free healthcare for your mother with cancer? What if that offer would send you to the far end of the universe? Emmett and nine other teens are given the opportunity to join a team to mine Nyxia from a far planet. We accompany Emmett as he fights for a spot on the team, faces the bait-and-switch tactics of the company running the mining operation, and strives to find friendship amidst the cut-throat competition he’s been thrown into.

Continue reading “Recommended: NYXIA by Scott Reintgen”

Recommended: THE CLOCKWORK DYNASTY by Daniel H. Wilson

The Clockwork Dynasty, Daniel H Wilson, science fiction, books

In the rugged landscape of eastern Oregon, a young scientist named June uncovers an exquisite artifact—a three-hundred-year-old mechanical doll whose existence seems to validate her obsession with a harrowing story she was told by her grandfather many years earlier. The mechanical doll, June believes, is proof of a living race of automatons that walk undetected among us to this day. Ingeniously hidden inside the ancient doll is a lost message, addressed to the court of Peter the Great, czar of Russia.

Russia, 1725: Peter and Elena, two human-like mechanical beings, are brought to life under the watchful guise of Peter the Great. Their struggle to serve in the court of the czar while blending in, and to survive‎ amid those who fear and wish to annihilate them, will take Peter and Elena across Russia, Europe, and, ultimately, across the centuries to modern day.

The Clockwork Dynasty
 seamlessly interweaves past and present, exploring a race of beings that live by different principles than humans, but ultimately value loyalty. As June learns more about these beings, she is quickly drawn into a fierce battle that has spanned the centuries, and will ultimately determine the survival or extermination of this ancient race. Richly-drawn and heart-pounding, Wilson’s novel expertly draws on his robotics and science background, combining exquisite characters with breathtaking technology—and unmatched action.
Excerpt taken from Netgalley.com

I was pulled into this book right from the first chapter. The June, as a teenager, is caught trying to break into her grandfather’s lock-box. She expects to get in trouble. She doesn’t. Instead, she gets to touch an ancient and beautiful fragment of clockwork. Her grandfather can’t explain how technology this advanced can be so old; he can only explain the extraordinary events of the day he found it. June is captivated.

Continue reading “Recommended: THE CLOCKWORK DYNASTY by Daniel H. Wilson”