SUBJECT TWENTY-ONE by A.E. Warren

What if our future lies 40,000 years in our past? Subject Twenty-One is an astonishing debut novel in which a young woman’s refusal to accept the status quo opens her eyes to the lies her society is built on.

Elise’s world is forever changed when she is given the opportunity of a lifetime – to work at the Museum of Evolution and be a Companion to the Neanderthal, Subject Twenty-One.

As a Sapien, a member of the lowest order of humans, she and others like her are held responsible for the damages inflicted on the world by previous generations. This job may be Elise’s only chance to escape a stagnating life in an ostracised and impoverished community.

But it doesn’t take long for Elise to realise that, away from the familiarity and safety of her home, her own secrets are much harder to conceal.

And the longer she stays the more she comes to realise that little separates her from the exhibits . . . and a cage of her own.


Title : Subject Twenty-One
Author : A.E. Warren
Series : Tomorrow’s Ancestors #1
Format : Paperback
Page Count :304
Genre : Sci-fi
Publisher : Del Rey UK
Release Date : July 1, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Great concept
Page turner
Friendship & respect

Subject Twenty One was so easy to get into and honestly, this was such a fast and easy book to read. This ‘Jurassic Park-esque’ concept grabbed me immediately and I really enjoyed the immersion in such an unusual story of a dystopian future.

This world with three different species of sapien, showed humanity not at its best. Elise, at the bottom of that rung was employed at a museum to be a companion to Subject Twenty One. The build up to this and the time working with him was just so interesting. Still, I wanted to know Kit better than I did at the end. I’m hoping for more of that from the second book.

There was so much plot to unfurl in this story but it was easy to follow. Trust was an underlying theme and it was truly hard to know who was trustworthy. Even Elise’s family were suspicious to me. I liked Samuel, quite a lot and again, I want to know more about him.

This book was a fresh, gripping read with themes of suspense, trust, ethics and friendships. I am so on board with this world and I’m dying to read more; I can’t wait for book two.

Thank you to DelRey UK for the review copy.

EAT YOUR HEART OUT by Kelly deVos

Shaun of the Dead meets Dumplin’ in this bitingly funny YA thriller about a kickass group of teens battling a ravenous group of zombies.

In the next few hours, one of three things will happen.

1–We’ll be rescued (unlikely)

2–We’ll freeze to death (maybe)

3–We’ll be eaten by thin and athletic zombies (odds: excellent) 

Vivian Ellenshaw is fat, but she knows she doesn’t need to lose weight, so she’s none too happy to find herself forced into a weight-loss camp’s van with her ex-best friend, Allie, a meathead jock who can barely drive, and the camp owner’s snobby son. And when they arrive at Camp Featherlite at the start of the worst blizzard in the history of Flagstaff, Arizona, it’s clear that something isn’t right.

Vee barely has a chance to meet the other members of her pod, all who seem as unhappy to be at Featherlite as she does, when a camper goes missing down by the lake. Then she spots something horrifying outside in the snow. Something…that isn’t human. Plus, the camp’s supposed “miracle cure” for obesity just seems fishy, and Vee and her fellow campers know they don’t need to be cured. Of anything.

Even worse, it’s not long before Camp Featherlite’s luxurious bungalows are totally overrun with zombies. What starts out as a mission to unravel the camp’s secrets turns into a desperate fight for survival–and not all of the Featherlite campers will make it out alive. 

A satirical blend of horror, body positivity, and humor, Kelly deVos’s witty, biting novel proves that everyone deserves to feel validated, and taking down the evil enterprise determined to dehumanize you is a good place to start.


Title : Eat Your Heart Out
Author : Kelly deVos
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : YA horror/sci-fi
Publisher : Razorbill
Release Date : June 29, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

This YA horror is pitched so perfectly. It really is like Shaun of the Dead meets Dumplin‘. This mashup has both the conversations surrounding fatphobia and diet culture alongside the unlikely group of individuals, each fitting a specific movie archetype, having to battle zombies.

How are fat camps still even a thing? Don’t they belong in a museum with inflatable dart boards, Flowbeers, and Thigh Masters?

I loved how the conversation around weight was done, I loved how much acceptance was in this story, and how despite being set at a fat-camp, and how this particular zombie apocalypse unfolds, it doesn’t feel like a story about being fat. Even though it is. Hard to explain!

Between the gorgeously colourful cover with a fat girl, unapologetically front and centre, and the satirical content that sadly doesn’t feel far off from how fatness is dealt with in our own world, this is a read that we all need. Sure, we’re sorta in out own apocalypse but this particular set-up is lightyears away from our own. I promise it won’t stress you out!

I’m not sure I would reread this, which is usually why I award four stars to books, but I just appreciate this so much. Was it perfect? No. While we get to know the characters enough to be invested, it is still a bit surface level, as we’re thrown pretty much right into disaster mode. Think of the way Cloverfield unfolds. We sorta get to know our protagonists as they navigate their new reality but it’s more about surviving than anything else. But this book did exactly what it set out to do and it still managed to have a few surprises along the way, too. Would recommend!

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

A HISTORY OF WHAT COMES NEXT by Sylvain Neuvel

Brought to you by Penguin.

Imagine everything you thought you knew about human progress was wrong. What would you do?

Mia is not sure what she is, but she isn’t human. Smarter, stronger than her peers, all she knows are the rules: there can never be three for too long; always run, never fight.

When she finds herself in Germany 1945, she must turn the Nazis’ most trusted scientist with an offer: abandon the crumbling Nazi party, escape Germany with your life, come to work for the Americans building rockets.

But someone is watching her work. An enemy who’s smarter, stronger, decidedly not human and prepared to do anything to retrieve something ancient that was long lost.

If only she had any idea what it was….


Title : A History Of What Comes Next
Author : Sylvain Neuvel
Narrator : Multi-cast narration
Format : Audiobook
Length : 9 hours, 23 minutes
Genre : Sci-Fi Thriller
Publisher : Penguin Audio
Release Date : March 4, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Unusual
Feminist scientists
Legacy

Take them to the stars, before evil comes and kills them all.

Honestly, it’s rather hard to describe this story but it was a rather brilliant series starter taking my love of sci-fi and combining it with a thriller. It was mostly set in the period of 1940’s with Mia and her mother but it had a retrospective view over the 99 previous generations of women and their daugthers with the sole purpose of getting the human civilisation to the stars. These women weren’t exactly human.

This was a sometimes gory, banter-ish story that gripped me to my headphones mostly over one weekend. At first, I had to go with the flow but I found my nerd-feet rather quickly and began to understand the facets of these women. They were excellent mathematicians and they were obsessed with rockets. Men were an important part of their lives but only to a point.

I loved how feminist this story felt but at the same time, I’m not saying that how the men were sometimes treated was okay but it was an interesting upside down perspective for that historical era. There were ecological undertones to the story too which didn’t quite get explained in this installment but I’m hoping for more embelishment on the next book.

This curious tale bought my allegiance to the series before half way through and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series. I can’t recommend the audio enough. It was a multi-cast narration with multiple POVs (but not too many). You even get some Slyvain Neuvel at the end with background research should your nerd-dom need that.

Thank you to Penguin Audio for the review copy #gifted/AD

MEMENTO by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – double review!

From New York Times bestselling authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff comes an Illuminae prequel digital novella that gives readers a hair-raising glimpse into the calamity that befell the invincible AI system known as AIDAN–and the daring young programmer who would risk her life to keep it from crashing.

AIDAN is the AI you’ll love to hate.

The advanced AI system was supposed to protect a fleet of survivors who’d escaped the deadly attack on Kerenza IV. AIDAN was supposed to be infallible. But in the chaotic weeks and months that followed, it became clear that something was terribly, terribly wrong with AIDAN…


Title : Memento
Author : Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series : The Illuminae Files (book .5)
Format : audiobook (overdrive)
Page Count : 59 (hour and a half via audio)
Genre : YA sci-fi
Publisher : Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date : October 20, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating :  ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 4 star review

I had intended to read this in true Illuminae Files form by listening to the audiobook and following along with the physical but, as I was doing chores while listening along, the physical follow along kind of crashed and burned before it could even take off. That said, shockingly, this was so easy to follow along with anyway; a big miracle for me considering I only do audio for rereads. But I think between my familiarity with the world, and the short novella length, this wiggled its way into a sweet spot for me.

I absolutely loved returning to this world, and to this fantastic production and full cast audio, and it shed some light on the events leading into the events of book one in this world. The problem I have is now wanting to just continue on and reread the rest..

This whole premise is basically a spoiler to the main series so there isn’t much I can say but if you like space, like snark, and want to have a mini movie playing out between your ears? Give this a go. And then do what I am now resisting : read the rest. This series is just perfection. Highly recommend.


Micky’s 4 star review

Fantastic short story but how I wanted more. How dare Kristoff and Kaufman drag you into new characters, get you invested and then it be over within a brief time. I love this world, this series and I miss it. This story took you to the prior to of Illuminae, AIDAN was at the centre of this and all I can say is …sneaky, sinister AIDAN who I can’t help but like. He’s the darkest of heroes.

I don’t want to spoiler, I won’t spoiler, but AIDAN what the f***. I did really love Olivia and her story arc was definitely a roller coaster. What all this tells me is that my favouritie author duo could definitely write more in this world…pretty please?

I do feel like the narrator for this AIDAN was different to rest of the series and I preferred the original cast member.

STARBREAKER by Amanda Bouchet

Captain Tess Bailey and Shade Ganavan never wanted to be heroes. Now, revolution is in the wind and the universe on the brink of catastrophic war. Tess, Shade, and the remaining crew of the Endeavor are still the galaxy’s Most Wanted. With the Dark Watch—and every bounty hunter known to humankind—scouring the known sectors for them, the situation couldn’t be more desperate.

The clock is ticking. As their attraction builds and secrets are revealed, Tess and Shade must decide if they trust each other enough to plan their next move together. They could change the course of history…or at least bring hot water to the showers aboard the Endeavor. They’ll just have to tackle one crisis at a time.



Title : Starbreaker
Author : Amanda Bouchet
Series : Endeavor #2
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 448
Genre : Sci-fi Romance
Publisher : Piatkus, Little Brown UK
Release Date : November 5, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★



Micky’4 star review

The world of the Endeavor is one that I’m fully on board with. I really enjoyed being back with Tess, Shade, Jax and Merrick in particular. This crew are a family, found family and I have all the needy vibes now for book three.

As with book one, this was a fast-paced read, for all nearly 500 pages of it. Sometimes, I felt like I had to hold on tight with the drama and I let it sweep me along; that’s not a negative, just a sense of the tension this read brings.

I knew in book one that there was something fishy about Uncle Nate, so his storyline in Starbreaker didn’t surprise me and I liked where it was going but I’m gonna need that conclusion from book three. Shade and Tess gave me life and I enjoyed the development of something deeper from them. As with book one, I didn’t always gel with the on-page steam.

Close? It was all I could do not not flinch. I didn’t want close. I wanted fucking combined.

Bonk, the ship’s cat was just a delight, I’m such a sucker for animal companions. When he was in the story, I was at 100% attention. I could have done with a bit more of him.

Bonk followed her out like Tess was the comet and he was the tail that trailed behind her.

This is definitely sci-fi that’s heavy on the romance but I’ve found a world and family that I’m invested in and eager for the conclusion.

Thank you to Piatkus for the finished review copy.

ACROSS THE VOID by S.K. Vaughn

A visceral space thriller—perfect for fans of Arrival and The Martian—following the sole survivor of a catastrophic accident in space that leaves her drifting in the void with only the voice of her estranged husband, a NASA scientist, to guide her back to Earth.

Commander Maryam “May” Knox awakes from a medically induced coma alone, adrift in space on a rapidly failing ship, with little to no memory of who she is or why she’s there.

Slowly, she pieces together that she’s the captain of the ship, Hawking II; that she was bound for Europa—one of Jupiter’s moons—on a research mission; and that she’s the only survivor of either an accident—or worse, a deliberate massacre—that has decimated her entire crew. With resources running low, and her physical strength severely compromised, May must rely on someone back home to help her. The problem is: everyone thinks she’s dead.

Back on Earth, it’s been weeks since Hawking II has communicated with NASA, and Dr. Stephen Knox is on bereavement leave to deal with the apparent death of his estranged wife, whose decision to participate in the Europa mission strained their marriage past the point of no return. But when he gets word that NASA has received a transmission from May, Stephen comes rushing to her aid.

What he doesn’t know is that not everyone wants May to make it back alive. Even more terrifying: she might not be alone on that ship. Featuring a twisting and suspenseful plot and compelling characters, Across the Void is a moving and evocative thriller that you won’t be able to put down.


Title : Across The Void
Author : SK Vaughn
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : Sci-fi
Publisher : Skybound Books
Release Date : July 2, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I straight up loved lots about this book which fit into a niche favourite genre I like to call ‘catastrophised sci-fi’. The book opened straight into an messed up situation that continued pretty much to the end. It was an angsty, thrilling ride with so much to it.

The protagonist was May, alone on her vessel after some kind of event that she didn’t recall due to illness and amnesia. Just her and AI, creepy, am I right? This is the kind of story where you don’t know who the bad guys are and it takes a whole lot of twists, turns and suspicions to see the final issues laid out.

Alongside this lone adventure was the background story of a married couple, May and Stephen. Stephen was on earth, a gifted scientist and part of the reason May was on her vessel in the first place. There were other characters, good and awful that interplayed with this story. I actually found myself really wrapped up in this aspect.

This book was so incredibly moment-to-moment angsty, that I had to put it down a few times, just to give the adrenaline in my body time to settle. Vaughn used short chapters and a bit of past/present to ease the angst and I appreciated that writing style.

This was a great read, totally up my sci-fi street and I would love to read more by this author.

PROVIDENCE by Max Barry

Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson are astronauts captaining a new and supposedly indestructible ship in humanity’s war against an alien race. Confined to the ship for years, each of them holding their own secrets, they are about to learn there are threats beyond the reach of human ingenuity—and that the true nature of reality might be the universe’s greatest mystery.

In this near future, our world is at war with another, and humanity is haunted by its one catastrophic loss—a nightmarish engagement that left a handful of survivors drifting home through space, wracked with PTSD. Public support for the war plummeted, and the military-industrial complex set its sights on a new goal: zero-casualty warfare, made possible by gleaming new ships called Providences, powered by AI.

But when the latest-launched Providence suffers a surprising attack and contact with home is severed, Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson must confront the truth of the war they’re fighting, the ship that brought them there, and the cosmos beyond.


Title : Providence
Author : Max Barry
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : science-fiction
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date : March 31, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ .5


Hollis’ 1.5 star review

This might be a case of “this reader is too dumb for this book” because I have no idea what I just read.

This is a story almost completely set in space, featuring four humans who are responsible for an AI ship as it travels through space to eradicate an alien species that had previously attacked one of their exploratory crews. This story really does feel like being in a bubble because for all that they spend two years in space, traveling and manning the ship that is killing these hives of alien things, you feel very removed from it. In that sense, Barry did well at expressing the lack of need of human involvement in the war. The crew, Life, Intel, Weapons, etc, are all just there to monitor what the ship is doing. The ship, as we hear often, is smarter than them. They just have to let it do what it does best.

Throughout their time on board, we do learn about the strange personalities aboard the ship, each unique, but also, like.. I never liked any of them? Maybe we weren’t supposed to. Maybe they were just meant to exist. But I think I kept waiting for more. I wanted, or rather expected, something to happen and it never did. Maybe that is what makes this unique, that lack of something, or maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know. Again, maybe I’m just too dumb for this.

There were a few discussions built into this story, about war propaganda, our society’s reliance on technology, and more, and I’ve come to expect that from Barry, but in a more satirical, clever, or even funny, way. This didn’t feel like any of that. Ultimately this wasn’t engaging, it was just kind of.. rote. This doesn’t feel like anything special or typical of the author’s brand and I guess that’s fine. I just wouldn’t have requested it had I known that.

This is a military/space adventure story set in the near future that definitely has unique elements, and I’m sure some readers will enjoy, but for me it will ultimately be forgettable. And I’m just glad it didn’t take too long to get through. Can’t say I would recommend.

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

DISPEL ILLUSION by Mark Lawrence

Sometimes being wrong is the right answer.

Nick Hayes’s genius is in wringing out the universe’s secrets. It’s a talent that’s allowed him to carve paths through time. But the worst part is that he knows how his story will end. He’s seen it with his own eyes. And every year that passes, every breakthrough he makes, brings him a step closer. Mia’s accident is waiting for them both in 2011. If it happens then he’s out of choices.

Then a chance 1992 discovery reveals that this seeker of truth has been lying to himself. But why? It’s a question that haunts him for years. A straw he clings to as his long-awaited fate draws near.

Time travel turns out not to be the biggest problem Nick has to work on. He needs to find out how he can stay on his path but change the destination. Failure has never been an option, and neither has survival. But Nick’s hoping to roll the dice one more time. And this new truth begins with a lie. 


Title : Dispel Illusion
Author : Mark Lawrence
Series : Impossible Times (book three)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 234
Genre : sci-fi/fantasy
Publisher : 47North
Release Date : November 14, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Well well welllllll.

This series has been a wild ride of weirdness, geekiness, violence, and wtf’ery. That last mostly in the sense of “I have no idea what’s happening, I’m so dumb, this book is hella smart, why am I reading this.” But this final installment?

W o w.

Not only is this my favourite of the set, it also wraps everything so.. perfectly. The cleverness of the author, of bringing all these convoluted strands of time, events, people, and more, together, is just unreal. Again, I stumbled my way through the first two, but this one — even though, again, my brain couldn’t keep up sometimes — actually made sense. It worked. And it worked because of everything that came before.

This is definitely a series I recommend that you binge but, if not, Lawrence was kind enough to include a “previously, on..” at the beginning of this third novella. I won’t say it helped to make things any clearer than it felt to actually read said previous books but it got me upto speed on some of the finer details I’ve forgotten since finishing book two. Which, again, meant I was still the tortoise in this hare race. But this time it was way more enjoyable overall.

But, yeah, this isn’t a series I would necessarily recommend because, again, complicated, and weird, and nerdy, but if you like time travel, if you like characters that play D&D, if you enjoy twisty turny, timey wimey, and aren’t afraid of being confused (or maybe you’re smarter than the average duck), you should give these a try. For all that your brain needs to invest a bit in the details, you aren’t really investing your time (hahahah I didn’t do that on purpose) because these novellas aren’t long. But a lot does happen. So, figure that one out.

Once again, this has cemented my need to read more from this author — something I haven’t done since finishing the last installment of this book, whoops — and I can’t wait to explore his epic fantasy series’.

** I received a finished copy from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

SILVER IN THE WOOD by Emily Tesh

There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads.

When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.


Title : Silver in the Wood
Author : Emily Tesh
Series : The Greenhollow Duology (book one)
Format : physical (library)
Page Count : 112
Genre : LGBTQIA+ sci-fi/fantasy
Publisher : Tor.com
Release Date : June 18, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3.75 (rounded up) review

Thank goodness for the cover reveal of book two or I don’t know when I would’ve prioritized picking this one up.

SILVER IN THE WOOD is a slow-unfurling novella about the bargains made with old gods, the darkness of the wood, and new beginnings at the end of things. This wasn’t at all what I expected — I fully thought this would be darker, edgier, and instead it was more melancholy, charming, and sweet. Nonetheless I’m still rounding up, even if my expectations weren’t quite met, because I still enjoyed this so much.

We know there’s more to this Wild Man in the woods than just a caretaker and Tesh cleverly tells us the story of how things came to be as the curious new-owner of Greenhollow Hall is researching local legends and myth. And it’s when things go sideways, and a new character is introduced, that we somehow get a whole lot more worldbuilding that neither feels crammed down your throat or, considering the word count, too big for the story. But it’s the backstory that really feels rich, twisty, and also a little sad.

This novella was perfectly paced to leave you satisfied and yet wanting to read on and my only complaint is there isn’t more.. yet.

THE STARS WE STEAL by Alexa Donne

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself failing for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.


Title : The Stars We Steal
Author : Alexa Donne
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA Sci-fi/Retelling
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : February 4, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

THE STARS WE STEAL had the ingredients for Micky kryptonite with space, sci-fi and YA…that was before I even heard it was a retelling of Persuasion, so I was truly sold at that point. The execution didn’t let me down and won’t let fans of the original down if they have an open mind about the age of the characters and an in-the-future interpretation.

Leo was a likeable heroine from early on. She was a feisty, curvy feminist with a little more confidence than the original ‘Ann’. The premise for this world, included an ice-age on Earth, a huge fleet of ships and a royalty system. There was a context of haves and have-nots. I enjoyed the politics, corrupt as they were and nepotism was the flavour of the month. Leo navigated this world, the fleet of ships with quiet insight, courage and snark.

I was a commodity in a pretty dress, on display for all to see.

Captain-to-be Elliot Wentworth returned to Leo’s life in unexpected way and they were not fast friends. Old hurts, jealousies and feelings were a roller coaster for these two. I struggled to really like Elliot, there was nothing essentially wrong with him but he didn’t give me the feels that the character he’s based upon demanded. However, when they were together, the chemistry was catchy.

Great side characters, both good and downright nasty, aiding this book along. There were family, friends and acquaintences that offered a rich tapestry. I liked Daniel and Evgenia a lot but Leo’s close family were hard to fathom until they weren’t.

The fast-paced story that ensued had me glued to my book, I found it difficult to put down and there were some mysteries along the way. This was truly a cast of YA characters, so lovers of Persuasion have to be ready accept this different age range and some of the decisions and behaviours that come with that age. I loved the conceptualisation in space and in YA, I appreciated the fun that they had on their ships and I enjoyed the ‘vlag’ season.

I highly recommend this fun, dynamic retelling of a classic in space. I think readers will engage with the fun characters and setting.

Thank you to Titan books for the gorgeous finished copy for review.