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Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings – Blog Tour Book Review

This post is part of the Zenith blog tour. Do check out the other stops.

Synopsis

WHEN THE UNIVERSE NEEDS SAVING

THERE’S ONLY ONE GIRL FOR THE JOB

Most know Androma as a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Maurauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Maurauder’s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation- and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

As the Maurauder hurtles towards the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

What I thought?

Zenith is book one of The Androma Saga and it has definitely whet my appetite to keep reading.

I am not familiar with either author’s other work in terms of either writing or YouTube so it was nice to come to this fresh with no real preconceptions.

What I did find was a book that seemed to be influenced by a lot of other YA and pop culture I’ve loved. The prison break aspect of Six of Crows, a pinch of Divergent, a Ship of Firefly roguishness, even a Handmaid’s tale feel, and a Potter reminiscent team nickname.

The book starts with a Prologue and then continues with chapters each headed up from a different character’s point of view. The characters we hear from are the main series protagonist Androma (Andi aka The Bloody Baroness), Klaren (a historical character), Dex (the Bounty Hunter from the synopsis and Andi’s ex), Lira (Andi’s crewmate and best friend), Nor (The Queen of a planet that holds a tentative peace with the rest of the galaxy) and Valen (the mission!).

Very spacey chapter headers

Here comes my first issue with the book. I was fine with the amount of POV characters given the scale of the story and would have even liked to hear from the other two crew mates. However the book breaks its own rules. It sets up each chapter clearly with whose point of view it’s meant to be from and for some reason in a couple of Dex’s chapters we get a switch to Andi’s point of view that is entirely unnecessary and does momentarily take you out of the story.

The other issues I had were that there was frequent repetition of concepts and thoughts such as Valen’s thirst for vengeance and Andi’s guilt over an event that occurred in the past. Whilst it is true that the more we returned to these thoughts the more the ideas and action behind them became clearer, and it is true that people do become fixated on issues, I think a few incidences could have been edited out. And there was definitely no need to keep stating the colour of Andi’s hair so frequently. White blond with purple – which to be fair does sounds like a pretty cool look. There was also a few clunky phrases such as ‘downing half a bottle in one sip’.

But, equally there was some great use of phrasing including the particularly disgusting reference to ‘palm juice’ which made me feel quite queasy but that really worked in context.

Above all I loved the Maurauders. The relationship between the all-girl crew of Andi, Lira, Gilly and Breck was what I enjoyed most about the book. Gilly is such a firecracker and so young that I was drawn to her story in particular and would love to hear from her point of view in future books. I also thought the blend of femininity and violence within them worked well and that, although the girls were total badasses, they could also get very excited about pretty dresses. The relationships between all of the characters was what drove the plot and what made the issues I had with the book easy to overcome.

I’ve seen reviews saying that the worldbuilding was sloppy but personally I thought this was another strength and I loved the inclusion of the historical perspective from the distant past as well as Andi’s more recent past and the idea that all the characters are running away from things we know they are going to need to face. The whole world history and individual character experience also pull together in a dramatic conclusion. The Zenith of the title takes a while to materialise but when it does you feel its impact.

This book is a great mash up story – a space opera – with such scope for character development. I had a few issues with the editing but the plot is clever, the characters complex and it’s really a lot of fun. I’d love to see it filmed, it’s very cinematic and would make a great tv series. Now can someone tell me when book two is due out?

Zenith book cover

Thanks to HQ for the finished copy for the purposes of this review. Opinions are as ever my own.

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The Inventory: Gravity by Andy Briggs – Blog Tour

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Iron Fist – the first in Andy Briggs’  The Inventory series, about a top secret vault that contains banned gadgets that are too dangerous to be in the world. You can see my interview with author Andy Briggs here.

Book two of the series Gravity is already here and having enjoyed the first book I was eager to read more about Dev and his friend Lot and Mason’s adventures.

gravityGoodreads link

Summary

Eeek! Think that’s a monster? Nope: it’s a person. What terrible weapon could do this…? Errr – well, that used to be top-secret. Problem: it’s not quite so secret anymore. Dev messed up big time the day he let the ruthless Shadow Helix gang into the Inventory. What is the Inventory, we hear you ask? Well, it’s the secret lockup for all the deadly battle tech the world is NOT ready for. Which is why letting it get nicked was a REALLY BAD IDEA. Now the Shadow Helix have Newton’s Arrow: a terrifying weapon that messes with gravity, causing … well, you get the picture from this book’s cover. Dev and his mates HAVE to get it back – even if it means crossing the entire globe. To stop this evil, no trip is too far!

Author

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Andy Briggs is a screenwriter, producer and author of the Hero.com, Villain.net and Tarzan series. Andy has worked on film development for Paramount and Warner Bros, as well as working with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and producer Robert Evans. With a strong social media following, Andy tours the UK regularly, doing festival, school and library events.

Website: www.andybriggs.co.uk

Twitter: www.twitter.com/aBriggswriter

 

What I Thought?

After the big reveal at the end of the first book Andy Briggs catapults Dev and his friends straight into the action with the aim of retrieving the missing tech stolen from the vault. It’s really not long before the three teens are out on their own facing evil foes half way across the world. I enjoyed that this fact was poked fun out of in the book, although it definitely made the adult characters, particularly Charles Parker, less sympathetic.

Dev reminded me of Book 5 Harry in this story and he certainly has some big issues to deal with, which makes him the main focus of this story. The parallel between him and some of the other characters is explored well.

There is more fun technology and science to explore and the plot is certainly action packed. For me, I would have liked a few more quieter moments and perhaps a bit more exploration of Lot and Mason’s characters, although they both get their own kick-ass moments.

This is a really fun series that I’m looking forward to keeping up with and continue to recommend. It is very visual and I’d love to see it as a TV series and/or Graphic Novel.

Blog Tour

My stop is the last on the blog tour but you can check out the other stops for more reviews and features.

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Thanks to Scholastic for the free copy – all opinions are my own.

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Out of Orbit Blog Tour – Guest post by author Chele Cooke

I had author Chele Cooke on my blog a while back to talk about her vampire novel Teeth – now she’s back with the third book in her science-fiction series Out of Orbit. On the 29th October 2015, Rack and Ruin continues the story started in the first two books, Dead and Buryd and Fight or Flight. (Click on the titles to find out more about each book).

Chele is on my blog today though to share her Top Ten Series (not including her own, which of course you are welcome to add to your top ten lists).

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My Top Ten Series

Earlier in this blog tour, I answered the question of my top ten favourite books. I had to narrow down my possible choices, and in the end, I still ended up with an entire series as one of my answers. Luckily, hopefully choosing my favourite series of books will be a bit easier.

  1. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

This is the book series that I couldn’t choose a single book for. I love it. I first read Harry Potter as a teenager and I was one of those people who queued at midnight for the final books. These books are what started me writing (I started out writing fanfiction) and so they’ll always be very close to my heart.

  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I ploughed through this series in a matter of days. I was lucky that I waited so long to pick it up, because it meant I didn’t have to wait. Admittedly, I think the third book doesn’t stand up to the rest of the series, it felt a bit squashed to me, but it’s still a series I adore rereading.

  1. A Song of Ice and Fire by G.R.R Martin

I’ve listened to this series on audiobook, and at about 80 hours per book, I’ve put a lot of time into it already. I both love and loath the detail that goes into these books, and there are times when I really wish someone had taken an axe to all the excess characters and points of view, but never let it be said that G.R.R Martin doesn’t know how to make a detailed and interesting fantasy world.

  1. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

There is far too much to say about Discworld to put into a small paragraph. I actually started out with Discworld via a point and click PC game. It was, without a doubt, the most infuriating game I have ever come across. If anyone can get through it without looking up answers, I bow down to you! Also, getting through it without hating the phrase “That doesn’t work” is impossible.

Terry Pratchett is far more of a wizard than anyone in his books. What he has created is astonishing.

  1. The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire

Not only did Maguire retell The Wizard of Oz, but he continued his wonderful story with three more fantastic books, turning what little we knew about Oz into a story far more interesting than the original tale. I love his detail and his willingness to roam into the darker sides.

  1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

We’re including the Hobbit in this! I don’t care what anyone says, I am including the Hobbit in this series because I love it, and I don’t think it should be discounted. Tolkien is one of the fathers of Fantasy, and I’d not be able to get through a series top ten without including him. Like Martin and Pratchett, the world he has created is beyond astounding.

  1. The Wool Trilogy by Hugh Howey

There’s something mesmerisingly claustrophobic about Hugh Howey’s Wool trilogy. Taking place inside underground silos, there is a closeness to it that Howey has recreated wonderfully in his language.

  1. Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind

Another epic fantasy series where the books are quite long by themselves. I’m still only about four books in (out of more than a dozen) because other books sometimes get in the way. They’re quite dense books, and can be a little hard going at times, but I love the complexity of the world, the magic system, and the history. Plus, Zed is amazing! How can you not love a crazy old wizard you first see standing naked on a stone holding a chicken?

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis

Yep, I’m going back to childhood! These, along with Roald Dahl, were some of my favourite books as a kid, and I get quite nostalgic for them.

  1. Books by Jane Green

A little bit of cheating here, because technically these books are not a series. They’re stand alone novels, but all by the same author. I love Jane Green and she writes most of my favourite comfort read books. I can pick up any one of them and know I’ll enjoy it. So, while they’re not about the same characters, and they’re not the same settings, they give me the same feeling, and sometimes that’s just what I need.

I only cheated once, hurrah! There are some other series I could have mentioned, but admittedly those are the series where I feel like one of the books let it down. For example, I really enjoyed the Divergent series, but I felt the last book and the one-eighty the story took, let it down quite a bit.

I’d also like to celebrate the fact I didn’t go into my top ten TV series, because that is another wide and interesting list.

So, how many of Chele’s favourite series have you read?

Giveaway

There is a tour wide giveaway.

The prizes include;

A full set of Out of Orbit series in paperback and a £25 Amazon giftcard

Ten ebook sets of the Out of Orbit series

Click on the link above to enter and check out the other blog stops below.

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