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review 2018-12-18 06:00
BLOG TOUR AUTHOR Q&A: 'The Disasters' by M.K. England
The Disasters - M. K. England

 

’THE DISASTERS’ RELEASES TODAY, 12.18.18!

 

It has been a long time coming because I have been on the launch crew waiting for this book to be released and FINALLY, we have LIFT OFF!! ‘The Disasters’ is a super-fun YA space adventure about a bunch of misfits who end up saving the galaxy.

 

 

I was able to give M.K. England some interview questions about her debut book, about growing up on the Space Coast of Florida, and her love of Star Wars, so check out the Q&A and about the book below!

 

Thank you to The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having ME yet again!

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, M.K. ENGLAND

 

M.K. England is an author and YA librarian who grew up on the Space Coast of Florida and now calls the mountains of Virginia home. When she’s not writing or 'librarianing,' MK can be found drowning in fandom, going to conventions, rolling dice at the gaming table, climbing on things in the woods, or feeding her video game addiction. She loves Star Wars with a desperate, heedless passion. It’s best if you never speak of Sherlock Holmes in her presence. You’ll regret it. 

 
For the latest DISASTERS news, you can subscribe to the Eccentric Orbit monthly newsletter at biy.ly/MKEnews.
You can also find her on twitter (@geektasticlib), Instagram (m.k.england), Tumblr (mkengland), and at www.mkengland.com.
 
 
 
ABOUT THE BOOK

The Disasters

by M.K. England
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: December 18th, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
 
Synopsis:
 
Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.
 
 
Q&A WITH AUTHOR M.K. ENGLAND
 

I'm so excited to be able to do Q&A with you, as I've been on the 'Launch Crew' for your book 'The Disasters' for MONTHS! Finally, it's hitting shelves TODAY, so there are some questions that must be asked. I already know you're a Ravenclaw (me too), and born under the sign of Cancer, so you're a Crab (me too, so let's ask some more important stuff).

 

 

1 First of all, the blurb on your book has to be one of the best I've ever read, 'The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of The Galaxy', not just because those are two movies that I absolutely love, but because I'm total movie buff myself (with a film degree and background) and I have an inkling that movies have inspired 'The Disasters' big time.

What are your 5 top movies (*you can't include Star Wars here!)?

 

I’m honestly more of a TV person than a movie person, so I’ll include TV and movies here. There’s are in no particular order because narrowing down to five is already cruel enough without ranking them!


  • Babylon 5
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Stargate SG-1
  • The Fifth Element (problematic fave)
  • The Great British Baking Show (“one of these things is not like the otherssss…”)
  • Brooklyn 99 (YEAH I PUT SIX. I’M A REBEL)


2 Without spoiling too much about 'The Disasters' you have made the distinct choice of keeping humans very human, despite it being 2194, and there being advancements so that people may live on other planets. In contrast to a lot of other science-fiction about the future of the human race, why did decide to keep us that way?


A combination of complicated reasons. In this world, the A-drive technology

that lets humans travel quickly between the stars was sort of a lightning

strike discovery in 2050ish, which isn’t really that far away. As soon as that

happened, you know there’d be a big political upheaval and a second space

race, which I obliquely reference in the book. That kind of stuff always sets

us back as humans, even as it brings us forward in technology.


With humanity establishing new homes out among the stars, something that

would require a lot of hands-in-the-dirt work, I think our base humanity

would stay largely intact, at least in the early days. I didn’t want to portray a

future where we’ve totally disappeared into the cloud just as we’ve opened

up this whole vast galaxy to explore. I imagine this book set during a very

outward-facing time in humanity’s history, stretching out, focusing

technological development on those goals, rather than necessarily turning it

inward on the human body and mind. Not that these things can’t happen

concurrently, but it wasn’t really the kind of story I wanted to tell.


Ultimately, though, there are some core things about humanity that I hope

will always exist. A need to laugh, to love, to build connections, to explore.

Those are the fundamentals of being human, to me, and I hope we never

lose them.


 

3 I was drawn to 'The Disasters' not just because of the amazing purple cover (props to your cover designer, Jenna Stempel-Lobell) but because I'm drawn to storylines where I have to root for the underdog. This is a common theme in YA but this really is a story about a bunch of rejects.

What was it that drew you to writing a story about this bunch of hapless teens-turned-heroes?

 

Lovelovelove the cover, and so grateful for the design team at HarperTeen! The basic seed of the idea of this book was “a hotshot pilot fails out of a space academy on his first day,” so that underdog sense was baked in from the very earliest glimmers. From there, I think the concept naturally developed into a way for me to explore a lot of my own angry thoughts about how people get labeled as rejects or failures or whatever just for making one mistake, or being different, or responding to the way society has shaped them. Our cultural idea of who gets to be a hero is so narrow. I’ve also spent most of my life obsessed with success and validation, which is totally unhealthy, and I think I’ll have a lot more to say on it in future books.  


 

4 There are some interesting relationships in 'The Disasters' including a pair of brothers who have spent a good deal of their teen years apart, with one of them, the main character Nax, believing his brother hates him. It's refreshing to read a book with male teens who end up having to actually talk to each other and be emotionally vulnerable; do you feel like there's a gap in YA lit when it comes to this?

 

I didn’t actually set out to fill any sort of gap with it, but yes, I do think all aspects of our society are lacking in good emotional models for teens who are socialized as male. I hope we can continue to expand the range of emotions we allow all characters to experience: angry, emotionally-constipated girls (hello, my next book), sensitive and vulnerable boys, non-binary characters period—we need it all!


 

5 Many people know you are a YA librarian (shout out to librarians everywhere!): What would you say is the number one key to encouraging a reluctant reader of any age?

 

Please, for the love of cupcakes, LET THEM READ WHAT THEY WANT. I want to scream every time a parent takes a book out of a kid’s hand because “it’s a graphic novel and that’s not real reading” or “that book is for girls” or “Twilight/The Hunger Games/etc. is garbage” or whatever else. The same thing applies to adults—can we not shame each other for loving romance, or cozy mysteries, or the latest James Patterson, or whatever else. Let people love whatever books speak to them and celebrate that love.


 

6 I know you grew up on the Space Coast of Florida, but you now call the mountains of Virginia home. Do you feel as though your childhood environment encouraged your love of all things space? How so?

 

Definitely. I feel like I would have come around to space eventually anyway, because it was really stuff like Star Wars and Issac Asimov’s nonfiction that dragged me into the deep end, and there are tons of people who grew up in my town who couldn’t care less about space. But being able to watch space shuttles and rockets launch from my backyard absolutely had an impact. Same with my parents always taking me to work and talking about the boring-but-necessary logistics side of the aerospace industry. It was part of the soundtrack of my early life and I’m grateful for it.


 

7 Okay, here comes the big question, since I know the whole Star Wars universe has been a big influence in your life AND it has inspired your writing. What is your favorite Star Wars movie, AND who is your favorite character?

 

ARG YOU ARE CRUEL INDEED. From the original trilogy, I think Empire Strikes Back is objectively the best movie, but A New Hope is the one I like to re-watch the most. It’s where it all started! Of the new stuff, I like The Force Awakens best. I love seeing the Star Wars Universe diversified and with a female lead. I can’t even imagine what the impact would have been on my childhood, having those movies. I had a seriously emotional moment at Disney recently, walking around the Star Wars area and seeing little kids of all genders dressed up and wearing SW shirts. MY HEART!

Favorite character… so hard. SO HARD. HOW DARE YOU.

Old trilogy: Han Solo
New trilogy: Poe Dameron

Extended Universe: Wedge Antilles & Tycho Celchu


(Honestly, the Force is my least favorite part of the SWU. Give me alllllll the pilots!)


 

8 Any hints about your second book you'd like to share?

 

I just turned in the final draft, huzzah! On to copyedits we go! It’ll be out in early 2020, maybe January. I can’t say much about it yet, but I can’t wait to reveal the title. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy mashup with similar pacing and humor to THE DISASTERS, but more emotionally intense, in my opinion. It’s very Final Fantasy 7 meets Six of Crows. Angry girl MC, nonbinary love interest, sass, and #friendshipgoals!

 


 

Good luck with the book, and thanks for answering my questions! It has been a lot of fun being on the 'Launch Crew'.

I'll be happily telling everyone to read your book; I already plan to buy a few copies for people!

 
 
 
*BOOK LINKS to buy THE DISASTERS!*
 
 
 I hope you decide to grab a copy of the book; it will make a great read for the holidays or for a plane ride!!! 
ENJOY!
 
 
 
*Last but not least click here for the full DISASTERS BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE!*
 
 
 
 
 
Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/32469736-the-disasters?from_search=true
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review 2018-12-17 11:10
Step out of reality and into an Illusion

 

 

 

 

Illusional Reality

Karina Kantas

Paperback: 150 pages

Publisher: lulu.com (March 8, 2016)

ISBN-10: 1326583662

ISBN-13: 978-1326583668

https://www.amazon.com/Illusional-Reality-Karina-Kantas/dp/1326583662

 

Reading the opening pages of this fantasy/ romance, I had the sense I was reading a modern retelling of an ancient myth, fairy tale, or legend. Perhaps it was my overactive imagination, but some of the story’s early elements sounded familiar.

 

For example, the book opens when an ordinary marketing executive named Becky, who at least thinks she is an ordinary human, is rescued from an attack in a dark alley by an “alien” named Salco. Unhappily, in her opinion, she is transported to a different realm where she discovers she is really Princess Thya of Tsinia, a city of light-hearted (mostly) tree-top dwellers. She had been hidden away on earth until she is expected to fulfill her prophesized role as a wife to establish an alliance with the powerful city called Senx. Much to her distaste, she is apparently obligated to wed Kovon, the son of the proverbial dark lord, Darthorn. Darthorn is no more fond of the wedding idea than Thya,  preferring the conquest option which he is certain he would win.

 

Learning this marriage is intended to preserve and save the magical realm on the brink of destruction, Thya spends many hours being tutored about a world she doesn’t know. Thya slowly learns about her true identity including the undesirable prophecy and the fact she has supernatural powers she doesn’t know how to use or control. Along the way, she falls in love with one of her teachers who is himself obligated to marry another.

 

After this set-up, readers experience a series of possible paths for Thya to explore and deal with as we meet a growing set of sometimes duplicitous mentors and advisors for the Princess. I admit, my interest kicked in when Thya began to assert her will and resist prophecy, no matter what her court advisors tell her what she must do. From this point forward, I felt I was reading a completely original story based on, well, whatever Karina Kandas cooked up for her heroine and her changed circumstances in this first volume of a coming duology. Thankfully, the magical ride keeps building up speed until we get to the final third of the book where everything intensifies from the psychic battles to the emotional hits to Thya and her chosen lover, Alkazer.

 

A major stroke of creativity in this novel is the lofty dialect and diction Kantas has most of her characters using. I’ve read other reviews where some readers were put off or challenged by this  I don’t see the problem.  Every sentence was perfectly clear to me. How tough is it to recognize “with certainty” means “Yes”? In addition, the tone used by most of these characters seemed perfectly spot on for high officials and palace courtesans, not to mention black-hearted warlords.

 

This book can fairly be classified as YA as there are moral lessons being taught, mainly about the importance of selflessness and putting community above yourself. So Illusional Reality is the sort of book that should be welcome under your Christmas tree, especially for those reluctant younger readers for whom this adventure should be quite inviting. Why not give them a sexy female Harry Potter with a good figure?  It shouldn’t be too long before the sequel, The Quest, will belatedly debut in 2019.

 

 

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review 2018-12-16 04:52
The Belles - audiobook
The Belles - Dhonielle Clayton,Rosie Llewellyn-Jones

Audience: Young Adult

 

We all turned sixteen today, and for any normal girl that would mean raspberry and lemon macarons and tiny pastel blimps and pink champagne and card games. Maybe even a teacup elephant.

- opening lines

 

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In this world, Belles control Beauty and Beauty is a commodity. People are born gray and will pay anything to be transformed. The society is fixated on Beauty - there are even rules to prevent people from going to extremes. For example, a Belle cannot make your proportions so outrageous that they don't look like the natural human form. Camellia (and the other Belles) wants to be the favorite and live in the palace. But, in this world, nothing is as it seems and danger and betrayal are everywhere.

 

So, I think this book was trying to make a statement about how much our society reveres beauty. And how dangerous this could be when taken to the extreme. There are many issues tackled in this book including gender equality, male privilege, the way woman warp their bodies to be "perfect," and the idea that beauty is not just what we see on the outside. It does a good job of raising the issues without seeming preachy.

 

Camellia is fixated on being the Favorite and being the best and she can't handle the idea of failing. But she is naive and doesn't see what is happening around her - the deception and danger. I found the evil character to be very obvious and couldn't believe that Camellia wouldn't see right through her. She often walked right into a trap that a blind person would have seen coming.

 

The world is interesting with the teacup size elephants, giraffes, and dragons. But some of the descriptions are a bit much and I found it distracting. When describing a scene or a place, the author used a lot of imagery and flowery language - too much really. It stood out to me and it shouldn't - I should be able to picture the scene in my head without thinking about how many similes or metaphors the author is using.

 

The audio was very well done. I enjoyed the narrator's accent. I read the first couple of pages on the Amazon preview and I was glad I listened to the audio. There are many words that are hard to figure out how to pronounce. Not having to think about that allowed me to enjoy the story more. 

 

I did enjoy the story and when the ending was more than a bit of a cliffhanger, I was looking for the next book in the series. It doesn't come out until some time next year. If it had been available when I finished this book I probably would have read it, but I don't know if I will still be as interested when it finally comes out.

 

I borrowed the audio from my local library. The book is a Florida Teens Read program nominated book for 2018-19.

 

 

 

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review 2018-12-14 20:41
[REVIEW] Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Cuckoo Song - Frances Hardinge

I didn't know what to think but there is such beautiful melancholy attached to this book. How grief can break up a family, how memories bind them together, how the world falls apart and rebuilds itself. I loved every character, they were a breath of fresh air. They felt human to me. Deeply flawed but it didn't stop you from caring for them, it didn't stop you from understanding that behind their unreasonable behavior, terrible pain accompanied it. 

And the prose? Oh, the prose! It's still amazing to me how an author can wrap a blanket of familiarity around you or destroy your heart using words.

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review 2018-12-13 07:12
Ranting Thoughts: Midnight Sacrifice
Midnight Sacrifice - Melinda Leigh

Midnight Sacrifice

by Melinda Leigh
Book 2 of Midnight

 

 

One by one, people are mysteriously disappearing from a small Maine town.  Four months ago, a ruthless murderer killed two people and kidnapped three more, including Danny Sullivan's sister, who barely escaped.  Unfortunately so did the killer, vanishing without a trace into the vast wilderness.  When the police fail to find his sister's captor, Danny returns to Maine to hunt him down.  He begins his search with another survivor, bed and breakfast owner Mandy Brown, but her refusal to cooperate raises Danny's suspicions.

What is the beautiful innkeeper hiding?  Mandy Brown has a secret.  But sexy Danny Sullivan, his relentless questions, and the desire that simmers between them threaten to expose the truth.  A revelation that puts her family in danger. As more people disappear, it becomes clear the killer is planning another ritual--and that he's circling in on Mandy.



I seem to be in the minority about this book (and maybe the series overall).

In a nutshell, this book was too long for the material it presented, with our heroine rehashing her own "woe is me" story on repeat several times.  Mandy probably could have been a better character to relate with if she'd just get over herself.  She was a great independent and strong type, with resources and skills that many women would kill for.  But her unwillingness to speak up about the threats she'd been getting from the antagonist, Nathan was what bugged me the most.  What she knew, and the fact that she'd been getting threats, might have been helpful--after all, everyone thought that Nathan might be out of the area or dead, so the manhunt had been called to a temporary halt.

Instead, she spent the entire book moping about how her life had turned out, about how she and her family are now in danger from a crazy man out to make human sacrifices, about how she'd do anything to protect her family... and yet when she's questioned, she adamantly denies the fact that Nathan could still be alive.  I guess I just didn't understand her logic, because allowing someone to know that her family might be in danger would have gotten her more protection.  Accepting help from someone who could keep an eye on her property and her family could have kept her brother safer.

Giving the authorities, or even our main hero, the information necessary to help find Nathan is probably a better way to make sure her family stays safe.  Because no matter what she was thinking, the fact that her brother was already on Nathan's radar meant that nothing she could do, including keeping silent, would ensure her brother's safety--as is ultimately proven by the end of the book.

But she decided to go the stubborn, independent, stupid route of, "I can take care of myself and my own."  Except that she wasn't equipped to do any of that, nor did she possess the skills necessary to combat a half-maniacal, determined psycho killer.

But anyway... in the end, it was all a moot point.  It didn't even seem like anything Mandy knew about Nathan could have done much to help capture him--simply it would have proven that there was a chance that random hikers disappearing wasn't just another case of "hikers disappear in the mountains all the time," due to getting lost or eaten by a bear or whatever.  But the whole "if we find Nathan's secret girlfriend, then we can find Nathan" thing was a waste of story line, because it went nowhere.

Which brings me to how laughable the entire law enforcement investigations turned out.  As Danny kept bringing up, over and over again, the last time a couple hikers/campers disappeared, it wasn't by accident or due to nature.  So the fact that every cop so readily dismissed a second set of campers disappearing, only months after the first incident involving disappearing campers and ritualistic sacrifice of living humans...  It occurred to me that everyone in this book was in denial except for Danny and Jed.  It seemed like there had been no effort put into the entire investigation, whether on the side of the manhunt to find Nathan, or even about the disappearance of the campers.

And while we might say that the entire town only had one cop who wasn't exactly top notch police material, there was also the state police that kept being referred to.  There was no talk about what they were even doing.

And when the first set of campers disappeared, I was actually quite surprised that a full scale Search and Rescue wasn't launched--especially when a child was involved.  This just reeked of poor outlining, to be honest.  Everyone was all, "They probably just fell in the river, got carried downstream.  We'll see them surface at some point."  But... what if they hadn't fallen into the river?  What if, psycho kidnapping for ritual sacrifice aside, they'd gotten lost?  We're just going to leave it to presumption that they probably just fell in the river?  The apparently quite shallow river?  And got carried downstream?

Is nobody going to even consider the possibility that they might be wandering lost?  Even if we don't want to contemplate the fact that there's a kidnapper out there, already running from a statewide manhunt?  Why would we take the chance that they could be lost and not send a team in to look for them?

And what if they DID just "fall into the river?"  Why are we still NOT looking for them?  What if they are still alive in the river?  What if they did just "get carried downstream" and managed to climb out of said supposed river scenario?  What if a child is shivering to death after being soaked in a river?

And nobody thinks it's worth it to further investigate?  Or send SAR out to find this child?

But anyway...

Meanwhile, Danny was pushy and one-dimensional.  He was the only person with sense in this book, but he let his emotions and his dick lead his actions.  But otherwise, he didn't really stand out much.

Every other character was also quite one-dimensional, truth be told.

I liked Mandy's brother, Bill.  And I liked the dogs.  There should have been more about dogs.  I have a hard time believing that someone who made a living out of training dogs didn't at least train a few for Search and Rescue.  Especially in a town where there are mountains and woods, and apparently campers and hikers get lost on a regular basis, and just fall into rivers and hypothetically get carried downstream, just waiting to be discovered later.

The logic holes in this book are insulting.

That's probably about it.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/ranting-thoughts-midnight-sacrifice.html
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