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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 2018-12-06 17:51
‘The Liar’s Room’ fell flat for me; intriguing premise but set in just one room and animal abuse that I couldn’t get past
The Liar's Room - Simon Lelic

The concept of this book is intriguing: two people are ’stuck’ inside a room until the truth comes out. It reads much like the basis for the plot of the horror movie series ’Saw’ or how it would be to be stuck in a nightmarish panic room.

But in the case of ’The Liar’s Room,’ a dangerous client is keeping a therapist in her office, forcing the truth to come out about her dead son, and has let her know that he is holding her daughter hostage somewhere until she divulges everything.

 

It is extremely rare for me to give up on a book for content, style, pace, just about anything. But I'm afraid to say that this one has broken my streak of finishing books because I do believe I should give them a chance right through until the end. But someone mentioned recently to stop reading a book if you're truly not enjoying it, and I got to a point in this one where I honestly was not enjoying it anymore.

 

What absolutely did it for me was abuse to an animal (a cat) and this followed a fair amount of obscene language that I felt was over the top and ’reaching’ just a bit. I'm not a prude, or naïve by any means, and I'm not scared away by much (I actually read a lot of horror writing), but it felt like this was used as a plot device for shock value and didn't serve enough as part of the storyline. Additionally, the detail, since it was being explained as something being looked back on, was unnecessary and the situation that this happened within was feeling like a continued stretch to me.

I was already having trouble staying with the story going from the therapist office (a static location) to lengthy descriptions of what happened in the past. It wasn't holding my interest how I hoped it would.

 

I hate that I couldn't continue with this but once I got to that point in the book, I had that nasty image in my head and it wouldn't disappear. I can handle just about any horror movie, all the blood and guts, I'm not afraid of heights, needles, snakes, nothing. But don't give me animal abuse.

 

I absolutely want to read Simon Lelic’s other books though; I have several on my TBR list. I'm actually a big fan of psychological thrillers.

This one, however, was not for me.

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/37961294-the-liar-s-room
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review 2018-12-05 02:29
My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis
My Kind of Wonderful - Jill Shalvis
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had a fantastic time with this romance. I pulled this book from my virtual stack of past due review books. It was a great book so I have no idea why I waited so long to pick it up and read it. Of course, I have yet to read a Jill Shalvis book that I didn't like so it really is no surprise that I liked this one as much as I did. This is the second book in the Cedar Ridge series but it is easily read as a stand-alone novel.

Hud takes his responsibilities very seriously. He takes care of his mother and accepts all of the blame for his brother leaving town. He is very dedicated to his work and seems to be on the clock all the time. He wants no part of the mural for the resort that his mother has arranged. Bailey is ready to embrace life and do all of the things she has had to put off for so long. The first thing on her list that she wants to complete is the mural for the ski resort.

The characters in this book were great. Bailey has been through a lot but still has a very positive attitude and is looking forward to her future. Hudson is an incredibly hard worker who is dedicated to his family and doing what is right. Hudson has a large family that also work at the ski resort that played a big part of this story and were all a lot of fun. Bailey's loved ones wanted to protect her and keep her safe even though they didn't always seem to completely support her choices. 

I loved Hud and Bailey together. The chemistry between them was amazing and I felt like these two really needed each other. Hudson saw Bailey as more than her illness and helped to give her back the sense of normal that she needed. Bailey added the balance to Hudson's life that he didn't realize he needed. I felt like both of these characters came alive every time they were together and I couldn't help but cheer them on towards their happily ever after.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. This was a story filled with great chemistry, touching moments, and a lot of hope. I can't wait to read more from Jill Shalvis!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Forever (Grand Central Publishing).

Initial Thoughts
I pulled this book from my virtual stack of past due arcs. Why didn't I read this book years ago? It was great so I have no excuses. I read the first and third books in the series back when they were being published so skipping this one really made no sense. I love Hudson and Bailey together. The whole Kincaid family was great and I never felt like I was missing anything even though I remember very little from the other books in the series. These two had so much in common and their chemistry was off the charts. They have both been through so much and I was thrilled to see them find their happily ever after together. 

 

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review 2018-12-03 01:56
Joan Of Arc's inspirational life story shines through in this unique novel told entirely in verse
Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc - David Elliott

This book is exquisite. ‘Voices: The Final Hours Of Joan Of Arc’ has brought life once again to one of the most unforgettable and extraordinary female warrior icons. Everyone knows her name, but do they know her story?

 

Told in verse, in different medieval forms of poems, ’Voices’ is so unique (some stanzas are shaped like the subject that is ‘speaking,’ ie the sword or the crossbow). David Elliott has written such a compelling account of Joan’s short life from her beginnings in Domrémy, to her visions of the Saints, the battles she led against the English, and her eventual capture and execution. The encroaching ‘Fire’ poem that repeats throughout the novel is particularly clever and impactful.

 

Back then in 1430 France (when she was captured and put on trial), Joan was viewed with suspicion and as an affront to the Crown because she dressed in armor and wanted to ’look like a man’. She didn't believe she should have to stay at home ’to sew and mate’ when a war was being fought, simply because she didn't want to, never mind her sexuality. Her story has always been known as one of the earliest examples of a woman standing up against misogyny, against a patriarchal system that didn't make sense to her, and because her beliefs simply wouldn't allow her to sit down and accept what was happening around her.

Joan’s voice and perspective come through clearly in the novel as brave and courageous, with the right bit of stubborn. She questions the system and pursues her objectives, which give the novel an obvious ambiance of inspiration throughout. I only really wanted more from the novel when it came to the trial and perhaps the very end of her life.

Joan became a Saint after her death and was declared a martyr for everything she gave for ’God and country’. I did appreciate the epilogue and author's note at the end of the book; it seems this work was a labor of love and I enjoyed reading about its inception.

 

Joan of Arc is a historical figure who is infamous because of the brave, short life she lived, with such a tragic death, and I think Elliott has written something brilliant here that can draw many people in to learn more about her.

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/40796139-voices
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review 2018-11-21 01:25
Profound questions about what makes us human come up in this alternate present-day San Francisco in 'The Waning Age'
The Waning Age - S.E. Grove

It's present-day San Francisco, and ’The Waning Age’ is 10 years old. This means that at that age, it's expected that you will lose your ability to feel emotions. You will lose not only lose the ability to feel sadness, but also joy and everything in between.

 

Natalia Peña is the main character in this engaging novel, written as dated entries in a journal, and she has already waned. But her younger brother Calvino, who she calls Cal, has not, and he doesn't seem to show any signs that he will. Since their mother died tragically they have been living with foster parents, and while they show close bonds, it's only Cal who shows what would be recognizable as normal human responses to events around him, so much so that a company called RealCorp takes Cal to do tests on him to find out why he isn't waning.

 

 

They are also a major manufacturer of ’synaffs’ which are synthetic drops that basically only the wealthy can now afford in order to feel whatever emotion you choose. Ones that are bought on the street could be made of any unknown dangerous harmful chemicals causing the wrong emotional reactions. Most people instead choose to go through their lives feeling nothing, having forgotten what it felt like to have an emotion.

 

At the center of this illuminating book, beyond the fight that Natalia goes through to get her brother back from RealCorp, is a look at what humans are without their ability to feel. The absolute best sci-fi writing can feel so frighteningly real and believable, and this conversation about what humans are without - most importantly - being empathetic towards each other, touches on a nerve.

 

 

As someone who has always been emotional, having dealt with depression and anxiety and being the sort of person who has even lamented about how much easier life would be if I wasn't so empathetic (in contrast to others around me), this was eye-opening.

 

What has supposedly separated us from other beings is our ability to have emotions, to be ’sentient’, so what are we when we can't feel?

This is at the core of the characters in the book called Fish: they make me think of those who can commit baseless crimes without remorse or motive, they're basically psychopaths.

Questions came up in my head about how is this different from the thinking of someone who shows no emotion toward the victim and can commit serial murders.

 

 

What's the difference between thinking and feeling? How do we express emotion without feeling it? How do we have relationships without showing emotions? Is our own society going in the direction of where people aren't able to show or feel emotions? How have technology and social media contributed to this?

 

All of these questions come up and it really had me thinking!

 

I personally feel like one of the most essential problems today is that most people lack the ability to be empathetic towards each other. ’The Waning Age’ really made me sad (*emotion!) at the prospect of emotions disappearing altogether, good and bad, and how that would obliterate compassion completely.

 

Author S.E. Grove has managed to write a YA sci-fi novel that not only recognizes the bond between brother and sister, but she has also done some brilliant world-building, with just the right amount of action, and has brought some big ideas to the table. I will be thinking about this one for a long time, and I have already told a few other sci-fi authors about it.

 

'The Waning Age' is more profound than initial impressions would let on. And I have to say, this would make an excellent movie!

 

RELEASE DATE: February 5th, 2019 (add it to your TBR now!!)

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/40057886-the-waning-age
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