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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 2018-12-10 00:49
Compelling, with a Caveat
Gone Too Soon - Carlson, Melody

Whew. This is a tough one to review, because of the subject matter itself and because it’s difficult to discuss without giving spoilers. The first half of this book is very dark. Although there are important peripheral characters, the main characters are sixteen-year-old Kiera, her mom Moira, and her recently-deceased older sister Hannah. Kiera’s part of the story is told in the first person and Moira’s in third-person limited point of view; Hannah’s story is told through diary entries. As such, the reader is really placed into the mind of each character, and let me reiterate: it’s very dark, especially for the first half of this novel. On the one hand, this really makes the experience realistic and enables the characters to come alive and evoke sympathy, but…maybe it’s a bit too much for too long.

The target audience for “Gone Too Soon” is young adult, and as an adult reading this, I would categorize it as mature young adult or even adult. I loved that this became a story about redemption and coming to terms with grief, with all of the baggage that involves: shame, guilt, anger, depression, etc. However, I feel the need to add a major caveat here. A large percentage of this book is not a feel-good story, and it’s not meant to be. This is about a family truly coming apart at the seams, and it is anything but pretty. It is raw and real, and the first two-thirds or so of the story could be included in a manual about how not to deal with grief. There are plenty of unhealthy coping mechanisms, and for this reason I would issue a trigger warning for suicide, rape, and drug and alcohol abuse. There are no graphic details, but the mindset of the characters are described thoroughly. Given this, I would only recommend this book to those who are looking to help people who are dealing with grief and/or those who are looking for a heartfelt read but who are approaching it from a stable mental health perspective. The later part of this book, about the resolution of the plot, could be helpful as a Christian approach to grief. My main bone of contention with the book as a whole is that while I found it to be an absolutely compelling read and loved that it dealt with real-life issues and brought in a Christian perspective in a realistic, non-preachy manner, I feel that the darkness was too heavy without any whispers of hope for too long before any relief entered the narrative.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required.

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review 2018-12-06 23:56
Blanca & Roja: Or, the Snow White/Swan Lake mash-up you didn't know you needed
Blanca & Roja - Anna-Marie McLemore

Everything Anna-Marie McLemore writes is gorgeous. I know that's not much of a review, but I'm tempted to just leave it at that. If you haven't read her books you should. And if you have then you know what to expect. This book is beautifully written, with characters that made my heart ache, and a story infused with dreamy surreal magic. It was lush, lovely, and worth savoring. Oh, and it's a Snow White, Rose Red, Swan Lake mash-up, if that speaks to you. And if re-tellings aren't your thing don't sweat it - this one has enough originality it stands all on its own.

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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 2018-11-14 22:44
This Monstrous Thing: Or Steampunk Frankenstein
This Monstrous Thing - Mackenzi Lee

I've been putting off writing a review for this book because I still can't figure out what to say about it. It's steampunk Frankenstein, so if that sounds appealing to you then snap it up post-haste. If you're not a steampunk fan, well, know what you are getting into.

 

Lee does an excellent job evoking the past in all her books, and this one is no exception. The interesting thing is that she infuses her world with machinery and mechanical men. It almost has a cyberpunk quality in that so much of the book is concerned with the divide between machine and man, and at what point when adding machinery and subtracting flesh does a man cease being human. It's an interesting direction to take the story, and there are also some astute comments of disability and social standing.

 

Where the book flagged for me was that I went into it wanting a story about brotherhood, and to watch these two brothers grapple with one another throughout the narrative. However, much like the source of inspiration, the two spend most of the book separated and only clash at the ending. This is all well and good, it's just not the story I wanted. While the book spent lavish detail and time exploring other characters and locales I found myself frustrated that it wasn't spending its time on things that interested me more. It doesn't feel fair to be critical of a book for not being what you want it to be, especially when it does a fine job in every other respect, but here I am.

 

If you dig steampunk you will likely enjoy this book. If you like historical fiction with a twist you will likely enjoy this book. If you want to read an interesting re-telling of Frankenstein you will also likely enjoy this book. If you want a story of brothers at odds with one another, and an exploration of their relationship, this will likely not hit the mark for you.

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