Title & Author: Right Ascension (Syzygy Book Six), J. K. Ullrich
Genre & Publication Date: YA Sci-Fi/Cli-Fi, January 30, 2018
Book Description: *Spoiler, sorry*
First Line: *Also spoiler*
My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.
I’ve been reviewing installments of this series for some time and I’m happy to report the finale brought everything together, delivering an awesome conclusion to an incredibly unique story.
Reviewing the last book of a series is tough because I don’t want to spoil any of the twists or reveals. Just know there are plenty of them. Plenty of action too, and the experiences Skye and Ash (our main characters) went through, together and separately, in the course of these adventures felt true and real. Bit by bit, they got to know each other, and found there was plenty to learn even from someone they thought was their enemy: Trust and acceptance. Confidence and loyalty. The lesson of blind belief. Survival comes not in a vague sense of purpose and a fuzzy concept of the future, but in accepting hard truths with a willingness to change direction because of them. That’s real courage.
The Magical: The science! This author excels at putting the ‘Science’ in Science-Fiction. From atmospheric realities, to DNA sequencing, to the components needed to create a viable ecosystem, all of this amazing info is expertly folded in with a fictional story in such a way that it feels incredibly real. Not to say that I’m rooting for the apocalypse here, but if it happened, I am now totally up on facts I need to know:)
The Mundane: Just a small nit: One of the characters was on a mission that isolated them from everyone for a really long time. I’d anticipated more readjustment when they returned and were around people again, like discomfort to the noise and nearness of others, especially groups of them. This person seemed to roll back into the swing of things with an ease I doubted. I can barely stand crowds even without long bouts of solitude.
Summary of Thoughts: Well researched, full of thoughtful themes and developed characters, this is a marvelous Sci-Fi series that I think everyone will love, from YA to adult. Grab the first installment free on Amazon.
I really can’t wait to see what new ideas are coming next from this author.
Many thanks to author J. K. Ullrich for providing a copy of the book to review.
Want to know more about the author and her work? Check out her website here
Title & Author: The Rogue Prince (book 1), Angel of Truth (book 2), Stolen Legacy (book 3), Lindsay Buroker
Genre & Publication Date: YA Sci-Fi, April 16, 2017 (book 1)
Book Description: (from book 1: The Rogue Prince) “Starseer, pilot, and animal lover Jelena Marchenko wants to prove to her parents that she’s ready to captain her own freighter and help run the family business. When she finally talks them into getting a second ship and letting her fly it, it doesn’t faze her that the craft is decades old and looks like a turtle. This is the chance she’s craved for years.
But it’s not long before the opportunity to rescue mistreated lab animals lures her from her parentally approved cargo run and embroils her in a battle between warring corporations. To further complicate matters, her childhood friend Thorian, prince of the now defunct Sarellian Empire, is in trouble with Alliance law and needs her help.
Torn between her duty to her family and doing what she believes is honorable, Jelena is about to learn that right and wrong are never as simple as they appear and that following your heart can get you killed.”
First Line: A bleep came from the sensor panel, and Jalena Marchenko slid her sparkly, purple stallion mug to the side.
My Take: So, this series is a spin-off of the “Fallen Empire” series I read and reviewed a while back. I liked the original series but didn’t love it (you can read the full review here). Why did I decide to give this one a try if I was medium about the last one?…Well, I just can’t resist YA Sci-Fi, what can I tell you? “Sky Full of Stars” (does anyone else hear Coldplay’s song “A Sky Full of Stars” when they saw that title? It was in my head every time I read this) is based on the original heroine’s daughter, Jelena, and takes place ten years after the events in “Fallen Empire”. I am happy to report that I had a blast reading it!
At eighteen, Jalena is finally allowed to join her parents’ business and run freight in a starship, something she’s been dreaming of doing because, like her mother, she loves piloting. Her first ship? Your typical first car situation, an outdated clunker that you adore with all your heart. Also like her mother, Jalena’s inaugural run veers into all manner of ill-conceived side-missions full of action and adventure, and of course, hilarious banter. This is peppered throughout the series with plenty of coming-of-age stuff, like learning how independence comes with responsibilities, that choices have consequences, and when following your heart, it’s worth the time and effort to plan ahead somewhat too.
I really liked Jalena for her idealism and compassion, as well as her ability to grow as a person while still holding on to who she is. I also really enjoyed the fact that she loves sparkly, colorful stuff. You see so many YA heroine’s with their black boots and their monochrome outfits and their disdain for all things “girly” that it becomes its own kind of cliche. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this per se (hell, I only have one pink shirt to my name and you will NOT find me in colorful sparkles), but it’s nice to see a heroine with plenty of agency who isn’t portrayed as diminished because she likes shiny rainbow colored shoes. This is offset nicely by Thor, the son of the former galactic emperor who was murdered during the coup. Broody and mysterious, he fulfills the black wardrobe requirement–something Jalena teases him about, often threatening to put kitty stickers on his armor if he doesn’t lighten up. Yeah, I laughed my way through much of these books.
The Magical: Side characters are interesting and three-dimensional with their own fears and quirks and pasts. Even though the story is told from Jalena’s point of view (third person limited), you get a full picture of their personalities: there’s the guy she grew up with who is like an older brother (no love triangle, thank God), and the hardened woman cyborg who joins the crew and who we’re not entirely sure should be trusted.
The Mundane: The series so far has three books, all of them a ton of fun, but the story is nowhere near complete. This is a big universe, so I’m sure it’s that the story is just larger than three books but I do miss the days when I could count on the things finishing within a trilogy or (dare I say it?) in a single novel.
Summary of Thoughts: Super enjoyable YA Sci-Fi adventures with Jalena that I’m happy to recommend. The first book, “The Rogue Prince”, is only $0.99! There’s plenty of action, a little romance, compelling characters, and even Starseer magic. Everything you need for a great read:)
Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here
Want to know about the author and her work? Explore her website (and the first chapters of “The Rogue Prince”) here