Review of Starfall by Melissa Landers

StarfallStarfall (Starflight #2)
By: Melissa Landers
Release Date: February 7th
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a ship hand, she is finally returning to her beloved home, but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend…with occasional benefits.

Meanwhile, Kane and the rest of the crew of the Banshee plan a desperate rescue mission. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn’t exactly in need of heroics—she’s claimed her birthright as Eturia’s queen, but has inherited a war-torn planet simmering with rebellion. Cassia must make alliances, and Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn’t a choice that will earn her any friends. Kane knows he will never find someone to replace Cassia—and is certain she returns his feelings—but how can he throw away his own promising future waiting on a queen?

When the outer realm is threatened by the dangerous Zhang mafia, Cassia, Kane and the rest of the Banshee crew uncover a horrifying conspiracy that endangers the entire universe. In the face of unspeakable evil, Cassia must confront her own family’s complicated legacy on Eturia and decide once and for all who her real family is.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed the first book, Starflight, so I was so excited to see that Landers was writing a companion book. All the same characters are in this story but this time we are reading from the point of views of Kane and Cassia. The events of this novel take place after what happened in Starflight and I loved seeing some of the after effects woven into this new storyline.

I always found the relationship between Kane and Cassia to be intriguing and knew there was much more to them than what we saw (with them as side characters) in the first book. I was so happy to see them as the center of this story. Cassia is an exiled princess and this book sets her back on her home planet. I loved that with this princess angle the story sort of felt like a sci fi/fantasy because her and Kane come from different social classes (star-crossed love), and an evil king set out to do anything to seek revenge.

Landers has a way with character chemistry and tension. She builds up the feelings between characters it’s tangible for the reader. That’s my favorite aspect of her writing and she didn’t let me down in Starfall. Not only does this book have romance but a great rebellion story. I wasn’t exactly sure how Landers would get these characters out of some of the situations they found themselves in so this was a page turner. I couldn’t stop reading because I was so eager to find out what would happen next.

StarfallIG

Final Thoughts:
I recommend these books to anyone that loves science fiction and quirky casts of characters. You could pick up and read either book first but I think publishing order (Starflight then Starfall) so that you don’t come across character spoilers.

Review of Starflight by Melissa Landers

StarflightStarflight
By: Melissa Landers
Release Date: February 2nd 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

My Thoughts:
Starflight was so much fun to read-  it had all the things that I love in a science-fiction novel- rag tag ship crew, hate to love relationship, space-pirates, lots of action with a dash of romance. This was more in line with the Firefly type of science fiction… no heavy science talk or theories to digest. The pacing was fast with equal amounts of action and witty dialog between the characters.

This story starts with the main character, Solara, needing to escape Earth and try to make it out to the outer realms to establish a new life for herself. Of course, as these things go, the only way for Solara to get out of her current situation was to rely on the one person she dislikes the most- Doran. It’s all fairly predictable how these two will slowly grow to respect each other but it’s still so much fun to watch them warm up to one another. Landers’ does an amazing job creating character chemistry through their dialog and actions. As the reader, you feel their attitudes mutate and grow into something more.

Though I fully felt the chemistry between the leads I did struggle a small amount with Doran’s character arc. He was such a jerk to Solara in the beginning and in their past it was a tiny bit hard to believe he’d change his general attitude that easily. Overall, I think that Landers did a decent job of presenting him in a manner that was believable. But, I would have liked a tiny bit more time taken to develop his transformation and to have seen him push back a bit more at the situation he found himself in. Regardless of this teeny tiny complaint I still fell easily in love with the relationship and story.

The side characters were really fun as well and added a lot to the story. You’ve got to have the rag-tag crew in this type of book and Landers provides. Each crew member has a story to tell and though we only get bits about their past it’s enough to create empathy and compassion for their character. I was fully invested in each crew member on the Banshee.

In this type of sci-fi there is something so right about space lawlessness and a bunch of  criminal types creating their own law and order. I loved how Landers incorporated that with the outer realm as well as the pirate ship Solara finds herself on. These bits were so well done and fun to read. Though you could sort of see where the story was headed it never felt overly predictable and easily kept my interest. I wanted nothing more to be reading this book start to finish.

Final Thoughts:
Starflight was the type of book you want to completely lose yourself in and read start to finish in a sitting. With the fast pacing, character chemistry and witty dialog it was easy to love and left me wanting a follow up book. I’d love to read many more adventures with this cast of characters.

DNF Review- Invaded by Melissa Landers

InvadedInvaded
By: Melissa Landers
Release Date: February 3rd 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Read to page 238

Summary:
Cara always knew life on planet L’eihr would be an adjustment. With Aelyx, her L’eihr boyfriend, back on Earth, working to mend the broken alliance between their two planets, Cara is left to fend for herself at a new school, surrounded by hostile alien clones. Even the weird dorm pet hates her.

Things look up when Cara is appointed as human representative to a panel preparing for a human colony on L’eihr. A society melding their two cultures is a place where Cara and Aelyx could one day make a life together. But with L’eihr leaders balking at granting even the most basic freedoms, Cara begins to wonder if she could ever be happy on this planet, even with Aelyx by her side.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Aelyx, finds himself thrown into a full-scale PR campaign to improve human-L’eihr relations. Humans don’t know that their very survival depends on this alliance: only Aelyx’s people have the technology to fix the deadly contamination in the global water supply that human governments are hiding. Yet despite their upper hand, the leaders of his world suddenly seem desperate to get humans on their side, and hardly bat an eye at extremists’ multiple attempts on Aelyx’s life.

The Way clearly needs humans’ help . . . but with what? And what will they ask for in return?

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed Alienated so had fairly high expectations for Invaded, though I did have some reservations since first book left off with it being inevitable that Cara and Aelyx would be apart for the majority of the sequel. Their dynamic and chemistry was my favorite aspect of the first novel so this was a major concern and I really think this was the reason I was never able to really get into Invaded.

The pacing felt slower to me but it was probably due to my lack of connection to the characters this time around. I wasn’t nearly as fond of Cara in this book though I can’t pin-point why. I didn’t dislike her by any means I just felt that she was harder to relate to? We do get to meet many more L’eihr because Cara is living on their planet. I was pretty let down by the planet in general since it wasn’t all that different from Earth (though I guess this does make sense) and the society wasn’t structured all that much differently either.

Aelyx was still on Earth and tasked with trying to make peace and an alliance between the two worlds. Though each of the characters was struggling to cope with their new situation neither stories really gripped me.

Really I can’t say anything was wrong with the section I read (more than half way) My biggest problem was that I found it impossible to get fully immersed in the story and it was a struggle for me to pick the book up to read. I’ve been working on it for a few weeks and found that I was pushing it aside for other books. For me, I felt that I should abandon it for now rather than forcing myself to continue. I hope to feel more in the mood for this type of story and try again at a later date.

Have you read Invaded? What were your thoughts and should I continue it later?

Release Day Launch-Alienated by Melissa Landers + Nook Giveaway

I am so excited to be celebrating the launch of Alienated. I had the pleasure of reading this book already and can tell you it’s highly engaging, fast paced and has some swoony moments. Also, this novel has a  really different and realistic take on an alien-human encounter. Thank you Melissa for including My Friends Are Fiction on the launch.

AlienatednewcvrHey, fiction lovers. I’m author Melissa Landers, and I’m thrilled to announce that my debut YA sci-fi romance, ALIENATED, is finally available from Disney-Hyperion! Cue the dancers and toss the confetti, because it’s been a long wait!

In a nutshell, ALIENATED is the story of valedictorian Cara Sweeney, who gets more than she bargained for when she agrees to host the nation’s first intergalactic exchange student, the gorgeous but emotionally-stilted Aelyx (pronounced A-licks) from planet L’eihr. The tone is light and humorous, but I explore some deeper themes as well.

What do reviewers have to say?
“The storyline is out of this world and character development paired with authentic voice is superb. Filled with intrigue and suspense, this book will appeal to both sci-fi and contemporary YA fiction fans.” –VOYA

“Interstellar relations heat up in this start to a new romantic science fiction series. Landers [explores] larger social, ecological, and ethical issues in this tense, fast-paced read.” –Booklist

“The perfect blend of sizzling romance, action, and suspense.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout

“Smart, funny, and epic. I am now awaiting contact from planet L’eihr.” Julie Cross, bestselling author of Tempest.

“Intergalactic exchange students? Yes, please! I fell in love with this story and couldn’t put it down.” Jodi Meadows, author of Incarnate.

If you like hot, swoony science fiction as much as I do, I hope you’ll give ALIENATED a try. It’s now available in stores and online.

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Book Depo (free international shipping)
Indie Bound

Alienated Book Trailer

To celebrate my book birthday, I’m offering one lucky winner a Nook Simple Touch. I’ll even throw in a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble so you can fill your new e-reader with whatever you want!

Now for the fine print: This giveaway is open to US residents only. (Sorry, international friends, but you need a US billing address to buy digital content on the Nook.) Due to sweepstakes laws, entrants must be 18 years or older to participate.

Best of luck, and happy reading!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the Author:
Melissa1Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives outside Cincinnati in the small town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.” For more information, or just to say hello, visit www.melissa-landers.com.

Review of Alienated by Melissa Landers

Alienated (Alienated #1)Alienated (Alienated #1)
By: Melissa Landers
Release Date: February 4th 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Purchase:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

A copy was given to me by the publisher in exchange for a honest review

I read Alienated with my reading group-Bibliopunkk, Scott Reads It and On Starships and Dragonwings

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Interplanetary relations have never been more exciting! The first in a funny, romantic YA sci-fi series.

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

The Story:
I was really happy that Landers took a different and very realistic approach to aliens in this book. In her world Earth is aware of aliens and as with many things that are unknown they are not exactly trusted by the general populace. Some people are less in fear and more in awe and wanting to get to know all about the L’eihrs and their lifestyle. Another fringe group takes their distrust to a new level and adds in a touch of violence and protesting.

Cara is more interested in the L’eihr presence and she feels forever grateful to the alien technology and science because it has helped save a family member. Though her main interest is in doing well in school and making it into a good college. When an opportunity arises for Cara to become the first ever exchange student she doesn’t think it through but jumps on the chance.

I found this to be such a refreshing story line. Not only have I not read an alien book like this it was fast paced and felt very teen. Is the storyline predictable? Yes, it really is. I knew what was coming early on and honestly after the midway point I was ready for things to get going and for the climax and resolution. Not that the writing was slow paced, just having a really good idea of what was coming-I was ready.

Landers focused a good amount of this first in the series on the human prejudice towards the L’eihrs and how a natural unease could become inflated and violent with the smallest spark. Though there was a lot of time spent on this issue it never felt heavy handed which I appreciated.

The Characters:
I felt instantly connected to the cast of character, primary and secondary. I found Cara to be an interesting main character and appreciated her blogging for obvious reasons. I loved getting into her headspace and see the consequences of having an open mind and being in the minority. I felt that she dealt with the issues presented to her realistically.

Aelyx was written with just enough unique behaviors that it wasn’t hard to imagine him as an alien visitor. I loved reading him adjust to human (and Cara’s) ways and watching them grow closer as they came to know each other. The romance was done beautifully, and one scene in particular was done amazingly well–I could see how Landers’ history in writing romance came in handy.

Cara’s parents were so sweet and it was wonderful to have present, loving parents actually taking a role in the main character’s life.

Final Thoughts:
Alienated was a refreshing look at aliens which was fun to read and fast paced though I found it to be rather predictable. Landers throws in just enough commentary about societies view of the different to give the book a political feel.