Looking Past the GHOSTS & ASHES–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new M/M YA Sci-Fi adventure from F. T. Lukens. GHOSTS & ASHES is the sequel to the phenomenal THE STAR HOST, and should be read in order. This space opera features a technopathic boy trying to find his family a year after he’d been captured, tortured and escaped–and the military recruit who will sacrifice anything to keep him safe.

Catch an excerpt below and register to win a $25 GC or one of five ebooks.
About the book:
Three months have passed since the events of The Star Host, and Ren is living aboard the Star Stream under the watchful eyes of the Phoenix Corps. Plagued by vivid nightmares that ravage the ship in his sleep, he struggles to prove he isn’t a threat and fears he has traded one captor for another. His relationship with Asher, whose efforts to balance his personal loyalty to Ren with his professional duties to the Corps are failing, fractures.

Adrift without an anchor, Ren must return to his home planet of Erden if he has any chance of reversing his dangerous descent into madness. There, he hopes search for his missing brother and salvage his relationship with Asher. What he nds is knowledge that puts everyone’s allegiance to the test.

How about a little taste?

Ren sighed. Asher wanted to talk, and Ren’s insides ached with a fierce loneliness he hadn’t experienced since the first night in the cell of the Baron’s citadel. He didn’t want Asher’s words or his pity. And he didn’t want to relive the details of the nightmare, which had sent him twisting in his sheets and crawling across the floor. The sense memories clung to him, like cobwebs whose phantom threads, fluttery and strange and stubborn, brushed against his skin. The strands were infinite; they touched the deep places of Ren’s consciousness and burrowed down to his marrow to pull out the things that terrified him most.
He didn’t want to share the nightmare, but Asher’s flat countenance and sure gaze couldn’t hide his worry. It flashed in his eyes and ran in shaky tremors down the length of his crossed arms, as if he hugged himself to keep in his concerns and not as a defense to reflect whatever Ren had to throw at him.
Ren bent his knees, propped his arm up, and allowed his fingertips to dangle. Sweat flattened his hair against his temples. He regarded Asher coolly as Asher sat on the edge of Ren’s bunk.
“Do you remember when we went dancing?”
Asher blinked at the non-sequitur. “On Mykonos?”
Rowan had taken them dancing in a place with loud music and rotating lights. The beat had vibrated through Ren’s boots. “I had never been dancing like that before.”
Asher raised an eyebrow. “You weren’t bad. Well, not as bad as Jakob.”
“I liked the slow dance.” Asher had grabbed Ren in his arms and pulled him to the dance floor. They’d laughed and moved and all Ren’s worries had dissolved in happiness and the rhythm of the music. “I liked being with you. With the crew. I miss that.”
“We’re here now, Ren.”
He shook his head. “No. You’re not. It’s different now.”
“It doesn’t have to be.”
Ren looked away.
“Ren, you’re not okay,” he said flatly.
“No. I’m not, but I didn’t feel like broadcasting it.”
“It’s a little late for that,” Asher said softly. Ren’s stomach twisted. Asher had all but confirmed his latest nightmare had played on the vid screens. The crew had seen what Ren couldn’t remember, didn’t want to remember. “You’re getting worse. And they know it.”
Ren twisted his lips. “I’m aware the crew already knows. Pen can’t lie for anything.”
“Not them. The Corps.”
Ren rested his head on his knees. “You told her. You threw me to the wolves.”
“I had to.”
“Why? Do you want me to leave? Be locked away?”
“Stars, Ren. You know I don’t want that.”
“I don’t know what you want, to be honest. I don’t understand why you hold allegiance to them at all.”
“Because I have to. I promised five years.”
“You and your promises,” Ren said bitterly. That was loyalty Ren couldn’t understand, not after what the Corps had done to Asher, not after having left him for a year to rot in a cell on what they called a backwater planet. But Ren was beginning to realize there were things he would never understand and maybe wasn’t meant to.
“And I promised I’d keep you safe. Any way I could. This is the only way. Don’t you understand that?”
Ren felt the slight touch of Asher’s fingertips across the back of his hand. His star sparked and sought out the mechanism in Asher’s shoulder instinctually.
Asher shivered.
“There’s a fine line between safety and captivity.”

My Review:
This is the second book in a series and best enjoyed when read in order.

Ren is a star host, a person who can control technology using his mind. He has the ability to mentally fuse with any electrical gadget, no matter how big or small, and can fix most any broken appliance with a touch. In the first book, he had been captured and tortured for this ability, as Baron Vos sought to bend Ren to his control as a weapon. Ren joined with Asher, a captive member of Phoenix Corps–a form of galactic police–and they escaped the Baron’s fortress. That was just the beginning of their saga, which I’ve described in my review.

Now, however, Ren adn Asher are struggling yet again. Phoenix Corps are directly monitoring Ren’s mental and emotional state with daily reports to assess if he’s a threat. Star hosts are notorious for bonding with their machines and losing humanity altogether. It’s not been easy for Ren to stay in his body when the Star Stream, his host ship, is calling out for his loving touch. Asher has pulled away, Ren believes, and Ren can’t sleep or eat. He’s on the verge of cracking when Asher confesses Ren’s instability and urges hsi commanding officer to allow Ren to return to his home planet to get a break from teh tech surrounding him. THis is Ren’s deepest wish, too. TO investigate the fate of his parents and brother–lost to him a year ago when he was captured.

Life on Erden isn’t what it had been. Ren’s humble village had been destroyed–by the Phoenix Corps, searching for Ren and other star hosts. It’s only one stage in a centuries-long battle Ren soon learns. And it makes him even more frustrated with Asher’s devotion to their service. Still, being on the planet does help Ren return to his humanity–though it’s short-lived. Ren’s mission to find his missing brother, Liam, brings them right into Phoenix Corps deadly sights, and their quest reunites Ren and Asher with their previous captors. Only this time, Baron Vos isn’t the only enemy to fear.

The pace of the story is excellent. Ren’s confusion and struggle to remain human is easy to understand. His hurt over Asher’s decisions, and coldness, is palpable. Their trust has been broken, but they still need to rely on one another to survive each challenge–and it gets really challenging. The sci-fi elements are engaging and accessible, even for people who don’t enjoy sci-fi, per se. Asher and Ren are a couple, to a degree, and there is a little bit of kissing and connection, but nothing to even blush over. This book is all about the action, and Ren’s quest to live as normal a life as possible as a star host. He’s convinced his brother is being held captive–confirmed by telepathic communication–and Ren is going to rescue Liam no matter what. Even if Asher stands against him. That’s an admirable stand, and Ren’s an admirable young man. Asher’s motives are often int he shadows, but his intent is to protect Ren, even from Ren’s instincts. The conflict is high, and the stakes are life/death/freedom, so it’s pretty intense.

Do not expect this story to end with this book. We are on a long story arc that leads Ren on many adventures. I liked where this ended, and I’m anxious to get the next book in the series. Highly recommend to folks who like sci-fi, and readers who want diverse characters.

Interested? You can find GHOSTS & ASHES on Goodreads, Goodreads, Interlude Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Book Depository, IndieBound and Google Play.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 GC from Interlude Press or an ebook of GHOSTS & ASHES.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
F.T. wrote her first short story when she was in third grade and her love of writing continued from there. After placing in the top five out of ten thousand entries in a writing contest, she knew it was time to dive in and try her hand at writing a novel.

A wife and mother of three, F.T. holds degrees in psychology and English literature, and is a long-time member of her college’s science-fiction club. F.T. has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and science-fiction novels—especially anything by Douglas Adams.

Connect with F.T. on her website, Twitter, Tumblr and on Goodreads.

Trouble Awakens THE STAR HOST–Review and Giveaway!

BannerTemplate(19)Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review of a fantastic sci-fi M/M YA romance for FT Lukens. THE STAR HOST is an interesting and engaging adventure with a dash of romance and a whole lot of power.

Catch the excerpt, my review and enter the $25 GC and book giveaway below.

Star Host 1600px (web smashwords)About the book:
Ren grew up listening to his mother tell stories about the Star Hosts – a mythical group of people possessed by the power of the stars. The stories were the most exciting part of Ren’s life, and he often dreamed about leaving his backwater planet and finding his place among the neighboring drifts. When Ren is captured by soldiers and taken from his home, he must remain inconspicuous while plotting his escape. It’s a challenge since the general of the Baron’s army is convinced Ren is something out of one of his mother’s stories.

He finds companionship in the occupant of the cell next to his, a drifter named Asher. A member of the Phoenix Corps, Asher is mysterious, charming, and exactly the person Ren needs to anchor him as his sudden technopathic ability threatens to consume him. Ren doesn’t mean to become attached, but after a daring escape, a trek across the planet, and an eventful ride on a merchant ship, Asher is the only thing that reminds Ren of home. Together, they must warn the drifts of the Baron’s plans, master Ren’s growing power, and try to save their friends while navigating the growing attraction between them.

How about a little taste?

Once at the hangar, Ren broke away from the two guards and entered the lancer, walking up the stairs, irritation a heavy feeling in his chest.

“Reporting for work,” Ren said, his tone heavily laced with annoyance.

Janus popped up from a console she had been working under, goggles on her face, gray hair sticking up everywhere. “You!” she snapped. “I told you not to come back.”

Ren rolled his eyes. “It’s not my choice. I don’t want to be here anymore than you want me here.”

“Where are your guards? I told the dumb one not to bring you back, Abiathar’s orders be damned. I don’t want your kind working on these ships.”

She poked a finger hard into Ren’s chest and he staggered back, and rubbed his hand over the spot.

“What the stars do you mean by my kind?”

Her eyes grew comically large behind the goggles. “You don’t know?” She laughed, bordering on hysterical. “You’re more dangerous than I thought. You can’t try to control it if you don’t even know what you are.”

Ren frowned. His tolerance for the cryptic nonsense everyone had spouted since he arrived was gone. He took a step toward the hull and Janus stiffened.

“Don’t,” she barked.

“Don’t what? Touch it? What will happen, huh?”

Her face paled and her chest heaved with panicked breaths. “You don’t know what you’re capable of.”

Ren laughed. “I’m capable of nothing. I’m a duster, planet-born with very limited experience with tech. You have no reason to be frightened of me.”

He moved closer to the hull, hand outstretched, fingers splayed.

She whimpered. “Please, don’t.”

Ren slammed his hand against the hull, his fingertips leaving greasy marks on the shiny surface. As he predicted, nothing happened.

He turned back to Janus. “See? Nothing–”

His word tangled in his throat, cut off, because suddenly, Ren was consumed with power, rushing from his toes to his fingertips. A blue tint clouded his vision, and his body suffused with golden warmth. And then he was floating amongst the wires, connected to the ship, to the energy source, to everything. The lancer pulsed under his skin, tangling in his veins, its systems integrated with his senses.

It was freeing and frightening.

His consciousness raced along the circuits and he could fix it. He could fix everything. He found the tangle of wires in the artificial gravity system and bypassed it. He found the broken circuits in the air recyclers and with a pulse of power, refurbished them. He saw the static in the com system, a physical entity, and he cleared it away with a brush of his metaphysical hand.

The longer Ren floated through the ship, the less connected he was to his physical body. And if he thought about it, he didn’t need his body. Why would he need his body? He was free here. He moved around with ease, the wires and the systems his route, and the more he pushed, the more he felt the other ships too. They were nearby, on the edge of his perception, and he could go to those, he could jump to the other ones and repair them too.

He could.

He could.

My Review:
Ren is captured while trying to hide his brother from the gangs of soldiers who range the countryside near his home. Forced to march several days to the citadel of the Baron who rules Ren’s segment of the planet Erden, Ren learns that he’s got powers that rival the legends his mother taught him. he has the ability to shutdown the electric cattle prods and stunners that are continually aimed at him.

He wants to escape, but he knows he needs to be strategic about it. The baron seems to be amassing an army–to what purpose none of the new captive can even guess. The citadel is a fortress, and the baron’s general knows that Ren’s power allows him to control any machine. Ren’s a star host, and his gift is technopathy; he’s soon put to work fixing all the broken tech that serves the baron’s army. And this includes spaceships that seem poised to go offworld.

Ren is housed in a technopath-proof iron prison alongside Asher, a political prisoner. Asher was born and raised on a drift–a space station. He was a member of the Phoenix Corps who crashed on Erden. The only reason he’s still alive is because his mother is a galactic counselor–and providing regular evidence that Asher lives keeps the Phoenix Corps from landing on Erden and wrecking the baron’s plans for offworld domination. These plans include coercing Ren into tapping into ships and space stations, defending and controlling them in the name of the baron. Ren has other ideas, however. He wants to go home, but knows this is impossible. With Asher’s connections they may just be able to escape Erden together, and keep Ren from fusing with the machines that call to him.

It’s a fascinating “chosen one” tale with elegant prose and a fast-paced plot. Ren comes into his powers slowly, but realizes that he’d likely had them all along. His memories of the legends his mother would whisper to him at night and their home strangely devoid of all tech now seems so prescient. He’s just seventeen, but Ren must grow up quickly and hone his abilities if he’s going to survive as a human with free will. Every time he joins with the machines (and the bigger the machines the worse it is!) he risks staying in his star form, detached from humanity and thinking only of the power that courses through him. It is Asher who has the ability to connect with Ren when he’s trapped in the tech-phase. And, as Ren becomes more and more dependent upon Asher to keep him grounded he recognizes that his feelings are getting involved.

This is a YA adventure/romance and there is a dash of romance to go along with the story. Ren’s attracted to Asher, and they are fast becoming the best of friends…maybe more? Could they be? What will happen if Asher can’t get into Ren’s head when he’s in his star form? The last battles of technopath star hosts broke the sky, according to the legends. Ren can see how it happened, and he fears repeating these mistakes as he’s not yet strong enough to control his power lust when fusing with a large machine. Naturally, the only way to save himself and his friends is by joining with a gigantic space station…

Honestly, I loved the book. I found it fresh and interesting. There are very sweet friendships and harrowing escapes and lessons that need learning and boundaries that must be tested, and bested. Ren and Asher together are so perfectly mismatched, and that’s totally adorable. There’s a bit of kissing, but nothing else. Great for YA readers who enjoy clean romances and sci-fi adventures. This world is rich and lush, and there’s no condemnation for same-sex pairing–so no one thinks anything derogatory of Ren and Asher for falling for one another. The book ends with a complete resolution of all hostilities, but you can bet there will be more where this came from, and I look forward to a sequel.

Interested? You can find THE STAR HOST on Goodreads, Interlude Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, SmashwordsiBooks, and AllRomance.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 GC from Interlude Press or an ebook of THE STAR HOST.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
F.T. wrote her first short story when she was in third grade and her love of writing continued from there. After placing in the top five out of ten thousand entries in a writing contest, she knew it was time to dive in and try her hand at writing a novel.

A wife and mother of three, F.T. holds degrees in psychology and English literature, and is a long-time member of her college’s science-fiction club. F.T. has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and science-fiction novels—especially anything by Douglas Adams.

Connect with F.T. on her website, Twitter, Tumblr and on Goodreads.

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