Blog Tour Review – The Initiation Series by Chris Babu

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Hello Lovelies! It has been a very difficult and overwhelming week. My company has been planning WFH, so I have been quite busy. This week we transitioned completely to be able to work from home and it’s been a challenge to get all the kinks and what not working. I’m still getting used to the new phone system, but other than that, WFH has been a relief and I’m happy to be home with my family safe and healthy. That being said, reading and reviewing books definitely took a backseat which is way I’m a few days behind on posting my review for this amazing dystopian series. I know with everything that has been happening with the COVID-19, reading dystopian books is definitely more terrifying, but it’s worth the read and will really make you think about life and humanity.

So, without further ado, welcome to my Blog Tour Stop for The Insurrection, the 3rd book in The Initiation Series by Chris Babu hosted by TLC Book Tours. Although, this is the tour for the third and final book, I’ll be reviewing all three books. I really hope you add this thrilling dystopian series on your TBR.

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insurrection

abouthebook2

Publication: February 18, 2020

Publisher: Permuted Press

Genre(s): Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Format: Hardcover, 320 pages

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purchaselinks

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

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synopsis4

They are protected by lies. He is armed with the truth.

Having survived the Initiation and expedition, one battle remains: the fight for the heart and soul of New America.

Drayden and his friends, enlisting the help of Professor Worth, must find a way back to New America before the Guardians imperil their return. But for these teens, their problems are only beginning. The Bureau, which never expected them to survive the expedition, will do everything in their power to prevent New America’s darkest secrets from getting out.

Drayden’s only hope is the insurrection led by ally Kim Craig. The David versus Goliath battle between good and evil, between truth and lies, will push Drayden to his breaking point and require bravery, self-acceptance, and above all, belief in himself. Backed by the will of the citizens, he’ll need to engineer an ingenious strategy to defeat the all-powerful authoritarians. The question is, will it be enough?

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mythoughts

Such a great conclusion! This is truly a fantastic, exhilarating, and must read series for all dystopian lovers! 

4halfhearts

Drayden and his friends may have survived the Initiation and Expedition, but they have one more fight to win – take down the Bureau. But, in order to do that, they need allies and decide to join the Insurrection. But, will that be enough to finally defeat The Bureau?

Like I said before, the idea of dystopian societies is nothing new, but Babu has created an important, riveting, and thought-provoking story that will make you think about life and humanity. His writing is fantastic, and I think he’s a brilliant and talented storyteller. I enjoyed exploring this New America and was absolutely intrigued by the world-building in all three books. I found myself completely invested and caring about the characters, and wonderfully immersed in the storyline.

The plot in the Insurrection is full of nail-biting and thrilling moments that had me glued to the pages and had my heart racing. I loved that I didn’t know which way the story would go and that made this even more fun. I also really like that there’s some humor and a few lighthearted scenes. I enjoyed how everything came together in this final installment and while I was expecting a bit more from the ending, I think Babu concluded this series quite well and I can’t wait to read more from him.

Drayden, Catrice, Charlie, and Sidney are fascinating characters and relatable and realistic in their own ways. Even though they are not always likeable and at times frustrated me with their decisions, they do have their own quirks and endearing qualities so by the end, I can honestly say that I will miss them. I’ve enjoyed being part of their journey and seeing them mature and grow into better versions of themselves. The romance is good and had a few swoony moments, but I’m still not very into it.

This has been a fantastic, amazingly emotional, and utterly exhilarating reading experience. I think Babu has created a well-written, addictive, and captivating story that I’m sure will appeal to many readers. The Insurrection is a great conclusion and this series is definitely going on my favorite reads this year. All three books have intrigue, action, friendship, drama, suspense, romance, and all the feels I want in a dystopian series. Really recommend this book/series!!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and author in exchange for a fair and honest review and for participating in the Blog Tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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initiation

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Everyone is equal. But no one is safe.

In a ruined world, Manhattan is now New America, a walled-in society based on equality. But the perfect facade hides a dark truth.

A timid math geek, sixteen-year-old Drayden watches his life crumble when his beloved mother is exiled. The mystery of her banishment leads him to a sinister secret: New America is in trouble, and every one of its citizens is in jeopardy.

With time running out, he enters the Initiation. It’s a test within the empty subway tunnels—a perilous journey of puzzles and deadly physical trials. Winners join the ruling Bureau and move to its safe haven. But failure means death. Can Drayden conquer the Initiation, or is salvation out of his grasp?

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mythoughts

A fast-paced, thrilling, and engrossing dystopian story 

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A fast-paced, heart-pounding, and engrossing dystopian tale, The Initiation by Chris Babu is an intense and emotional wild ride that had me on edge.

Sixteen-year-old Drayden lives in Manhattan, New York which is now New America, a walled-in society divided into 4 different zones. When his mother unexpectedly gets exiled by the Bureau, Drayden sets out on a mission to discover the truth behind her banishment and enters the Initiation, a test with dangerous puzzles and physical trials. Winners of the Initiation will join the Bureau and move into their safe zone, but those who don’t will face death. Will Drayden succeed and find what he’s looking for?

Dystopian stories are some of my favorites to read and this one definitely does not disappoint. The writing is easy to read and very engaging. It didn’t take very long for me to be hooked and get into the story. I like the world-building, the pacing, the thrills, the action, and just never really knowing what was going to happen had me flipping through the pages. While it’s full of excitement and suspense, there are also some nice emotional and lighthearted moments. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but the final challenge had me completely clutching my heart and hoping that everyone would be okay.

I adore Drayden and I like the rest of the characters. They were all quite interesting, realistic, and fun to get to know. However, if I’m being completely honest, they did from time to time get a little annoying and immature. But then again, they are teenagers so it’s kind of expected. I didn’t dislike them, just got a little frustrated with them sometimes. I did like the friendship and the dynamic between the characters, but I’m not a big fan of the romance/love triangle.

All in all, The Initiation by Chris Babu is a fascinating and fantastic dystopian story that hit all the feels for me and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I like the writing style, the world-building is intriguing, the plot is gripping, and the characters are realistic and likeable enough. There’s action, teen drama, suspense, and moments that will make you think. If you love dystopian books like Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent, then this book is perfect for you.

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expedition

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THEY SURVIVED THE INITIATION. NOW THE REAL TEST BEGINS.

Drayden and his friends thought nothing could be harder than the Initiation. Little did they know it had only been a warmup for the challenge that lay ahead.

With New America’s situation dire, Drayden and the pledges venture out into the unexplored world outside the walls, escorted by a team of elite Guardians. The group seeks to contact another civilization in what remains of Boston, but Drayden has secret goals of his own.

Dangers abound in the real world, including Aeru, the deadly superbug that wiped out humanity. While they battle the elements of a desolate landscape, a power struggle emerges within their ranks. The Guardians seem to be carrying out a covert mission themselves, and the quest turns everything they thought they knew about New America upside down.

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mythoughts

An action-paced, suspenseful, emotional and terrific sequel!

4halfhearts

With plenty of breathtaking action, nail-biting suspense, awesome thrills and unexpected surprises, The Expedition by Chris Babu is even better than its predecessor and I absolutely can’t get enough!

I’m not so sure if I should be reading dystopian books at a time like this, but I’m addicted. While the idea and concept are nothing new and seem a bit familiar with other dystopian books I’ve read, Babu makes it his own and takes readers on an amazingly twisty and thrilling ride. I think it’s imaginative, interesting, and such a well-written story.

Drayden and his friends survived The Initiation, but the tests are far from being over. Now, they must go outside the walls and face new dangers such as Aeru, the deadly superbug that wiped out humanity. With secrets, lies, and unknown threats, can Drayden and his friends live through their expedition?

I think this is an amazing sequel and I enjoyed a bit more than the first. There’s just more of everything in The Expedition and we get to see Drayden and his friends explore the outside world and face new dangers which made the story even more thrilling and entertaining. The writing is superb and addictive. The world-building is great, and I enjoyed seeing the outside world. The pacing is amazing and there was never a dull moment. There’s plenty of action, danger, secrets, excitement, drama, and romance (still don’t really like the love triangle, but it has its moments). There are some unexpected surprises and never knowing what would happen next or who to trust had me holding my breath and I loved it. I really like the character development and getting to know each character a bit more was interesting and fun. I liked the friendships and enjoyed seeing Drayden and the gang go through every ordeal. Again, I won’t get into details and ruin the fun for you, but this is a series you won’t want to miss.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I can honestly say that this series is turning out to be so awesome that it’s most likely going to my favorite list. The Expedition is well-written, action-packed, emotional, and a terrific sequel that will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you wanting more.

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Instagram Features

Tuesday, February 11th: Instagram: @bluntscissorsreviews

Friday, February 14th: Instagram: @my_book_journey_

Sunday, February 16th: Instagram: @createexploreread

Monday, February 17th: Instagram: @sweetbookobsession

Tuesday, February 18th: Instagram: @bibliovirgo

Wednesday, February 19th: Instagram: @bookishly_tiff

Wednesday, February 19th: Instagram: @thecityofdarkclockwork

Friday, February 21st: Instagram: @dropandgivemenerdy

Saturday, February 22nd: Instagram: @novelknight

Wednesday, February 26th: Instagram: @theshybooks

Wednesday, February 28th: Instagram: @books_with_bethany

Review Stops

Monday, February 3rd: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Tuesday, February 4th: Write – Read – Life

Wednesday, February 5th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog

Wednesday, February 12th: Instagram: @sjthroughthelookingglass

Thursday, February 13th: The Loyal Book

Friday, February 14th: Instagram: the.magicalpages

Monday, February 17th: Openly Bookish

Tuesday, February 18th: Instagram: @pink.dove.reads

Wednesday, February 19th: PNW Pixie

Monday, February 24th: Shelf-Rated

Tuesday, February 25th: Instagram: @jennblogsbooks

Thursday, February 27th: Buried Under Books

Friday, February 28th: jenabrownwrites

Sunday, March 8th: Instagram: @bookcrazyblogger

Monday, March 16th: My Guilty Obsession

Tuesday, March 20th: Sincerely Karen Jo

TBD: Monday, March 9th: Jathan & Heather

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abouttheauthor

Chris Babu AP

Chris Babu is a lifelong math and science geek, with a math degree from MIT. For nineteen years, he worked as a bond trader on Wall Street. Now he writes full-time, indulging his love of young adult books. He splits his time between New York City and the east end of Long Island, where he lives with his wife Michelle, daughter Lily, and Great Dane Buddy. He’s the author of The Initiation and The Expedition, and can be found at chrisbabu.com.

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authorlinks

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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Thanks for stopping by lovelies. Be safe, stay home, read plenty of amazing books and tackle those TBRs, and most of all… spend time with your family and loved ones.

Take care and happy reading!!!

sincerelykjologo

 

 

Book Blitz – Million Miles Away by Alice Bane

Million Miles Away
Alice Bane
(Million Miles, #1)
Publication date: October 5th 2019
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Science Fiction

For the past year, sleep paralysis has been little more than a thorn in Natalia’s side. That is, until she meets Korin, a strange but beautiful alien being who makes her question everything she knows about the universe.

Life-changing love almost feels like an invasion.

I won’t bore you with details about the mysterious medical issues I’ve had over the last year;

the sudden severe allergies to food and medication, the sleep paralysis. All I’ll tell you is that they turned my life upside down.

But I’m a rational person.

Naturally, I assumed that my mind was playing tricks on me when I saw the strange figures standing over me.

But it felt so freakishly real;

especially one face in particular that always stayed with me long after I woke up.

Something about him always drew me in and I knew he was different. He made me feel different.

All my life, romance has felt like something that was reserved for everyone but me. I’d accepted that the only love in my life would be experienced through my artwork.

Now I’m questioning everything I know about myself, about reality, and especially about love.

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AMAZ0NBARNES AND NOBLEiBOOKSKOBO

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The girls would always tease me about how put together my life was. Sure, it looked good on paper; top-rated artist in my department, an amazing house which I always kept immaculate, and when I wasn’t working, I was at the gym. They seemed to think that I had a perfect life. They had no idea how much I envied them. They both had incredible relationships with gorgeous men who doted on them endlessly. They were always commenting on how jealous they were of my body, but they also never missed a chance to eat delicious foods that I couldn’t so much as smell without getting sick. They didn’t realize that my house was always clean because it was empty and sterile; just like the rest of my life.

I didn’t even have a pet. Ever since little Ivan died, I accepted that I wasn’t pet owner material. If I couldn’t keep a goldfish alive, what chance did I have with a more complex and emotionally dependent animal? Besides, with my work schedule, it would be cruel to even try.

“Before we get started with what we’ve got on today, I need to ask you guys a really important favor,” Abiola said, circling the desk to take both mine and Laura’s hands in hers. “The two of you have been such a huge part of my life. You’ve been there for me through all my family drama and I couldn’t love you more if you were my flesh and blood sisters.”

“Abi,” Laura pushed out her bottom lip. “That’s the sweetest thing you could possibly say.”

“Well, I would be so honored if the two of you would be my bridesmaids this spring. Please say yes!”

The three of us all wrapped our arms around each other in a sickeningly sweet display of female solidarity. I forced a smile and swallowed the lump in my throat as I imagined walking down the aisle on the arm of some random groomsman who had a wife or girlfriend somewhere in the church. This would be the second time I was a bridesmaid at someone’s wedding. The old saying ‘three times a bridesmaid, never a bride’ rang out in my mind.

“I would love to be a bridesmaid at your wedding,” Laura crooned.

I mustered the minimal amount of excitement I could get away with for the situation and said, “Me too. I love you, woman,” then patted Abiola on the back.

Abiola nodded and wiped at eyeliner from beneath her watering eyes. She was an old soul with a soft heart. She spent her weekends volunteering at a children’s group home. That was where she met her fiancé Trevor, and they bonded over their dysfunctional family situations. They would probably adopt a bunch of foster kids right after their wedding and live happily ever after. She deserved that; it was all she ever wanted.

“Okay ladies,” Abiola clapped her hands. “Today we’re looking for something we can use for the promotion of the OSA campus, which will be opening next year in Portland, Oregon. Boss says our primary focus is to attract engineering and architectural students for the Lunar-retreat that’s in the works.”

“So, where do we start?” Laura said, looking right at me.

“I am going to need to work up some concept drawings for the Lunar Resort. Also, if you could give me the clearest photos of the most beautiful views the Lunar Surface has to offer, that would be cool to show exactly what the students should be aspiring to be a part of. I want to see some dramatic landscapes with visible craters, maybe some rock formations. Anything to pull people in.”

“I’m on it,” Laura nodded and sat down at her touch responsive computer.

“I’ll go to engineering to get permission to use blueprints of the resort that you can use to make the concept drawings,” Abiola said, then turned and headed towards the elevator.

It was an exciting project. I used to fantasize that by the time I was ready to retire, I would be able to cash in on all the vacation time I had accrued and maybe even spend a few of my golden years at that resort. The thought of waking up in the morning and looking out the window to see the Earth just as we see the moon from down here always gave me a sense of calm.

Four hours later, all final decisions had been made on what I wanted to use on the project. Right on cue, my trusty assistants started complaining that they were starving to death.

“If I don’t get some corned beef nachos in me in the next ten minutes, I might actually die,” Laura said and stood up dramatically from her desk.

“I want waffles and bacon,” Abiola rubbed her belly.

I sighed at the memory of bacon; I would probably just have some raw vegetables and berries. I was still looking at my screen and inspecting one of the photos, trying to decide on how I would alter the image to bring it to life. My eyes burned. I clenched them shut and rubbed them, forcing them to rest. Eye strain was the enemy and this day was proving to be particularly difficult since I had hardly slept the night before. I couldn’t shake my anxiety about today’s social gathering after work. Stress and lack of sleep usually meant a big fat migraine, which was the last thing I needed at Laura’s party.

“I’m going to head to the chill room. I need a nap more than anything.”

“You better be rested for tonight’s festivities,” Laura wagged her finger at me.

“I’ll bring my party face, I promise,” I said. I stood up but couldn’t stop the oncoming yawn. “The fatigue is killing me.”

“Yeah, no coffee or sugar in your morning will do that to you,” Abiola said with a shake of her head. “I don’t know how you do it.”

“Well, it’s easy since a cup of coffee could put me in the hospital again, I guess.”

“Jesus,” Abiola pressed her fist to her mouth. “I didn’t mean to…”

“It’s fine, Abi,” I assured her. “I just need to get a little rest.”

The two girls headed down to the food court while I made my way to the sleeping pods. White, plush, and stacked like a honeycomb, they were an inviting image that screamed comfort. I smiled and breathed a sigh of relief to find my favorite lower level pod was unoccupied. Turning on the sound system, I selected a playlist I knew I could sleep through. Sometimes I would choose guided meditation tracks or audiobooks. Today’s selection was soft cello. Something about the deep tones helped me unwind no matter what was on my mind. I settled in, turning on the heated cushions and closing my eyes.

I practiced the deep breathing exercises the doctor had taught me as I pictured myself floating through a dark endless sky toward the moon’s surface. The pictures I had looked at for over four hours served to be the subject of my meditation. I inhaled deeply, focusing on relaxing my arms and legs. Exhaling, I imagined moving further out into space. In… and out…

As soon as sleep found me, I was swept up in a flurry of blinding light. My stomach turned as the light began strobing violently, causing me to feel disoriented. My body tensed as I realized it had been several weeks since I’d had an episode. Right on schedule, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Oh no, no, no, no… I can’t deal with this right now, not at work!

I struggled to wake myself, I couldn’t move. The cold sensation of a smooth metallic surface beneath me was confusing. I felt my fingertips twitch as I tried desperately to flail any and all limbs that might respond to my will, but my body remained where it was. I strained to sit up or scream, but I couldn’t even open my mouth. I was trapped, overwhelmed by the weight of my chest collapsing in on itself. If I didn’t put every ounce of will I possessed into sucking air through my nostrils, I had a very real fear that my body would simply shut down, leaving my body as a cold stiff corpse which might be found hours later in my cozy little pod. Filling my lungs with intention, I gasped for air, breath after panicked breath, hoping someone would notice and wake me.

The strobing intensified for what felt like several minutes and when it finally stopped, there remained a constant blinding light that made my eyes water. Tears streamed from the outer corners of my eyes into my ears.

“Help… me…” I managed to whisper to no one in particular.

From the edge of my vision, a blurry figure leaned over me.

“Please,” I sobbed, trying to turn my head to get a better look at who it was, but I couldn’t.

My chest burned as my heart pounded out of control. I tried to calm myself by reciting the scientific facts about what I knew was happening.

During REM sleep, your muscles are essentially turned off to keep you from sleepwalking. When a person wakes up during REM, they are fully conscious but completely paralyzed. Usually, physical stimulation from someone rubbing or shaking them will pull the victim out of the purgatorial state. Unfortunately, living alone means I have no one to rescue me during these episodes, which can sometimes last for hours.

“Just close your eyes. Everything will be okay,” a distorted voice spoke through the fog of my half-conscious state.

Maybe my brain is morphing the cello music into a voice. Sleep paralysis is often accompanied by waking dreams or hallucinations, after all.

I thought I could force myself to come out of it but, instead, I moved even deeper into unconsciousness. It wasn’t like falling, but more like being underwater and sinking slowly. I struggled against what felt like a chemically induced calm. I tried again to force myself awake but couldn’t. The darkness swallowed me up and I finally surrendered to it.

To my surprise, I suddenly found myself vividly aware of two things; one, the fact that I was breathing without much effort, and two, I was no longer in my cushioned sleeping pod, but rather stretched out flat on my back on a cold metal surface. All efforts to move just made me realize that what I was experiencing was very different from the sleep paralysis I was familiar with. I could move my fingers and flex my wrists and feet. There were actual physical restraints fastened around my wrists, neck, forehead, and ankles that were preventing me from moving.

Blinking hard, I strained to look around at my surroundings. The entire room was reflective as if every surface and object was made from surgical steel. It was shockingly cold, almost like the inside of a walk-in refrigerator. I grunted, twisting my wrists in hopes that I could slip out the straps.

There was a continuous hum that was so low I didn’t hear it so much as felt it vibrating through my entire body. There was a spherical light that seemed to be floating in the air a few feet over me. The ceiling was high above that and almost too dark for me to make out anything but the vague shape of what might have been a reflection of myself and the rest of the room around me. I strained to see past the light so I could study what else I could make out in the reflective ceiling. My heart pounded in my ears as my attention was drawn to a distorted human shape in the darkness at my side.

A chill spread through my body as I realized that someone, or something, was quietly watching me struggle but I couldn’t for the life of me work out who, as the silhouette disappeared from my view the moment I noticed it. Even when I turned my eyes as far as I could, the dark corners of the room remained completely obscured. Regardless of the deafening silence and the fact that I couldn’t see anyone, I knew someone was there.

 

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