A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Summary:
Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.
Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret—one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life—or rescue it from annihilation.

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Review:
I was gifted this book from a friend off of my wishlist. I went into it not knowing much, but I’d heard really good things. I assumed from the little bit that I did know that this was going to be a space opera of sorts. But it felt to me more like a murder mystery set in space and filled with politics. I listened to the audiobook and I think that led to most of my feelings about this book.
I don’t think I can really even talk about the characters all that much because I can’t remember half their names. I think this is because I listened to the audio. The characters have unusual names like 3 Sea Grass and 6 Direction. This is all a part of the culture on the planet that the main character travels to for her new job. I mostly liked the characters. They were quirky and made the story fun.
The politics and mystery were the main focus of this story. Someone has killed the main characters predecessor. She’s been sent as his replacement and she is determined to figure out what happened even though she has a huge gap in her knowledge. So, she’s thrust into political maneuverings that she has little to no information about. She spends most of the book trying to put the pieces together (hence the murder mystery comment earlier in this review.) I thought the way she and her new friends put the pieces together was interesting. It didn’t all fall into her lap. She was a really active protagonist and I thought that kept the pace of the story feeling like it was fast-paced. The politics come into the story because she’s an ambassador for the government of the planet she’s just arrived on. The previous ambassador was murdered and it all has to do with local politics. The idea that there were two sides fighting was easy to understand, but when it got more complicated than that with all the different offices and departments it was hard to keep them all straight. Again, I think this is because I listened to the audiobook.
Overall, this was a good book and I think I would have enjoyed it significantly more if I’d read it in a different format. I’m not sure if I’ll continue the series, but if I do, I’ll definitely read the synopsis of the second book before I start.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman

Summary:
The Blood Moon rises. The Blood Veil falls. The Tournament begins.
Every generation, at the coming of the Blood Moon, seven families in the remote city of Ilvernath each name a champion to compete in a tournament to the death.
The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world–one thought long depleted.
This year, thanks to a salacious tell-all book, the seven champions are thrust into worldwide spotlight, granting each of them new information, new means to win, and most importantly: a choice – accept their fate or rewrite their story.
But this is a story that must be penned in blood.

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Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I was a bit disappointed by All of Us Villains, honestly. It’s pitched as “Hunger Games but with magic” which isn’t wrong, but I just didn’t love it.
We meet Alistair first. He’s supposed to be a monster. This is a self-given title as well as one that’s been thrust upon him by his family and the rest of the town. But his actions and feelings don’t support that title at all. We’re told he’s a monster but we’re not shown anything monstrous from him. The same goes for Briony except in the opposite direction. She claims to want to be a hero when she’s wanted a place as one of the seven champions and to win the tournament her whole life. But when she’s not chosen, she does some pretty monstrous things. We’re shown that she’s a monster even if she’s whiney and pathetic about it.
As for the other characters, I just didn’t care about them. I didn’t care about the romance between two of the points of view, I didn’t care about their struggles or any of it. They all knew what they were getting into with being champions of their family and going into the tournament. I was intrigued by what Briony was trying to accomplish, but not enough.
I think the magic could have been really interesting, with the magic that’s stored in stones to be used at a later time. And the stored magic needs to be carefully crafted with the risk of damage to the caster a possibility. But the silly names for the spells really took me out of the story every time they were used.
Overall, I wanted to like this story more than I did. I didn’t really like any of the characters because we’re told they are one thing but they act completely against that. I think the setting was an interesting one that was entirely overlooked. Finally, the ending really put me off. They never finished the tournament one way or the other. So many things were left still up in the air and the story felt like it just cut off before it was actually supposed to be over.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda. 

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen

Summary:
Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love–and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself.
The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed.
Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.
Margaret Owen, author of The Merciful Crow series, crafts a delightfully irreverent retelling of “The Goose Girl” about stolen lives, thorny truths, and the wicked girls at the heart of both.

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Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I have to be honest. I only requested this book because of my friend Avhlee over at Tea Cups and Torn Pages. She loves Owen’s books and was fangirling about this one in the group chat for long enough that when I saw it on NetGalley, I had to request it.
I’m so glad that I did because I really, really enjoyed this book. The story follows Vanja, who was given to the Low Gods Death and Fortune when she was just a small child. She was the thirteenth child of the thirteenth child, so her birth mother believed her to be bad luck. Once Vanja got to a certain age, she couldn’t stay with Death and Fortune (titled as godmothers to Vanja) anymore, so they found her a position in a castle where she met more mistreatment. Vanja has led a hard life and because of that she has quite a sizable chip on her shoulder. She steals her mistress’s (Gisele) life while traveling and proceed to steal from the rich people she must be around while playing the role of Gisele. But she crosses the wrong Low God and is cursed for her greed. On top of that, a junior prefect arrives looking for the thief known as the “Red Penny” (who is Vanja).
This is a Goose Girl retelling, but that doesn’t actually mean anything to me because I’m not familiar with the original Goose Girl story. So, I can’t speak to the retelling aspect of the story. But I loved Vanja. She’s been treated poorly her entire life, so who could really blame her for finally taking things into her own hands to secure her future? Certainly not me. But even further, the mystery and magic surrounding the case that Vanja and the junior prefect team up to solve was a fascinating one. Owen did an incredibly job of weaving all the mysteries in the story together. How was Vanja going to break the curse? Who was trying to kill princess Gisele? There were lots of questions and the suspense of finding the answers was really well done. I also just plain liked Vanja. She does whatever she needs to survive. But she’s incredibly clever and resilient.
Without going into too many details because I don’t want to spoil anything, this book really had it all. There was a romance between two women. There was a romance for Vanja. There was a sister-like relationship that was pretty fractured at the start of the story that we got to see slowly mended. There was murder and mystery. There was magic and fascinating world building. I loved the idea of the Low Gods and their magic. I really loved everything about this book. There wasn’t a single moment that I thought, “oh this book would be better if XYZ.” I really loved this book and I highly recommend it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth: 18 Adult Science Fiction Recommendations

SciFiMonth 2021 (1-30 November): Words full of hope and threat, like the stars
ARTWORK by Liu Zishan from 123RF.com
QUOTE from Babylon’s Ashes by James S A Corey

Hi, lovelies! I’m back one more time before the end of the month wrap up to share some of my favorite adult science fiction books with you all. This is the final part of my science fiction recommendations by age range. I really love adult sci-fi so there are, in my opinion, some excellent books on this list.

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Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
“A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand. Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – the object’s origins, architects, and purpose unknown. But some can never stop searching for answers.
Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history’s most perplexing discovery-and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?”

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This is How You Lose the Time War by Amar El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
“Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future. Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war.”

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Year One by Nora Roberts 
“It began on New Year’s Eve. The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed–and more than half of the world’s population was decimated. Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river–or in the ones you know and love the most. As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive. In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain. The end has come. The beginning comes next.”

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Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
“Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission–and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance. Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian–while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.”

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A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers 
“It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools.
Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again.
Centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.
One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They’re going to need to ask it a lot.
Becky Chambers’ new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?”

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Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
“Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142. Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late. Their mission: return Kin to 2142, where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember. Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.
A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.”

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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
“The Carls just appeared.
Roaming through New York City at three AM, twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship—like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor—April and her best friend, Andy, make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day, April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world—from Beijing to Buenos Aires—and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight. Seizing the opportunity to make her mark on the world, April now has to deal with the consequences her new particular brand of fame has on her relationships, her safety, and her own identity. And all eyes are on April to figure out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.”

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The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
“Aiden Bishop knows the rules. Evelyn Hardcastle will die every day until he can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest at Blackheath Manor. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others. With a locked room mystery that Agatha Christie would envy, Stuart Turton unfurls a breakneck novel of intrigue and suspense. For fans of Claire North, and Kate Atkinson, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive mystery that follows one man’s race against time to find a killer, with an astonishing time-turning twist that means nothing and no one are quite what they seem.”

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The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
“Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total. On this Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now she has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security. But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.”

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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
“Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space-and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe-in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star. Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain. Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.”

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The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
“The Light Brigade: it’s what soldiers fighting the war against Mars call the ones who come back…different. Grunts in the corporate corps get busted down into light to travel to and from interplanetary battlefronts. Everyone is changed by what the corps must do in order to break them down into light. Those who survive learn to stick to the mission brief—no matter what actually happens during combat. Dietz, a fresh recruit in the infantry, begins to experience combat drops that don’t sync up with the platoon’s. And Dietz’s bad drops tell a story of the war that’s not at all what the corporate brass want the soldiers to think is going on. Is Dietz really experiencing the war differently, or is it combat madness? Trying to untangle memory from mission brief and survive with sanity intact, Dietz is ready to become a hero—or maybe a villain; in war it’s hard to tell the difference.
A worthy successor to classic stories like Downbelow StationStarship Troopers, and The Forever War, The Light Brigade is award-winning author Kameron Hurley’s gritty time-bending take on the future of war.”

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Goldilocks by Laura Lam
“The Earth is in environmental collapse. The future of humanity hangs in the balance. But a team of women are preparing to save it. Even if they’ll need to steal a spaceship to do it. Despite increasing restrictions on the freedoms of women on Earth, Valerie Black is spearheading the first all-female mission to a planet in the Goldilocks Zone, where conditions are just right for human habitation. The team is humanity’s last hope for survival, and Valerie has gathered the best women for the mission: an ace pilot who is one of the only astronauts ever to have gone to Mars; a brilliant engineer tasked with keeping the ship fully operational; and an experienced doctor to keep the crew alive. And then there’s Naomi Lovelace, Valerie’s surrogate daughter and the ship’s botanist, who has been waiting her whole life for an opportunity to step out of Valerie’s shadow and make a difference. The problem is that they’re not the authorized crew, even if Valerie was the one to fully plan the voyage. When their mission is stolen from them, they steal the ship bound for the new planet. But when things start going wrong on board, Naomi begins to suspect that someone is concealing a terrible secret — and realizes time for life on Earth may be running out faster than they feared…”

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Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
“In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.
“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”
Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her—a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda. The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.”

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown
“Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.”

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To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
“Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds. Now she’s awakened a nightmare. During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move. As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human. While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope…”

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Seven Devils by Elizabeth May & Laura Lam
“When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray. Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated. When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings. Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die.”

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Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee
“Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint. One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers. But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics. What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight…”

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Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
“Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.
Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.
Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.
Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own. Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.”

There we have it. My final list of recommendations. Much like with my YA recommendations, I read these in varying formats, so some of these have really excellent audiobooks. What are some of your favorite adult science fiction stories? Share them with me in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi

Summary:
After Séverin’s seeming betrayal, the crew is fractured. Armed with only a handful of hints, Enrique, Laila, Hypnos and Zofia must find their way through the snarled, haunted waterways of Venice, Italy to locate Séverin.
Meanwhile, Séverin must balance the deranged whims of the Patriarch of the Fallen House and discover the location of a temple beneath a plague island where the Divine Lyre can be played and all that he desires will come to pass.
With only ten days until Laila expires, the crew will face plague pits and deadly masquerades, unearthly songs and the shining steps of a temple whose powers might offer divinity itself… but at a price they may not be willing to pay.
Returning to the dark and glamorous 19th century world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with the final riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever.

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Review:
The Bronzed Beasts is the final installment of The Gilded Wolves trilogy. I absolutely loved the first two books in this series, but this third book was my favorite, I think. The story starts off right after the ending of the second book. I liked this because the ending of that book was wild and I think I would have been a little disappointed if this book started off with a jump in time. I’m not going to go into a detailed summary because I always try to avoid spoilers, plus, there’s the official synopsis above.
Enrique, Laila, Hypnos, and Zofia have traveled once again. This time they’re in Venice. I feel like we didn’t get as much of the setting as we got in the previous books. We get a bit of action with the canals and waterways, but I feel like the story was much more character-focused. The dynamic between these four was interesting in this book. They all feel as if they’ve lost their leader for good, that their friend had finally gone too far. There was a hole in the dynamic and each of the characters was trying to figure out how to adapt to that. This was a great emotional aspect for these characters. Severin meant something to each of them. So, his apparent betrayal was handled differently by each of the four.
Severin was also in Venice. But he wasn’t with his friends. He had a plan, but things were going wrong. Severin’s emotional development was probably the most interesting because he’s struggling with vague memories of his mother, the potential power of a god, and the things he’s had to do to his closest friends. He’s just not having a good time, but he’s almost reached his goals. Having the outside perspective, I just wanted everyone to love each other again. But Chokshi made it easy to understand why Severin was doing what he was doing.
Overall, I loved this book. I love this series. Chokshi’s writing was beautiful and moving, just like all of her other books. I loved the characters so much and this book just added to that love. I am also happy to say that I was really satisfied with the way this story ended. I think it was a fitting ending, even if it wasn’t necessarily a happy ending. I will be recommending this series until the end of time.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

WWW Wednesday

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Hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer the three questions!

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young. I’m also finally so close to finishing the audio for A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon.

Antonia- I just started Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore.

What did you read most recently?

Amanda- I most recently finished Roxy by Neal Schusteran & Jarrod Schusterman and I really loved this.

Antonia- I most recently read The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson.

What will you read next?

Amanda- I’m not sure what I’m going to pick up next. I have a few options since I’ve finished my TBR jar picks and I’m on track with the Clear Your Shit Readathon quests. So, I’ll probably pick up a NetGalley arc or a 2021 release from my shelf.

Antonia- Next I think I’ll read Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.

What are your answers this week?

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Characters I Want an Update On

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is ten characters I’d love an update on now that their book is over.

August and Jane from One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Miles Halter from Looking for Alaska by John Green

All three couples from The Brown Sisters trilogy by Talia Hibbert

Grace and Yuki from Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

Amani and Maram from Mirage & Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud

Jetta from the Shadow Players trilogy by Heidi Heilig

Camino and Yaharia from Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Yumeko from the Shadow of the Fox trilogy by Julie Kagawa

Odessa and Haidee from The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

Red and Blue from This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone & Amir El-Mohtar

Who would you like updates on?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Love An Update On

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is characters I’d love an update on (where are they now that the book is over?).

Ryland and Rocky from Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Everyone from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Alina and Mal from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Carter and Sadie from The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan

April and Maya from A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

Adrian and Sydney from Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Everyone from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Eragon and Arya from The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Ember and Garret from Talon by Julie Kagawa

Malory, Dana, and Zoe from The Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts

What characters would you love to have an update on?

#SciFiMonth: 18 Young Adult Science Fiction Recommendations

SciFiMonth 2021 (1-30 November): Words full of hope and threat, like the stars
ARTWORK by Liu Zishan from 123RF.com
QUOTE from Babylon’s Ashes by James S A Corey

Hey, lovelies! I’m back for part two of my science fiction recommendations by age range. So, today I’m going to share a big list of young adult science fiction books that I read and recommend. I have read a decent amount of YA sci-fi, so get ready for a long list.

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The Final Six by Alexandra Monir
“When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition. For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk. As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.”

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This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada
“When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta’s death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world’s leading geneticist, and humanity’s best hope of beating a devastating virus. Then, hidden beneath Cole’s genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope: Lachlan created a vaccine. Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world’s genetic tech. But it’s too late to turn back. There are three billion lives at stake, two people who can save them, and one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything.”

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Internment by Samira Ahmed 
“Rebellions are built on hope.
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.”

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The Fever King by Victoria Lee
“In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia. The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear. Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.”

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
“Could you survive on your own in the wild, with every one out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.”

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Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
“Spensa’s world has been under attack for decades.
Now pilots are the heroes of what’s left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa’s dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with that of her father’s—a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa the daughter of a coward, her chances of attending Flight School slim to none. No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.”

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Zodiac by Romina Russell
“At the dawn of time, there were 13 Houses in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now only 12 remain….
Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories. When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancrian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts. Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians. But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?”

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The Disasters by M.K. England 
“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.”

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The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman
“Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years. The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there. When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all. As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.”

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The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schafer
“Two boys, alone in space.
After the first settler on Titan trips her distress signal, neither remaining country on Earth can afford to scramble a rescue of its own, and so two sworn enemies are installed in the same spaceship. Ambrose wakes up on the Coordinated Endeavor, with no memory of a launch. There’s more that doesn’t add up: Evidence indicates strangers have been on board, the ship’s operating system is voiced by his mother, and his handsome, brooding shipmate has barricaded himself away. But nothing will stop Ambrose from making his mission succeed—not when he’s rescuing his own sister. In order to survive the ship’s secrets, Ambrose and Kodiak will need to work together and learn to trust one another… especially once they discover what they are truly up against. Love might be the only way to survive.”

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Mirage by Somaiya Daud
“In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon. But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place. As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.”

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Dry by Neal Shusterman
“When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival. The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.
Until the taps run dry.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.”

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Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders
“Tina never worries about being ‘ordinary’—she doesn’t have to, since she’s known practically forever that she’s not just Tina Mains, average teenager and beloved daughter. She’s also the keeper of an interplanetary rescue beacon, and one day soon, it’s going to activate, and then her dreams of saving all the worlds and adventuring among the stars will finally be possible. Tina’s legacy, after all, is intergalactic—she is the hidden clone of a famed alien hero, left on Earth disguised as a human to give the universe another chance to defeat a terrible evil. But when the beacon activates, it turns out that Tina’s destiny isn’t quite what she expected. Things are far more dangerous than she ever assumed. Luckily, Tina is surrounded by a crew she can trust, and her best friend Rachael, and she is still determined to save all the worlds. But first she’ll have to save herself.”

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Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds
“Jamal’s best friend, Q, doesn’t know he’s about to die . . . again. He also doesn’t know that Jamal tried to save his life, rescuing him from drowning only to watch Q die later in the hospital. Even more complicated, Jamal and Q haven’t been best friends in two years—not since Jamal’s parents died in a car accident, leaving him and his sister to carry on without them. Grief swallowed Jamal whole, and he blamed Q for causing the accident. But what if Jamal could have a second chance? An impossible chance that would grant him the opportunity to say goodbye to his best friend? A new health-care technology allows Q to be reanimated—brought back to life like the old Q again. But there’s a catch: Q will only reanimate for a short time before he dies . . . forever. Jamal is determined to make things right with Q, but grief is hard to shake. And he can’t tell Q why he’s suddenly trying to be friends with him again. Because Q has no idea that he died, and Q’s mom is not about to let anyone ruin the miracle by telling him. How can Jamal fix his friendship with Q if he can’t tell him the truth?”

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Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
“When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. But then Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.”

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The Last 8 by Laura Pohl
“Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it. When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth. Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.”

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Do You Dream of Terra-Two? By Temi Oh
“When an Earth-like planet is discovered, a team of six teens, along with three veteran astronauts, embark on a twenty-year trip to set up a planet for human colonization—but find that space is more deadly than they ever could have imagined.
Have you ever hoped you could leave everything behind?
Have you ever dreamt of a better world?
Can a dream sustain a lifetime?

A century ago, an astronomer discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. She predicted that one day humans would travel there to build a utopia. Today, ten astronauts are leaving everything behind to find it. Four are veterans of the twentieth century’s space-race. And six are teenagers who’ve trained for this mission most of their lives. It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years locked in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong.”

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Adaptation by Malinda Lo
“Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now. Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded. Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed. Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.”

I read these in various formats, some eBook, some on audio, and some physically. I really enjoyed them all and highly recommend them. What’s some YA science fiction that you would recommend?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Truth of the Divine by Lindsay Ellis

Summary:
The human race is at a crossroads; we know that we are not alone, but details about the alien presence on Earth are still being withheld from the public. As the political climate grows more unstable, the world is forced to consider the ramifications of granting human rights to nonhuman persons. How do you define “person” in the first place?
Cora Sabino not only serves as the full-time communication intermediary between the alien entity Ampersand and his government chaperones but also shares a mysterious bond with him that is both painful and intimate in ways neither of them could have anticipated. Despite this, Ampersand is still keen on keeping secrets, even from Cora, which backfires on them both when investigative journalist Kaveh Mazandarani, a close colleague of Cora’s unscrupulous estranged father, witnesses far more of Ampersand’s machinations than anyone was meant to see.
Since Cora has no choice but to trust Kaveh, the two must work together to prove to a fearful world that intelligent, conscious beings should be considered persons, no matter how horrifying, powerful, or malicious they may seem. Making this case is hard enough when the public doesn’t know what it’s dealing with—and it will only become harder when a mysterious flash illuminates the sky, marking the arrival of an agent of chaos that will light an already-unstable world on fire.
With a voice completely her own and more than a million YouTube subscribers, Lindsay Ellis deepens her realistic exploration of the reality of a planet faced with the presence of extraterrestrial intelligence, probing the essential questions of humanity and decency, and the boundaries of the human mind.
While asking the question of what constitutes a “person,” Ellis also examines what makes a monster.

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Review:
Thank you to NetGalley for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I made the mistake of reading some of the reviews of the first book once I finished reading Axiom’s End. I had a lot of fun reading that book and enjoyed it without taking it too seriously. But since I did read reviews, I couldn’t help but think about the things mentioned while I was reading this sequel.
While we get more of the unique alien situation that I enjoyed from the first book, there’s more than just hinting at a romantic relationship with an alien. Some people may want that, but I do not. Something about the idea of Cora and Ampersand going from friends (potentially family members) to something more romantic made me feel uncomfortable. I was sad about this because I really loved their friendship from the first book. We do get more of that friendship at the start of this book, but it quickly turned into thoughts of more, and then they were both having mental health crises’ for essentially the rest of the book. So, I still liked the aliens in this book. I think they’re unique and seem to be well thought out. I just didn’t like the hinting at a romantic relationship.
The idea of the human/alien romance was nixed when Kaveh came into the picture. He’s a reporter for the New York Times. He’s significantly older than Cora (not my preferred romance trope, but I know many people like that). I really liked Kaveh for the first half of the book, but then things about his and Cora’s romantic relationship started to make me feel uncomfortable. He does thinks like think about how he probably shouldn’t have sex with Cora at the moment because she just had a panic attack. Or that it’s very obvious her body is saying no even when her words are telling him to do it anyway. I get that she’s consenting vocally, but she clearly needs some mental health help, and having sex with her while she’s dealing with that didn’t feel right. Small things like this happened again and again in their relationship. I was sad to feel this way because I really liked Kaveh and I wanted to be able to wholeheartedly root for his romance with Cora, but I just couldn’t with all the red flags.
The final thing I want to mention is the writing. I didn’t really notice it in the first book, but after reading reviews where it was often brought up, I couldn’t help it. The writing was not good. Ellis uses phrases like “veins clogged with vehicular cholesterol” and it totally took me out of the story having to think about these metaphors she was trying and failing to use. The one that took me out of the story the most was seeing the word “carefuller” in the book. Even my iPhone (where I’m typing this review immediately after finishing this book) is telling me that this word is incorrect. I think listening to the audiobook for the first book and the skill of the narrator didn’t make the poor writing as obvious, but I read an eARC of this one and there were so many weird metaphors and clunky sentences that I highlighted that I can’t reasonably include them all.
Overall, I finished this book instead of DNF’ing it, so I would say that I was invested enough to finish the story until the end (which was incredibly unsatisfying). I’m not sure if that says more about this book or the first one. But I liked the concept of the aliens and the conversations of the politics of “what kind of rights would humanity give to an alien species on earth.” I think Ellis did a good job with the political aspect of the idea of aliens on earth. I just don’t think, overall, that this was a very good sequel. I ended up disliking many of the characters I grew to care about in the first book. I’m not sure if there are supposed to be more installments in this series, but if so, I probably won’t continue it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis

Summary:
Truth is a human right.
It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government—and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.
Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human—and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.

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Review:
Axiom’s End was an impulse buy a few months ago when I was at Barnes & Nobel looking for new to me science fiction. I figured that Sci-Fi month was the perfect time to pick it up and read it. Plus, I think the sequel is coming out soon.
This story follows Cora, a college drop out that continually disappoints her mother and has a conspiracy theorist father (who abandoned her and her siblings). Her deadbeat dad’s latest conspiracy scoop is that the government has been hiding aliens. The twist is that Cora soon finds out that her father might have actually found something true. One thing leads to another (not sharing too many details here because this part of the story is part of what got me hooked on the story) and Cora finds herself as an interpreter to the aliens that have taken refuge on Earth. She’s the first human that they’ve actually communicated with. It was previously believed that communication wasn’t possible with them until Cora disproved that.
I really enjoyed this story. It takes place in 2007, so I loved all the nods to early 2000s culture like flip phones, a few stores different stores that were mentioned, and President Bush is a part of this story, too. I liked Cora. She had some obvious issues with her father, but she loved her younger siblings and I missed them when they were no longer a main part of the story. She was brave and tried to do the right thing.
Now, the aliens. They were definitely interesting. I thought the parts about their culture were fascinating. I loved learning more about their history, even though it was brutal at times. It was clearly well thought out and very detailed. I’m interested to see what we might learn about them in the next book, but also, I’m curious if we will actually see more of them outside of the ones that have taken refuge on Earth.
Overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I think a huge part of the was the audiobook narrator. She did an incredible job telling this story and I will absolutely be seeking out more audiobooks narrated by her. I’m honestly not sure that I would have liked this book as much as I did if I’d read it physically. I also didn’t totally love the romantic feeling I got from Cora and the alien she interpreted for. I think that might just be me though. I still can’t quite tell if their bond is supposed to be more similar to a sibling bond or a romantic one. I guess I will find out in the next book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth: 5 Middle Grade Science Fiction Recommendations

SciFiMonth 2021 (1-30 November): Words full of hope and threat, like the stars
ARTWORK by Liu Zishan from 123RF.com
QUOTE from Babylon’s Ashes by James S A Corey

Hi, lovelies! I thought it would be fun this year to talk about the science fiction, but by age range. I like to read middle grade books, YA books, and adult books. So, I have recommendations and TBR lists for all three age ranges. I have compiled a list of recommendations for each age range. For my today’s recommendations, I’m including some middle grade sci-fi books that are also on my TBR list because I haven’t read as much MG science fiction as I’d like.

Middle Grade Sci-Fi Recommendations

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Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
“When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared. Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk. A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in this mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.”

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The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix 
“The Greystone kids thought they knew. Chess has always been the protector over his younger siblings, Emma loves math, and Finn does what Finn does best—acting silly and being adored. They’ve been a happy family, just the three of them and their mom. But everything changes when reports of three kidnapped children reach the Greystone kids, and they’re shocked by the startling similarities between themselves and these complete strangers. The other kids share their same first and middle names. They’re the same ages. They even have identical birthdays. Who, exactly, are these strangers? Before Chess, Emma, and Finn can question their mom about it, she takes off on a sudden work trip and leaves them in the care of Ms. Morales and her daughter, Natalie. But puzzling clues left behind lead to complex codes, hidden rooms, and a dangerous secret that will turn their world upside down.”

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Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
“THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD MIN comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds. When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name. Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.”

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Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
“Luke has never been to school. He’s never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend’s house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend. Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He’s lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family’s farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside. Then, one day Luke sees a girl’s face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he’s met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows – does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford not to?”

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The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siiegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, & Boys Sun
“The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves—and more to their worlds—than meets the eye. . . .Oona Lee, the clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine. An Tzu, a boy from the poorest slums, has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations. Jax Amboy is the star athlete who is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends? When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!”

Middle Grade Sci-Fi TBR

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Under Their Skin by Margaret Peterson Haddix
“From New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix comes the first book in a brand-new thrilling series about twins who are on a quest to discover the secrets being kept by their new family. Nick and Eryn’s mom is getting remarried, and the twelve-year-old twins are skeptical when she tells them their lives won’t change much. Well, yes, they will have to move. And they will have a new stepfather, stepbrother, and stepsister. But Mom tells them not to worry. They won’t ever have to meet their stepsiblings. This news puzzles Nick and Eryn, so the twins set out on a mission to find out who these kids are – and why they’re being kept hidden.”

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Where the River Runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari
“Shifa and her brother, Themba, live in Kairos City with their father, Nabil. The few live in luxury, whilst the millions like them crowd together in compounds, surviving on meagre rations and governed by Freedom Fields – the organisation that looks after you, as long as you opt in. The bees have long disappeared; instead children must labour on farms, pollinating crops so that the nation can eat. But Nabil remembers Before and he knows that the soul needs to be nourished as much as the body so, despite the risk, he teaches his children how to grow flowers on a secret piece of land hidden beneath the train tracks. The farm Shifa and Themba are sent to is hard and cruel. Themba won’t survive there and Shifa comes up with a plan to break them out. But they have no idea where they are – their only guide is a map drawn from the ramblings of a stranger. The journey ahead is fraught with danger, but Shifa is strong and knows to listen to her instincts – to let hope guide them home. The freedom of a nation depends on it . . .”

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The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
“There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita. But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children – among them Petra and her family – have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race. Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet – and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard – or purged them altogether. Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?”

These are my recommendations for today. Keep an eye out early next week for my YA recommendations and then later next week for my adult recommendations. Is there any middle grade science fiction that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Summary:
The United States went belly up 45 years ago when our power grid was wiped out. Too few live in well-protected isolation while the rest of us scrape by on the margins. The only thing that matters is survival. By any means. At any cost.
Nina is an information broker with a mission: to bring hope to the darkest corners of Atlanta. She and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to help those in need. But altruism doesn’t pay the bills—raiding vaults and collecting sensitive data is where the real money is.
Knox is a bitter, battle-weary supersoldier who leads the Silver Devils, an elite strike squad that chose to go AWOL rather than slaughter innocents. Before the Devils leave town for good, they need a biochem hacker to stabilize the experimental implants that grant their superhuman abilities.
The problem? Their hacker’s been kidnapped. And the ransom for her return is Nina. Knox has the perfect bait for a perfect trap: a lost Library of Congress server. The data could set Nina and her team up for years…
If they live that long.

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Review:
Deal with the Devil follows a pretty large cast of characters as they’re on a mission to find a library of information that’s thought to be lost. Except only half the team knows the truth of their mission. The team is full of genetically modified and highly trained individuals, some smart, some skilled at shooting or fighting.
Going into this book all I really knew was “mercenary librarians” which was totally the selling point. But I was surprised to find that this story was much more of a romance novel than I anticipated. Knox and his team are trying to rescue their friend, Luna, who has been kidnapped. The price for Luna’s freedom is the delivery of Nina to a not yet disclosed location. So, Knox convinces Nina and her team, Dani and Maya, to join with him and the rest of the Silver Devils to try to find the lost Library of Congress. Much of this book is about the two teams traveling together and getting to know one another. And even though it’s a journey filled with stops and challenges, it’s still a pretty fast-paced story. There’s danger and excitement and the occasional fallen log in the road that’s almost definitely a trap.
I genuinely enjoyed getting to know these characters. I really loved learning more about Nina, Dani, and Maya’s relationship and how they came to create their makeshift library in Atlanta. They all have their own history, their own wounds, but I liked how they worked together and how obvious it was that they cared about one another. Knox’s team was similar. They all worked together on a team named the Silver Devils, but they’ve since fled the big tech company that trained them and sent them on missions. They’ve had to do some pretty morally bad stuff, and they’re all dealing with that. But when they start to actually like Nina and her friends, their mission to turn Nina over to whoever kidnapped Luna gets more complicated than they planned for. I thought the banter and development of relationships between Nina and her team and Knox and his team was the highlight of this story. Between the romance with Nina and Knox and the constant threats of murder from Dani, I genuinely had fun reading this book.
Overall, I think this was a quick and fun story. The world was interesting and mildly terrifying because it was incredibly believable as a potential future. The characters were all entertaining and had their own distinct voices. The only thing that I didn’t like, or really just stuck out to me as odd, was the fact that every single member of both teams was incredibly attractive. Which, sure, it’s a romance-ish novel, but it was mentioned so many times that it felt a bit forced. Instead of showing me that these characters were attracted to one another (which did happen too) it was constantly talked about how stunning and beautiful and fit they all were. This sort of stopped happening after the halfway point in the book, but it was something that stood out to me that I thought was a bit odd. I did really like how the story wrapped up and how the reconciliation happened with the main romance. I’m definitely planning to continue the series and see what trouble these characters will find next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Summary:
Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.
Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.
Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

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Review:
This is another audiobook that I read for spooky season. I didn’t get all my reviews written and scheduled in time, so we’re keeping the spooky content into November. The Sun Down Motel was confirmation that I love the ‘are the ghosts real or not’ trope in horror/mystery. Another example of this that I liked this season was Home Before Dark by Riley Sager.
The Sun Down Motel also had another common element with a few other books I read this October. It tells two stories: one in the past and one in the present. In the present, we are following Carly who finds herself in Fell, New York. The same town that her aunt disappeared in 30 years ago, an event that’s haunted her family since. In the past, we follow Carly’s aunt, Viv, and we get to see what really happened to her all those years ago in that same small town. I loved the back and forth between the past and the present. I loved that the events in the present seemed to mirror and reflect those that happened in the past.
I liked Carly and Viv. Both of them made some pretty poor choices, but I liked them anyway. They’re both head strong women that just couldn’t back down from a mystery. Carly’s mystery was her aunt and Viv’s mystery was the serial killer in Fell.
I absolutely adored the Sun Down Motel. It was such a weird setting, but I loved it anyway. I thought the ghosts that were there were completely fascinating and I really loved learning more about them and how they ended up stuck there.
Overall, I loved this book and I’ll be picking up more of St. James’s books in the future. She tells a suspenseful and emotional story that you just cannot put down until you manage to find every last detail and secret. I loved the setting, the characters, the pace of the story. I loved this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

WWW Wednesday

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Hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer the three questions!

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw. I’m also reading Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer and I’m listening to A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon.

Antonia- I’m currently reading Furyborn by Claire Legrand.

What did you read most recently?

Amanda- Recently, I finished Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha.

Antonia- I most recently read The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson.

What will you read next?

Amanda- Next, I’m planning to pick up Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee.

Antonia- Next I think I’ll read Winterkeep by Kristen Cashore.

Share your answers or your post with us!