#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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fullsizeoutput_3273.jpeg
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!

#SciFiMonth: Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Books to Read if You Liked Andy Weir’s Books

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 my ten books to read if you liked X.

I’ve chosen to do some comparisons to Andy Weir’s books. He wrote The Martian, Artemis, and Project Hail Mary. Which are all science fiction stories, but each are a sort of different sub-genre of sci-fi. I loved all three of his books and I’m excited to share some books that I think are good comp titles.

The Martian

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer

Hold Out by Jeffery Kluger

Artemis

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

Project Hail Mary

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

So, these aren’t perfect, but I think if you liked the book they’re listed under, these comp titles might be books you would enjoy too.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth: Amanda’s Science Fiction Audiobook 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

Hello, lovelies! Last year, I recommended audiobooks (find that post here!) I have read some really great audiobooks since then, so, I thought I would do another science fiction audiobook recommendations list.

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Unchosen by Katharyn Blair
“For Charlotte Holloway, the world ended twice. The first was when her childhood crush, Dean, fell in love—with her older sister. The second was when the Crimson, a curse spread through eye contact, turned the majority of humanity into flesh-eating monsters. Neither end of the world changed Charlotte. She’s still in the shadows of her siblings. Her popular older sister, Harlow, now commands forces of survivors. And her talented younger sister, Vanessa, is the Chosen One—who, legend has it, can end the curse. When their settlement is raided by those seeking the Chosen One, Charlotte makes a reckless decision to save Vanessa: she takes her place as prisoner. The word spreads across the seven seas—the Chosen One has been found. But when Dean’s life is threatened and a resistance looms on the horizon, the lie keeping Charlotte alive begins to unravel. She’ll have to break free, forge new bonds, and choose her own destiny if she has any hope of saving her sisters, her love, and maybe even the world. Because sometimes the end is just a new beginning.”

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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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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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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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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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Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
“Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead. For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.”

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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.”

These are some science fiction audiobooks that I’ve enjoyed since last year. Do you have any sci-fi audiobooks that you’ve loved recently?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

Summary:
Hugo award-nominated author Stina Leicht has created a take on space opera for fans of The Mandalorian and Cowboy Bebop in this high-stakes adventure.
Persephone Station, a seemingly backwater planet that has largely been ignored by the United Republic of Worlds, becomes the focus for the Serrao-Orlov Corporation as the planet has a few secrets the corporation tenaciously wants to exploit.
Rosie—owner of Monk’s Bar, in the corporate town of West Brynner—caters to wannabe criminals and rich Earther tourists, of a sort, at the front bar. However, exactly two types of people drink at Monk’s back bar: members of a rather exclusive criminal class and those who seek to employ them.
Angel—ex-marine and head of a semi-organized band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins, and washed up mercenaries with a penchant for doing the honorable thing—is asked to perform a job for Rosie. What this job reveals will affect Persephone and put Angel and her squad up against an army. Despite the odds, they are rearing for a fight with the Serrao-Orlov Corporation. For Angel, she knows that once honor is lost, there is no regaining it. That doesn’t mean she can’t damned well try.

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Review:
Persephone Station follows a cast of characters that are a team of mercenaries. We follow them while they complete a job, but the job goes wrong and Angel and her team are blamed. So, they retreat to a not very well-known place for two reasons, to hide but also to protect the other people that live there.
I’m really not explaining this very well at all. But if I were to try to explain it more in-depth, I would have to go into a bunch of the world-building and more specific plot details and that’s too much for my brain right now.
So, I really liked the world-building. I think the setting of Persephone was well explained and its history was really interesting. There’s only one city where humans live on Persephone, but there’s much more to the planet than that one city. I thought the native species of Persephone was really compelling and I would have liked to have gotten to know more about them. I think Leicht pained a vivid picture of this planet and those that inhabit it. I liked the way society was portrayed. There was a lot of diversity and none of it was treated as “other.” There are lots of different characters, one of the main cast, Rosie uses they/them and another is bisexual. I’m forgetting something else too. But it was a wonderfully diverse story.
I liked all the characters. They all had different and distinct personalities. I really likes all of them, but I felt a little bit like I didn’t really get to know any of them super well because there were so many main people. I also didn’t see a whole lot of growth and development from the characters. They go through this whole ordeal but remain much the same as they were at the start of the story.
Overall, I had a great time reading this book. The world was interesting and kept my attention. The characters were funny and unique. The story was fast-paced and action packed. It was everything I want from a sci-fi story all packed into one book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

End of Year-A-Thon: Round Four!

Hello, lovelies! Can you believe we’re already almost at the end of 2021? I absolutely cannot. This year has totally flown by. There has been good and bad for me. We moved and found out that we’re having another baby. So, it’s certainly been an exciting year. As for reading, it’s been a pretty good year for me, but there are always more books to read. And to help with that, Vicky and I are bringing End of Year-A-Thon back for its fourth year! If you’ve been a follower of this blog for a while you’ll know what that is. But if you’re new here, let me explain!

End of Year-A-Thon runs from December 26th to December 31st, starting and ending at midnight in your local time zone. Vicky from What Vicky Read and I thought it would be fun to create a readathon for the final days of the year to read just a few more books. I don’t know about you, but I definitely haven’t read all the books from my ‘books I’m going to read in 2021’ lists I made back in January. I also am going to need that final push to meet my GoodReads reading challenge. So, we’ve planned five prompts to help us read those books we were definitely going to read in 2021, but haven’t yet. This is a super flexible readathon, so use the prompts or don’t, just read with us as we close out the year!

Read a book released in 2021

Read a book from a series you’ve started but haven’t finished

Read a book by an own voices author

Read one of your most recently acquired books (whether bought, borrowed, gifted, etc.)

Read a book with gold on the cover

Well, there you have it. End of Year-A-Thon is back for its fourth year and these are our five prompts for this year. You can find the End of Year-A-Thon Twitter where Vicky and I will be hosting some reading sprints and sharing other readathon related things. Let me know in the comments if you think you’ll be participating this year!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Any Sign of Life by Rae Carson

Summary:
When a teenage girl thinks she may be the only person left alive in her town—maybe in the whole world—she must rely on hope, trust, and her own resilience.
Paige Miller is determined to take her basketball team to the state championship, maybe even beyond. But as March Madness heats up, Paige falls deathly ill. Days later, she wakes up attached to an IV and learns that the whole world has perished. Everyone she loves, and all of her dreams for the future—they’re gone.
But Paige is a warrior, so she pushes through her fear and her grief. And as she gets through each day—scrounging for food, for shelter, for safety—Paige encounters a few more young survivors. Together, they might stand a chance. But as they struggle to endure their new reality, they learn that the apocalypse did not happen by accident. And that there are worse things than being alone.

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Review:
Any Sign of Life follows Paige after she wakes up to a whole new world. She remembers feeling a bit sick when she went to sleep, but she soon realizes that she was essentially in a coma for a week and that everyone she’s ever known is now dead. She leaves her home to see if she can find other survivors and the few people she does find have theories that the plague was introduced to humanity via aliens. This sounds totally weird but it was fun. This was my first time in many months reading a plague/quickly spreading illness story. I thought I would be totally fine and it wouldn’t bother me at all since I don’t usually have issues reading about things like that. But I found that I had to take a few breaks in the first 150 pages to so just to take a breath from the darkness of the story.
Despite that, once the alien twist came into the story, I really flew through it. It’s a sort about the end of the world, so it’s a bit dark. But Paige and Trey, and eventually Tanq and the others they meet were a fun group. I really liked the way things went when Paige and Trey met for the first time. It had me tearing up a little, honestly. I think the characters were all interesting and well developed. We had a pretty diverse cast too. Trey is black. Tanq is asexual. Wyatt has asthma. I would say sarcastically that all the diversity boxes were checked off, but they all were likable characters that had a purpose in the story. To me, it didn’t feel like these things were just thrown in there to claim the diversity card.
My one complaint about the story was that it was trying to do too much. I was totally on board with the world-ending flu that we later find out is caused by aliens. And even when we found out the reasoning why Trey, Tanq, and Wyatt survived, I bought it. But the twist with Paige felt like it was pushing things a little too far. I think there were so many more things that could have been explored in the story and there just wasn’t enough time to do it all. I believe this is a standalone too, so it’s not like those details we find out in the final third of the story will be explored later in the series because it isn’t one.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s not a new favorite or anything, but I had a good time reading it. It was fast paced and thrilling. It was compelling and had characters that I was easily invested in. Oh! There’s also a dog that’s super well-trained, adorable, and survives the whole book. I would definitely recommend this book to readers that enjoy YA science fiction.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth: Intergalactic Book Tag

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, friends! What is a themed blog month without a book tag, honestly? Amanda found this one from last year’s #SciFiMonth posts at Time for Tales and Tea. The original creator is Life of a Female Bibliophile to promote the book Starflight by Melissa Landers.

Space // name a book that is out of this world – that takes place in a world different from our own.

Amanda- A classic, I think, Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

Antonia- The Martian by Andy Weir

Black Hole // name a book that completely sucked you in.

Amanda- A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers. This is her newest series and I’m already obsessed with it.

Antonia- Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Lightspeed // name a book you are anticipating so much that you wish you could travel at lightspeed to get to it.

Amanda- The Genesis Wars by Akemi Dawn Bowman. I loved the first book so much and I definitely can’t wait for the second.

Antonia- Seven Mercies by Elizabeth May and Laura Lam

Nebula // name a book with a beautiful cover.

Amanda- A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers. It’s weird, but in a way that I can’t stop looking at.

Antonia- Seven Devils by Elizabeth May and Lauren May

Multiverse // name a companion set or spin-off series you love.

Amanda- The Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers. It’s technically a series, but each book follows different characters in different parts of this fictional universe. They’re all fantastic.

Antonia- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Gravity // name your favorite romantic pairing that seems to have gravitational pull to each other.

Amanda- Darrow and Mustang from the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown.

Antonia- Red and Blue from This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.

The Big Bang // name the book that got you started on reading.

Amanda- In regards to science fiction, Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix is what kindled my love for dystopian fiction/sci-fi.

Antonia- I’ve been reading for forever so I honestly couldn’t tell you. It started early with Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl and just grew from there.

Asteroid // name a short story or novella that you love.

Amanda- This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone & Amal El-Mohtar.

Antonia- I almost never read short stories or novellas.

Galaxy // name a book with multiple POVs.

Amanda- Seven Devils by Elizabeth May & Laura Lam.

Antonia- Winter by Marissa Meyer.

Spaceship // name a book title that would a great name for a spaceship.

Amanda- Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee.

Antonia- Artemis by Andy Weir

Considering it’s #SciFiMonth, we did our best to pick mostly science fiction books for our answers. But that wasn’t always possible. Just know that we did aim for mostly science fiction answers. Feel free to consider yourself tagged if you like this one!

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Summary:
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.
When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​
To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. I grabbed this one from a ‘read now’ email I got from NetGalley. I saw a few trusted book friends hype it up online and then saw that it was about giant fighting robots and an angry girl. So, that’s really all I knew going into the story. But I was already super interested just from those two things. There was an interesting author’s note before the start of my eARC copy of the book where the author talked a bit about how this story was inspired by the only female Empress that Chima ever had. She mentions that this book is heavily inspired by her own Chinese culture, but that specific woman in history really stuck with her and she wrote this as a retelling of sorts, of how the author thought that Empress might be as a teenage girl in the world that the author created for this story.
We follow Zetian Wu as she’s about to enlist herself as a concubine-pilot for the Chrysalis (the giant fighting robots). This is a position that many families pressure their daughters into singing up for despite knowing that most concubine pilots will die. Zetian isn’t signing up for any reason other than to kill the pilot that murdered her sister and she knows that she will probably die soon after if she succeeds. I’m not explaining the Chrysalis very well, they’re complicated machines that are gifts from the gods, and the actual science behind how they’re built isn’t really explained, but the way that they’re piloted was absolutely fascinating. When Zetian succeeds in her mission, she’s surprised that she isn’t immediately killed afterward. Instead, she’s paired with another pilot: the famous murderer. This is where the story really takes off.
Iron Widow is action-packed and will suck you into the story so quickly. Between the fighting robots and the unlikely team that Zetian finds herself in, it’s hard not to get pulled into the story until you’re spat out at the end left wondering what the heck just happened. The world-building was phenomenal. We see the world through Zetian’s eyes, so it’s easy to be angry about the way women are treated. And when she uncovers some of the military’s secrets that prove this unfair treatment, I raged right alongside the characters. I would have loved to know more about the gods of this world, but I think that’s something we will get in the next book if the ending of this one was giving any hints about what’s to come. I’d also loved to have known more about the nomads that Zetian meets (but it wouldn’t have really made sense in the story if that had happened. I just thought they were really interesting and maybe there was a bit of hinting that we will learn more in the next book.)
The characters were easy to love. Zetian is angry. She’s angry that her sister is dead. She’s angry about how her family treats her. She’s angry about how her mother and grandmother are treated. She’s angry about the way the world treats women. Then she realizes that she just might be able to do something about that unfair treatment. I loved her. I was angry right along with her. The author made it so easy to feel the things that Zetian was feeling. There was a smidge of a polyamorous relationship that I absolutely was rooting for. It starts off between Zetian and her second pilot, but also there’s a romance between Zetian and another character. But both are accepting that she might love them both until they realize that all three have feelings for one another. I wanted more of the three of them. I loved the way the romance was developed. We got to see a slow formation of the dynamic between the three of them, but I wanted more of it. It felt cut short, but I’m hoping that we will get more of that in the next book.
Overall, I cannot say enough good things about this book. It was beautiful and enraging, compelling, and fast-paced. It had characters that were easy to root for and love. There was a romance that I couldn’t help but get invested in. Plus the giant fighting robots, of course.

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 finally managed to get my ‘currently reading’ shelf under control. I’m currently buddy reading Jade War by Fonda Lee with Books in the Skye. I’ve also, once again, picked up the audiobook for 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- I most recently finished A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow (and loved it!)

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

What will you read next?

Amanda- I think I’m going to try to start Persephone Station by Stina Liecht to finish up my TBR jar picks.

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

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