#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.

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

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 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.

Leave your answers in the comments or share your post with us!

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Memorable Character Quotes

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 memorable things that characters have said.

“Yizhi gapes at me. Then a disbelieving laugh rolls out of him. “All right, let me make this clear: Wu Zetian, you inspire me. Whenever I lose hope that the world can change, I remember you. I remember how you fight for what you want, no matter what anyone says, no matter what stands in your way.” He draws me into his arms and murmurs into my hair. “You’re my polar star, I’ll go wherever you guide me.”
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

“What does…meyaah Liessa mean?” That eyebrow seemed to climb even higher. “It means my Queen.”
A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L. Armentrout

“We’ve got hope, a flimsy plan, and a great deal of explosives. We’ve gotten by on less. Let’s go.”
The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi

“Sometimes the point is to be sad, August. Sometimes you just have to feel it because it deserves to be felt.”
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

“You’re an animal, Sibling Dex. You are not separate or other. You’re an animal. And animals have no purpose. Nothing has a purpose. The world simply is. If you want to do things that are meaningful to others, fine! Good! So do I! But if I wanted to crawl into a cave and watch stalagmites with Frostfrog for the remainder of my days, that would also be both fine and good. You keep asking why your work is not enough, and I don’t know how to answer that, because it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it. You don’t need to justify that, or earn it. You are allowed to just live. That is all most animals do.”
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

“You are still just a human. Just a small thing that has to find its way like everyone else in this enormous world. It will not be simple, Grace Porter, and it will not be easy. You may have to make a lot of noise, and the universe’s silence can be oppressive and thick. But you want them to hear you, and they will. So do not, not even for one second, stop making noise.”
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

“Because monsters are real,” she said. “And even the Wolf needs help sometimes.”
For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

“I like it so much better when nobody expects anything from me and then I surprise them by delivering anything at all.”
“That bar’s so low you’re gonna stub your toe on it.”
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

“Runaway Queer Kids Become Victims of Remote Cottage Chainsaw Killer, Surprising Absolutely No One.’ ‘I’m not queer,’ Ida said. ‘Sorry.’ ‘Then chances are you’ll be the only one left alive.”
All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle

“Witching and women’s rights. Suffrage and spells. They’re both…” She gestures in midair again. “They’re both a kind of power, aren’t they? The kind we aren’t allowed to have.”
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

These are my picks this week. I went with books that had characters I couldn’t help but love. What did you pick this week?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth: Amanda’s Entire Science Fiction TBR

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 shared my entire TBR of sci-fi books that I own and I thought I would do it again along with a little check in of how I did with reading what was on my list last year.

You can find my post from last year here, if you’re interested. Out of the eighteen books that I listed last year, there are only two that I still haven’t read. One is a short story collection and the other is the third book in a series and I want to reread the first two books before I finally read the third (but at this point I’ll probably wait until book four comes out in early 2022 and then binge the whole series.)

Physical Books
The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
Persephone Station by Stina Leicht
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
The End and Other Beginnings: Stories From the Future by Veronica Roth
Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson
The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon

eBooks
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
The Lost Signal by J.S. Fernandez Morales
Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Graphic Novels
Wires and Nerves by Marissa Meyer, Douglas Holgate, & Stephen Gilpin
The Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way, Gabriel Bá, & Dave Stewart
Vagrant Queen Vol. 1 by Magdalene Visaggio, Jason Smith, & Harry Saxon

ARC’s
The Kindred by Alechia Dow
Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long

I went a bit more in-depth this year than I did last year, but this was the easiest way for me to make the list for organizational reasons. I thought it would be a cool way for me to check back next year (and at the end of the month) and see how I did with each of the formats, though all five of the books that are on both this and last year’s list are physical books.

What science fiction books do you own but haven’t read yet?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Summary:
Born shrouded in the veil of the Primals, a Maiden as the Fates promised, Seraphena Mierel’s future has never been hers. Chosen before birth to uphold the desperate deal her ancestor struck to save his people, Sera must leave behind her life and offer herself to the Primal of Death as his Consort.   
However, Sera’s real destiny is the most closely guarded secret in all of Lasania—she’s not the well protected Maiden but an assassin with one mission—one target. Make the Primal of Death fall in love, become his weakness, and then…end him. If she fails, she dooms her kingdom to a slow demise at the hands of the Rot. 
Sera has always known what she is. Chosen. Consort. Assassin. Weapon. A specter never fully formed yet drenched in blood. A monster. Until him. Until the Primal of Death’s unexpected words and deeds chase away the darkness gathering inside her. And his seductive touch ignites a passion she’s never allowed herself to feel and cannot feel for him. But Sera has never had a choice. Either way, her life is forfeit—it always has been, as she has been forever touched by Life and Death.

Book Cover

Review:
I just finished this book less than an hour ago. So, I think I’ll write this review in the ‘what I liked/what I didn’t like’ format while everything is still fresh in my mind.

What I Liked:

I liked Sera. She’s known her destiny her whole life. She’s resigned to it. But when things don’t go as planned, Sera’s life is changed. Her life still isn’t her own, but she lives at the grace of the Queen, her mother. I thought Sera was interesting because she’s a trained killer, but one with moral objections to killing. She doesn’t think very highly of herself. She basically is just trying to make the best of a bad situation, but she believes herself to be a monster. I liked her fire despite that belief. She’s stubborn and doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut. She’s funny and fierce. I really liked her.

The world building was interesting. I had a bit of a hard time putting aside the thought of how everything that was in this book became what it is in From Blood and Ash. But when I did, I was really interested by the world. Especially once Sera goes with Nyktos to his court. I loved the mythology and world building around the gods and Primals and their realm. I already can’t wait to learn more about it in the next book in this series and hopefully in the next FBAA book.

I liked Nyktos. I liked him when we met him as Ash and I liked him when his true identity was revealed. I think he was a bit harsh at times. But I’m very excited to see him fight falling in love with Sera and failing. It’s clear that he has a good heart and does his best to help those that need it. The sad story of his parents was good backstory for him. I just liked him.

I really loved the draken. I loved getting to know some of the characters we met briefly in The Crown of Gilded Bones and I loved seeing the baby draken. This sort of goes with the world building, but learning more about the draken was one of my favorite parts of the story. Baby Jadis and Reaver were definitely one of the highlights of this book.

What I Didn’t Like:

I didn’t love the similarities between Sera and Nyktos and Poppy and Casteel. There were a few lines and scenes that felt like the couples were mirroring each other. I couldn’t tell if this was intentional, or if it just happened like that. But it totally took me out of the story when it happened.

The ending, oh, the ending. I just wanted more. The place that this story ended left me wondering what the hell. It felt like it didn’t end in a good concluding place. I wouldn’t call it a cliff hanger, but it just ended and I wanted to know more about what the hell they were going to do next.

This book was 650 pages and it still felt like nothing happened. I understand that Armentrout was setting the scene with how Sera’s life had been since things didn’t go as planned, but it felt like that part of the story really dragged on. We got to know all these characters that she loved and hated, but once she goes with Nyktos, I assume we’re not going to see them again because they’re all in the mortal realm. And yet, I wanted the side characters we meet in Nyktos’ court to be more developed. We only learn a little bit about a few of them, but some seemed like they’ll play a bigger role in the story and I wanted to know more about them. At times, it felt like they were just there because it wouldn’t make sense for Sera and Nyktos to be the only characters in the book.

Overall, I did enjoy reading this book. The sex scenes were excellent. I did grow to love Sera and Nyktos. I will absolutely be continuing the series. I’m incredibly excited to see how this book will tie into the new FBAA book that’s coming out in March. I’m also excited to see what will happen in the next book (which I believe is the conclusion) in this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

Summary:
A slick, twisty YA page-turner about the daughter of a con artist who is taken hostage in a bank heist.
Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up as her mother’s protégé. But when mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape.
For five years Nora’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:
#1: Her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’re all friends, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.
#2: The morning after Wes finds them kissing, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised at the bank. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly, because:
#3: Right after they enter bank, two guys start robbing it.
The bank robbers may be trouble, but Nora’s something else entirely. They have no idea who they’re really holding hostage…

Book Cover

Review:
The Girls I’ve Been was exactly what it says in the summary. It was a twisty and slick story that follows Nora. Except before she was Nora, she was Ashley. And before that she was someone else. She was raised by a con woman that trained Nora to behave in a certain way to get money from powerful and wealthy men. We learn slowly about all of these girls that Nora has been (which yes, is where the title comes from. And yes, I loved that.) While we’re not learning about Nora’s past, we’re in the present where Nora, her girlfriend, and her best friend are currently in the middle of a bank robbery.
I really liked Nora. Her backstory was horrible but in a way that you can’t look away from. Learning about her past with her mother and how she ended up living where she was now with her sister was fascinating. But the bank robbery parts of the story were equally compelling. I like how Sharpe managed to make both parts of this story just as interesting. Nora was a character that had been through so much and her past was perfect to get her and her friends out of the situation they were in. But for being in the middle of a bank robbery, the story was surprisingly emotional. Her best friend, Wes, who is also her ex-boyfriend, knows about Nora’s past. But Nora’s girlfriend, Iris, doesn’t know anything about it. Nora and Iris haven’t been together very long. In fact, Wes had only just found out about their relationship (which added some great emotional tension). I honestly loved all three of these friends so much. They each have their own issues, but they all sort of bond over them. They learn so much about one another and their friendship only grows stronger.
Overall, I devoured this story. I listened to the audiobook and I really liked the narrator (who I believe is the author, Tess Sharpe). I loved the chapter headings that shared all of the items they’d collected and potential plans, as well as, plans they’d tried and had failed. I saw a review that talked about this being a story about a morally grey bi girl and I love that so much. I am going to be reading more of Sharpe’s books in the future, for sure.

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 To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers (but it’s super short so I’ll probably finish by the end of the day.) I’m listening to the audiobook for A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. I’m also working my way through The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun.

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

What did you read most recently?

Amanda- I most recently finished Any Sign of Life by Rae Carson.

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 City by Fonda Lee for a buddy read with Books in the Skye.

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

Answer the three W’s in the comments today or share your post with us!

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Books for Non-Readers

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 top ten books I’d hand to someone who claims to not like reading.

The Martian by Andy Weir
This is a movie and I find that books have been adapted can sometimes tempt non-readers.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Who doesn’t love Fey stories? This is an older one, but it’s still so good.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
I just feel like the pitch “it’s a book about New York City becoming sentient” would have to entice some people.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
While this isn’t my favorite by this author, I think the interview format that the book is written in would be an easy sell to a non-reader.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
I think I can sell this one because it has a Netflix adaptation.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
This series is all novellas, so the short length of the book could make it seem “easier” to read. Then once they read the first one, they’ll be hooked and have to read the next six books in the series.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
C’mon, killer mermaids. Who doesn’t that appeal to?

Final Girls by Riley Sager
This is a fun and mysterious thriller that I personally think was a pretty quick read. So, I would recommend it for anyone that I don’t think would like fantasy or science fiction.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Another one that I would recommend when I didn’t think fantasy or science fiction would appeal to my audience. This book is fun and steamy.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
A beauty and the beast retelling. I think retellings would be super easy to pitch to non-readers because of the movie retellings.

What books would you recommend to non-readers?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Clear Your Shit Readathon TBR, November TBR Jar Picks, & #SciFiMonth TBR

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! It’s November and there is so much going on this month and next month. Today starts the Clear Your Shit readathon which is hosted by the wonderful Andee and the equally wonderful Art. They have created such a fun readathon for which you can find all of the details on their Twitter or website. It will run from today until December 27th and the goal is, as the title states, clear your shit. Hopefully, by the end of the readathon, your owned TBR will be down to nothing or almost nothing.

Now, November also means that it’s the first day of #SciFiMonth. I don’t have a specific TBR for the theme, but I did do my best to cram as much science fiction into my TBR prompts as possible. I also have some fun blog posts that I’m really excited to share with you all. So, keep an eye out for those.

One final thing before I share what I’m reading. I’m still doing my best to stick with my TBR jar. So, I have five prompts from that (which you might see the same books for my Clear Your Shit prompts, don’t judge me okay?) I’ll start with those.

November TBR Jar Prompts

Gifted to You
Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

Adult
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Backlist Book
To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Young Adult
Any Sign of Life by Rae Carson

Hyped Book
Jade City by Fonda Lee

Clear Your Shit Prompts

A book where someone dies
Any Sign of Life by Rae Carson

A book where people go on a journey
To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

A book that was recommended to you
Jade City by Fonda Lee

A book people talk about a lot
The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Your shortest book
A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

Steal a Book From Someone Else’s TBR
Jade War by Fonda Lee

A book with gold, silver or bronze on the cover
Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi

Your smallest book (physical size, or pages, or audio hours)
Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

A spooky book
A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

A book with an animal
Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long

Mini Boss Battle Mystery Prompt
To be determined when this prompt is revealed

Free Book Space
I’m saving this one for any mood reading I end up doing.

A Fantasy book
The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart

A book with a purple cover
Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore

A book with a female or non-binary main character
The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

An intimidating book
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Mini Boss Battle Mystery Prompt
Also, to be determined.

Free book space
I’ll be saving this one too, thank you.

A Book you forgot you owned or don’t remember the details of 
Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

A book with water themes
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

A book with a group cast (more than three characters)
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Free Book Space
Give me a break, I need all the extras I can get. I’m just a mood reader trying to pretend otherwise, okay?

Read an opulent book (gilded, sparkly, or fancy cover)
Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard

Boss Battle
Another TBD.

That’s all I’ve got for you lovelies today (she says with a straight face after sharing a TBR with 20+ books on it). What will you be reading in November? Are you doing any readathons?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Summary:
What was it like? Living in that house.
Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.
Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

Book Cover

Review:
Here are five things I liked about Home Before Dark:

  1. I really liked that the story was told in alternating chapters. We follow Maggie, present day, but we also get excerpts from her father’s book (which is heavily talked about by Maggie in the present-day chapters). I thought this was a creative and interesting way to tell the story. I think it worked right up until the big reveal about the book.
  2. Along with how the story is told in both the present and the past, I thought it was really interesting how things that were happening to Maggie and Maggie’s actions were mirroring and reflecting many of the things that had already happened (or were claimed to happen in her dad’s book) in the past.
  3. I was surprised to find that I actually sort of liked that I had no idea what was the truth and what wasn’t. I don’t usually like books where I don’t actually know what’s going on. But Sager did an excellent job keeping up the mystery and the suspense until the big reveal. I spent most of the book flip-flopping between firmly believing that the ghosts were real or that they were definitely all made up.
  4. I listened to the audiobook which has two narrators. I liked both narrators. The male narrator that read Maggie’s father’s book did a great job and I will absolutely be seeking out more book narrated by him. I liked the narrator for Maggie as well. I think she did a great job telling the story and keeping up the emotion and suspense.
  5. The big reveal. I liked it because like I said above, I went back and forth for the entire book between believing and not believing that the ghosts were real. So, to finally have confirmation one way or another was almost a relief. I liked how things all played out to put it vaguely so that I don’t spoil anything.

Overall, I really liked this book. I’m not surprised since I’ve liked all of Sager’s other books I’ve read. I also discovered (partially because of this book) that I really like the ‘but are the ghosts real or not’ trope for horror and mystery books. I would definitely recommend the audiobook for this one to any audiobook fans, but I’m sure the physical or digital book was just as good.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.