The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

Summary:
Established in 2025, the purpose of the new organization was simple: To advocate for the world’s future generations and to protect all living creatures, present and future. It soon became known as the Ministry for the Future, and this is its story.
From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a vision of climate change unlike any ever imagined.
Told entirely through fictional eye-witness accounts, The Ministry For The Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, the story of how climate change will affect us all over the decades to come.
Its setting is not a desolate, post-apocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us – and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face.
It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever written.

Review:
The Ministry for the Future follows several different characters over several different years. It was a strange story because I was never really sure where it was going outside of ‘how do we save the Earth?’ It seemed liked it was going to, and it did with character relationships, but the whole plot was about how to stop climate change.
Now, I liked the story of climate change visibly worsening, and the sometimes-outlandish things that were tried to have any sort of positive impact. But we followed some characters really closely and got to know them really intimately. I thought all of these characters were unique and made the story more interesting.
Overall, this book was enjoyable. I think that’s partly because I listened to the audiobook which has a full cast of narrators. I think they did a great job bringing this story to life. I think my issue with this book is that I wasn’t expecting it to be such a character-driven story. I still liked it, but it wasn’t what I expected. I will for sure recommend this one to other sci-fi lovers.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Summary:
Eileen, newly single and about to turn eighty, would like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen. Then in bustling London, Eileen’s twentysomething, overachieving granddaughter Leena is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen will live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will rest and take care of things in rural Yorkshire.
But trading places isn’t as easy as either of them expected. Will swapping lives help Eileen and Leena find themselves…and maybe even find love?

Review:
The Switch follows grandmother, Eileen, and granddaughter, Leena. The two are both at tumultuous places in their lives, so they switch places. Leena moves into her grandmother’s house in a small town. Eileen moves into Lena’s London apartment with roommates and all. Both struggle with the change but ultimately figure out something important. I listened to the audiobook and the two narrators did a great job with this story.
Leena is going through some stuff with her job and she’s still grieving the death of her sister. She takes time off from her job and takes over her grandmother’s duties around town, like driving some of the residents around town. She slows down from what she’s used to and gets to know the people in this small town.
Eileen is doing the opposite and she’s trying new things left and right. She’s signed up for online dating and she’s enjoying it. She has managed to change some things in the apartment building and befriended all the neighbors.
I enjoyed both stories individually, but I also really enjoyed them when they intertwined. I thought there was going to be a twist in the story that I really didn’t like, but the author managed to spin it in a way that I didn’t mind. I liked that they both got a happily ever after sort of ending.
Overall, I really liked this book and I will definitely be reading more from O’Leary.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Summary:
Catalina Martín, finally, not single. Her family is happy to announce that she will bring her American boyfriend to her sister’s wedding. Everyone is invited to come and witness the most magical event of the year.
That would certainly be tomorrow’s headline in the local newspaper of the small Spanish town I came from. Or the epitaph on my tombstone, seeing the turn my life had taken in the span of a phone call.
Four weeks wasn’t a lot of time to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic–from NYC and all the way to Spain–for a wedding. Let alone, someone eager to play along my charade. But that didn’t mean I was desperate enough to bring the 6’4 blue eyed pain in my ass standing before me.
Aaron Blackford. The man whose main occupation was making my blood boil had just offered himself to be my date. Right after inserting his nose in my business, calling me delusional, and calling himself my best option. See? Outrageous. Aggravating. Blood boiling. And much to my total despair, also right. Which left me with a surly and extra large dilemma in my hands. Was it worth the suffering to bring my colleague and bane of my existence as my fake boyfriend to my sister’s wedding? Or was I better off coming clean and facing the consequences of my panic induced lie?
Like my abuela would say, que dios nos pille confesados.

Review:
After seeing so many people online rave about this book, I selected it as the book for the subscription I have.
The Spanish Love Deception follows Catalina who is looking for a date to her sisters wedding. Her coworker, Aaron, quickly volunteers when he overhears Catalina talking about it. When Catalina can find no other option, she agrees to take him with her to the wedding.
I think the story had minimal plot outside of Catalina and Aaron flirting and getting to know one another before they travel to another country together. But I didn’t really mind that. I liked the slow burn. I liked seeing them get to know one another. But some of the story just felt a little over the top. It felt like it tried to use as many tropes as possible. I can totally see why so many people live this book, but for me it was a little corny.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen

Summary:
Caiden’s planet is destroyed. His family gone. And, his only hope for survival is a crew of misfit aliens and a mysterious ship that seems to have a soul and a universe of its own. Together they will show him that the universe is much bigger, much more advanced, and much more mysterious than Caiden had ever imagined. But the universe hides dangers as well, and soon Caiden has his own plans. He vows to do anything it takes to get revenge on the slavers who murdered his people and took away his home. To destroy their regime, he must infiltrate and dismantle them from the inside, or die trying.

Book Cover

Review:
I have to be honest. I’d never heard of this book until I accidentally requested its sequel in NetGalley. I didn’t read the synopsis very carefully when requesting and once I was approved, I found Nophek Gloss from my library and borrowed it so that I could read Azura Ghost.
Nophek Gloss follows Caiden (also called Winn, which yes, was absolutely confusing now and again), as he manages to be the only survivor of the genocide of his people. He’s raised as a slave to the “overseers” and when his people no longer serve their purpose, they’re fed to the creatures named nophek which grow gems in their heads that are very valuable. Caiden manages to survive this slaughter and finds a ship, and also a crew searching for a ship, to escape the planet the nophek live on. Caiden makes a deal with the crew, they will get him to safety and he will give them the gem he pulled from the head of a dead nophek. But Caiden is set on vengeance, he won’t be dissuaded from his newly decided mission. And the story sprawls out from there.
Caiden was a tough main character to follow. He’s 14 years old when the story starts, but because of science capabilities in this world, he’s accelerated six years. He is physically 20 years old and has all the knowledge that he needs to survive implanted in his brain. He changes pretty drastically. But there are side effects and as the story continues, he essentially tortures himself to relieve those side effects and once again, he’s changed pretty drastically. It made sense with the plot and what was going on with the story, but his growth as a character never really felt organic or natural. He was forcing change upon himself and not always for the better. He also just wasn’t super nice. We’re supposed to believe that the crew who rescued him have become his found family, but I wasn’t really invested in those relationships. And even less so when we learn about Caiden’s genetic history and the abilities that come with that history. By the end of the story, I was a little bit more convinced, but I just didn’t feel convinced by the relationships as much as I think was supposed to be.
The world-building was top-notch. It was a little confusing because once Caiden accelerated his age and knowledge, we didn’t get everything explained to us as much as we did before then. But it’s clear that the author really build a detailed and intricate world for this series. There were just a lot of different species and people to learn and remember. I was pretty engaged by the politics of the world though. The concept of endless universes and the ability to travel through them was interesting. But the politics of the different leaders and governments were pretty compelling. I think we will be getting a lot more of that in the sequel and I’m excited to see it.
Overall, I liked this book. It’s not a new favorite or anything, but the world-building was interesting and the journey that the characters went on was engaging. Even though I wasn’t fully invested in the characters themselves, I still was interested to see what they did and what would happen next. I absolutely predicted the ending and set up for book two, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that all plays out. 

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Constance by Matthew FitzSimmons

Summary:
In the near future, advances in medicine and quantum computing make human cloning a reality. For the wealthy, cheating death is the ultimate luxury. To anticloning militants, it’s an abomination against nature. For young Constance “Con” D’Arcy, who was gifted her own clone by her late aunt, it’s terrifying.
After a routine monthly upload of her consciousness—stored for that inevitable transition—something goes wrong. When Con wakes up in the clinic, it’s eighteen months later. Her recent memories are missing. Her original, she’s told, is dead. If that’s true, what does that make her?
The secrets of Con’s disorienting new life are buried deep. So are those of how and why she died. To uncover the truth, Con is retracing the last days she can recall, crossing paths with a detective who’s just as curious. On the run, she needs someone she can trust. Because only one thing has become clear: Con is being marked for murder—all over again.

Book Cover

Review:
I read Constance for my local book club and I’m really glad we ended up picking this one. I voted for a totally different book, but Constance ended up being a totally wild ride that I devoured in one day. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by a narrator that I didn’t realize I’d listened to before. She did an excellent job telling this story. I will definitely recommend the audiobook in the future.
The story follows Constance who prefers to be called Con. We’re introduced to Con and her life, and the experience of going in for her monthly memory upload. You see, Con lives in the near future where cloning is common (for the rich), and her aunt is one of the scientists that made the big break into cloning, so even though Con isn’t one of the super-rich, she has a clone. But something’s gone wrong, Con wakes up from her normal monthly memory upload to learn that she’s not actually just done a memory upload, and instead she’s now the clone waking because the original Constance must have died. And also, the original hasn’t been in for a memory upload in almost two years, so Con has lots of missing pieces that need to be filled in. She’s determined to fill in those pieces but the more she learns, the more questions she has.
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from this story, but I certainly wasn’t expecting a sci-fi thriller. I didn’t really read the summary before starting the story, but once Con (the clone) wakes, I was absolutely hooked. The author did a really great job of building suspense and letting the reader think they were getting their questions answered before the big twist. The buildup of mystery and all the things that Con learned allowed for a lot of theories and speculation and I think that was part of the book that I liked the most, the wondering of who was really behind everything and what the real answers were.
Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I loved that there were so many diverse characters. I loved the moral and ethical questions of cloning. I loved the mystery and suspense of wondering what the hell was really going on. I believe there is a sequel for this book and I will absolutely be reading it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

Summary:
It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order…
Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever-changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.

Book Cover

Review:
I picked up this book because Soleil from The Little Readers Corner recommended it in a video she made about time travel books (watch that video here).
The premise of this story is that it’s almost Oona’s birthday (which is New Year’s Day) and every year, at midnight, as her birthday starts, she time travels to a different age. She starts as she is celebrating her 19th birthday, except when the clock strikes midnight, she’s suddenly 30 years older and her body has just turned 51 years old. By her side is her good friend, Kenzie, trying to explain things but Oona is pretty much freaking out. The story follows from there as we get to see several years of Oona’s life, out of chronological order that most people live. She never knows what age she will be next and most times there is a letter waiting for her from the previous year’s Oona.
I really loved this book. The concept was an absolutely fascinating one and I think it was executed brilliantly. We obviously don’t get to live every year of Oona’s life, but the ones that the author did show us were beautiful, fun, heart-wrenching, and meaningful. Each year that we follow Oona in is a year filled with life lessons and mistakes, attempts to change her future (or her past?), and they were all enjoyable, even the hard ones. I absolutely loved the way this book was written. Living “out of order” alongside Oona was such an engaging way of telling this story and I really enjoyed every minute that I spent reading this book.
Oona grows so much in this story. I have to commend this author on some truly excellent character development. She’s flawed. She makes the wrong choices, sometimes in spite of the advice from the past year’s Oona, sometimes because she’s following that advice. She doesn’t always do the right thing and sometimes that ends up hurting the people that she loves (those few that do know she’s living her life out of order especially). I really liked following her as she traveled at random through the years of her life trying to find and make amends for mistakes that haven’t happened yet or have happened 20+ years in the past for the people in her life.
Overall, I will absolutely be recommending this book to everyone I know that likes science fiction.  I had such a good time reading this story (and the way my jaw dropped when we find out the twist about her tattoo. I wish I’d taken a picture). This book made me smile and laugh, but also occasionally a little mad and sad. There was such a range of emotions to feel throughout this story and the author did a great job of making me feel them all. I also really loved the fact that this story left me feeling filled with hope. That sounds sort of weird considering that Oona will continue living her life in random years, turning random ages, jumping through time, but the story that is told is filled with hope and lessons about living your life and making the best out of the time you have and the people you have that time with. I just really liked this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Sundial by Catriona Ward

Summary:
You can’t escape what’s in your blood…
All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it, too: a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. But Rob fears for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of the family she left behind.
She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.
Callie is worried about her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely, and speaks of past secrets. And Callie fears that only one of them will leave Sundial alive…
The mother and daughter embark on a dark, desert journey to the past in the hopes of redeeming their future.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Sundial was an absolutely wild ride with twists and turns that I did not see coming at all. The story follows Rob, a mother to two daughters. When she thinks that one of her daughters has tried to kill the other, she takes Callie to her childhood home, Sundial. Sundial is where it all started and Rob thinks she must finally tell Callie the whole truth now that she’s tried to kill her sister and has a room full of bones.
What a story this was. I genuinely never knew what was going to happen next. I made predictions over and over and every prediction I had was completely wrong. Ward really kept me at the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next and how the story was going to play out. I really liked how the story jumped between the past and the present. We mostly follow Rob’s point of view, in both the past and the present. But every once in a while we got a chapter from Callie, and every single one of them was creepy and chilling, filled with ghosts.
I definitely don’t think that I can say I actually liked any of these characters. But I was quickly invested in their stories. Ward has written an engaging and compelling story that was very difficult to put down. The story was well-paced and suspenseful. Sharing just enough secrets to let me guess at what might happen next, but never enough for me to guess correctly.
Overall, I’m very excited to read more of Ward’s writing. This was a well-written story that has characters I wanted to root for, even if I didn’t actually like them. The twists and turns were completely unpredictable but still were tied back to the plot bringing the story full circle. I will definitely be recommending this one in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon

Summary:
Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.
The mysterious Domino Programme has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim – her former enemy – at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.
As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them – and could end with them . . .

The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon

Review:
I just finished The Mask Falling and I feel like I need to write this review immediately (I’m writing this in the notes app on my phone because I should be going to sleep, but instead I’m going to lie here and think about the emotional harm that Samantha Shannon has just done to me with this book). Part of me wants to blurt all of my feelings into a mostly nonsensical review and another part of me has absolutely no words to explain the wild ride that I just went on while reading The Mask Falling.
Okay so, The Mask Falling picks up immediately after the ending of The Song Rising, so I’m very glad I just reread the first three books before diving into this newest installment. If you haven’t read any of this series yet, you can find my non-spoiler review for The Bone Season and then come back to this review once you’ve read the first three books. Paige is in pretty dire shape as she is fleeing from London and heading to Paris for some rest and recovery. But that’s not all she will be doing in Paris. She’s been approached by a group that’s outside both the syndicate and Scion that wants her help to work against Scion. This mysterious group is present for the whole book and I’m incredibly excited to see where things with this group lead for the rest of the series. They keep Paige and the Warden (who has traveled at Paige’s side from London) in a safe house to recuperate for a few weeks before sending her on her first mission.
Paige is genuinely a force of nature. She’s grown so much and come so far from the mollisher that we got to know in book one. She knows her own mind (mostly) and she’s always scheming. The way her brain works to turn any situation in her favor was so enjoyable to follow. She will reach her goals by sheer force of will if that’s what it takes. But she’s incredibly smart and clever, always thinking ten steps ahead of where she is at the moment. It was really interesting to see her struggle with the traumas that were inflicted upon her in book three and how she handled those feelings and the PTSD that she was definitely dealing with. I thought Shannon did an excellent job showing us the ways that Paige was struggling, but that she was still strong despite those struggles. Shannon didn’t just act like Paige was never tortured, she added to who Paige had become as a character and I really think she did Paige justice with the balance of showing us what Paige was struggling with and her strengths as a leader in spite of those struggles.
Since the story is told from Paige’s point of view, we don’t get to see inside the side characters’ heads. But I think we really got to know the Warden better. Their relationship has been so up and down in the first three books. It’s absolutely a slow-burn romance and I’m living for it. I’ve always been on board for their relationship, but this one had so many good scenes of the two just spending time together. Also, how dare you rip my heart out the way you did Samantha Shannon, with the secrets and twists at the end of this book.
As for the plot of the story, I think this one was more action-packed and productive with pushing the overall story forward than any of the other books. So many things happen, but not so much that it felt like too much. The story, despite being over 500 pages, was really well-paced with action and things that needed to get done for Paige to reach her goals. But there were also a few moments of calm and time to take a breath before the next big thing happened. I loved the backdrop of Paris and seeing more of the world that Scion rules. It was really interesting to see another Scion citadel and how it was similar and also different from London. I think the politics that Paige gets herself involved in were compelling and I cannot wait to see what’s going to happen because of the events in the final pages of this book.
Overall, this was a huge book that I still felt like it was easy to fly through. Especially after binging the first three books in a reread, this one was all too easy to devour. There’s so much great character building and development with both individual characters and with character relationships. We get to meet new faces as well as see old friends (and enemies). I can’t wait to see what will happen next in this world.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Summary:
One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theatre troupe known as the Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame and the beauty of the world as we know it.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Review:
Station Eleven has been on my tbr for entirely too long. This story follows a wide array of characters before and after a world-changing pandemic. Considering the state of our current world, the bits of the story involving the pandemic that kills 99% of the population was pretty tough to read about as they felt like an all too real possibility for our future. The author painted a vivid picture of how something like this could happen and what the “after” looked like.
As for the plot of this story, there wasn’t really one that I could see. But I was okay with that. I’m not usually a fan of only character-focused stories. I like books that have at least some semblances of a plot to follow, to push the characters forward. But following these characters as they lived through the apocalypse and what the world was after that was really compelling.
The characters, as I mentioned above, are what made this story. While I don’t think we got to know any of them incredibly well, the way that they were all connected was fascinating. I loved seeing all of the details and bits and pieces slowly coming together to connect the characters in one way or another. The journeys that each character went on were compelling and I cared what happened to each and every one of them, except the Prophet, because fuck that guy.
But the thing that stood out most about this story was the writing. I said earlier that that author paints a vivid picture of what the world might look like after society as we know it has ended. But along with that vivid picture, she points out stark contrasts between so many things, but in subtle ways. The writing was lyrical and beautiful, but also thoughtful and thought-provoking.
Overall, I feel like I just went on a journey with these characters, even though there are a few that I feel I got to know much better than others. I think the writing is really what makes this book such an engaging and compelling story with characters that you can’t help but care about. And being set on a backdrop of a post-apocalyptic world made the story that much more interesting. I can absolutely see why so many people love this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar

Summary:
The New York Times bestselling coauthor of Gwendy’s Button Box brings his signature “thrilling, page-turning” (Michael Koryta, author of How It Happened) prose to this story of small-town evil that combines the storytelling of Stephen King with the true-crime suspense of Michelle McNamara.
In the summer of 1988, the mutilated bodies of several missing girls begin to turn up in a small Maryland town. The grisly evidence leads police to the terrifying assumption that a serial killer is on the loose in the quiet suburb. But soon a rumor begins to spread that the evil stalking local teens is not entirely human. Law enforcement, as well as members of the FBI are certain that the killer is a living, breathing madman—and he’s playing games with them. For a once peaceful community trapped in the depths of paranoia and suspicion, it feels like a nightmare that will never end.
Recent college graduate Richard Chizmar returns to his hometown just as a curfew is enacted and a neighborhood watch is formed. In the midst of preparing for his wedding and embarking on a writing career, he soon finds himself thrust into the real-life horror story. Inspired by the terrifying events, Richard writes a personal account of the serial killer’s reign of terror, unaware that these events will continue to haunt him for years to come.
A clever, terrifying, and heartrending work of metafiction, Chasing the Boogeyman is the ultimate marriage between horror fiction and true crime. Chizmar’s “brilliant…absolutely fascinating, totally compelling, and immediately poignant” (C.J. Tudor, New York Times bestselling author) writing is on full display in this truly unique novel that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.

Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar

Review:
I read Chasing the Boogeyman for a part of the 12 Recommendations Challenge that was going around on Instagram (thanks @amy for recommending this one). This is a horror novel mixed with non-fiction in a true-crime sort of way. By that I mean, the author Richard Chizmar, is also our main character. And this story takes place in his hometown. We follow him as he’s living at home after college for a few months before he gets married. But while he’s staying with his parents in his childhood home, something terrible starts to happen in his small town. Four girls are kidnapped and brutally murdered. The worst part? The police can’t seem to find the killer but suspect that’s it’s someone local to the town.
My biggest issue with this book was that I spent entirely too much time wondering what was true and what was false because at the beginning of the story it’s explained that some parts of the story are fiction and some aren’t. So obviously, I wanted to know which parts were which. I’m here to tell you not to focus on that if you read this book. You will be told what’s the truth and what isn’t before the book is over. I didn’t know that, so I focused too much on wondering. I was totally blown away by the big reveal of what’s fact versus fiction in this story and I think that’s what made this story so good for me.
Now, the story starts off super slow with a bit of history about the town of Edgewood. But once you get past that, the story has a pretty good pace. It was really hard not to get sucked into the drama and suspense of solving this case. Chizmar did an incredible job of making me feel like I knew everything about this small town and like I’d grown up there alongside him. But he also did a great job keeping me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next, and when there was going to be a big break in the case.
Overall, this was a wild ride. It was terrifyingly realistic (especially since I live in the same state as this book). Chizmar clearly knows how to write a good story and I think any fan of horror will like this one. But I think it will also appeal to fans of true crime and mystery/thriller lovers.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace

Summary:
New Liberty City, 2134.
Two corporations have replaced the US, splitting the country’s remaining forty-five states (five have been submerged under the ocean) between them: Stellaxis Innovations and Greenleaf. There are nine supercities within the continental US, and New Liberty City is the only amalgamated city split between the two megacorps, and thus at a perpetual state of civil war as the feeds broadcast the atrocities committed by each side.
Here, Mallory streams Stellaxis’s wargame SecOps on BestLife, spending more time jacked in than in the world just to eke out a hardscrabble living from tips. When a chance encounter with one of the game’s rare super-soldiers leads to a side job for Mal–looking to link an actual missing girl to one of the SecOps characters. Mal’s sudden burst in online fame rivals her deepening fear of what she is uncovering about BestLife’s developer, and puts her in the kind of danger she’s only experienced through her avatar.

Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace

Review:
Firebreak follows Mal, who is a gaming streamer in a terrifyingly realistic dystopian future. It’s about 100 years or so in the future and two corporations have taken over the United States. One controls the water supply for the population and the other controls the agricultural supply for the population. Climate change has ravaged the coasts and the war between these two corporations has done its own damage. Mal lives in what was once a nice hotel in the city. She shares one room with like six other people. When she’s not working odd jobs (dog walking, babysitting, attempting to brew beer) she’s gaming and streaming with her best friend and roommate, Jessa. The two manage to spot one of the rarer special operatives in the game (read: the special operatives are essentially celebrities in this world) and talk to her for about a half a second before the power is cut for the day. This thrusts them into a minor spotlight, just enough to grab the attention of B. B is a mysterious sponsor who, after meeting with Jessa and Mal, shares a theory that she and others have about the special operatives. This is where the story really gets going.
I really liked Mal. She sort of held herself apart from her other roommates, and kept to herself. But I really was a great moment when she realized what a mistake that had been. That she should have taken more time to get to know them all. I loved her loyalty and love for Jessa. The two of them were and excellent friendship dynamic with how they pushed and pulled each other when it was called for. I liked how they complimented one another. But I liked Mal outside of her relationship with Jessa too. We get to see her act selflessly, recklessly, and with her whole heart. She was a really well-developed character and one that I enjoyed following through this story.
As for the story itself, oh man, what a wild ride. We get a brief summary of how the world ended up the way that it is in the story. Though I usually like more backstory and world building, I found that I liked learning how this future worked as the story went on. We see how society works as we follow Mal and we see what’s wrong with it as she does. I think that Mal questioning the status quo felt natural for her character. And everything after was really well done. The story starts with a slow build-up, showing us the world. Then starts to show what’s wrong with it, and once Mal’s eyes are opened to the theory that B shares, there’s just nonstop action. Also, I don’t know if this was on purpose, but I really thought the way the author took things from the game that Mal and Jessa play and started showing that same violence and action in the real world was absolutely fascinating.
Overall, this book was a wild ride to say the least. It’s a book that shows characters fighting for their basic human rights, against corporations that are just trying to wring every dollar out of anyone they can. I absolutely enjoyed this one and I will definitely be looking into this author’s backlist.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The God of Lost Words by A.J. Hackwith

Summary:
To save the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, former librarian Claire and her allies may have to destroy it first.
Claire, the rakish Hero, the angel Rami, and the muse turned librarian Brevity have accomplished the impossible by discovering the true nature of unwritten books. But now that the secret is out, Hell will be coming for every wing of the library in its quest for power.
To protect the Unwritten Wing and stave off the insidious reach of Malphas, one of Hell’s most bloodthirsty generals, Claire and her friends will have to decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice to keep their vulnerable corner of the afterlife. Succeeding would mean rewriting the nature of the library, but losing would mean obliteration. Their only chance at survival lies in outwitting Hell and writing a new chapter for the Library. Luckily, Claire and her friends know how the right story, told well, can become a revolution.

The God of Lost Words by A.J. Hackwith

Review:
I’m going to keep this review short because I waited entirely too long after finishing this book to write this review.
The God of Lost Words follows the same cast of characters that we’ve come to know and love from the first two books in the series. In this finale, they’re thrust into another life or death mission to give all of the libraries their independence, or else Hell might actually win in their attempt to claim the Library of the Unwritten.
I still love all of these characters. Claire was put in an interesting position in this story for her character. She’s always been the leader before, but she wasn’t the librarian anymore and it was interesting to see her do her best to let Brevity take charge of the library aspect of the story. But we still get to see Claire scheme and take charge of other aspects of the plot. Brevity really shows how she is absolutely a good fit to be Claire’s successor as Librarian of the Unwritten. I genuinely enjoyed seeing her flourish in the role, despite the library being in complete chaos for most of the story. Hero and Ramiel were both compelling perspectives as well. Hero was figuring out who he was without his book in the last book and I think we really got to see the results of that in this book. Ramiel was, as usual, the fierce defender.
Overall, I was happy with how this series was concluded. I think there was enough action and adventure with high stakes to keep me engaged in the story. The characters were really what kept me invested. I absolutely loved getting to see all the other wings of the library. There was a lot more traveling in this book and I really liked that. The only thing I wasn’t sold on was the romance. I liked it in the previous books, but it felt like it wasn’t enough in this one. There was hints of romance, but not enough for me to truly care about them together.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Seven Mercies by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May

Summary:
The second book in a feminist space opera duology that follows the team of seven rebels who will free the galaxy from the ruthless Tholosian Empire–or die trying.
After an ambush leaves the Novantae resistance in tatters, the survivors scatter across the galaxy. Wanted by two great empires, the bounty on any rebel’s head is enough to make a captor filthy rich. And the seven devils? Biggest score of them all. To avoid attacks, the crew of Zelus scavenge for supplies on long-abandoned Tholosian outposts.
Not long after the remnants of the rebellion settle briefly on Fortuna, Ariadne gets a message with unimaginable consequences: the Oracle has gone rogue. In a planned coup against the Empire’s new ruler, the AI has developed a way of mass programming citizens into mindless drones. The Oracle’s demand is simple: the AI wants One’s daughter back at any cost.
Time for an Impossible to Infiltrate mission: high chance of death, low chance of success. The devils will have to use their unique skills, no matter the sacrifice, and pair up with old enemies. Their plan? Get to the heart of the Empire. Destroy the Oracle. Burn it all to the ground.

Seven Mercies by Laura Lam, Elizabeth May

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Seven Mercies follows the same cast of characters that we followed in the first book. But in this one, we get a lot more of the present day and less of the past. There were still bits and pieces of the past, but I liked that it was more focused on the current mission. When the story starts, it feels like all is lost for the rebellion and that there is little that can be done to move forward. But the Seven Devils aren’t going to let that get them down. They’re going on supply runs and just trying to stay hidden and alive at this point. But then, there’s news and half the team is sent on a mission to discover more while the rest of the team ends up going on a mission or two of their own.
I think this was a story that was more character-focused than plot-focused, but I really enjoyed it. There’s action and risk, politics and secrets, high stakes and recklessness. The cast of characters was easy to root for. Eris has been through so much and still, she chooses to do the right thing (which isn’t always easy). I loved Eris and loved seeing her relationships with the rest of the Devils grow and mend. Rhea and Clo end up going off on a mission of their own. I loved them in the first book, but their parts of the story were the least exciting for me. I still liked them, but not as much as I did in the first book. Nyx had an interesting storyline. She battled with thinking she was dying and trying to keep that secret from everyone else. It was so nice to see her finally open up and lean on her friends. I loved how supported she was and the way that things played out for her. Cato’s story was interesting as well. We get. A few flashback chapters for him and I was absolutely fascinated by his history and how that affected the present for him. Ariadne is still the absolute sweetest bean and I hated to see how much guilt she felt for things she’d done as a child. She had so much responsibility and seeing her overcome that really warmed my heart. Our fearless leader, Kyla, was the other character that we got some flashback chapters for. I think Kyla was one of the more interesting characters for me. Her journey from the past we see to the present was certainly not an easy one. But she holds responsibility well.
Overall, I liked this book. I honestly cannot wait to reread the first book and then reread this one. I think this story was compelling and engaging. I think the authors did a great job taking time for us to know the characters in between the action and adventure. I would love to see more books set in this universe in the future. I think there was so much potential for things that went unexplored. I loved this crew and their missions. I loved the way the story ended, but I’m absolutely still hoping for more, eventually.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blog Tour: Light Years From Home by Mike Chen

Summary:
Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.
Evie Shao and her sister, Kass, aren’t on speaking terms. Fifteen years ago on a family camping trip, their father and brother vanished. Their dad turned up days later, dehydrated and confused—and convinced he’d been abducted by aliens. Their brother, Jakob, remained missing. The women dealt with it very differently. Kass, suspecting her college-dropout twin simply ran off, became the rock of the family. Evie traded academics to pursue alien conspiracy theories, always looking for Jakob.
When Evie’s UFO network uncovers a new event, she goes to investigate. And discovers Jakob is back. He’s different—older, stranger, and talking of an intergalactic war—but the tensions between the siblings haven’t changed at all. If the family is going to come together to help Jakob, then Kass and Evie are going to have to fix their issues, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and if their brother is telling the truth, possibly an entire space armada, too.
The perfect combination of action, imagination and heart, Light Years From Home is a touching drama about a challenge as difficult as saving the galaxy: making peace with your family…and yourself.

Light Years from Home by Mike Chen

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I am a part of the blog tour for this book so thank you to MIRA books for the opportunity to share my thoughts about this one!
I’ve read all of Chen’s previous novels and while they are all technically science fiction stories, they are all so different from one another that I never really know what to expect going into them. That was accurate for this story as well. I sort of thought I was getting into a hard sci-fi story full of action and adventure and space wars. But this is really the story of three siblings: Jakob, Evie, and Kass. Jakob’s disappearance fifteen years earlier fractured this family so much that when the three are finally reunited fifteen years later, it might not be possible for them to mend what’s been broken. Especially considering that Jakob has returned with stories of a war that’s raging between aliens and while Evie absolutely believes him, Kass thinks it’s more likely that Jakob is suffering from a mental illness. I definitely didn’t think this was going to turn into an “is it really aliens or is it actually mental illness” story, but the author totally had me convinced when I was reading the chapters from Kass’ perspective.
Since we get three points of view, one from each sibling, it felt like we really got the whole story. We really got to know each of these siblings. I really enjoyed that. I think having all three voices really made the story what it was because if it had just been from Jakob’s perspective it would have been a totally different story. Each sibling brought something different to the story. I liked all three of the main characters. It was interesting because when I was reading Evie’s chapters, I totally agreed with her resentment of her older sister, but when I was reading Kass’ chapters, I also totally agreed with her disdain toward her siblings. I think Chen did an excellent job with these characters.
Overall, I loved the blend of family drama with the science fiction genre. The threat of an alien war coming to earth unless Jakob can get certain information to them raised the stakes of the story and set the pace. But the characters were absolutely what made this book what it was. The family dynamics were compelling and the issues between the siblings weren’t resolved with a nice neat bow, which I appreciated. I think there will be some mixed reviews on this one from those that are expecting more of a sci-fi story. But I will definitely be continuing to recommend Chen’s work.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee

Summary:
Jade, the mysterious and magical substance once exclusive to the Green Bone warriors of Kekon, is now known and coveted throughout the world. Everyone wants access to the supernatural abilities it provides, from traditional forces such as governments, mercenaries, and criminal kingpins, to modern players, including doctors, athletes, and movie studios. As the struggle over the control of jade grows ever larger and more deadly, the Kaul family, and the ancient ways of the Kekonese Green Bones, will never be the same.
The Kauls have been battered by war and tragedy. They are plagued by resentments and old wounds as their adversaries are on the ascent and their country is riven by dangerous factions and foreign interference that could destroy the Green Bone way of life altogether. As a new generation arises, the clan’s growing empire is in danger of coming apart.
The clan must discern allies from enemies, set aside bloody rivalries, and make terrible sacrifices… but even the unbreakable bonds of blood and loyalty may not be enough to ensure the survival of the Green Bone clans and the nation they are sworn to protect.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Jade Legacy is the third and final book in the Green Bone Saga. I’m sad to say that I liked this series less and less with each installment.
This final book spans a period of twenty years and that was just too much for me. I think if it had been done differently, I could have enjoyed it more, but there was no rhyme or reason to the jumps forward in time, so it completely took me out of the story every time it happened and I had to figure out how much time had passed since the previous chapter. I think a part of the reason I disliked these time jumps was that they led to a lot of telling instead of showing. There were so many instances where suddenly we’re reading about things happening a year or more later and the past year is being summarized before starting to share what’s going on in that moment. I felt like it could have been done differently with one big jump forward in time and maybe some flashbacks to share relevant things about the past rather than skipping forward five years every so often. This was something I didn’t like in Jade War as well and it bothered me even more in Jade Legacy.
Now that I’ve ranted a little bit about that, I do was to say that I did still enjoy this book. I’m invested in the characters and their stories (though mostly just the Kaul family because there were so many new characters in this book that they were hard to keep straight in my head). I did really enjoy getting see Hilo and Wen’s children as adults, though I think they should just get their own series so we can actually get to know them. I think because there were so many new characters in this book, some of the characters (like Shea) suffered in the area of growth and development. It almost felt like each character got their own little bit of trauma and then growth before moving on to someone else. We just didn’t get to see the characters grow like we did in Jade City and I was a bit disappointed by that because I’ve grown to love them so much.
The world and the politics and the scheming of the clans were fascinating. I loved seeing how things played out for the clans and I was pretty happy with the conclusion, even though I was absolutely heartbroken. I think it was really interesting to see the results of everything that Shea and Hilo had been working towards. I also loved being able to see Wen take more of a role in the clan because she’s just as clever and scheming as the rest of them.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. The pacing really bothered me and I wish it had been done differently, but that isn’t really a surprise since it bothered me in the previous book too. I loved the characters. I loved the world and the magic of the Jade. I especially loved the politics between the clans, the plotting, and the outcome of said plotting. I think if you didn’t mind the pacing and the weird time jumps in Jade War then you will love this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.