Hello, lovelies! We’re almost out of 2021 and I have another monthly wrap-up for you. This month I wanted to focus mainly on science fiction books. But I ended up reading some other genres as well. We’re still in the middle of the Clear Your Shit Readathon, so I’m still working on my TBR for that. But I did okay with my TBR jar picks this month! Let’s get into what I read.
What I Read
Physical Books Any Sign of Life by Rae Carson – 3.5 stars To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers – 4 stars Jade City by Fonda Lee – 4 stars A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow – 5 stars The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen – 5 stars Persephone Station by Stina Leicht – 4 stars Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron – 3 stars You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow – 4 stars Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer – 4 stars Roxy by Neal Schusterman & Jarrod Schusterman – 4.5 stars Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore – 4 stars The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood – 5 stars
eBooks The Boy With Fire by Aparna Verma – 3 stars The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochran – 3.5 stars The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen – 4 stars Tristan Strong Keeps Punching by Kwame Mbalia – 3 stars Jade War by Fonda Lee – 4 stars Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi – 3 stars Deal With the Devil by Kit Rocha – 3.5 stars A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw – 3.5 stars Luminous by Mara Rutherford – 3.5 stars Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee – 3.5 stars Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long – 3.5 stars All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman – 2 stars The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart – 4 stars
Audiobooks A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine – 3 stars Borne by Jeff VanderMeer – 1 star A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon – 3 stars Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young – 3.5 stars The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young – 3 stars
#SciFiMonth Mission Log: week three from imyril @ There’s Always Room For One More I love the mission logs that are shared each week for #SciFiMonth because it’s all the sci-fi content my heart could possibly want all in one place.
Summary: Truth is a human right. It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government—and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades. Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human—and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.
Review: Axiom’s End was an impulse buy a few months ago when I was at Barnes & Nobel looking for new to me science fiction. I figured that Sci-Fi month was the perfect time to pick it up and read it. Plus, I think the sequel is coming out soon. This story follows Cora, a college drop out that continually disappoints her mother and has a conspiracy theorist father (who abandoned her and her siblings). Her deadbeat dad’s latest conspiracy scoop is that the government has been hiding aliens. The twist is that Cora soon finds out that her father might have actually found something true. One thing leads to another (not sharing too many details here because this part of the story is part of what got me hooked on the story) and Cora finds herself as an interpreter to the aliens that have taken refuge on Earth. She’s the first human that they’ve actually communicated with. It was previously believed that communication wasn’t possible with them until Cora disproved that. I really enjoyed this story. It takes place in 2007, so I loved all the nods to early 2000s culture like flip phones, a few stores different stores that were mentioned, and President Bush is a part of this story, too. I liked Cora. She had some obvious issues with her father, but she loved her younger siblings and I missed them when they were no longer a main part of the story. She was brave and tried to do the right thing. Now, the aliens. They were definitely interesting. I thought the parts about their culture were fascinating. I loved learning more about their history, even though it was brutal at times. It was clearly well thought out and very detailed. I’m interested to see what we might learn about them in the next book, but also, I’m curious if we will actually see more of them outside of the ones that have taken refuge on Earth. Overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I think a huge part of the was the audiobook narrator. She did an incredible job telling this story and I will absolutely be seeking out more audiobooks narrated by her. I’m honestly not sure that I would have liked this book as much as I did if I’d read it physically. I also didn’t totally love the romantic feeling I got from Cora and the alien she interpreted for. I think that might just be me though. I still can’t quite tell if their bond is supposed to be more similar to a sibling bond or a romantic one. I guess I will find out in the next book.
Hi, lovelies! I thought it would be fun this year to talk about the science fiction, but by age range. I like to read middle grade books, YA books, and adult books. So, I have recommendations and TBR lists for all three age ranges. I have compiled a list of recommendations for each age range. For my today’s recommendations, I’m including some middle grade sci-fi books that are also on my TBR list because I haven’t read as much MG science fiction as I’d like.
Middle Grade Sci-Fi Recommendations
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez “When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared. Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk. A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in this mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.”
The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix “The Greystone kids thought they knew. Chess has always been the protector over his younger siblings, Emma loves math, and Finn does what Finn does best—acting silly and being adored. They’ve been a happy family, just the three of them and their mom. But everything changes when reports of three kidnapped children reach the Greystone kids, and they’re shocked by the startling similarities between themselves and these complete strangers. The other kids share their same first and middle names. They’re the same ages. They even have identical birthdays. Who, exactly, are these strangers? Before Chess, Emma, and Finn can question their mom about it, she takes off on a sudden work trip and leaves them in the care of Ms. Morales and her daughter, Natalie. But puzzling clues left behind lead to complex codes, hidden rooms, and a dangerous secret that will turn their world upside down.”
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.”
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix “Luke has never been to school. He’s never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend’s house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend. Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He’s lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family’s farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside. Then, one day Luke sees a girl’s face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he’s met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows – does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford not to?”
The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siiegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, & Boys Sun “The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves—and more to their worlds—than meets the eye. . . .Oona Lee, the clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine. An Tzu, a boy from the poorest slums, has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations. Jax Amboy is the star athlete who is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends? When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!”
Middle Grade Sci-Fi TBR
Under Their Skin by Margaret Peterson Haddix “From New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix comes the first book in a brand-new thrilling series about twins who are on a quest to discover the secrets being kept by their new family. Nick and Eryn’s mom is getting remarried, and the twelve-year-old twins are skeptical when she tells them their lives won’t change much. Well, yes, they will have to move. And they will have a new stepfather, stepbrother, and stepsister. But Mom tells them not to worry. They won’t ever have to meet their stepsiblings. This news puzzles Nick and Eryn, so the twins set out on a mission to find out who these kids are – and why they’re being kept hidden.”
Where the River Runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari “Shifa and her brother, Themba, live in Kairos City with their father, Nabil. The few live in luxury, whilst the millions like them crowd together in compounds, surviving on meagre rations and governed by Freedom Fields – the organisation that looks after you, as long as you opt in. The bees have long disappeared; instead children must labour on farms, pollinating crops so that the nation can eat. But Nabil remembers Before and he knows that the soul needs to be nourished as much as the body so, despite the risk, he teaches his children how to grow flowers on a secret piece of land hidden beneath the train tracks. The farm Shifa and Themba are sent to is hard and cruel. Themba won’t survive there and Shifa comes up with a plan to break them out. But they have no idea where they are – their only guide is a map drawn from the ramblings of a stranger. The journey ahead is fraught with danger, but Shifa is strong and knows to listen to her instincts – to let hope guide them home. The freedom of a nation depends on it . . .”
The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera “There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita. But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children – among them Petra and her family – have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race. Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet – and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard – or purged them altogether. Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?”
These are my recommendations for today. Keep an eye out early next week for my YA recommendations and then later next week for my adult recommendations. Is there any middle grade science fiction that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!
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.
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.
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!
Hi, lovelies! I love #SciFiMonth and science fiction is my favorite genre, as I will likely tell you, again and again, this month. I have been making my list for 2022 anticipated releases and there are some really exciting science fiction books coming in the new year. I thought it would be fun to share which ones I’m excited for with you all!
January 4, 2022 The Kindred by Alechia Dow
January 4, 2022 Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee
January 18, 2022 SevenMercies by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May
January 25, 2022 Light Years from Home by Mike Chen
March 1, 2022 Youngbloods by Scott Westerfeld
March 29, 2022 Until the Last of Me by Sylvain Neuvel
April 5, 2022 Alone Out Here by Riley Redgate
April 5, 2022 Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak by Charlie Jane Anders
April 19, 2022 The Genesis Wars by Akemi Dawn Bowman
April 19, 2022 Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
May 3, 2022 Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire
July 12, 2022 A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers
August 23, 2022 The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal
Unknown Date Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh
These are the books that I’ve found so far that I’m super excited to read once they’re published in 2022. Please let me know if there’s any science fiction you’re looking forward to that I don’t have on my list!
Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint.
One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.
But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics.
What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight… Review:
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. Phoenix Extravagant is a story about Jebi, who is nonbinary (there’s a specific term for it that I can’t remember, but they use they/them pronouns), who finds a dragon. That’s basically it. Just kidding.
Jebi is an artist and lives with their sister. But they need to find better work, so they took an exam to try to get a job with the government of the Razanei (who took over their country and killed his sister-in-law). Jebi knows their sister wouldn’t approve, so they do it behind their back. But when their sister finds out Jebi has gotten a Razanei name certificate (to change their name) she is so mad that she kicks them out. This leads Jebi to contemplate applying for a job with the Ministry of Armor. This is where the story gets really interesting.
Jebi’s new job at the Ministry of Armor is not anything like what they expected. Jebi meets Arazi, the dragon that the Ranazei is trying to figure out how to use for war. But Jebi figures out how to speak with Arazi and realizes that Arazi doesn’t want to be used to war. So, the plot for them to escape the Ministry of Armor is born.
I think the world in this story was so interesting. I liked learning about the two different cultures, how they were so very different in the things they value. Jebi was also a very interesting main character in the sense that they were never much of rebel. They accepted the fact that their country had been conquered and went on with their daily life. They never even thought about finding people that wanted to fight back against the Ranazei. Jebi was such a fun choice to get involved in the politics of the world. They didn’t want any part of it, but to save Arazi, they didn’t really have a choice. I also really enjoyed following Jebi as they learned about how the Ranazei’s automatons were powers and what magics made that happen. The magics were mildly horrifying, but still very interesting in how they worked and how they were created.
Overall, I think this is a wonderful story full of different kinds of representation. There is a polyamorous relationship, there are lots of nonbinary people. I can’t speak to the accuracy, but it’s there. I think the world was well built and very interesting. I don’t know if this is a series, but I want to learn more about what Jebi does after something that was revealed in the final pages of the story.
“To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is a brand new epic novel from New York Times bestselling author Christopher Paolini.
Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.
Now she’s awakened a nightmare.
During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.
As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.
While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .” Review:
I’m going to start by saying that I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this book. I didn’t love the Eragon series, but science fiction is my favorite genre, so I knew I was going to read this. When I started the book and realized that this was a man writing a story with a female main character, I texted my friends that I buddy read this with (hey, The Bookish Chick & Books in the Skye) and told them I was wary. But I am happy to say that all of those thoughts and expectations were wrong. I genuinely enjoyed this book so much. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars follows Kira (who I assumed to be Latinx from her last name but I don’t remember if it was ever specifically stated as the human population lives on many different planets now, so I don’t know that this distinction would exist in the same way anymore.) Kira is a xenobiologist which I honestly can’t tell you what that is, so. She finds an alien relic while doing a routine check and her life changes forever when she realizes that part of this relic is alive (sort of? I’m pretty sure it’s alive.) There’s not much about this part of the story in the synopsis so I’m going to stop there so I don’t spoil anything. Kira finds herself on a new path that she never anticipated. Alien life has been discovered again and this time it’s hostile. Two new alien species have revealed themselves and humanity is now at war with them. Kira and her team are the only ones that can stop this and potentially make peace with them. They just have to convince the military of that. With this aspect of the story, there were really great action scenes. I think Paolini did an incredible job of space warfare. There was enough explanation for me to understand what was going on and it wasn’t so much science that I didn’t understand how it worked. There were definitely a few things about space travel that I had questions about, but I think that was more of a ‘you need to accept it at face value and move on Amanda.’
The characters were completely the best part of the story. I easily loved them all. There’s Kira of course, who was well developed and interesting. She’s found herself in a situation unlike any she’s dealt with and she handles it admirably. She does the right thing, even if that means putting herself at risk. She is brave and thoughtful. She makes a point to listen to others and consider opinions and ideas that aren’t her own. I also really liked Falconi. He’s the captain of the Wallfish, the ship that Kira finds herself on not too long after she finds the alien relic. I liked that they crew didn’t immediately take her in as one of their own. Falconi is in it for the payday at first. But as the relationships develop, that changes. Falconi was a caring captain. He did what he thought was best for his crew and always took the crews thoughts into consideration before making decisions. Nielsen is basically the first mate. She was the most wary of Kira and I really liked seeing them develop and friendship and open up to one another. Trig was my favorite and added such excellent humor to the story. I will forever love all of the newt puns. Sparrow was a hard character, but for good reasons. I loved her backstory and that she took time to help Kira even though they weren’t the closest. Hwa-jung was probably one of the more interesting characters. She comes from a planet that has different gravity so her whole body structure is different from most humans. I liked the inclusion of Korean ideas and culture through Hwa-jung. I also liked that there was a romantic relationship between her and Sparrow. The Entropists were absolutely the most compelling characters. They come from a group that is way more technologically advanced than the rest of humanity. I liked that they stayed with the Wallfish crew to learn more and help with everything. I would love to get another book that was focused on the Entropists as a group. I also have to mention the ship mind, Gregorovich. He’s mildly unstable because he spent several years in isolation after an accident where his whole crew died. He was weird and funny and I loved it. I think the concept of the ship minds was fascinating. Gregorovich was once a human with a body, but he chose to become a ship mind and I think that concept is so interesting. Gregorovich is my favorite.
Overall, I really ended up loving this entire book. There were like two scenes that made me cringe. One was a sex scene and it wasn’t cringy because it was a sex scene, it was 100% because of the alien relic. I really loved the characters and all the relationships and different dynamics within the relationships. I think the world building of all the different places that humanity has spread to was really interesting. I wanted to know more about the alien relic and the aliens that created it. We get a bit, but it’s mostly through vague memories from the relic. I also don’t know that I was totally satisfied with the ending. I liked that Kira took responsibility. But the last few pages were honestly confusing. If you like science fiction, you’re probably going to love this one.
Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.
On this Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now she has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.
But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse. Review: The Space Between Worlds is a story that completely sucked me in. I was so hooked almost immediately. I think the author did so many things right in this story. Cara is a ‘traverser’ meaning she is one of the people that travel to alternate realities. She’s a pretty valuable asset to the company she works for because in this book you can only travel to alternate realities that your counterpart is no longer living. Cara is only alive in seven other realities. So, she’s able to travel to most of the other realities. She’s also training to become an analyst because there are rumors that the company will be announcing soon that they now have a way to collect the data remotely instead of using their traversers. She needs to be able to stay in the city for a certain amount of time so she can gain residency in the city or she will have to return to a home that isn’t familiar to her.
Things get exciting when Cara is sent to a reality where her counterpart is still alive. This scene where Cara is arriving was so intense. This book excelled at having great action and excitement, but not so much that it was non-stop. When Cara is fighting to stay alive after arriving in a reality she never should have traveled to, I was gripping the book so hard. I’d become so invested in Cara and her secrets. Cara is a really complicated character. She has secrets and I would definitely consider her to be a bit morally grey. She’s had a hard life and she’s doing everything she can to make a better future for herself. She’s done some not great things, but I found that I couldn’t help but really like her anyway. Cara manages to survive the horrible repercussions of traveling to a reality where her other was still alive with the help of someone from her past. But in this universe, he is completely different. Cara learns some valuable secrets while she’s in this reality and she uses them when she returns.
This book was incredible. I think it did a great job of highlighting the inequalities of this world. For example, most of the traversers are people from poor areas because these groups of people are more likely to die in their environments than those that have families who have lives in the cities for generations. This was a really interesting aspect of the story. I also really enjoyed that we got to see some of the other alternate realities or at least hear about them. I thought it was really interesting to see the different potential lives of Cara. I also really enjoyed the romance, if you can call it that. Cara cares for her handler, Dell, but she has all of these things she thinks because Dell has money and her family has lived in the city for generations. But we eventually learn the reason for Dell’s behavior and it was such a great example of people letting assumptions guide their thoughts and actions.
There were some really interesting family dynamics as well. I can’t say too much about it because part of the dynamic has to do with Cara’s biggest secret. But I really liked seeing how her family lived and seeing her relationship with her sister grow.
One last thing I want to mention is the mythology, I don’t know that mythology is the correct word for what I’m talking about but that’s what I’m going to use. This aspect of the story was so interesting. Cara has learned the mythology of a goddess (I think) from her mentor, an analyst that used to be a traverser. He’s told her about his beliefs and she’s taken them as her own. When she is traversing, she feels this goddess holding Cara in her arms and transporting her. I really enjoyed these parts of the story because they were really thoughtful and it was a way for Cara to think about things differently.
I just cannot say enough good things about this book. It might just end up on my 2020 favorites list. I cannot wait to see what Johnson will write next. I really hope to see more from this world.
“I guess it’s easy to be confident when you’re helpless, easy to be fearless when you have nothing left to lose.”
“Because that’s what a sister is: a piece of yourself you can finally love, because it’s in someone else.”
“They say hunting monsters will turn you into one. That isn’t what’s happening now. Sometimes to kill a dragon, you have to remember that you breath fire too. This isn’t a becoming; its a revealing. I’ve been a monster all along”
This first book in a feminist space opera duology follows seven resistance fighters who will free the galaxy from the ruthless Tholosian Empire — or die trying.
When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray.
Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.
When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.
Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die. Review: Seven Devils is a book that Antonia brought to my attention earlier in the fall and I’m so glad that she did. I absolutely devoured this book. The story is told from a few different perspectives. This is something that can either make or break a story. There are many books where the multiple perspectives all blend together, this was not one of those cases. Each character was distinct and I was never confused about whose perspective I was reading. I think the writing was really good. This world they created was so fascinating and well built.
We follow some members of the resistance that have history with one another from before the book starts. Eris and Clo worked together for the resistance in the past. Clo learned Eris’s biggest secret and the two haven’t worked together since. But there is a mission they must work together to fulfill and that’s where this story starts. Clo is angry that she has to work with Eris. I really enjoyed that we got chapters from both the present and the past for many of the characters. We got to see exactly what happened between Eris and Clo. I liked Eris. I liked her even more after learning about her past and her secrets. I just genuinely liked all of the characters. We meet the rest of our squad a little way into the story. I liked that it worked like this because we got to settle into the world and get to know Eris and Clo and figure out what was going on before three more characters were added. I liked the three friends that became a part of the crew. They each added something different, but equally important. I thought all the characters had such an interesting dynamic as a group because the three friends knew one another, but they were unsure about Eris and Clo. There wasn’t much trust, but it was really wonderful seeing these characters learn to trust one another individually and as a group.
Overall, this was such a good story. I loved that the story jumped back and forth between the past and the present (and was clearly labeled when it did this). I loved the group of characters that needed to learn to work together and trust one another. I loved the secrets that eventually came out. There were slower moments, but there were also some pretty high stakes. The representation was also wonderful. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the representation but I do want to mention what was in this story. One of the leaders of the rebellion is a trans woman. There is a romantic relationship between two women (this was my favorite and the story was so casual about it which I loved). There’s an autistic character. There’s bisexual representation and ace representation. I cannot wait for this series to continue. I will definitely be reading more by both May and Lam.
Hello, lovelies! Today I want to talk about tropes that I love within the science fiction genre. I don’t know if tropes is really the correct word, but it’s what I’m going with and you will all see what I’m talking about when you read a bit further. There are a few topics I just love to read about when it comes to the sci-fi I pick up.
End of the world storylines (dystopian) – By this I mean, the world has ended in some scenario. Some of my favorites are climate change, illness that change the world as we know it, and world ending wars (not that I like this, but it makes for an interesting story usually.) There are others but these are the few that pop into my head. Some recommendations:This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada, The Final Six by Alexandra Monir, The 100 by Kiss Morgan, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor, The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, Internment by Samira Ahmed, Dry by Neal Shusterman, Year One by Nora Roberts, The Fever King by Victoria Lee andScythe by Neal Shusterman.
Space Squads (also known as found family) – I love the found family trope in any genre, but it’s a great one in science fiction. There’s something about a bunch of people coming together and making their own family that hits me in the heart. I love seeing the relationships grow and develop into something wonderful. Some recommendations:The Disasters by M.K. England, Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, The Angel Experiment by James Patterson (I haven’t read this in a really long time, so take this with a grain of salt), and Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez.
Aliens – I’ve always been a sucker for alien stories. What really would happen if aliens came to earth? I just love reading about all the potential human reactions, positive and negative. There are so many different kinds of alien stories out there, which I think is why this is one of my favorites. Some recommendations:Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, and When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry (this is only sort of aliens, but I loved it.)
Time Travel – Time travel is one of those things that I think many people dream about. If I could go back in time and see anyone I wanted, I already know who I would go to see. There are so many complexities to the idea of time travel that it makes my brain hurt, but I still love it. Some recommendations:Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen, This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North.
Alternate Realities/Histories – This one is a topic I didn’t know I loved until more recently. I’ve read some really great stories with people traveling to alternate realities or stories that are the story of how things would be if one thing changed in history. It’s almost dystopian and almost fantasy and I almost always enjoy it. Some recommendations:The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix, and American Royals by Katharine McGee.
Superheroes – Who doesn’t love superheroes? I love the creativity with all the different abilities and the potential for what the world looks like when people have these abilities. Some recommendations:Vicious by V.E. Schwab, Renegades by Marissa Meyer, The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune, and Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Deborah Biancotti, & Margo Lanagan.
Off Earth – This is a more general topic in science fiction, but there are so many great books that fit the generalization of books not on earth. Some are space operas, some are not. I love books that are sci-fi, but none of the above. Some recommendations:The Martian by Andy Weir, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, Bonds of Brass by Emily Strutski, Skyward by Brandon Sanderson, Zodiac by Romina Russell, Mirage by Somaiya Daud, and Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee.
These are some of my favorite things to read about when I pick up a science fiction book or series, along with some recommendations of my favorites within each topic. I could literally talk about this for a million years, so I tried to keep it on the shorter side. Tell me in the comments about your favorite science fiction tropes or topics.
Clover Martinez and The Last Teenagers on Earth are busy exploring the galaxy after leaving earth behind…even if they can’t help but be a little homesick.
So when their ship receives a distress signal from their former planet, they hope against hope that it means other survivors. But as soon as they arrive, they realize something’s deeply wrong: strange crystal formations have popped up everywhere and there’s some sort of barrier keeping them from leaving.
Seeking the origin of the formations and the reason for the barrier, the group discovers a colony of survivors hidden in the mountains. But the survivors aren’t who they seem… Review:
I enjoyed The Last 8 so much that I immediately had to start the audiobook for book two, The First 7. I loved The First 7 so much that I listened to the entire audiobook in one afternoon.
I loved this book for the characters. I enjoyed the plot and the whole storyline, but I was so invested in the characters and oh boy, was there drama with this found family. I’ll mention the storyline first and then I can get into what I actually want to talk about today. I was interested in the storyline. At the end of book one, our characters travel into space. At the start of this book, we get to see the characters in space after exploring for several months. There is an altercation toward one of the Last Teenagers and they leave the planet they’re on. When they return to their ship, they receive a distress signal. A distress signal that was coming from Earth. They argue about whether or not to return and see what or who sent this signal.
After returning to Earth, they realize that they weren’t the last humans on Earth. Other people survived. They arrive near the community called Unity. But they soon have more problems to solve than they bargained for. Something happens to one of their friends that they need to figure out and there is this barrier preventing them from going back into space. I will say that I completely saw through one of the smaller twists, but I was stumped about most of what was actually going on. The mystery and suspense of waiting for this found family to find all the answers was really well done.
Now, the characters. Sadly, this friend group has some issues during this book. They’re at odds because some of them aren’t acting like they’re worried about the problems anymore and they just want to stay and live in normal lives in Unity. But the problems that are in this book are ones that really need to be solved. So, the half of the group that’s working on it is mad at the other half for not making any effort. There’s all sorts of issues and hurtful things are said. It was really hard to see this found family that I loved be so at odds with one another. But I was really happy with the resolution and how they all worked the issues out. There were moments of putting their fights aside for bigger issues, but they also talked about what their fights were really about and I liked that a lot.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I think the narrator did a really great job with both of these books. I will definitely listen to more books that have this narrator. I really enjoyed getting to see these characters return to Earth and I thought the plot was interesting. I will absolutely be reading more books by Pohl in the future. This was a diverse story that followed characters that weren’t always easy to love, but had wonderful growth and development.
Hello, lovelies! When thinking about what kinds of things I wanted to talk about for #SciFiMonth, I had an idea to talk about science fiction I read years and years ago that always makes me feel nostalgic when I think about them or reread them. I read quite a bit of dystopian fiction when I was in high school (it’s still one of my favorite genres) and I’ve been slowly rereading some of the older ones to see if they’re still as good as I remember them. So, today I want to talk about those books. The books I read and loved in my younger years that might not be as good as some newer stuff that I’ve read. I thought it would be fun to share some of the books that got me into reading science fiction, and see if anyone else read these in their formative years too.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld: I loved this series when I was in high school. There’s four books and in the last few years, Westerfeld started a new series that is set in the same world. So, obviously I had to reread the original before starting the new series. I enjoyed the original series mostly because of nostalgia, but objectively there were some elements I didn’t love. It’s one that I will own forever and probably reread again in the future. I don’t think it completely stands, but it’ll always be a favorite in my heart.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman: I remember nothing about this series except the feeling of loving the books. I have the boxed set on my kindle and I’m hoping to reread it before the end of 2020 (maybe not, but definitely in 2021). Shusterman is one of my favorite authors and I’ve loved all his books. So, I’m hoping I still love the Unwind series.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: I loved this series so much the first time I read it when I was in high school. Basically, aliens come and take over the earth. The movie was pretty terrible. I reread the first book a year or two ago and it did not stand up to what I remembered at all. I actually unhauled the series because it wasn’t at all what I remembered. I didn’t get the same nostalgic love that I did while rereading Uglies.
Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout: I have so much love for this book. I reread it last year and only managed to read the first book. I will eventually continue my reread. It’s definitely in the vein of younger YA, but this book is the reason that Antonia and I created Classy x Book Reviews, so it will always hold a place in my heart. Also, there’s a continuation series that follows different characters in the same world.
The Angel Experiment by James Patterson: I got really into Patterson’s books when I was in high school. I read many of his adult mysteries before moving on to his YA books. I loved this series, but the books seemed to get progressively worse because it was supposed to end several times and it kept getting ‘just one more book’ to the point where another book was published in 2020. I own the books and want to reread them but I’m worried that it will kill the happy nostalgia that I still have for it.
Legend by Marie Lu: This is another one that I remember loving, but have no memories of what the series is actually about. I have them on ebook and I definitely want to reread them. I’ve enjoyed all of Lu’s book and I think this one will hold up because it’s a very well loved book in the book community.
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix: I think I read this book because of school (maybe even so long ago that it was middle school). I think this was the book that pulled me into dystopian fiction. I absolutely loved this series. In a world where people are only allowed to have two children, the main character starts to suspect that his neighbors have a third child. I want to buy these books for my daughter so I can make her love science fiction as I do. I really want to reread this series again, but like some of the others, I worry it won’t hold up to my imagined love for it.
These are the science fiction books that I read in my formative years. These books are what fostered my love for the genre. This was so fun to think about and figure out which books to include. It also made me realize that I read a lot more fantasy in high school than I thought I did. What books did you read that helped you fall in love with science fiction? I love reading backlist books, so leave me a comment with some recommendations!
A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?
And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:
A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.
An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.
And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.
Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown. Review:
I was very thrown by the fact that this book doesn’t just follow Darrow like the first three books. I understand that this was originally a trilogy and I did end up really enjoying the multiple perspectives, but it was really had to get used to. I definitely cared more about some perspectives than others (Lyra is my favorite and I will gladly die for her). This book had all of the same things I loved about the first three books. Pierce’s prose is stunning. The universe is at war ten years after the ending of the last book. So, there was lots of violence and gore that was so well written within the action scenes. But the addition of the other characters gave us a wider view of the goings on in the story, which I ended up really enjoying.
I felt bad for Darrow. He seemed lost. It’s been ten years; he has a son and Mustang is his wife. But he’s a military leader and he hasn’t been home in over a year. His son is becoming a man and Darrow is missing it. He just wants to made the world he lives in a better place, but he basically only made things worse in this book. I’m interested to see where his storyline will go in the next book since he embraced the Reaper persona in the end of Iron Gold.
Lyra reminded me a lot of Darrow from book one which I think is why I loved her so much. Reds have been moved from the mines to a place that really isn’t much better. She witnesses an attack on her community and she and one of her nephews are the only survivors of her family. She deals with so much grief and so much anger. Lyra tries to do what’s best for her nephew and manages to get herself employment with a Gold we know from the previous books. I loved Lyra and felt so bad for her. She’s a lonely girl that’s lost her family. She is just lonely and trying to figure out how to not drown in her grief. After the chaos that she went through I’m excited to see what happens with her next.
I had a really hard time caring about Lysander. I have a feeling he’s going to be involved in another big battle and I just can’t bring myself to care. The kids lucky Sevro and Darrow didn’t kill him, so I don’t think he’s making great choices.
Ephraim’s story was interesting and I totally predicted his relevance to the story pretty early on. I think his is the most complex story. He has reasons for the way he lives but I don’t know that they’re super good ones. They’re understandable reasons, but I hope he works through it and starts making better choices. I think he’s going to, but it’s still unclear if he’s only making these choices to save someone or because he’s starting to want to do the right thing. With the way this book left off for him I’m very eager to continue onto the next book.
Overall, I enjoyed this book despite the fact that it’s different from the first three. I ended up really enjoying the new characters. I was a little sad that the same squads weren’t always involved, but I did grow to care about the new members of the Howlers and Darrow’s crew. I think this series is incredible and I’m so excited to see what’s going to happen next. It’s a high stakes story filled with action, gore, and characters that you have to get invested in. There are new perspectives which means that there are also new narrators. I’m super glad that Darrow’s narrator stayed the same and I absolutely loved the narrator for Lyra, the other two for Lysander and Ephraim were pretty good but Darrow and Lyra are my favorite forever. I’m going to start the next book now because I can’t wait.
As a Red, Darrow grew up working the mines deep beneath the surface of Mars, enduring backbreaking labor while dreaming of the better future he was building for his descendants. But the Society he faithfully served was built on lies. Darrow’s kind have been betrayed and denied by their elitist masters, the Golds—and their only path to liberation is revolution. And so Darrow sacrifices himself in the name of the greater good for which Eo, his true love and inspiration, laid down her own life. He becomes a Gold, infiltrating their privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within.
A lamb among wolves in a cruel world, Darrow finds friendship, respect, and even love—but also the wrath of powerful rivals. To wage and win the war that will change humankind’s destiny, Darrow must confront the treachery arrayed against him, overcome his all-too-human desire for retribution—and strive not for violent revolt but a hopeful rebirth. Though the road ahead is fraught with danger and deceit, Darrow must choose to follow Eo’s principles of love and justice to free his people.
He must live for more. Review: Golden Son was somehow even more wild than Red Rising. I really didn’t think that was possible, but apparently it was. In this book, it’s two years after the end of Red Rising. Darrow has started working for the man that killed his wife. He’s been sent to the Academy which seems to me like a more relevant version of the Institute. I don’t want to get too much into the plot (and that will probably continue in my reviews for the rest of the series).
Darrow is such an interesting character. He’s born a Red but was carved into a Gold and thrown into their world. He’s still the boy that grew up in the mines, but he’s also now a man that has killed. He’s a Red that’s been turned into a leader. He isn’t with his loyal friends that he made during his time at the Institute at the start of the book, but they do eventually all come together. I didn’t love the start of the book because it felt like I’d missed a bunch of time because I had. There was more than a year of time that we just didn’t get to see. We do get a few memories of that time, but I was confused at first.
I didn’t really start loving this book until the crew got back together. I missed Darrow being with Mustang and Severo and all of the friends. Darrow is completely in his element when he has his friends. I liked that he was still thinking about how it would be hard to do what he was sent to do when that meant betraying the people that were loyal to him.
I really loved that we got to know more about the Sons of Ares. I didn’t like the first meeting with them in this book because who and what we saw wasn’t what the Sons of Ares were supposed to be about. So, when we see other members that we already know, it was exactly what I wanted it to be. I love the plot twists that involved the Sons of Ares because I totally didn’t see them coming. And the ending was absolutely devastating.
Overall, this book was just as violent and gory as the first book. It was excellent. I loved Darrow. I loved getting to see another planet in this universe. I liked the politics. This was a very political story and I really enjoyed that. I love all the characters and their relationships. I liked how thoughtful Darrow was about the things he was doing. I can’t wait to continue the series. I do want to say that I listened to the audiobook for this book and the narrator was incredible. I will absolutely be continuing the rest of the series on audio because I loved the narrator so much.