A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

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

Book Cover

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Truth of the Divine by Lindsay Ellis

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

Book Cover

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

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

Book Cover

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

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

Book Cover

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth: Amanda’s Entire Science Fiction TBR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth: 2022 Anticipated Science Fiction Releases

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

Hi, lovelies! I 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
Seven Mercies 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!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

GoodReads Summary:
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.
The Space Between WorldsReview:
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.

Quotes:

“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”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

GoodReads Summary:
Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.
When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.
Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.
The Last 8 (The Last 8, #1)Review:
The Last 8 follows Clover as the world is ending because aliens have come to Earth, and they’re not friendly. Everyone Clover has ever known is dead. She travels aimlessly around the United States for many months until she hears a radio broadcast made by another survivor. She travels to what used to be Area 51. This is where she meets seven other survivors. But they’re happily hiding in their military base and aren’t interested in doing anything to fight back against the aliens, until Clover convinces them anyway.
This story was incredible. I wasn’t sure what to expect while I was listening. The plot twists were interesting and kept the story going at a steady pace. I think one of my favorite things about this story was that it’s realistic. The world ends and all of Clover’s loved ones are gone, she really struggles with suicidal thoughts and considers killing herself several times while she’s traveling alone. Most of the ‘end of the world’ stories have these hopeful teenagers that think they’re invincible, but this book has a diverse cast of characters that just want the aliens to go away. They want to hide and not have to be responsible for saving the world.
Clover was a complicated girl. She was raised by her grandparents, grew up as the only Latinx girl in a small town. I really liked that this was addressed even though that small town was soon unrecognizable. I also liked that Clover was sort of a jerk. She pushed people to do things they don’t really want to do. She pushes her new friends to ask questions, to do something, anything. She isn’t the hero they wanted, but she is the one they needed.
Overall, this might be one of my new favorite science fiction stories. There was action and drama. There were interesting relationships that I was easily invested in. There was a diverse cast of characters that each brought something to the story. I loved the twists and turns that the characters went through. They learned things about themselves that they never wanted to know. They learn things about each other too. I think this story was so well done and I’m confused why this book hasn’t been talked about more. I will now go to my rooftop and scream about this book so that others will read it.

Quotes:

“I don’t belong to the sky anymore. Hope is the thing that kills me in the end. Because it doesn’t take my body, but it takes my soul.”

“I’ve learned that there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely.”

“My instinct is not to speak, but I’m tired of silence. I’m tired of not knowing how to bridge the gaps between me and the others.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth – Diverse Science Fiction

ARTWORK by Tithi Luadthong from 123RF.com.

Hi, lovelies! I was inspired by a friends post from last year’s #SciFiMonth and wanted to do my own version. Kal from Reader Voracious did a post about diverse YA science fiction last year and I thought of so many books I could do for my own version. So, thanks to Kal for the inspiration and let’s get right into it. I’m going to list them by age range, starting with middle grade.

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee: This story was a mix of Korean folklore, science fiction, and a bit of magic. We follow Min, who has fox-magic (which is thought to no longer be around). She sets out to find her brother and ends up way over her head. I really enjoyed this book. I’ve loved all of the stories that have been published through Rick Riordan Presents. I loved the combination of things that made this story what it was. It’s definitely one I’ll be adding to my daughters library. Also, the audiobook was great.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez: This is my second favorite of the books that have come from Rick Riordan Presents. Sal is a boy who lives in Miami. He has diabetes, but he also has the ability to create holes in the universe. Sal is a little firecracker, but Gabi is even more so. They both come from fascinating families that I couldn’t help but adore. Sal and his father are Cuban and that is a big part of the story too. Sal and Gabi team up to try to fix the holes he’s created in the universe. Sal is also grieving his Mami. I think this is such a great middle grade story.

The Fever King by Victoria Lee: In what used to be the U.S. a magical virus has infected some, leaving them with magical abilities, and most others dead. Noam gets sick and wakes up in the hospital as a technopath. This attracts interest from government officials in ways that Noam isn’t sure he likes. This story gets pretty wild even though the fries 15% or so is pretty slow. Noam is bisexual, Colombian, and Jewish. This story is full of grey morals and I really enjoyed it.

The Disasters by M.K. England: This disastrous found family is one of my all time favorites. Nax is bisexual and comes from a Muslim family. He’s made mistakes and has a lot of self-doubts, but it was really great to see him overcome it. Then there’s Rion who is black, queer, and British. He’s the son of a diplomat, so he always knows exactly what to say. I loved the flirtations and hints of a potential romance between Rion and Nax. It was just enough that it didn’t take center stage over the rest of the story. Case is the third point of the sort of, but not really, love triangle. She’s super smart and struggles with anxiety. Next up is Zee, who is trans, and a kick-ass doctor who will literally kick your ass. Finally, there’s Asra, who is Muslim and we see her wearing a hijab and taking time to pray. She’s also the stepkid of a crime boss that she wants to take down. They essentially have to take down the government and it’s wonderful.

The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune: “A queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.” Nick lives in a world where ‘extraordinaries’ exist, people with special abilities. After he meets his idol, he’s decided he needs to do whatever he can to become an extraordinary. This book was so wonderful. It highlights the ADHD experience, friendship, fan fiction writing, and many other important things.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud: Amani is kidnapped to play body double to the cruel half Vathek princess, Maram. Too much happens in this series for me to summarize. Amani is amazing. Her romance is great. Maram is horrible at first but has great development. I ended the series really loving her. They both get romances, one of which is female/female. I believe it’s also inspired from Moroccan culture. This one is going to make my 2020 favorites list (and the audiobooks are great!)

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor: This book is compared to The Lunar Chronicles often, but it’s honestly better (and I really liked that series). Set in a world called Earth Adjacent (because technology destroyed Earth) we follow The Technician who illegally helps people with mechanic work. Then the Commissioner’s son, Nathaniel, finds a lead to the Technician’s identity. Things get a little wild here with overthrowing the government and an arranged marriage. Eliza, the Queen’s spy, comes to Earth Adjacent and things get even more exciting. There’s a romance between two female characters that I completely adored.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin: Get ready to be confused. I was confused for the entire series and despite that I enjoyed the shit out of this book. I’m going to talk about all three books. The writing was incredible. There are several perspectives we follow and they are all written so well. There’s one that’s written in second person and it was such an interesting way to tell the story. The characters draw you in and the world is incredible. I just cannot say enough good things about this series. I’m hoping to read the rest of Jemisin’s backlist titles in 2021.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: This series is such a fun one. Each book follows a different set of characters. This universe is so interesting. There are so many different species. It was such a treat to learn about them all. Some are very specific about gender roles and how they change as the species age. I think this book did a wonderful job of showing a unique, interesting, and diverse universe.

These are some of my favorite diverse science fiction books for all different age ranges. They’re all diverse for different reasons and they’re all wonderful books that I highly recommend. What diverse books would you recommend?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.