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.

Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May

GoodReads Summary:
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.
Seven Devils (Seven Devils, #1)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.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare

GoodReads Summary:
They call him the Duke of Ruin.
To an undaunted wallflower, he’s just the beast next door.
Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society—and now he wants to get even.
Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.
When her imposing—and attractive—new neighbor demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.
Done, Gabriel says. How hard can it be to find homes for a few kittens?
And a two-legged dog.
And a foul-mouthed parrot.
And a goat, an otter, a hedgehog . . .
Easier said than done, for a cold-blooded bastard who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse. Soon he’s covered in cat hair, knee-deep in adorable, and bewitched by a shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. Now she’s set her mind and heart on saving him.
Not if he ruins her first.
The Wallflower Wager (Girl Meets Duke, #3)Review:
I just love this series. I immediately loved Gabriel Duke from the moment Penny met him while he was wearing nothing but a towel and she was trying to find her parrot. I already loved Penny from the previous books and I really enjoyed getting to know more about her history that led her to where she is now.
I also really enjoyed getting to know Duke. He’s just like another one of Penny’s strays that just need to be loved. He has a not so great past and I really enjoyed seeing him try to work through that with Penny’s help.
The two make a deal to get rid of all the animals that Penny has rescued. This is not as easy as Duke thinks it will be. I loved this aspect of the story because it keeps pushing the couple together, even though they’ve vowed not to be alone together. Their banter and antics were really the best part of this book.
I also really loved that we still got to see Penny’s friends. I loved that the couples from the two previous books are a part of this one too. I also really enjoyed that things were sort of set up a little bit to get the reader excited for the next book.
Overall, I loved this book. I love this series. These wallflowers are some of my favorite characters to read about. I love seeing them get their happy endings. This book was funny and full of love. I definitely recommend this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth: Favorite Tropes in Science Fiction

ARTWORK by Tithi Luadthong from 123RF.com.

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.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

GoodReads Summary:
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.
Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.
The Love That Split the WorldReview:
The Love That Split the World was my last Emily Henry book and I was not disappointed at all. I didn’t realize this was going to be as much of a romance as it was, but I still really loved it. The story follows Nat as she’s trying to figure out who needs to be saved. Natalie has seen Grandmother for most of her life. She sees her late at night and no one really believes that Grandmother is real. Nat tries a certain therapy to stop seeing Grandmother and it works, until one night, Nat sees Grandmother and she tells Nat that there are only three months to save him. Nat has to figure out who Grandmother is talking about. I really liked Nat. She was adopted and her biological mother is an Indigenous woman from a reservation in another state. So, not belonging and trying to figure out who she really is had been a bit part of Nat’s life so far. I really liked this aspect of the story. Nat’s journey to figure things out about herself was one of the best parts of the book. I also really loved all of the stories we got to hear about that Grandmother told her. I really loved all of the Indigenous cultures that was included. I can’t speak to the representation, but as an outside opinion, I thought the stories were beautiful and beautifully written.
Enter Beau. I feel like I only really liked Beau because most of the other people in Nat’s life sucked. Especially her ex-boyfriend. Beau was kind and had some issues, but he was there when Nat needed him and he could understand a bit of what Natalie was dealing with what Grandmother was trying to tell her.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t mind that it was mostly a romance. I loved how much it reminded me of my own high school experience. I liked the characters. But most of all I loved the twists and turns of the story. It was beautifully written and Emily Henry has solidified a place as one of my favorite authors.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

To Have and to Hoax by Martha Winters

GoodReads Summary:
Five years ago, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley met, fell in love, and got married. Four years ago, they had a fight to end all fights, and have barely spoken since.
Their once-passionate love match has been reduced to one of cold, detached politeness. But when Violet receives a letter that James has been thrown from his horse and rendered unconscious at their country estate, she races to be by his side—only to discover him alive and well at a tavern, and completely unaware of her concern. She’s outraged. He’s confused. And the distance between them has never been more apparent.
Wanting to teach her estranged husband a lesson, Violet decides to feign an illness of her own. James quickly sees through it, but he decides to play along in an ever-escalating game of manipulation, featuring actors masquerading as doctors, threats of Swiss sanitariums, faux mistresses—and a lot of flirtation between a husband and wife who might not hate each other as much as they thought. Will the two be able to overcome four years of hurt or will they continue to deny the spark between them?
To Have and to HoaxReview:
This book was fun. We follow James and Violet after they’ve been married five years. But something happened four years ago, something that was supposed to be mysterious and it was because we didn’t find out what the fight was about until about halfway. But it was a bit repetitive. The way both James and Violet talked about their fight, they both said the same things over and over. That was a little annoying, but it’s a small thing.
I was anticipating more hilarity from the premise saying that they were going to go back and forth essentially lying to one another, but it wasn’t as fast-paced as I thought it would be. Though it was slow, I still enjoyed it. The end third of the book was the best. When the couple finally acknowledge that they know what the other has been up to is when things got interesting for me.
Overall, this book was enjoyable. I thought it was fun and silly. I liked James and Violet and I liked them even better once they fixed their issues and got back together.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The First 7 by Laura Pohl

GoodReads Summary:
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…
The First 7 (The Last 8, #2)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.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

GoodReads Summary:
Welcome to 1876 and a rootin’-tootin’ America bursting with gunslingers, outlaws, and garou.
JANE (a genuine hero-eene)
Calamity’s her name, and garou hunting’s her game—when she’s not starring in Wild Bill’s Traveling Show, that is. She reckons that if a girl wants to be a legend, she should just go ahead and be one.
FRANK (*wolf whistle*)
Frank “the Pistol Prince” Butler is the Wild West’s #1 bachelor. He’s also the best sharpshooter on both sides of the Mississippi, but he’s about to meet his match. . . .
ANNIE (get your gun!)
Annie Oakley (yep, that Annie) is lookin’ for a job, not a romance, but she can’t deny there’s something about Frank she likes. Really likes. Still, she’s pretty sure that anything he can do, she can do better.
A HAIRY SITUATION
After a garou hunt goes south and Jane finds a suspicious-like bite on her arm, she turns tail for Deadwood, where there’s been talk of a garou cure. But things ain’t always what they seem—meaning the gang better hightail it after her before they’re a day late and a Jane short.
My Calamity Jane (The Lady Janies, #3)Review:
I absolutely adored the first two books written by the Lady Janies, so I knew I was going to read this one. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction (I do find ones I love now and then) and even further, westerns are not my jam at all. I did find myself enjoying this book despite those things. The narrators really make these books so fun with their little inserts and side notes.
The characters really made this story. I love the found family trope and this book didn’t disappoint in that aspect. We follow Calamity Jane, Wild Bill, Frank, and Annie Oakley. The first three are already a team, traveling the country for their show. But they’re also undercover Garou (read: werewolves) hunters. Annie comes in when she realizes the show is going to be close to where she lives. She travels to see the show and then challenges Frank to a competition to prove that Annie is a better sharpshooter. I really loved Annie. She was such a go-getter. She’s confident in her abilities and never backed down from a challenge. She’s smart and got herself into situations that were just hilarious, but also often helpful. She sees things that the others don’t. But she also has some prejudices from her childhood that she needs to get over. Jane gets herself into some trouble early into their investigation. But rather than sharing with her makeshift family, she tries to figure a way out herself. I hate secret-keeping and there was a lot of it in this story. So, much could have been avoided if only the four had just told the whole truth to one another. Regardless, this found family got up to some real western antics. I mostly enjoyed the action and the drama. I liked that Indigenous people were included in the story as eventual friends of Annie. I thought it was a good part of the story.
Overall, this wasn’t a new favorite, but it was a fun read. I liked the characters. I really enjoyed the way that the Lady Janies tell their stories. There was mystery and drama, action, and suspense. It was enough to keep me interested.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth – Science Fiction That Makes Me Feel Nostalgic

ARTWORK by Tithi Luadthong from 123RF.com.

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!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

GoodReads Summary:
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.
Iron Gold (Red Rising Saga, #4)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.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

GoodReads Summary:
When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.
One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.
As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.
Furyborn (Empirium, #1)Review:
I’ve tried to pick up Furyborn twice now and this time I actually finished it. The last time I picked it up I only made it barely through the prologue before I put it down. I’m so glad I picked up the audiobook on a day my child didn’t want to nap because it pushed me to listen to a solid two hours. After that, I was hooked. I was enjoying it so much I went back and forth reading physically and listening to the audio.
Furyborn follows two powerful (and unlikable) women, Rielle and Eliana. I liked Rielle right from the start. We get a bit of how her story ends in the prologue so I was fascinated once the story jumped back to her being a teenager. I needed to know how her story led to what we saw in the prologue. And the more I read about her the more I loved her. She had a terrible father, who was terrible for a heartbreaking reason (but didn’t make him any less terrible). She had wonderful friends, except she was in love with one of them and the other was going to marry the one she loved. Also, she’s powerful as all hell, but she has to hide it from everyone. I thought her story was complex and interesting and I loved her so much.
Eliana was a different story. I really didn’t like her for quite a while. When this book starts, Eliana is finding and turning in rebels for the Empire. They are executed and she gets paid. She does this for her family’s survival. But it’s terrible and sad and I didn’t like it. But everything changes for Eliana when she has to find the Wolf. I really appreciated her growth and acknowledgment of her past. She will do anything to protect her mother and brother and she proves that again and again. I did grow to like her by the end of the story and I’m very excited to see what she will do next. Also, I do want to mention that she is bisexual.
I hate Corien with my whole heart and that’s all I’m going to say about him.
Simon was one of my favorite aspects of the book. He’s involved with both queens and his story is just complex and intricate and weaves between both timelines. I really enjoyed putting the pieces together to figure out what was going on with him. I one million percent ship him with Eliana.
Overall, this story took some getting used to. It was definitely jarring to go back and forth each chapter between two completely different time periods. But I think once I got used to that and got a better handle on both worlds, I really enjoyed the story. They are so interwoven and tied together. I think this book was incredible. I loved the characters (eventually). I loved the different magic systems. I loved it all.

Quotes:

“Dread,” he murmured, his breath caressing her cheek, “is only a feeling, easily squashed. But wolves, my dear, have teeth.”

“We all have darkness inside us, Rielle,” he said, his voice rough. “That is what it means to be human.”

“Some say the Queen was frightened in her last moments. But I like to think that she was angry.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

WWW Wednesday

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Hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer the three questions!

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I’m still listening to Dark Age by Pierce Brown. I also started Inheritance by Malinda Lo.

Antonia- I’m currently reading The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco.

What did you recently finish reading?

Amanda- Most recently, I finished Adaptation by Malinda Lo.

Antonia- I most recently read The House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas.

What do you think you will read next?

Amanda- Next, I’ll hopefully pick up The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab or something for Tome Topple.

Antonia- Next I think I’ll read Seven Devils by Elizabeth May and Laura Lam.

Thanks for reading. Let us know what you’re reading in the comments!

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Name a Pet After

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is a list of characters I would name a pet after. I’m all about weird or unusual pet names so I’m super excited for this one.

Shalkan from The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Pantalaimon from His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Fleetfoot from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Pippin from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Solembum from The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Timballisto from The Legend of Luke by Brian Jacques

Ember from Talon by Julie Kagawa

Bast from The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

Blackjack from Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Reepicheep from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

What characters would you name a pet after?

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

GoodReads Summary:
Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.
Finally, the time has come.
But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.
Morning Star (Red Rising Saga, #3)Review:
There are so many incredible things about this book but my favorite was by far Sevro. His friendship with Darrow was absolutely what shined through in this book. Their relationship is so complex and interesting. At one point, I thought it would end because of a leadership struggle but they just ending up beating each other up and then laughing about it. I loved how much Sevro has grown. The person he is now is so strong and he is absolutely my favorite character.
That’s not hard to say, but Darrow is a very close second. Darrow is a complicated person. He’s a Red in the body of a Gold and he means to change the world. But he’s just spent 9 months being tortured. So, he’s not the Reaper everyone knows him to be. He takes time to get back to that person. I loved that Darrow always actively thinks about his choices and his actions. He thinks about how many lives will be lost and if that’s a weight he can bare in his soul. He loses and mourns friends in this book. I really appreciated that this grief was shown. It wasn’t just a page or two, but is talked about throughout the story, well the whole series really. Darrow was a fascinating character and I’m very excited to continue this series.
We get to see more of this universe again and I thought that was really interesting. I liked that a big chunk of this story was traveling through space collecting allies. But it was also working through what all of the colors were raised to believe and feel. There are disagreements and lots of death. The action in this book was incredible. I felt like I was there with Darrow, fists clenched in anticipation of what the outcome would be.
Finally, the narrator. He’s done an absolutely incredible job with this series and I hope he narrates the new books too. He brings this story to life in ways that many other narrators don’t even try to. All of the characters get different voices and the narrator really puts emotions and feeling into what they’re saying or doing. I think I loved this book (and the series) as much as I do because the narrator does such an incredible job telling this story.
I definitely recommend this book for sci-fi lovers that haven’t read it yet. It’s full of action, characters you can’t help but love and then are devastated when they die, boys making boy jokes, and of course a rebel cause worth fighting for.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Love, Jacaranda by Alex Flinn

GoodReads Summary:
Jacaranda Abbott has always tried to keep her mouth shut. As a foster kid, she’s learned the hard way that the less she talks about her mother and why she’s in jail, the better. But when a video of Jacaranda singing goes viral, a mysterious benefactor offers her a life-changing opportunity—a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school to study musical theater. Eager to start over somewhere new, Jacaranda leaps at the chance. She pours her heart out in emails to the benefactor she’s never met.
Suddenly she’s swept up in a world of privilege where the competition is fierce and the talent is next level. As Jacaranda—Jackie to her new friends—tries to find her place, a charming boy from this world of wealth catches her eye. She begins to fall for him, but can he accept her for who she really is?
Love, JacarandaReview:
Love, Jacaranda was sent to me by the author as an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I love most of Flinn’s contemporary novels. This one was pretty good, but not a favorite. I’m a sucker for boarding school stories. It’s a topic that will always catch my interest. But I didn’t love the way this story was told. I think it was interesting. This story is told via emails. We follow Jacaranda as she’s given a full ride by an anonymous benefactor to a well-known musical school. This story is told via the emails she sends to this anonymous benefactor. That in itself was sort of weird to me. I probably would have sent a few emails full of gratitude for the opportunity they had allowed me, but Jacaranda’s emails turned into almost a diary-like sort of thing. She never gets a response, but it’s obvious that someone is reading them because her contact person, Vanessa, always calls her after any important questions or concerning comments. So, this felt sort of weird for me because this is a teenage girl treating emails to what we’re supposed to assume is a grown man, like her own personal diary. Despite my issue with this aspect, I did enjoy the story. I liked reading how much Jacaranda was enjoying her new classes. I liked seeing her make new friends and experience new things. She’s a girl that’s struggled most of her life. Her mother is in jail, and in the past hasn’t dated the best people. So, when her life changes the way it does, she feels like she shouldn’t reveal her past. This sort of made me sad, but I liked it when Jacaranda made friends with another scholarship kid who knew who she really was. I liked that there was someone she could be honest with.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I didn’t love the ending, but I thought things were sufficiently wrapped up. I definitely had my issues with this story, but I still had a good time reading it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.