#SciFiMonth: If You Liked This, Then Read That

ARTWORK by Tithi Luadthong from 123RF.com.

Hey, lovelies! I did this sort of post for Blogtober and I thought it was so much fun to make, so I thought I would try it out for SciFi Month! Today I’m going to be giving book recommendations based on other books. These are all science fiction books that I enjoyed, but they vary in subgenre and age ranges. So, let’s get into my second edition of ‘if you liked this book, then try that one!

If you liked The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer then you should try Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor. The first book in The Lunar Chronicles follows Cinder, a cyborg, in a cinderella retelling of sorts. She finds herself involved with Prince Kai and suddenly she’s involved in intergalactic politics. Tarnished Are the Stars follows Anna who is known as ‘the Technician.’ She has an illegal clockwork heart and she supplies other people with illegal technology. She meets the Commissioner’s son, Nathaniel, who is determined to turn Anna in to his father. But when Nathaniel’s betrothed, Eliza, comes to Earth Adjacent, the three of them might just bring down the local government. These books were both so great. They both follow unlikely heroes that are excellent mechanics and somehow end up in a plot to overthrow the government.

If you liked The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff then you might like The Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel. The first book in the series, Illuminae, follows Katy and Ezra after their world has been invaded and they’re forced to flee. Katy is an excellent hacker and manages to figure out what’s going on despite being told nothing. But the only person that she thinks can help her happens to be her ex-boyfriend, Ezra. Sleeping Giants is the first book in the series. It follows Rose, first when she’s a child and finds a giant robot hand, and almost twenty years later she’s a physicist leading a top-secret team that is researching the hand she discovered as a child. I’ve connected these two books for one big reason, they’re both told in a mixed media format. The first book is told in a series of emails, video transcripts, IMs, interviews, and other sorts of documents. The second book is told in mostly interview format with an anonymous interviewer. There are also radio broadcast transcripts and audio journal entries. Both series are told in mixed media. I think they’re similar in another aspect with the way the series progress. All three books The Illuminae Files are following three different couples. All three books in The Themis Files have a significant time jump between each book. Both series are also highly recommended for their audiobook format.

If you liked American Royals by Katharine McGee then you should try The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. American Royals is a reality tv sort of story that is set in modern day, but the twist is that George Washington was made the King of America after the revolution. The story follows his modern day descendants. The Calculating Stars is a bit different. It’s also an alternate reality story. In the 1950s a meteorite falls to the Earth and destroyed a significant amount of the east coast, including Washington, DC. This causes all sorts of environmental issues leading the people to look to the moon as an alternative to live on. We follow Elma York as she realizes that she wants to be on the space mission and not just a calculator for NASA. The common link between these two recommendations are that they are alternate reality stories. But they are also both very much stories that focus on women. Elma wants to be a female astronaut which is unheard of and Beatrice is going to be the first Queen of America.

If you liked Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman then you will probably like Internment by Samira Ahmed. Dry is a story about when California runs out of water. The drought has been an issue for a while, but the taps run dry and the world gets dystopian like very quickly. Internment is set in a near future potential reality where Layla and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim Americans. Both stories are very dark. Dry is dark in a way where peoples survival instincts come out and how it would be to live in a world where it’s every person for themselves. The things people could do for the sake of survival is scary. Internment is a story about hate and how that hate can change the world as we know it. Both stories are filled with characters that aren’t ready to give up. Both stories had tears in my eyes and hope for a better world in my heart.

If you liked The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum you should try The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper. The Weight of the Stars tells the story of Ryann who dreams of being an astronaut. She’s accepted her reality and that this dream isn’t likely to happen. Enter Alexandria, a loner that does everything she can to avoid Ryann’s offer of friendship. Despite this, Alexandra joins Ryann’s chaotic friendship. This is a slow burn romance that focuses on the characters, their dreams, and their growth. The Gravity of Us is about Cal, a successful seventeen-years-old journalist who is forced to move from Brooklyn to Houston because his father was selected for an important NASA mission. Life in Houston is completely different, but when he befriends a fellow astronaut’s son, things start to look up. Just a disclaimer, these are both a bit more contemporary than science fiction, but they both have characters who’s life surrounds people that are currently in space or are about to be in space. Plus I thought it would be okay to have one for those that like the idea of science fiction without most of the sci-fi stuff. These are both that. They both have queer romances and talk about heavy topics in thoughtful and meaningful ways. I loved them both very much.

If you liked Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff you will probably like The Disasters by M.K. England. The tagline for Aurora Rising is “They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.” It follows six misfits as they discover secrets that the government is hiding and do their best to save the universe. The Disasters doesn’t have the same tagline, but it could. “They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.” This book has a cast of five diverse disaster children that are the only ones that know the Academy has been attacked by a terrorist group. They need to stop this group and spread the truth before they can do worse than just take over the Academy. Both stories are a found family group that need to stop a big bad from taking over the universe. Through social media I’ve heard that many people are disappointed in Aurora Rising and it’s sequel, which is why I made this comparison because everything I wanted from Aurora Rising is what I got from The Disasters.

If you liked The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow you might like I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi. The Sound of Stars follows Ellie while she lives in New York City, which is a city controlled by aliens. When one of those aliens, MoRr1S (Morris), finds her hidden (and illegal) library he’s supposed to report her except he doesn’t. The two end up on a road trip, sharing music and books, on their way to try to save humanity. I Hope You Get This Message follows three characters, who are all doing what they need to in what they think may be their final week of life. Earth has received a message from another planet saying that they have one week before they end civilization. Jesse, Cate, and Adeem have only a week to right wrongs and face truths before the world ends. These books are different in the sense that the first had already been invaded by aliens and the second isn’t being invaded but seems to be an expirement of these aliens, one that has been decided a failure and needs to be terminated. The common factors of these books are roadtrips between people that don’t know one another very well, but end up with very strong relationships. Both stories are also filled with diverse and fascinating characters.

If you liked Dune by Frank Herbert you should try Mirage by Somaiya Daud. Dune follows Paul after his father takes him to an ‘inhospitable’ world where the only thing of value is the spice that is produced on this planet. When his family is betrayed, Paul and his mother set out into the desert with one goal, survive, and eventually return and retake the planet that should be under Paul’s rule. Mirage follows Amani after she’s kidnapped so that she can be the body double of the half-Vathek princess, Maram. The Vath have conquered Amani’s planet and with her new place within the palace she wants to see if she can find a way to free her people. I chose these two books because Dune is a really well known book that deals with overtaking planets, learning about the culture of said planet and then Paul trying to do better than those before him. But Mirage is all of those things with a strong female lead written by an author of color who drew from her own heritage. Mirage is an incredible story that more people should read. If you liked the concept of Dune but don’t want to read that huge book, Mirage is only 320 pages and every page is incredibly written, diverse, and filled with an incredible world.

If you liked Renegades by Marissa Meyer you might like The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune. Renegades follows Nova (a villain) while she infiltrates Renegade Headquarters and tries to find weaknesses to bring them down. She lives in a world of prodigies, one much different from our own. Vengeance is her motivation, but things become less and less clear as the series progresses. The Extraordinaries follows Nick, a queer teen with ADHD who is one of the most popular fan fiction writers in the Extraordinary fandom. Nick idolizes one Extraordinary in particular and after he meets this hero, Nick decides he wants to make himself an Extraordinary. These stories are both in the superhero realm of science fiction. They different in the sense of the worlds they take place in. Renegades is in a world where it’s completely changed from our world while The Extraordinaries is mostly our world, but with a few rare individuals that have superpowers. But both stories follow characters that might not be on the best path. I really enjoyed both stories that were filled with interesting abilities and characters I couldn’t help but love.

If you liked Year One by Nora Roberts you will probably like The Fever King by Victoria Lee. Year One follows a cast of characters as the world ends via a sickness that spreads unbelievably fast and those that recover are left with gifts. There are some that are immune, but the world descends into chaos as the world as we know it ends. This cast of characters must figure out a new beginning now that the world has come to an end. In The Fever King, Noam lives in what used to be the U.S. He’s caught the sickness and is the sole survivor of his family. He’s also left with the gift of technopathy. Noam gets recruited into what’s basically a military of people that have survived the sickness and now have abilities. Noam joins with hopes to change the way the world has become. He wants to fight for what is right. Both of these stories deal with how the world can change once it ends. They both have the world ending with some sort of sickness and that sickness results with some people having special abilities. I really enjoyed them both.

I ended up finding way more books than I intended, but I was having too much fun and just sort of went with it. So, here you have it. Ten comparisons and twenty books total. Let me know if you’ve read any of these and agree or disagree with my pairings.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Books & Baking – The Lightning Thief

Hi, lovelies! I chose to do a rather easy one for this installment of Books & Baking just to keep the momentum going for this feature. I tend to forget about things if I don’t do them regularly. So, I think this one will be a fan favorite (because it’s a very beloved book). For this edition, I’ve decided to bake something from The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I’ve always wanted to make a blue food for this blog feature since I first had the idea.

Book: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Read my full review here!

If you don’t know what the Percy Jackson series is about, you must be living under a rock. We follow Percy as he finds out that he’s actually a Demi-god. Lots of wild antics and quests ensue. I really enjoyed this book, and the rest of the series. I love Percy and Annabeth and Grover. I love all of the characters we meet. And I love the representation this story gives.

“Even strength must bow to wisdom sometimes.”

“It’s funny how humans can wrap their mind around things and fit them into their version of reality.”

“Look, I didnt want to be a half-blood. If you’re reading this because you think you might be one, my advice is: close this book right now. Believe whatever lie your mom and dad told you about your birth, and try to lead a normal life. Being a half-blood is dangerous. It’s scary. Most of the time, it gets you killed in painful nasty ways. If you’re a normal kid, reading this because you think it’s fiction, great. Read on. I envy you for being able to believe none of this ever happened. But if you recognize yourself in these pages-if you feel something stirring inside- stop reading immediately. You might be one of us. And once you know that, it’s only a matter of time before THEY sense it too, and they’ll come for you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Baking: Chocolate Chip Cookies (but they’re blue!)

So, for this one I actually used my mother-in-laws recipe for chocolate chip cookies and I’m actually not going to share that with you all.

“I guess I should explain the blue food. See, Gabe had once told my mom there was no such thing. They had this fight, which seemed like a really small thing at the time. But ever since, my mom went out of her way to eat blue. She baked blue birthday cakes. She mixed blueberry smoothies. She bought blue-corn tortilla chips and brought home blue candy from the shop. ”

Okay, so here is where I’d usually put the ingredients and baking instructions. But as I said above, I’m not sharing my MIL’s recipe. So, find a chocolate chip cookie recipe of your choice and literally, all I did was add blue food coloring to the dough once it was all mixed together. I’m just going to add some more pictures I took in place of the usual ingredients and instructions.

I got some pictures when they came right out of the oven that really show how blue they are. It seemed when they cooled they lost a bit of the color. But they were not good pictures so I will not be adding them here. I also just have to say that I think these are the best batch I’ve made and I think it’s because of a brown sugar issue where I had to make my own. Have you ever made any blue food in honor of Percy Jackson? Let me know in the comments!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

End of Year-A-Thon: Round Three!

Hello, lovelies! If you’ve been here a while you might already know what this announcement post is about (since it’s the third year this is being done), but if you’re new here hello! and welcome! Today I am here to talk about a readathon that I co-host with the wonderful Vicky over at What Vicky Read. We are back for the third year of End of Year-A-Thon, the last hoorah of readathons to get those books you said you were definitely going to read back in January. We’re here to help you add a few more ‘read’ books to that GoodReads goal of yours. If neither of those things are on your list of concerns, then for you we’re just here to give you a chance to read some books with friends before 2020 ends.

Let’s get into the details. End of Year-A-Thon will start on December 26th (at midnight in your timezone) and it will end on December 31st (again, at midnight in your timezone–Happy New Year!) We have five prompts this year that we’ve changed a bit. Feel free to use the prompts or not. This is a pretty flexible readathon, so you may combine as many prompts as you want. If you have one book that fits all five, great! Any kind of book will count, so grab those graphic novels, pick up your headphones and start listening to those audiobooks you’ve been meaning to start. Or don’t do anything of those things and just pick some books at random and read along with us!

Prompts

Read a 2020 release

Read a book written by a BIPOC author

Read your most recently acquired book (borrowed, bought, gifted, etc.)

Read a book with a star on the cover

Read a book from a series you’ve already started, but haven’t finished

So, these are the prompts we’ve chosen. I will personally be choosing one book for each prompt because, as I’ve said in the past, I like to have options when I’m doing readathons because I’m a mood reader. I can’t wait to see what everyone will be choosing for their TBR’s. I’ll be posting my TBR toward the beginning of December, but feel free to post yours whenever and don’t forget to link Vicky and me so we can see it! I’m going to link some stuff down below so you can all make sure to get all the updates. Let me know if you’re thinking of participating in the comments!

Amanda’s Twitter

Vicky’s Twitter

End of Year-A-Thon Twitter

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty

GoodReads Summary:
The final chapter in the bestselling, critically acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy, in which a con-woman and an idealistic djinn prince join forces to save a magical kingdom from a devastating civil war.
Daevabad has fallen.
After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.
But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.
Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.
As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.
The Empire of Gold (Daevabad Trilogy, #3)Review:
The Empire of Gold was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020. It did not disappoint in any way shape or form. It’s going to be really hard to talk about this book without spoiling the previous two books. So, I’m just going to say that it was incredible and I loved every page. It was a wonderful conclusion and I highly recommend it. Now, if you don’t want to be spoiled for the first two books in the series read no further.
This story starts off right where book two ended. Dara and Manizheh are in Deavabad, trying to get everyone under their control. Much to their displeasure, everyone that isn’t daeva is resisting. So, their part of the story is very political. Lots of Dara trying to meet with leaders of each faction and failing. There’s tons of action and political drama. I thought the best parts of Dara’s perspective were when he was starting to realize that maybe Manizheh was going too far.
We jump into Ali and Nahri’s story in Egypt. The two find themselves on the bank of the Nile river. Ali is not doing so great and Nahri’s magic is gone. I absolutely adored the time this two spent together in Cairo. I loved that Nahri got to see the old man that owns the apothecary again. I loved that he’s who she went to for help when she didn’t know what else to do. Ali and Nahri spend a lot of time together while in Cairo. They also travel from Cairo to Ali’s mother. They need to regroup and figure out what they’re going to do to get Daevabad back. Ali is dealing with figuring out his Marid powers, and things get infinitely more complicated with this topic (which I totally loved. I loved the Marid plotline. I thought it was completely fascinating.) And Nahri is just trying to accept that it’s up to her to save her world from her mother. I really liked seeing Ali and Nahri grow closer. Their relationship was always complicated and it was no different in this story. I also really loved Nahri getting to spend time with her brother, once he finally knew he was her brother of course.
Overall, I loved every single thing about this mammoth-sized book. We got to see Nahri visit the person that helped her in Cairo. We got to see relationships strengthen and others end. We got a wonderful conclusion to a world filled with characters that I love so much. I think the way the world was left was a great resolution, the best possible one. I was sad that my time with these characters in this world was over, but I was satisfied with how things were wrapped up.

Quotes:

“She told me to keep myself whole. That there wasn’t any shame in taking care of yourself in order to help those who needed you.”

“Not wanting to be destroyed by despair doesn’t make you a coward. It makes you a survivor.”

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.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

GoodReads Summary:
In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.
But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.
As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.
Mirage (Mirage, #1)Review:
Mirage is a book that I let sit on my bookshelf for entirely too long. I absolutely loved this story. The book follows Amani as she is taken from her home and brought to the royal palace because she looks just like the Princess. Maram is not a very popular princess, so Amani is trained to behave exactly like Maram would and to know everything that Maram knows. It was hard not to feel bad for Amani. She’s been taken from the only life she’s known and thrown into the vicious world of the Vathek. The longer she’s with Princess Maram though, the better she gets to know her. I ended up feeling bad for Maram too. She’s only half-Vathek, so her struggle is that her mother’s people hate her because she’s Vathek and the Vathek people think less of her for her other half. I love Maram because we got to see growth. Though the ending sort of messed that up, but I’m very excited to see what will happen with her in the next book. Amani is thrown into a world where she’s mostly over her head. But she manages to make friends with some of the people in Maram’s life that Amani’s supposed to be fooling. I really liked when Amani visited Maram’s grandmother. That’s really when the story started to get really good. I mean, it was enjoyable the whole time, but the pace of the story really sped up around here.
Overall, I adored this book. It was a diverse story and the only thing that would make it better would be for Maram and Amani to fall in love. I loved the world, but I’m hoping we get to see more of it. There was also a romance and I totally wasn’t as invested in it as I thought I’d be. They were alright together, but I knew it wouldn’t end well as soon as it started. Anyway, definitely go read this book it was great.

Quotes:

“You are lucky”, she said. “Me?” “You know where you belong. You have your family and your traditions, no one is…is screaming at you to be something else.”

“When night falls, come and visit me, For I have seen night keeps secrets best.”

“A cage is a cage even if gilded.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

GoodReads Summary:
April May and the Carls are back in the much-anticipated sequel to Hank Green’s #1 New York Times bestselling debut novel, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing.
The Carls disappeared the same way they appeared, in an instant. While they were on Earth, they caused confusion and destruction without ever lifting a finger. Well, that’s not exactly true. Part of their maelstrom was the sudden viral fame and untimely death of April May: a young woman who stumbled into Carl’s path, giving them their name, becoming their advocate, and putting herself in the middle of an avalanche of conspiracy theories.
Months later, the world is as confused as ever. Andy has picked up April’s mantle of fame, speaking at conferences and online about the world post-Carl; Maya, ravaged by grief, begins to follow a string of mysteries that she is convinced will lead her to April; and Miranda infiltrates a new scientific operation . . . one that might have repercussions beyond anyone’s comprehension.
As they each get further down their own paths, a series of clues arrive—mysterious books that seem to predict the future and control the actions of their readers; unexplained internet outages; and more—which seem to suggest April may be very much alive. In the midst of the gang’s possible reunion is a growing force, something that wants to capture our consciousness and even control our reality.
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor is the bold and brilliant follow-up to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It’s a fast-paced adventure that is also a biting social commentary, asking hard, urgent questions. How will we live online? What powers over our lives are we giving away for free? Who has the right to change the world forever? And how do we find comfort in an increasingly isolated world?
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor (The Carls, #2)Review:
I loved everything about this book. If you didn’t see me scream about my love for the first book, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, go ahead and do that now. I think this story is incredibly relevant to the world we live in today. What I really liked about this book was that unlike the first book we didn’t just hear the story from April May. The story starts off and we don’t even hear from April May until at least 50 pages into the book. We get a bit of an update on each of the major players from the first book and they tell us what’s been going on in the world since the ending of book one. I really liked this because I felt like I got to know them better, outside of their role in April May’s life. I also think it made April May into a more likable character because we see them grieving her. I think unlikable characters that have friends who love them will make them more likable.
I really don’t know what else to say for this review because so much happens in the story and I don’t like to talk details in my reviews. But, like I said earlier, this story is so relevant to the world we live in. I loved each of the characters and each of their journeys. I loved that they all learned something important about themselves. I loved that they all grew tremendously. I think Hank created such an incredible story with characters that so easily gained my love. I absolutely cannot wait to see what he writes next.

Quotes:

“You will always struggle with not feeling productive until you accept that your own joy can be something you produce. It is not the only thing you will make, nor should it be, but it is something valuable and beautiful.”

“We all want to be in the room where it happens, we want to be part of the things that matter to us, but no two people have the exact same collection of things that matter. Nowadays, I don’t so much want to be in the room where it happens, but I do really want to help other people choose the right rooms, and help them realize that they really are a part of things that matter. Because when we feel like none of the rooms we are in matter, that’s when we’re really lost.”

“At some point, we have to realize that the places where we share information are not services we use, they are places where we live…this platform should not be something that a few billionaires have complete control over.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

GoodReads Summary:
Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.
Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.
But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.
The City We Became (Great Cities #1)Review:
The City We Became was weird in all the best ways. The synopsis for this story is short, so I’m going to try to explain it a bit. There are six characters that we follow. Each of these characters represents an important part of New York City. In this world, cities come alive, and that’s what is happening in New York in this story. The city creates avatars from its important parts, sometimes one, sometimes more. This is where things got weird. Each of the boroughs was described to have personalities that fit with the people and culture of each borough. It was a bizarre but interesting way to get to know New York. As I’ve never spent much time there, I can’t speak to the accuracy. But it sure was interesting. One of the best parts of this book was the different parts of New York trying to get along and work together. I was fascinated by the things that they didn’t like about one another.
The villain in this story was also fascinating. It’s sort of an unknowable thing. I still sort of don’t really understand who or what it was. But it was following a different path than what it did with previous cities. I thought this made the story more interesting. The stakes had been upped and no one was listening to Sao Paolo when he tried to tell them that. The mystery of this villain is definitely what’s keeping me interested in the second book.
Overall, this book was confusing and weird. But I still loved it. I really loved the ending. The battle was won, but war was beginning and things were far from over. I liked that things were left in a happy place, a celebration before getting back to work. The reader is still left with questions, but we know that things right now are okay. This review is all over the place and I don’t really think I explained anything at all. But here it is.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

WWW Wednesday

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

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini, Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, and I’m listening to Iron Gold by Pierce Brown.

Antonia- I’m currently reading The House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas.

What did you recently finish reading?

Amanda- I most recently finished reading Stain by A.G. Howard.

Antonia- I recently finished The Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa.

What do you think you will read next?

Amanda- Once again, no idea what I’ll read next. Probably romance so I can escape the election anxiety.

Antonia- I’m not sure what I’ll read next. I’ll have to see what I’m in the mood for.

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

Amanda’s #SciFiMonth TBR

ARTWORK by Tithi Luadthong from 123RF.com.
QUOTE from Seven Devils by Elizabeth May & Laura Lam

Hello, lovelies and happy November! We’re finally almost out of the shitshow that has been 2020. I discovered in September that #SciFiMonth is a thing that exists and as science fiction is my favorite genre I obviously have to participate. This wonderful event is run by Imyril @ There’s Always Room for One More… and Lisa @ Dear Geek Place. There is an announment post and another post with more details (here) and you can find the #SciFiMonth Twitter here for more details and all the updates. With all of the business out of the way, let’s talk about what I’m hoping to read this month. This is going to be a short list of the books I definitely want to get to before #SciFiMonth is over. Later this month, I will have a full list of all the science fiction books that I own and haven’t read yet so you can all shame me into reading them. Let’s get into it!

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

These five books are my highest priority of all the science fiction I own. There are definitely some I plan to reread as well this month, but that will be a different list. What books are you hoping to read this month?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.