The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Summary:
They said the war would turn us into light.
I wanted to be counted among the heroes who gave us this better world.
The Light Brigade: it’s what soldiers fighting the war against Mars call the ones who come back…different. Grunts in the corporate corps get busted down into light to travel to and from interplanetary battlefronts. Everyone is changed by what the corps must do in order to break them down into light. Those who survive learn to stick to the mission brief—no matter what actually happens during combat.
Dietz, a fresh recruit in the infantry, begins to experience combat drops that don’t sync up with the platoon’s. And Dietz’s bad drops tell a story of the war that’s not at all what the corporate brass want the soldiers to think is going on.
Is Dietz really experiencing the war differently, or is it combat madness? Trying to untangle memory from mission brief and survive with sanity intact, Dietz is ready to become a hero—or maybe a villain; in war it’s hard to tell the difference.
A worthy successor to classic stories like Downbelow StationStarship Troopers, and The Forever War, The Light Brigade is award-winning author Kameron Hurley’s gritty time-bending take on the future of war.

Book Cover

Review:
This is the second time travel/ time loop book I have read recently that I didn’t know was going to be about time travel. So, like that other book, I think I would hugely benefit from reading this book again to see how all of the pieces fit more clearly. As it is, I have a pretty good grasp on the story. A little over halfway is when I really started to see the bigger picture.
The Light Brigade follows Dietz, who has just signed up to join the military. Only, she lives in a futuristic society where corporations run the world. There are bits and pieces of how this came to be shared in the story. But there are the Big Six that are the current controlling corporations. This was a fascinating story. Because while it follows someone that’s a grunt at the frontlines of the war, I feel like at its heart, this story wasn’t about war. It was a story about Dietz. A newer technology has allowed the corporations to actually do something about the problems on Mars. The ability to travel through light had been developed. From my understanding, the tech breaks down a person into light and transports them to their destination and then changes them back from light into a person. But it’s clear in this book that this technology is highly flawed. Just the amount of soldiers lost during the trips is an incredible number.
So, when it comes to Dietz, she isn’t traveling the way that she’s been trained that it will feel/sound/look like. But she’s not sure what to do about it, who she can tell or if she should say anything at all. I think this conflict of whether or not to keep it a secret was a good one. It made learning the truth a bit harder, but it wasn’t the usual secret keeping trope that I dislike. I liked how it was handled because when Dietz finds the right people to confide in and get help from, she does just that.
Overall, this was certainly a wild ride. I feel like there were absolutely some things that I missed and I’m highly looking forward to rereading it in the future. The story was compelling and it felt unique. I was left satisfied with the ending even though not everything was wrapped up nice and neat. I think science fiction readers will really love this one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel

Summary:
Showing that truth is stranger than fiction, Sylvain Neuvel weaves a scfi thriller reminiscent of Blake Crouch and Andy Weir, blending a fast moving, darkly satirical look at 1940s rocketry with an exploration of the amorality of progress and the nature of violence in A History of What Comes Next.
Always run, never fight.
Preserve the knowledge.
Survive at all costs.
Take them to the stars.
Over 99 identical generations, Mia’s family has shaped human history to push them to the stars, making brutal, wrenching choices and sacrificing countless lives. Her turn comes at the dawn of the age of rocketry. Her mission: to lure Wernher Von Braun away from the Nazi party and into the American rocket program, and secure the future of the space race.
But Mia’s family is not the only group pushing the levers of history: an even more ruthless enemy lurks behind the scenes.
A darkly satirical first contact thriller, as seen through the eyes of the women who make progress possible and the men who are determined to stop them…

A History of What Comes Next (Take Them to the Stars, #1)

Review:
I want to start off by saying that while I was approved for an eARC of this book (three days before it’s release date), I actually read the finished copy that I got from my local library. So, thank you NetGalley, but technically I didn’t read the ARC. Now, 3.5 stars, that makes me a little sad because Neuvel’s previous series, the Themis Files, is one of my all time favorite series, so you could say that I was very excited for this new release. I don’t want to say that I didn’t like it because that would be a lie. I did like it. I enjoyed reading it. I thought it was interesting. But I didn’t completely love it like I thought I was going to (though I will say I didn’t really even know what it was about until after I picked up my copy from the library).
This story follow Mia and her mother, Sarah, and occasionally some bits and pieces about their ancestors. They are the Kibsu and they have been tasked with helping humanity reach the stars and successfully figure out how to travel through space. Why? I literally have no idea. Are they aliens? Time travelers? Why don’t you tell me because I honestly don’t know. (Edited to add: I’ve reread the synopsis and it says it’s a “first contact” story, so they are definitely aliens.) So, the whole time Sarah is training Mia to take over and start the next generation tasked to reach the stars, there is another alien/time traveler/whatever in play. There is the Tracker that is following them. Neither Mia nor Sarah is completely sure that the Tracker even exists. But if he does, he will kill them both if they let him find them. Some parts of the story are told from his point of view as well. I thought this was an interesting choice because it opened up the story a bit more. It gave us more insight into the history of the Kibsu (which I believe I am correct in assuming that the Tracker is also Kibsu).
Now, I think I just didn’t love this book because a lot of the finer details went right over my head. After reading the authors note at the end, it’s clear that Neuvel put so much thought and research into this book. I don’t often pick up historical fiction and that’s what this was. This is a historical fiction book with a sci-fi twist (a few characters that are aliens). I think it’s the extreme amount of detail that is what put me off the story a bit. There’s so much science that Mia is doing to help different people build rockets. But also, I feel like I was left with all of the same questions that I had while I was learning about Mia and Sarah. I feel like we didn’t really learn anything, aside from what we learned from the Tracker, but that dude murder so many people and I don’t trust him. I also think that so much information has been lost or changed through 100 generations. It’s like a game of telephone.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. Once I got past the 100 page mark, I was intrigued enough by the story to keep going. But it was dense in history and science, the writing style was a bit odd and took some getting used to, and while I learned a lot about the history of the space race I feel like I didn’t learn anything about the characters. I believe this is a series so I do plan to continue it, but I think I might see how the audiobooks are done. Anyway, if you’re a space or history nerd, you’ll probably love this.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

fullsizeoutput_3401GoodReads Summary:
Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint.
One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.
But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics.
What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight…
Phoenix ExtravagantReview:
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. Phoenix Extravagant is a story about Jebi, who is nonbinary (there’s a specific term for it that I can’t remember, but they use they/them pronouns), who finds a dragon. That’s basically it. Just kidding.
Jebi is an artist and lives with their sister. But they need to find better work, so they took an exam to try to get a job with the government of the Razanei (who took over their country and killed his sister-in-law). Jebi knows their sister wouldn’t approve, so they do it behind their back. But when their sister finds out Jebi has gotten a Razanei name certificate (to change their name) she is so mad that she kicks them out. This leads Jebi to contemplate applying for a job with the Ministry of Armor. This is where the story gets really interesting.
Jebi’s new job at the Ministry of Armor is not anything like what they expected. Jebi meets Arazi, the dragon that the Ranazei is trying to figure out how to use for war. But Jebi figures out how to speak with Arazi and realizes that Arazi doesn’t want to be used to war. So, the plot for them to escape the Ministry of Armor is born.
I think the world in this story was so interesting. I liked learning about the two different cultures, how they were so very different in the things they value. Jebi was also a very interesting main character in the sense that they were never much of rebel. They accepted the fact that their country had been conquered and went on with their daily life. They never even thought about finding people that wanted to fight back against the Ranazei. Jebi was such a fun choice to get involved in the politics of the world. They didn’t want any part of it, but to save Arazi, they didn’t really have a choice. I also really enjoyed following Jebi as they learned about how the Ranazei’s automatons were powers and what magics made that happen. The magics were mildly horrifying, but still very interesting in how they worked and how they were created.
Overall, I think this is a wonderful story full of different kinds of representation. There is a polyamorous relationship, there are lots of nonbinary people. I can’t speak to the accuracy, but it’s there. I think the world was well built and very interesting. I don’t know if this is a series, but I want to learn more about what Jebi does after something that was revealed in the final pages of the story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

GoodReads Summary:
Would you give up everything to change the world?
Humanity clings to life on January–a colonized planet divided between permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other.
Two cities, built long ago in the meager temperate zone, serve as the last bastions of civilization–but life inside them is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside.
Sophie, a young student from the wrong side of Xiosphant city, is exiled into the dark after being part of a failed revolution. But she survives–with the help of a mysterious savior from beneath the ice.
Burdened with a dangerous, painful secret, Sophie and her ragtag group of exiles face the ultimate challenge–and they are running out of time.
Welcome to the City in the Middle of the Night.
The City in the Middle of the NightReview:
The City in the Middle of the Night was an impulse buy for me. I was at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. in 2019 and I got to meet Charlie Jane Anders and see her give a talk on science fiction. I really enjoyed what she had to say, so I impulse bought this book and even got her to sign it! I don’t know why it took me so long to pick it up because I really love science fiction, but I’m an imperfect human so sue me.
I really loved this book for most of the time that I read it. The story follows two different points of view, Sophie and Mouth.
Sophie is a poor girl that got the opportunity to go to a better school. But not too long into her schooling, she makes the mistake of covering for her friend, Bianca, (who she is infatuated with). Sophie is exiled, but she survived and comes back into the city, hiding with an old friend of her mothers. We get this brief introduction to Sophie and the story really starts after Sophie is exiled. While she’s out there, she comes in contact with aliens that the humans call crocodiles, but their actually called the Gelet. Sophie realizes that they can be communicated with and develops a friendship of sorts with this Gelet that she names Rose.
Mouth is a smuggler that still struggles with the death of her entire tribe that happened years ago. I liked Mouth, a character that very clearly has issues. Mouth goes through this story and eventually learns more about their (I’m not sure that this is the right pronoun because Mouth is literally just referred to as Mouth the whole book. I don’t think there was a single pronoun for them) tribe and learns that all of these ideas that they had might not be accurate. I thought this was a really interesting addition to the story. Mouth was such a different character from Sophie, from personality to history, the two were both very different.
There are two side characters that should be mentioned. I already named Bianca, who I thought I was going to like, but her story ended up going in a really different direction. I think Anders did a great job making me like Bianca, only for her character development to go somewhere I didn’t expect. Bianca is motivated by the loss of Sophie, but she connects with Mouth not too long into the story. Then there’s Alyssa, Mouth’s sleepmate. The don’t seem to be friends when the story starts, but as it goes on, it’s clear they are friends, just not very good ones. I liked Alyssa. She was fierce and clear about what she needed from those in her life. She didn’t hesitate to call Mouth out and I liked that.
The biggest problem that I had with this book was the ending. The book just ended. It felt like there were a few chapters missing and I assume that was done on purpose, but I was not happy about it at all. There were so many things left unresolved and so many questions left unanswered. Sophie’s path led her on a mission and we never found out what the results were. I was very frustrated by the ending and it really dampened my enjoyment of the book.
Overall, I enjoyed the heck out of this book right up until it ended with little to no conclusion. I will probably be reading more of Anders work in the future, but I’m hoping for better endings. I will say that the world and the characters were so vivid (except the Gelet. I could quite grasp an image of them in my mind). The different cultures of the humans and the Gelet’s culture were so interesting. This book probably would have been a five star read if not for the hugely disappointing ending.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

GoodReads Summary:
In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.
The PowerReview:
I don’t know what I was expecting from this book, but the story I got what so far beyond that. To keep it short, this book is basically about women who gain electrical abilities. Some parts of the world, the women take over completely, other parts of the world, women gain power by hiding their power. I think this story was incredibly told from several different perspectives in different parts of the world. I think that is what made this book so great.
We follow Margot who is the Mayor when it’s discovered that girls have electrical abilities, her daughter being one of them. When Margot’s daughter wakes the power in Margot, she realizes that she needs to change the way things are being seen in the world. Everyone’s searching for a cure, but Margot wants to teach and train the girls instead of letting them be seen as potential enemies or threats. I thought Margot’s perspective was interesting and I was rooting for her.
Allie/Eve was also a super interesting character. She runs away from her foster family and finds herself at a convent. She hears a voice in her head and it was never totally clear to me whether this was a mental health thing or if there was actually someone talking in her head. I think her ability to influence the other girls at the convent and the way she used YouTube and the population to gain followers was fascinating.
Roxy was the daughter of a high level drug dealer. She was so fierce and powerful. I loved that she was still loyal to her family despite most of the world deciding that men were useless now. I liked that she had goals and aspirations. I liked that she was loyal to her friends, too.
Finally, Tunde was a Nigerian man who caught a picture of women using their power when it first started to appear. He was offered money in exchange for it, which motivated him to travel and continue getting photos and stories that no one else was getting. I think his story was the most fascinating because he was a man in a now female dominated world, so there were times he was really frightened and others he was genuinely afraid for his life. I think because he traveled so widely it gave the reader a chance to see so many different places and how things were going.
Overall, this was a fascinating story to see the world as we know it flipped to women having the power. I think it was also a really interesting choice to frame this story as if it was a historical story being written by a man in a far off future where women are still in charge. I was confused a bit at first as there was no mention of this, but I think it added such an interesting aspect to the story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

GoodReads Summary:
“To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is a brand new epic novel from New York Times bestselling author Christopher Paolini.
Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.
Now she’s awakened a nightmare.
During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.
As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.
While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .”
To Sleep in a Sea of StarsReview:
I’m going to start by saying that I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this book. I didn’t love the Eragon series, but science fiction is my favorite genre, so I knew I was going to read this. When I started the book and realized that this was a man writing a story with a female main character, I texted my friends that I buddy read this with (hey, The Bookish Chick & Books in the Skye) and told them I was wary. But I am happy to say that all of those thoughts and expectations were wrong. I genuinely enjoyed this book so much.
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars follows Kira (who I assumed to be Latinx from her last name but I don’t remember if it was ever specifically stated as the human population lives on many different planets now, so I don’t know that this distinction would exist in the same way anymore.) Kira is a xenobiologist which I honestly can’t tell you what that is, so. She finds an alien relic while doing a routine check and her life changes forever when she realizes that part of this relic is alive (sort of? I’m pretty sure it’s alive.) There’s not much about this part of the story in the synopsis so I’m going to stop there so I don’t spoil anything. Kira finds herself on a new path that she never anticipated. Alien life has been discovered again and this time it’s hostile. Two new alien species have revealed themselves and humanity is now at war with them. Kira and her team are the only ones that can stop this and potentially make peace with them. They just have to convince the military of that. With this aspect of the story, there were really great action scenes. I think Paolini did an incredible job of space warfare. There was enough explanation for me to understand what was going on and it wasn’t so much science that I didn’t understand how it worked. There were definitely a few things about space travel that I had questions about, but I think that was more of a ‘you need to accept it at face value and move on Amanda.’
The characters were completely the best part of the story. I easily loved them all. There’s Kira of course, who was well developed and interesting. She’s found herself in a situation unlike any she’s dealt with and she handles it admirably. She does the right thing, even if that means putting herself at risk. She is brave and thoughtful. She makes a point to listen to others and consider opinions and ideas that aren’t her own. I also really liked Falconi. He’s the captain of the Wallfish, the ship that Kira finds herself on not too long after she finds the alien relic. I liked that they crew didn’t immediately take her in as one of their own. Falconi is in it for the payday at first. But as the relationships develop, that changes. Falconi was a caring captain. He did what he thought was best for his crew and always took the crews thoughts into consideration before making decisions. Nielsen is basically the first mate. She was the most wary of Kira and I really liked seeing them develop and friendship and open up to one another. Trig was my favorite and added such excellent humor to the story. I will forever love all of the newt puns. Sparrow was a hard character, but for good reasons. I loved her backstory and that she took time to help Kira even though they weren’t the closest. Hwa-jung was probably one of the more interesting characters. She comes from a planet that has different gravity so her whole body structure is different from most humans. I liked the inclusion of Korean ideas and culture through Hwa-jung. I also liked that there was a romantic relationship between her and Sparrow. The Entropists were absolutely the most compelling characters. They come from a group that is way more technologically advanced than the rest of humanity. I liked that they stayed with the Wallfish crew to learn more and help with everything. I would love to get another book that was focused on the Entropists as a group. I also have to mention the ship mind, Gregorovich. He’s mildly unstable because he spent several years in isolation after an accident where his whole crew died. He was weird and funny and I loved it. I think the concept of the ship minds was fascinating. Gregorovich was once a human with a body, but he chose to become a ship mind and I think that concept is so interesting. Gregorovich is my favorite.
Overall, I really ended up loving this entire book. There were like two scenes that made me cringe. One was a sex scene and it wasn’t cringy because it was a sex scene, it was 100% because of the alien relic. I really loved the characters and all the relationships and different dynamics within the relationships. I think the world building of all the different places that humanity has spread to was really interesting. I wanted to know more about the alien relic and the aliens that created it. We get a bit, but it’s mostly through vague memories from the relic. I also don’t know that I was totally satisfied with the ending. I liked that Kira took responsibility. But the last few pages were honestly confusing. If you like science fiction, you’re probably going to love this one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

GoodReads Summary:
Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.
On this Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now she has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.
But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.
The Space Between WorldsReview:
The Space Between Worlds is a story that completely sucked me in. I was so hooked almost immediately. I think the author did so many things right in this story. Cara is a ‘traverser’ meaning she is one of the people that travel to alternate realities. She’s a pretty valuable asset to the company she works for because in this book you can only travel to alternate realities that your counterpart is no longer living. Cara is only alive in seven other realities. So, she’s able to travel to most of the other realities. She’s also training to become an analyst because there are rumors that the company will be announcing soon that they now have a way to collect the data remotely instead of using their traversers. She needs to be able to stay in the city for a certain amount of time so she can gain residency in the city or she will have to return to a home that isn’t familiar to her.
Things get exciting when Cara is sent to a reality where her counterpart is still alive. This scene where Cara is arriving was so intense. This book excelled at having great action and excitement, but not so much that it was non-stop. When Cara is fighting to stay alive after arriving in a reality she never should have traveled to, I was gripping the book so hard. I’d become so invested in Cara and her secrets. Cara is a really complicated character. She has secrets and I would definitely consider her to be a bit morally grey. She’s had a hard life and she’s doing everything she can to make a better future for herself. She’s done some not great things, but I found that I couldn’t help but really like her anyway. Cara manages to survive the horrible repercussions of traveling to a reality where her other was still alive with the help of someone from her past. But in this universe, he is completely different. Cara learns some valuable secrets while she’s in this reality and she uses them when she returns.
This book was incredible. I think it did a great job of highlighting the inequalities of this world. For example, most of the traversers are people from poor areas because these groups of people are more likely to die in their environments than those that have families who have lives in the cities for generations. This was a really interesting aspect of the story. I also really enjoyed that we got to see some of the other alternate realities or at least hear about them. I thought it was really interesting to see the different potential lives of Cara. I also really enjoyed the romance, if you can call it that. Cara cares for her handler, Dell, but she has all of these things she thinks because Dell has money and her family has lived in the city for generations. But we eventually learn the reason for Dell’s behavior and it was such a great example of people letting assumptions guide their thoughts and actions.
There were some really interesting family dynamics as well. I can’t say too much about it because part of the dynamic has to do with Cara’s biggest secret. But I really liked seeing how her family lived and seeing her relationship with her sister grow.
One last thing I want to mention is the mythology, I don’t know that mythology is the correct word for what I’m talking about but that’s what I’m going to use. This aspect of the story was so interesting. Cara has learned the mythology of a goddess (I think) from her mentor, an analyst that used to be a traverser. He’s told her about his beliefs and she’s taken them as her own. When she is traversing, she feels this goddess holding Cara in her arms and transporting her. I really enjoyed these parts of the story because they were really thoughtful and it was a way for Cara to think about things differently.
I just cannot say enough good things about this book. It might just end up on my 2020 favorites list. I cannot wait to see what Johnson will write next. I really hope to see more from this world.

Quotes:

“I guess it’s easy to be confident when you’re helpless, easy to be fearless when you have nothing left to lose.”

“Because that’s what a sister is: a piece of yourself you can finally love, because it’s in someone else.”

“They say hunting monsters will turn you into one. That isn’t what’s happening now. Sometimes to kill a dragon, you have to remember that you breath fire too. This isn’t a becoming; its a revealing. I’ve been a monster all along”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

GoodReads Summary:
Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.
Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.
Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.
Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.
Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.
Middlegame (Middlegame, #1)Review:
Middlegame is a dark story. I’m glad I chose to read this in October. The story follows a cast of characters. Most of all we follow Roger and Dodger, twins that don’t really know they are twins for most of the book. Roger is skilled with words. He reads whatever he can get his hands on and loves learning new words and languages. But he’s terrible at math. One night, he’s doing his homework and hears a voice in his head that is giving him the answers. This was the first time he met Dodger. Dodger is incredible with math. She solves equations that have been unsolved for many years. The twins can communicate in their minds, sort of. There are other characters we follow, like Reed, who is the alchemist that created Roger and Dodger. He’s a pretty terrible guy that thinks he’s the hero of this story. He certainly is not. All of the characters that we meet that are under Reed’s command are also terrible. There are other children like Roger and Dodger and I just felt so bad for the situation they found themselves born into.
This book is hard to explain because it was too complex and detailed. There were many things that tied to other things in the story. I was blown away by all of these little connections and ways this story was put together. I also really enjoyed the way the story was written. There are several different ‘books’ that break the story up, but the books don’t all go in order. We get bits of the ending in the middle and I thought that was an interesting choice because it really made me more eager to figure out how things got from the present to that particular future. Each chapter was also started with a date, time zone, and context of how much time it had been since the last chapter. I really liked this because there were chapters toward the end that one day was many chapters and the labels added a bit of humor.
Overall, Middlegame is a book I’m definitely going to read again. I read this with my book club this October and I really hope my friends enjoyed it as much as I did. There were really complicated family relationships, which I really enjoyed, but also made me sad. There is a scene where one of the characters tries to kill herself. This is not an easy story but it’s an incredibly complex and fascinating one. It’s dark and dirty, a story about kids that are different that are just trying to survive to adulthood. But their lives are so much more than that and they don’t even know it. Both Roger and Dodger have to make really hard choices that have consequences. I liked that we got to see the consequences. I just cannot say enough good things about this story. The beginning was a little slow as we were getting to know Roger and Dodger and learn Reed’s plan, but once I was interested, I just couldn’t put this book down.

Quotes:

“Sometimes changing things means throwing the whole world out of alignment.”

“He believes in exploiting the world for his own gains, but she’d happily ignite the entire thing, if only to roast marshmallows in its embers.”

“You can’t skip to the end of the story just because you’re tired of being in the middle. You’d never survive.”

“Words don’t mean anything without someone to understand them.”

“Most of the kids he knows are rushing toward adulthood as fast as they can, hands stretched in front of them, grasping for the unknowable future. Roger wishes he knew how to dig in his heels and stop where he is. Just for a while; just long enough to get a better idea of what’s ahead.”

“Words can be whispered bullet-quick when no one’s looking, and words don’t leave blood or bruises behind. Words disappear without a trace. That’s what makes them so powerful. That’s what makes them so important. That’s what makes them hurt so much.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

GoodReads Summary:
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.
Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
Red Rising (Red Rising Saga, #1)Review:
Wow, I have been sleeping on this series. Someone gifted me the ebook and I put off reading it for so long. Now, I might be obsessed. I don’t own the rest of the series, but at the recommendation of a friend, I’m going to continue the series via audiobooks.
Darrow is a Red. This means that he is a part of the lowest color in his world. He works in the mines every day. He works hard thinking that he will someday help the other colors be able to live on the surface of Mars. But when his wife is hanged, he takes her down and buries her body, knowing that this will sentence him to death. But instead of dying, he wakes up among the Sons of Ares. The Sons of Ares is a rebellion that it working toward changing the color system. They show Darrow that the higher colors have terraformed the surface of Mars hundreds of years ago and there are even some Reds that live and work on the surface. He realizes that his people are nothing short of slaves, mining for the higher colors. The Sons of Ares give him the task of becoming a Gold and testing to get into the Institute, something they’ve tried and failed to do in the past.
This is where the story really gets interesting. I really enjoyed the start of the story, seeing how much Darrow loves his family and his wife, Eo. I also enjoyed the process of Darrow being made into a Gold. But when he passes the test and gets to the Institute, the story is almost non-stop action. I will say that this story was very graphic and gruesome, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, maybe skip this one. But I loved every second of it. It was a fascinating conversation about humanity. I think the tests they endure at the Institute were horrific and complex, but completely captivating.
Overall, I really liked this book. It was dark and gritty, but also occasionally hopeful. It’s a story about one kid being sent on a mission to change the way of the world. I hope we get to see Darrow get some support from the Sons of Ares now that he’s passed the Institute’s tests. I think the ending was perfect to leave the reader wanting more. I liked that Darrow made friends among the Golds even though it complicates his plans. I also really liked that Darrow actively thought about this. He couldn’t help but make friends, but it weighed on his heart that he was going to have to betray them eventually. I’m very excited to continue the series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

GoodReads Summary:
Some stories cannot be told in just one lifetime. Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes. Until now. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. “I nearly missed you, Doctor August,” she says. “I need to send a message.” This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry AugustReview:
I’m having a hard time collecting my thoughts on this one. I almost DNF’d it because I had a really tough time with the writing style. The story jumps all over the place. Our main character, Harry August, has lived his life over and over fifteen times (presumably more by the time this story was published, but we only see fifteen). So, in the first 30%, the story is very complicated. It jumps all over the place, between several of Harry’s lives, and was filled with overly complicated explanations. A few of Harry’s lives were very science-focused which was not super interesting, but I could mostly follow it. I just didn’t like how convoluted the story seemed. But as the book progressed and we learned more about all of Harry’s lives, the more I found myself enjoying it.
This story was so complex and involved. The time that Harry spent working on his plan and toward his goals was incredible. Several lifetimes spent trying to stop the end of the world, an end he helped come about in one of his lives.
While I did find myself enjoying this story, I still don’t know that I would say I loved it. The story was fascinating, but I didn’t overly care about the characters. The things Harry saw and experienced were interesting, but the fact that he was just going to die and redo his life over in a different way made me not as invested in the events. This shouldn’t make sense because Harry still remembers all his previous lives, I was not Harry so I couldn’t seem to get invested.
Overall, this was a really interesting story that had some flaws. The introduction to the story was confusing and jumped all over the timelines of Harry’s life. At times, I had to go back and reread to figure out which life he was talking about. I can still appreciate how complex and involved this story was. I definitely think some science fiction lovers will enjoy this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.