Spellhacker by M.K. England

GoodReads Review:
In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.
Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.
But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.
No pressure.
SpellhackerReview:
After reading The Disasters last year, I was very excited about England’s 2020 release. I was even more excited to see that they will be at the NoVaTeen Book Festival.
Spellhacker was diverse and funny. It was full of found family and diverse characters overcoming hardships. I loved every page. The group we follow are friends that are all very different but love one another anyway. They come from different places and manage to make the best found family. That was one of the big differences between this and The Disasters. This friend group had a past and in England’s first book the friends were strangers when they met. I think the backstory of the characters and how they met was well done and believable. Their history wasn’t info-dumpy, rather it was given to us in bits and pieces at the perfect moments.
Diz was an interesting main character. There were times I really didn’t like her. The conflict between the friends somehow was simultaneously silly, but also very understandable. Some of the fights seemed totally blown out of proportion but then we would hear from another character and it didn’t feel that way anymore.
I also loved the magic. It was interesting but there was so many different kinds so I was grateful for the guide of what each one did at the beginning of the book. I would have liked to explore the limits a bit more, but I didn’t think there was anything left unexplained or that didn’t make sense.
Overall, this story was so much fun. The banter was enjoyable. Though there was a certain betrayal I saw coming from a mile away. Part of me was waiting for it the whole time and another part kept doubting the first part would ever happen. I loved the characters and their relationships. The diversity was wonderful and I loved the little romances that came about. This is definitely one that people should be talking about.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Disasters by M.K. England

GoodReads Summary:
Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.
But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.
On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.
They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.
The DisastersReview:
The Disasters is absolutely everything I want from a science fiction novel. An entertaining and loveable squad of friends, wild and sometimes dangerous adventures, and fast-paced action with high stakes. It reminded me of the tag line from Aurora Rising, “They’re not the heroes we want, but they’re the ones we’ve got” because it’s so accurate to this story.
We follow Nax as he learns he’s just failed out of the Academy and is heading to travel back home to his family on Earth. He meets three others that have also not made the cut when the witness the beginning of a terrorist attack. Barely escaping, the four find themselves on another planet being saved by the fifth member of their makeshift crew.
I adored the group dynamic of these five. They were funny and complicated and really worked well together. They were basically functional chaos and I loved it. Nax was our narrator who told the story in almost a stream of consciousness way. It had a really interesting effect on the story. I loved the diversity of the characters as well. 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.
These five join up meeting up with friendlies here and there for help, all in order to take down a plot to destroy every planet that isn’t Earth, and return Earth to its former glory.
The relationships were great. I enjoyed them so much. I wanted to get to know them more. I think this was because we only get Nax’s perspective so we get to know him the best and we get to know the characters as he knows them.
Overall, this story was everything I wanted it to be and more. A diverse cast, a hilarious crew, and saving the universe. I definitely recommend this to any science fiction lover.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.