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.

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

Summary:
When a deadly Fly Flu sweeps the globe, it leaves a shell of the world that once was. Among the survivors are eighteen-year-old Nico and her dog, on a voyage devised by Nico’s father to find a mythical portal; a young artist named Kit, raised in an old abandoned cinema; and the enigmatic Deliverer, who lives Life after Life in an attempt to put the world back together. As swarms of infected Flies roam the earth, these few survivors navigate the woods of post-apocalyptic New England, meeting others along the way, each on their own quest to find life and love in a world gone dark. The Electric Kingdom is a sweeping exploration of art, storytelling, eternal life, and above all, a testament to the notion that even in an exterminated world, one person might find beauty in another.

Book Cover

Review:
The Electric Kingdom was the book for my book club in May. This is a post-apocolyptic pandemic story so I thought it was going to be tough to read at times, but thankfully, the story didn’t go too much into detail about the illness that comes from the Flies. Also, it’s a much more vicious story. There are genetically engineered Flies that swarm and devour anything, and we get to see it a few times. But this story was more about survival than the actual Flies and accompanying sickness. It’s a story of loss and grief, survival and found family.
We get to follow a few different points of view. I will say that I was confused for most of this book. There also wasn’t one moment where all of the pieces finally come together. It’s confusing for a number of reasons. One is that there are jumps in time all over the place. Each point of view often spends time remembering things, so there’s little to no warning that we are reading about the past. While these flashbacks did share meaningful information, they were a bit confusing at times. But they did add to the overall story, they just took some getting used to. We are also missing a lot of pieces in the beginning of the story. I spent a lot of time guessing how everything was connected.
I liked the characters and the overall plot, but I was dissatisfied with the ending. There wasn’t any real resolution, more of just hope for the future. But I don’t like that. I can be satisfied with open ended conclusions, but there wasn’t enough for me to be happy with this one. Now, all of this makes it sound like I didn’t like this book. But that’s not the case. I flew through this book. It was compelling and I couldn’t put it down. There were characters I could easily root for and so many questions that I needed answers to.
Overall, nothing I thought was going to happen or connected in the way I thought it would. The Electric Kingdom kept me guessing right up until the final pages. I had fun reading this even though things got pretty dark at times. The story twists and turns, and ends in a way that I never would have guessed. I really enjoyed it and my only big complaint would be the unsatisfying ending.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore & Tehlor Kay Mejia

Summary:
There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history. But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or why her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands. So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.
Witty and heartfelt with characters that leap off the page, Miss Meteor is acclaimed authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first book together.

Book Cover

Review:
After reading and loving books by both Mejia and McLemore, I knew I needed to give Miss Meteor a try. The cover is stunning and the summary makes the book sound so enjoyable. I was not wrong at all. I really loved this book.
We follow Chicky and Lita in alternating points of view. The two used to be best friends, but Chicky doesn’t feel like she can be honest about who she is and Lita was bullied and is ashamed of it. So, the two stopped being friends. But now Lita is being returned to the stars (it’s not mentioned in the synopsis, but Lita and her mother figure are aliens that came here on a meteor. This aspect of the story is a mix of both science fiction and magical realism, which I completely loved). Lita has decided that if she’s being returned to the stars, one of the last things she’d like to do is try to win the Miss Meteor beauty pageant. While this is happening, Chicky is being bullied by a mean girl named Kendra. Chicky decides that she needs to do something that will cause Kendra to lose. The best way for that to happen is for Chicky and Lita (and Chicky’s sisters) to team up and make sure that Lita wins Miss Meteor.
While this story is about an unlikely girl winning a beauty pageant, it’s also about so much more than that. Both Chicky and Lita experience racism and prejudice. Chicky is pansexual. Lita is plus sized. Both are Latinx. There is also a side character, Cole (Kendra’s brother) who is friends with both girls. Cole is trans. There is so much representation in this book and the way that things like racism and fatphobia were talked about was really excellent.
It was so easy to love both Chicky and Lita. Chicky is really struggling. She’s working on accepting herself and being able to proudly claim the label of pansexual. But she’s often bullied at school for being a lesbian, even though she isn’t one. So, she’s pushed away her best friend, but this pageant is a chance for her to mend things with Lita. We also get to see a lot of Chicky’s sisters which I loved. I loved all of them. They’re all so full of personality and different from one another. Seeing them all work together to help Lita was the perfect comedic relief from the more serious parts of this story. Lita is being taken back to the stars. Parts of her body are literally turning into stars. This aspect was magical and whimsical, but also suspenseful because Lita realized she can prevent her changing, but she’s failing to do so. Seeing the whole group together, Chicky, Lita, Chicky’s sisters, and also Cole and Junior, was so much fun. I loved this group of friends so much. I loved seeing their growth and supporting one another.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Yes, it is about two ex-best friends trying to win a beauty pageant, but it’s about so much more than that. It’s about friendship, standing up for those you love, trying to create change, and most of all, loving yourself. There are so many positive things about this book. The characters were my favorite, but I also have to say that the writing was stunning. It was lyrical and beautiful without being overly descriptive. I will continue to pick up and love both McLemore and Mejia’s books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson

Summary:
Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.
He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.
And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.
Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.
Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

Yesterday Is History

Review:
Yesterday is History follows Andre Cobb. Andre has survived cancer, but needed a liver transplant to do so. But his new liver comes with a secret, time travel. Obviously, Andre is not expecting to travel back to 1969 when he tries to lay down in his bed. It’s then that he meets Michael. Andre and Michael quickly develop feelings for one another. I think this was the downfall of this book. The concept was a really interesting one, but I just think it fell short. The romance between Andre and Michael felt really under developed. They’re supposed to be super in love, but they’ve only spent a totally of less than a week together. I get that it was more time than that to Michael, but only saw things from Andre’s point of view. We only saw a few days. But I was really invested in Andre’s romance with Blake. Blake was kind of an asshole, but Andre called him on it every time, going as far as explaining how to give an acceptable apology. I liked how their characters both developed both as individuals and as a couple.
I think the time travel love triangle was a really interesting concept. But I think it fell flat for me because it felt under developed. I wanted to see more. It all happened too fast. I think if we had gotten more time to see Michael and Andre together, I could have been invested. The potential was there for me to really love this, but there just wasn’t enough of the story to get me there.
Overall, I think this story was a quick and fun read. I just wanted more from it. I liked Andre a lot. He was quick to call out problematic things that others said to him or around him. But he also made it clear that it wasn’t his responsibility to educate them on their wrong doings. I liked the concept, but the execution fell a bit flat for me. I will be checking out Jackson’s future books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Summary:
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission–and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.
Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.
All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.
His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.
And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.
Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian–while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.

Project Hail Mary

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I loved Weir’s previous two novels, The Martian and Artemis, so it’s no surprise that I also loved Project Hail Mary.
This story follows Ryland Grace. He’s just woken up with no memory of where he is or what the heck is going on. He quickly realizes that he’s in outer space but doesn’t know why. As he starts to explore the spaceship, he starts to regain his memories. He can’t even remember his own name at first, but somehow has all sort of scientific knowledge. I thought this was a really interesting way to tell the story. I enjoy a good flashback, but only if it’s done well and I think that it was in this story. We learn relevant information alongside Grace and there was a mood of suspense with the reader left wondering exactly how a middle school teacher ended up on a last ditch space mission. Both timelines were compelling. We learn small things about Grace at first. Things like his job, and eventually how he came to be on this space mission. But I think I was more interested in the present timeline. It’s not really a life or death mission. Those sent on the Hail Mary knew the risks.
The science of this story was really interesting. There was definitely a bit that went way over my head, but I liked that the most important bits were summarized in a way that the reader could understand. It was heavy on the science but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story. I managed to follow along even if I didn’t always actually understand it. It’s the problem solving that I think was the most interesting. There are tons of problems that pop up, but Grace (with help from someone I can’t say anything about) managed to figure out solutions.
Overall, I was completely sucked into this story. I stayed up entirely too late because I just couldn’t stop reading. I needed to know how this story was going to end. As for the actual ending, I liked that it had a full circle kind of storyline, but I would have liked to get some more definitive answers about what happened on Earth. I think science fiction fans with absolutely devour this one, just like I did. I honestly want to pick it up and reread it already.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers

Summary:
With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop.
At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through.
When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers, #4)

Review:
I received The Galaxy, and the Ground Within from NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review. I have loved all three of the previous installments of the Wayfarer series. This one was no different. I think The Galaxy, and the Ground Within was more of a slice of life story that the previous three books and I actually really enjoyed that.
The story follows five characters, Speaker, Pei, Roveg, and Ouloo and her child, Tupo. They are all different species. I had a bit of a hard time picturing what they each looked like. But I really liked each of their stories. I really enjoyed them spending time together and learning more about each other’s cultures and lives. I thought there were some really fascinating conversations. The dynamics of the characters and their lack of any kind of relationship is what made this book so good. Five strangers are stuck on Gora, their travel plans delayed when technology fails and communication and travel becomes impossible. So, they hunker down together.
Ouloo and Tupo are the owners of the Five-Hop and they do their best to keep the guests happy. I really liked learning about the Laru species. I think Ouloo was my favorite of the characters. She just wants to create a space that will accommodate the many different species of the galaxy. I think the Five-Hop was a place I would absolutely love to visit.
Then there’s Pei, who we sort of know from a previous book. She’s dating Ashby, who we know from a previous book. She’s dealing with a lot of emotions because she is keeping the secret of her romance with Ashby. Then, her shimmer starts. She needs to find a male of her species or she will likely never have another chance to have a child. But she’s not sure she even wants a child.
Roveg’s story was an interesting one. He’s exiled from his homeworld. While he doesn’t regret what he did to get exiled, he does regret being away from his family. He has a very important appointment that he needs to make. And all of the delays on Gora might just cause him to miss this appointment. I really enjoyed learning about the Quelin culture from someone that doesn’t agree with most of it, but also still values bits and pieces.
Then there’s Speaker. Speaker is an Akarak. This is an alien species that little is known of. I thought it was really interesting seeing Roveg take the time to learn about the Akarak history and develop a friendship. I think Speaker was a fascinating character. She’s outside of what we already know from this series and getting to learn about her species and their struggles was one of the more interesting aspects of this book.
Overall, I really enjoyed the slice of life aspect of the book. I think the development of the relationships was really well done. I think it was a slow and enjoyable progression. As always, this book was diverse and unique with the pronouns of the different species and I really appreciate that aspect of this series. I thought this book was a compelling depiction of people with differing lives and differing opinions coming together in an unavoidable way. I would absolutely recommend this book and this series.

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.

Inheritance by Malinda Lo

GoodReads Summary:
Reese and David are different now. Surrounded by a web of conspiracies, Reece feels that she must choose between two worlds.
Her choices: David – or Amber? This world – or another? Should they tell the truth, and risk everything?
Inheritance (Adaptation #2)Review:
Inheritance is the conclusion to Adaptation. I loved both of these books. I’m going to keep this review short because most of my thoughts are in my review for the first book and not many of them changed thro ugh this book.
I liked Reese. I liked Amber. I liked David. I didn’t always like Reese’s choices, especially the ones that led to the weird love triangle because she got involved with David before she was over Amber. But I did like how the love triangle turned out. I liked that Amber’s culture showed David and Reese that there was more than one way to live. I really liked that this story ended in a different way than the usual ones, in regards to the love triangle. Other than Reese jumping way too quickly into a relationship with David after her and Amber ended things, I really liked this book.
Overall, I think this was a really fun YA science fiction story. I loved all the twists and turns. I loved seeing Lo’s twist on the ‘aliens have come to Earth’ trope. I will definitely be picking up more books by this author in the future. She did a great job of developing the characters and creating an exciting story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

GoodReads Summary:
Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.
Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.
Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.
Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.
Adaptation by Malinda LoReview:
I got Adaptation and its sequel as a kindle daily deal and I’m so glad I did. This book was right up my alley. I love science fiction and this book did not disappoint.
The story follows Reese. She finds herself in an airport on her way home after the debate finals. She’s with her debate partner, David, and their teacher. While they’re waiting for their flight the news breaks that several planes have been crashed via flocks of birds flying into them. So, all flights have been landed until further investigation is done and it’s determined safe to fly again. The trio decide to rent a car and just drive home rather than waiting around in the airport. Everything goes wrong on their drive home. A bird flies into their headlights and Reese crashes. She wakes up in an unfamiliar place with little to know memory of the last month. This is when the story slows down. From the beginning to the car accident was a whirlwind and I was immediately invested in the characters and the things they were dealing with. After Reese wakes up in the hospital, the story slows. She finds David, gets minimal information from the doctors that treated them and then they get sent home. Things are not the same when she gets home, and she needs time to adjust. But instead of adjusting, things continue to get weirder.
I really liked Reese. She meets a girl after she goes back home and starts to explore her sexuality. She’s had a crush on David forever, but at the debate finals she embarrassed herself. So, when she meets Amber, she’s unsure about how she’s feeling as she’s never even thought about liking girls before. I really liked this aspect of the story. It was great to read about Reese exploring a part of herself that she has just discovered. I also totally loved Reese’s best friend. He’s gay and super into the conspiracy news websites and I absolutely loved him.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. The plot was interesting. I didn’t always know what was going to happen next, but I was invested in finding out. I really liked Reese and her friends and family. I don’t usually like love triangles, but apparently I’m here for a bisexual love triangle. This book just left me wanting more. I devoured it and couldn’t help but immediately pick up the next book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh

GoodReads Summary:
When an Earth-like planet is discovered, a team of six teens, along with three veteran astronauts, embark on a twenty-year trip to set up a planet for human colonization—but find that space is more deadly than they ever could have imagined.
Have you ever hoped you could leave everything behind?
Have you ever dreamt of a better world?
Can a dream sustain a lifetime?
A century ago, an astronomer discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. She predicted that one day humans would travel there to build a utopia. Today, ten astronauts are leaving everything behind to find it. Four are veterans of the twentieth century’s space-race.
And six are teenagers who’ve trained for this mission most of their lives.
It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years locked in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong.
And something always goes wrong.
Do You Dream of Terra-Two?Review:
There’s just something I love about teenage astronauts. Do You Dream of Terra-Two? is a story of six teenagers getting ready and setting off on a mission to Terra-Two. I listened to the audiobook and I think it was really well done. I think the narrators did a great job of reading this story. I do have to mention that this is a character focused story. The plot of the story is to successfully get to Terra-Two and honestly it was unclear whether or not they did which was disappointing. But the characters were really well done and the audiobook kept me engaged and interesting in their stories.
These six teens were all so interesting in different ways. They have been studying at Dalton (basically an astronaut academy) for several years and the time has finally come for the six (and there three adult mentors. Yes! There are adults with them in space!) Except the day before the launch, one of the six dies. It’s unclear if she kills herself or if it was an accident. The program decides that the launch must go on as planned, so they call in one of the backup crew members, Jesse. I really liked Jesse. He was sort of an oddball, but he wanted to be an astronaut and go into space so badly. But the way he came to be on the mission made it so that the rest of the crew treat him as ‘other.’ This was obviously hard for him. His part of the story was a tough one. There’s also Henry, who is in training to be the team’s commander. He’s actually kind of a dick and plays some pretty cruel pranks on Jesse. But as the story goes on it’s clear that being pilot and commander is really all he has in life. I wouldn’t say that I liked Henry, but I understood him better by the time the story was over. Poppy is the face of the crew. She’s a language expert with an affinity for learning new languages. She’s also the media person. She does video updates and interviews the crew for the public. I liked Poppy. She grew up with her mother and they never had much. She was ecstatic to be chosen to travel to Terra-Two, but life in space turned out to be harder than she anticipated. She struggles with depression, sometimes spending days in her bunk without getting up. I really liked this inclusion in the story. I’m sure this is something that many real-life astronauts struggle with (not that many of them are traveling for twenty-three years to a new planet, but you know what I mean). Poppy gets help from one of the adults, the medic, traveling with them, and the two figure out a treatment plan involving medication. Next we have Eliot, who also struggles with mental health issues. The original crew member, that Jesse replaced, was Eliot’s girlfriend. He struggles because he’s sure that she killed herself. He hallucinates seeing her floating alongside the ship out in space. Eliot’s chapters were almost hard to listen to because he was struggling so much and I just wanted to give him a hug. Finally, the sisters, Astrid and Juno. These two were fascinating, but also sometimes I had a hard time remembering which sister’s chapter I was listening to. I honestly don’t remember what Astrid’s job was while in space because her story focused on how she got sucked into a sort of religion that’s appeared in the days leading up to the launch. Astrid becomes obsessed with Tessa Dalton (yes, their academy was named after her) who is the woman that discovered Terra-Two. Astrid had vivid dreams about being on Terra-Two. It all honestly gets a little weird, but it was fascinating in the way that watching a car crash is. It was an interesting comment on religion (though that’s just how I took it and I don’t know if that was the intention). Juno is training to become the next medic for the crew. She’s trains alongside the adult medic on board. I really liked this aspect of the story because we got to know one of the adults a bit more. Juno has an eating disorder; she also struggles with feeling like she doesn’t belong because of a secret that I won’t reveal. I liked Juno. She seemed sweet and kind, though I was disappointed that she took so long to befriend Jesse.
Overall, this book definitely had problems. Like, three of these characters have serious issues and I don’t understand how were these not addressed or realized with the intense and comprehensive mental and physical tests that the crew had to go through before the launch. Though there is something that’s revealed that suggests there was reasons for this. I also think it was odd that though there were three adults on board with the crew (an engineer, a commander, and a medic), three adults that trained these kids every day, but they didn’t seem to have a very big presence in the story. I also didn’t like the ending. It was left very open ended and we never got to find out whether or not the crew even made it to Terra-Two. I will say that there was drama and action while the crew was traveling even though there was minimal plot. I did like this book, but the ending damped that enjoyment a bit. I think those that like teenagers in space will like this book.

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.

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.

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.

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

GoodReads Summary:
A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?
And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:
A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.
An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.
And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.
Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.
Iron Gold (Red Rising Saga, #4)Review:
I was very thrown by the fact that this book doesn’t just follow Darrow like the first three books. I understand that this was originally a trilogy and I did end up really enjoying the multiple perspectives, but it was really had to get used to. I definitely cared more about some perspectives than others (Lyra is my favorite and I will gladly die for her). This book had all of the same things I loved about the first three books. Pierce’s prose is stunning. The universe is at war ten years after the ending of the last book. So, there was lots of violence and gore that was so well written within the action scenes. But the addition of the other characters gave us a wider view of the goings on in the story, which I ended up really enjoying.
I felt bad for Darrow. He seemed lost. It’s been ten years; he has a son and Mustang is his wife. But he’s a military leader and he hasn’t been home in over a year. His son is becoming a man and Darrow is missing it. He just wants to made the world he lives in a better place, but he basically only made things worse in this book. I’m interested to see where his storyline will go in the next book since he embraced the Reaper persona in the end of Iron Gold.
Lyra reminded me a lot of Darrow from book one which I think is why I loved her so much. Reds have been moved from the mines to a place that really isn’t much better. She witnesses an attack on her community and she and one of her nephews are the only survivors of her family. She deals with so much grief and so much anger. Lyra tries to do what’s best for her nephew and manages to get herself employment with a Gold we know from the previous books. I loved Lyra and felt so bad for her. She’s a lonely girl that’s lost her family. She is just lonely and trying to figure out how to not drown in her grief. After the chaos that she went through I’m excited to see what happens with her next.
I had a really hard time caring about Lysander. I have a feeling he’s going to be involved in another big battle and I just can’t bring myself to care. The kids lucky Sevro and Darrow didn’t kill him, so I don’t think he’s making great choices.
Ephraim’s story was interesting and I totally predicted his relevance to the story pretty early on. I think his is the most complex story. He has reasons for the way he lives but I don’t know that they’re super good ones. They’re understandable reasons, but I hope he works through it and starts making better choices. I think he’s going to, but it’s still unclear if he’s only making these choices to save someone or because he’s starting to want to do the right thing. With the way this book left off for him I’m very eager to continue onto the next book.
Overall, I enjoyed this book despite the fact that it’s different from the first three. I ended up really enjoying the new characters. I was a little sad that the same squads weren’t always involved, but I did grow to care about the new members of the Howlers and Darrow’s crew. I think this series is incredible and I’m so excited to see what’s going to happen next. It’s a high stakes story filled with action, gore, and characters that you have to get invested in. There are new perspectives which means that there are also new narrators. I’m super glad that Darrow’s narrator stayed the same and I absolutely loved the narrator for Lyra, the other two for Lysander and Ephraim were pretty good but Darrow and Lyra are my favorite forever. I’m going to start the next book now because I can’t wait.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.