This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

GoodReads Summary:
Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.
That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.
When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.
Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?
This Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil, #1)Review:
After being told to read This Mortal Coil so many times, by so many different people (but Rae @ Novels & Notions most of all), I finally picked up this book. I’m honestly beyond so glad that I did. This is going to make a few of my best-of lists that you’ll probably have seen already by the time I post this review.
At first, I was a little worried that I would get lost with all of the science talk. We follow Catarina, as she survives in the apocalypse. But there’s all kinds of gene-hacks and DNA whatnot involved in the story. And while I wouldn’t say that I 100% understand it all, it was explained really well in relation to the story and wasn’t so complicated that it didn’t make sense. As long as you understand the basic idea of human DNA I think the science part of the story will be easily understandable.
Catarina was a fierce main character that I really enjoyed. She is put through the wringer in this book. Her dad goes missing, she learns some truths about him as well as herself that shake the foundation of her world. But despite these huge revalatikns she still makes a point to do the right thing, or what she feels is the right thing in the moment. I really adored this about her. She’s led to believe one thing, but trust her gut and her instincts instead of blindly following what she was trained to believe.
Cole is a character I immediately liked. While there is a bit of romance here, it’s not something that took the forefront of the story and it didn’t overshadow any of the other plot lines. They all ran together smoothly. I’d like a bit more depth to his character which I think was lacking in all the characters aside from Catarina (and her father, but that’s a different story) because we only see things from her perspective and how the world is happening around and within her. Despite that, you could clearly see Cole and her were drawn to one another, and I loved them. Their moments together were sweet and full of emotion.
Dax was one I went back and forth between loving and hating every few pages. I really wanted to love him but the man did he make me work for it.
I think this story was so well done. Overall, this is a new favorite series and I’m typing this review on my phone at midnight so that I can have it done and be able to pick up book two guilt-free tomorrow since I work and won’t be able to sit and write the review on my computer before then. I think the writing was phenomenal, with perfect moments of showing at the right moments and telling in others. I am definitely excited about This Cruel Design. I also will now become one of the many that scream this book’s praises from the rooftops. So, please stop what you’re doing and go read this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

GoodReads Summary:
Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of time. Decades of travel through the stars are condensed into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for everyone she has ever known. Her friends and lovers have aged past her; all she has left is work. Alone and adrift, she lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky.
A boy, broken by his past.
The scarred child does not speak, his only form of communication the beautiful and haunting music he plays on an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs and their strange, immediate connection, Nia decides to take the boy in. And over years of starlit travel, these two outsiders discover in each other the things they lack. For him, a home, a place of love and safety. For her, an anchor to the world outside of herself.
For both of them, a family.
But Nia is not the only one who wants the boy. The past hungers for him, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.
The Vanished BirdsReview:
To start off this review I have to send a thank you in the direction of NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Now, to gather all my thoughts in one place regarding The Vanished Birds. This book was a pretty wild ride. As with most books, there were things I liked and things that I did not. Let’s start with what I liked.
I liked that the plot was brought back around to relate to the things introduced at the beginning of the story. I was about halfway through and wondering what the point of the first chapter or so, but it all came together in the end in a very skillful way. I also really adored the found family aspect of the story. There were a few different dynamics, but I eventually grew to love all of them. So much happens in this book that I’m really not even sure how to get into the details of it, so I’m just not going to. I think the characters were all very well developed and I cared about them all, even the terrible ones. Realistic and compelling characters is something the author did very well.
Now, I didn’t love that the beginning jumped around with all of the different people we need to meet. The book starts off with a, for lack of a better word, primitive society. We follow a boy as he grows into a man and then an elder of his community. We see him develop a relationship with someone who visits his people once every fifteen years. This part I really enjoyed, especially because it clearly related to the rest of the story. We meet the boy in these chapters and he is handed from the man we saw age to Nia, the space traveler. But then, suddenly the next chapter is about someone completely new and many years in the past. This transition was very jarring. It’s something I can appreciate now having finished the book and seeing how this was brought full circle with the rest of the story, but at the time I really didn’t care for it. This jarring transition happens again when we’re back with Nia and the boy, as they create a new space crew and the perspective becomes the writings of one of the new crew members. His writings are full of completely unneeded details that I really didn’t see how they furthered the story. I liked this character but several times found myself skimming to get back to the relevant parts. Despite these jarring transitions I found myself easily and very much invested in the characters and their adventures.
Overall. this wasn’t a perfect book, but it was one that I enjoyed. I found the characters likable and their mission exciting. I wouldn’t call it a quick read, but it was a story I devoured.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

GoodReads Summary:
A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope.
Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.
For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.
WanderersReview:
Where to even start with this review? So much happens in this book with so many different characters, because of that I’m not going to talk about specific characters too much.
I think this book was incredible. There were so many little things introduced in the beginning that managed to connect in the end. The mystery and suspense of the purpose of the Sleepwalkers was so well done. For a while, I wasn’t sure if it would be a scientific explanation or a magical one. This was interesting for me because I was reading another book of the same genre, at the same time that I was listening to the audiobook for this one. That book was more magical while this one was more science-based. I liked that there was a science behind what was happening.
I also really liked the combination of all the different characters. One was just an ordinary girl following her sleepwalker sister. There were really interesting plotlines for these two with their mom and dad. I loved Benji the CDC doctor. His insatiable desire to help and figure out what was going on was really compelling. But the most interesting character to me personally was Pastor Matthew. His story was the most complicated. He finds himself in over his head with a group of white supremacists. He tries to get out but instead becomes a prisoner and a tool to further their agenda. I thought this was the most interesting because I really hated Matthew for a large portion of this book, but by the end of it, I just felt bad for him and then I was proud of him for managing to do the right thing.
This book was full of political conversations. Military versus scientific intervention for the sleepwalkers. The presidential race between a woman and a man that is a huge bigot. What it means for the world to end and the things people will do when faced with that being the reality.
I don’t want to say I loved or enjoyed this book because it was wild and horrifying. But I did. I was engrossed in the story each time I started listening. I was dying to know what was going to happen, the secrets the characters were keeping from one another, and how things were going to play out. It was an incredible book full of hard topics and discussions. If you’re someone that likes dystopian books, this is one you might want to pick up.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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GoodReads Summary:
Told in alternating points of view from Chess, Emma, and Finn Greystone, Greystone Secrets #1: The Strangers is the beginning of a new page-turning adventure that examines assumptions about identity, family, and home, from the master of middle grade suspense.
What makes you you?
The Greystone kids thought they knew. Chess has always been the protector over his younger siblings, Emma loves math, and Finn does what Finn does best—acting silly and being adored. They’ve been a happy family, just the three of them and their mom.
But everything changes when reports of three kidnapped children—who share the same first and middle names, ages, and exact birth dates as the Greystone kids—reach the Greystone family. This bizarre coincidence makes them wonder: Who exactly are these strangers? Before Chess, Emma, and Finn can question their mom about it, she takes off on a mysterious work trip. But puzzling clues left behind lead to complex codes, hidden rooms, and a dangerous secret that will turn their world upside down.
The Strangers (Greystone Secrets, #1)Review:
The Strangers was such a fun and suspenseful story. I loved Haddix’s books when I was growing up so now that I’ve been starting to read middle-grade books again I had to get this when I saw it. I’m so glad that I did.
The Strangers was wholesome and bizarre in the best ways. I thought this was just going to be a fun mystery, which it was, but it took a turn toward science fiction that I was not expecting, but definitely loved.
I adored all three kids that we follow. Emma was smart and clever, but still very clearly loved her siblings and mom. Chess was the oldest and felt responsible for all the others, even though he really shouldn’t have all that weight on him. I liked Finn most of all. He was the youngest and always being underestimated. He played a role just as important as the others.
I loved how obvious their love for one another was. And their love for their mother fueled their mission. I also really enjoyed how they got Natalie in on helping them.
Overall, this book was an absolute delight. I really had fun reading it. The characters were easy to love. I definitely suggest this one to anyone that liked middle-grade books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

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GoodReads Summary:
All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she’s a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing. The rumors of his cowardice are true–he deserted his flight during battle against the Krell. Worse, though, he turned against his team and attacked them.
Spensa is sure there’s more to the story. And she’s sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars–and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.
But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself–and she’ll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.
Starsight (Skyward, #2)Review:
Starsight was everything I never knew I needed from this sequel. I went into this book without reading the synopsis so I really didn’t know what to expect from the story aside from Spensa being her sassy headstrong self. I was given so much that I never could have imagined.
I am in awe of Sanderson’s writing. It’s fast paced, but not rushed. The suspense and build up before finally giving us answers is so well done. We’re kept on the edge of our seat right up until the very end.
In this second book, Spensa goes on a spy mission. I really loved getting a chance to see more of the world (well universe) that this series takes place in. We’ve left the planet where Spensa’s people are being contained. A prison of sorts. She takes the place of another and goes to the Krell to train as a pilot for them. Her mission is to find something that will save her people. But she realizes that everything is not what she thought it was.
I’m going to try to do this without too many spoilers, but I will say that if you haven’t read the first book, you should read the review for that here, instead of this review.
With Spensa on Starsight, she meets all sorts of new alien species. She forms a new flight crew. I loved them. But I found myself missing her human squad from the first book. Though, I did really like the few chapters we got that let us know what was going on back on Demetrius. I thought her new flight crew were beyond interesting. She was learning about new alien species as well as how the Krell work and trying to find their secrets to take back to her people. Spensa’s whole view of the world has changed. She doesn’t know what’s true or who to trust, aside from M-Bot of course.
I love M-Bot, though I wish we’d gotten a bit more of him. I thought the conversation of whether or not he was ‘alive’ was really interesting. I’m also still so curious about why certain things are hidden from him. There are gaps in his memory and I’m dying to know what they are and why he wasn’t allowed to remember them.
Now that I’ve had a little time to gather my thoughts about this book, I’ve realized that there was no mention of certain events after a certain crash landing and I’m a bit upset about that. I’m so curious about the person who’s place Spensa took. We’re given so little information about her and what’s happening while Spensa is on her spy mission.
Overall, this book was a wild ride. There was action and politics, suspense and secrets. I loved it and Spensa and all the new characters we met. That ending is going to drive me wild though especially with a release date of 2021 for book three.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

GoodReads Summary:
Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal-El Mohtar and Max Gladstone.
Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.
Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.
Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?
Cowritten by two beloved and award-winning sci-fi writers, This Is How You Lose the Time War is an epic love story spanning time and space.
This Is How You Lose the Time WarReview:
I have heard rave reviews about This is How You Lose a Time War. But I found that I wasn’t sold on it at first. I wasn’t really invested in the story until a little under halfway through. But once I was invested, I couldn’t get through it fast enough.
This story was told in alternating perspectives. It follows two characters, Red and Blue. And in between their chapters were the letters they wrote to one another. I loved this method of telling the story. It was beautifully set up. It told us about each character and their actions while the letters really allowed the reader to see who they were.
Following these two, who are from a warring species, as they travel through time battling was so much fun. It was suspenseful and full of action. But there was also so much love and curiosity.
This was a beautifully written story about two people that were as different as different can be, falling in love and doing anything to be together despite the things that made them different.
The writing was really what blew me away. It was beautiful and poetic and I absolutely adored every page. I loved the time travel and the characters and their love. I adored this book and I see why everyone is raving about it.

Quotes:

“Books are letters in bottles, cast into the waves of time, from one person trying to save the world to another.”

“Adventure works in any strand—it calls to those who care more for living than for their lives.”

“It’s amazing how much blue there is in the world if you look. You’re different colors of flame. Bismuth burns blue, and cerium, germanium, and arsenic. See? I pour you into things.”

“Hunger, Red—to sate a hunger or to stoke it, to feel hunger as a furnace, to trace its edges like teeth—is this a thing you, singly, know? Have you ever had a hunger that whetted itself on what you fed it, sharpened so keen and bright that it might split you open, break a new thing out? Sometimes I think that’s what I have instead of friends.”

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.