The Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Schusterman

Summary:
Not every child who dies goes on to the afterlife. Some are caught halfway between life and death, in a sort of limbo known as Everlost: a shadow of the living world, filled with all the things and places that no longer exist. It’s a magical, yet dangerous place where bands of lost kids run wild and anyone who stands in the same place too long sinks to the center of the Earth.
Allie and Nick don’t survive the car crash, and end up in Everlost, where coins are more valuable than anyone knows, fortune cookies tell the truth, monsters are real, and the queen of lost souls lives in a once-beloved tower. Nick and Allie have to learn to survive in a world with different rules, and figure out who they can trust – and who they must oppose at all costs. At stake is nothing less than the fate of Everlost and the living world they have left behind.
In this gripping trilogy, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.

Book Cover

Review:
The Skinjacker Trilogy is one of Schusterman’s series that I read years and years ago and remember nothing about. Honestly, I think I only ever read the first book. But I’m glad that I reread it and finished the trilogy. I’m going to review the whole trilogy in this one long post because I read them all back-to-back, so I’d rather just talk about it all overall. I managed to reread this whole trilogy over Mother’s Day weekend because it was super interesting and I just needed to know how everything ended. I made notes for each book, so I’ll briefly mention them before I talk about the series as a whole. The first book, Everlost, was interesting mostly because of the concept of this in-between place for lost souls. I liked the characters well enough, but I thought the plot was lacking. It felt like the first book was just world building and set up for the rest of the series. The second book, Everwild, is where things started to get really interesting plot wise. The story moves slowly, but it’s very clear that Shusterman placed building blocks, little bits and pieces, that would come back into the story later. This goes for the third book, Everfound, too. Some of the things we see and learn about in books one and two come back into play for book three. I loved this aspect where we get to see things come full circle. Everwild is where we really see the characters grow and we see what they’re made of. Oh boy, does Schusterman make his characters suffer in this series. I still loved them all though.
There were a few different romances in this series, I liked all but one of them. I just couldn’t get behind Nick and Mary as romantic interests for one another. I think this was really the only thing I didn’t like about the series. It was there through all three books and I just didn’t find it believable. I did, however, really like Allie and Mikey together, as well as the other couples we see get together. I also want to mention the historical sites that are mentioned and some that play a part in this story. In Everlost, we see the Twin Towers, the Hindenburg airship, In Everwild the characters leave the East Coast and move west across the United States. We get to see the World’s Fair in Chicago and Graceland. The final book we get to see the Alamo and the Trinity Vortex (the site of the first atomic bomb). I think the way that Shusterman included these bits and pieces of history was fascinating and thoughtful. I just overall had a fun time reading this series. It was silly and occasionally ridiculous, but it was also way more serious than I anticipated. There were some really dark plotlines that I was not expecting, but then there were things like Nick being named the ‘chocolate ogre’ so the serious and sometimes dark parts of the story were balanced with a bit of silliness and I liked that.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.  

Amanda’s Beginner Science Fiction Recommendations

Hey, lovelies! I’ve recently had someone ask me what books would be good to introduce them into the science fiction genre. Sci-fi is my favorite genre, specifically dystopian stories, but I love science fiction in all the sub-genres. So, I thought that I would make a list of recommendations that I think would be good for anyone thinking of trying science fiction for the first time.

Dystopian

The Final Six (The Final Six, #1)

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir
This book follows two teens as they’re both selected to train in an astronaut program. Their mission is to make it to one of Jupiter’s moons and terraform it. The Earth is being ravaged by natural disasters and time is of the essence. But not all is as it seems with this mission. With The Final Six, you get teenage astronauts, training to go into outer space, but it takes place on an Earth that’s still mostly recognizable, so you won’t have to learn a whole new world or political system.

Internment by Samira Ahmed
This is set in a near future reality. It’s an extremely heartbreaking and emotional story. Muslim Americans are being taken from their homes and forced into internment camps. We follow Layla as her and her family are put through this. I really recommend the audiobook. I also recommend having a box of tissues nearby.

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
This one is perfect for beginners. It’s almost more of a romance than a sci-fi. But there is some stuff to do with astronauts and searching for radio signals. I adore the found family in this book. It will break your heart and the fill you back up with love.

The Last 8 (The Last 8, #1)

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl
I have another end of the world scenario for you, but this one is aliens. Eight teens think they are the last humans left on Earth. We get to see some of them traveling across a deserted country, not another person to see anywhere. This is set in a familiar Earth. The eight teens need to team up to save the world, but some of them seem more interested in hiding so they can survive rather than saving anything.

The Sound of Stars by Alisha Dow
Another alien take over story. This one is filled with a love for reading and music and other art. Humans are cooped up in ‘centers’ that are controlled by the aliens. But when MoRr1S finds Ellie’s illegal library, the two flee to a potential solution that may just save the Earth. At it’s heart, this story is a love letter to music and the arts. It was beautifully written and I highly recommend it.

Books Set in Space

The Martian by Andy Weir
If you haven’t seen the movie, or even if you have, you should read this book. The main character is trapped on Mars, alone, after his crew, thinking he’s dead, leaves him behind. We follow his journal entries as he devises a way to survive and tries to make it know that he is still alive. I liked the movie, but the book had a sense of humor that was lacking in the movie. Even though it’s a life or death survival story, Weir manages to make it funny.

The Disasters

The Disasters by M.K. England
You want a diverse space adventure filled with a found family that starts out hating you? This is what you’ve been looking for. These are not the Academy trained heroes that are wanted, but they’re the only ones left. I loved this book so much and I wish more people read it. I often compare it to Aurora Rising because what I wanted from that book is what I actually got from The Disasters.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown
This is pitched as Hunger Games in space. It definitely is that, but way more brutal. Everyone is classes via color. Red’s being the lowest rung. Our main character is a Red. He manages to disguise himself as a Gold and infiltrate their academy. This whole series is absolutely incredible. It’s violent and gory, but it’s all about fighting for a cause you believe in.

Superheroes

Renegades by Marissa Meyer
I think this series definitely could have been shorter, but I really enjoyed the audiobooks. I know many that really love this series. But I prefer my superheroes in movie format. I think there is a lot to love about this series and it’s not full of a super complicated world or abilities.

The Extraordinaries (The Extraordinaries, #1)

The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune
This is one of my favorite superhero stories. The main character, Nick, has ADHD and the story is told as if we’re in his head. So, it’s a great representation of ADHD. It’s also queer and is filled with the main characters fan fiction. Please, if you like superhero movies and want to try a superhero book, start here.

Time Travel / Alternate Realities

Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
Chen’s debut novel is full of time travel and creating a life when everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong. I really loved this book. I was expecting to enjoy it, but not nearly as much as I did. I think all of the twists and turns were surprising and unexpected. I found myself easily invested in the characters. This is definitely an underrated book. I never see anyone talking about it.

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix
I found this one randomly at Target and I’m so glad that I let the cover convince me to buy it. This is a middle-grade story that follows three siblings whose mother has disappeared. They discover their mother is missing and further, they are actually from an alternate reality. But things in that reality are not very good. So, the kids ban together, along with a friend of theirs, and try to save their mom. I thought this was a really fun middle-grade story. It’s one that I don’t see talked about often, but I definitely recommend it.

The Space Between Worlds

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
This was one of my favorite read of 2020. I love this world and the science in this book. I would call it more of an intermediate science fiction story because it’s not really on a recognizable Earth. But I think the world building and the science isn’t so complex that it’s hard to figure out. The characters are diverse and some are a bit morally gray and I loved it.

Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds
A story of love and being stuck in a time loop trying to change a future that’s already happened. I loved this book so much. It’s emotional with characters that you can’t help but root for. I love this story with my whole heart. It’s got tough topics, but it also highlights joy within tough times. The romance is absolutely beautiful and it still manages to be funny despite the heartbreak that the main character faces.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Sal and Gabi are some kids I’d really love to be friends with. They’re completely hilarious. Sal can make holes in the universe into other realities. This often comes in the form of accidentally pulling his Mami from other realities because in his reality, she’s dead. Sal also has diabetes. This story is so much fun. It’s full of adventure and kids just trying to save the world.

Other

The City We Became (Great Cities, #1)

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
What would happen if New York City came alive? Read this book and you will find out. It’s bizarre and I really loved it. The idea of a city becoming sentient is a fascinating one.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
This is a contemporary science fiction story, so it’s a bit of both. We get the modern day world as we know it, but also mysterious statues that may or may not be aliens. At least, they’re made from something that’s definitely not of the Earth.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
Middlegame is a bit more intermediate, but it’s such an incredible story. It’s a story of magic (sort of) and twins that were separated at birth and given to two different adoptive families. Roger and Dodger manage to find their way to each other over and over again. I loved the complex sibling relationship that we focus on, but I also loved the fascinating alchemy that is also a big focus of the story.

Early Departures

Early Departures by Justin Reynolds
What would you do to have the chance to see a loved one again? If they died suddenly and you had the chance to bring them back for a month or more? Would you take it? Q’s mom does, and that’s what this story is. Q is brought back to life, but he doesn’t know that he ever died. There is a bit of a mystery as to why Q what chosen to be a part of the reanimation experiments. There’s also a mystery as to why Q and Jamal are no longer friends. Ultimately, this story is about two friends coming back together before it’s too late.

These are my recommendations for someone trying to get into science fiction for the first time. Every genre has sub-genres, so I did my best to give recommendations for each that I’ve read and enjoy. Some are a bit more sci-fi than others, but I definitely think there will be something for everyone on this list. Let me know if you’ve read or plan to read any of these!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Unchosen by Katharyn Blair

Summary:
For Charlotte Holloway, the world ended twice.
The first was when her childhood crush, Dean, fell in love—with her older sister.
The second was when the Crimson, a curse spread through eye contact, turned the majority of humanity into flesh-eating monsters.
Neither end of the world changed Charlotte. She’s still in the shadows of her siblings. Her popular older sister, Harlow, now commands forces of survivors. And her talented younger sister, Vanessa, is the Chosen One—who, legend has it, can end the curse.
When their settlement is raided by those seeking the Chosen One, Charlotte makes a reckless decision to save Vanessa: she takes her place as prisoner.
The word spreads across the seven seas—the Chosen One has been found.
But when Dean’s life is threatened and a resistance looms on the horizon, the lie keeping Charlotte alive begins to unravel. She’ll have to break free, forge new bonds, and choose her own destiny if she has any hope of saving her sisters, her love, and maybe even the world.
Because sometimes the end is just a new beginning.

Unchosen

Review:
Unchosen is a 2021 release that I didn’t really know anything about before going into it. I hadn’t heard too much chatter from others on the bookish parts of the internet. But the summary sounded pretty good. So, when the audiobook became available through my library shortly after its release, I thought I’d give it a listen. I liked the narrator and thought they did a great job with this story.
This book follows Charlotte after the world ends. The Crimson (a plague-like curse that spreads through eye contact and turns humans into zombies) is ravaging the world and Charlotte is just trying to survive. But her older sister is part of the leadership where they live and always protects her. Her younger sister is the Chosen One (according to legend, they will break the curse). But when their home is raided, Charlotte claims to be the Chosen One to protect her sister.
This story was full of action and high stakes. I thought the concept of the curse/plague was a really interesting one. The whole world thinks the curse was cast by a woman Anne, who plays a role in this story. I think Anne’s part of the story was excellent. The history and backstory of the curse was one of my favorite parts. I think the way that the world as we know it has changed was also super interesting. The different towns and ‘safe’ places were interesting, but I wish we’d gotten to know a little more about them.
The action was high stakes and really kept the story moving. When lives weren’t in danger, we were learning about the world, the secrets that others were keeping, and getting to know the characters. I think the characters were likeable, easy to care about, but not so much that I want to read the story again and again.
I has a few things I wanted more of. Charlotte has had a crush on her older sister’s boyfriend, Dean. And making sure Dean was safe was one of Charlotte’s big motivators. I didn’t like this. It felt a little icky. I get that Charlotte and Dean are best friends, but she’s been harboring feelings all these years and I didn’t like it. I also just wanted more with the sisters in general. I really liked that the ending had all three of them together. But I wanted to know more about their past. I understand why they weren’t all together. Charlotte was finally out from her sister’s shadow, that’s a big part of what this story is about.
Overall, I liked this book. I think it was well written and really enjoyable. The story kept me interested and engaged. I think it was fast-paced, but not too fast. I think many people will love this book despite being about a plague in a less than pleasant time in the real world.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud

GoodReads Summary:
Two identical girls, one a princess, the other a rebel. Who will rule the empire?
After being swept up into the brutal Vathek court, Amani, the ordinary girl forced to serve as the half-Vathek princess’s body double, has been forced into complete isolation. The cruel but complex princess, Maram, with whom Amani had cultivated a tenuous friendship, discovered Amani’s connection to the rebellion and has forced her into silence, and if Amani crosses Maram once more, her identity – and her betrayal – will be revealed to everyone in the court.
Amani is desperate to continue helping the rebellion, to fight for her people’s freedom. But she must make a devastating decision: will she step aside, and watch her people suffer, or continue to aid them, and put herself and her family in mortal danger? And whatever she chooses, can she bear to remain separated, forever, from Maram’s fiancé, Idris?
Court of Lions (Mirage, #2)Review:
Court of Lions was a 2020 anticipated release I didn’t even know about until August (when I finally read Mirage). Book two starts right where the first left off. I don’t want to spoil the first book because if you haven’t read it you need to stop what you’re doing and go read it now. I listened to audiobooks for the whole series and they were incredible. There were lots of names and worldbuilding things that I would have had trouble pronouncing correctly and the narrator did a wonderful job. She really put emotions into each character and the story. I highly recommend them.
The story starts with Amani being called to Maram for the first time after Maram found some information about Amani’s activities in the first book, and she was not happy about it. This break of trust between the two was so sad for me. They had finally gotten to such a good place. They trusted and confided in one another. I was sad to see that be lost. But on a more positive note, they gained this closeness back. The relationship between Maram and Amani was my favorite thing about this book. The two figured out how to get past Amani’s breaking Maram’s trust and they become as close as sisters. Seeing these two finally work together toward the same goals made me so happy. Seeing them work together to gain allies (and get Nadia out of the way) and work toward a better future for their planet.
Maram had incredible growth. She spends time really learning about her heritage that comes from her mother. I loved seeing her get away from her cold and cruel persona that she wears to prove she is Vathek enough. She’s embracing her mother’s side and it was so great. I loved learning about it as Maram did. I also really loved Maram’s love interest. We really get to know her on a deeper level once the love interest is introduced. Maram shows a completely different side from anything we’ve seen before and I loved it.
Amani’s story focuses on bettering her relationship with Maram. But she also gets a very complicated romance that’s continued from the first book. She battles with her feelings for Idris who is actually Maram’s fiancé (and eventually husband). Pretending to be Maram and Idris’ wife was a difficult task for her because she cared so much for him. It was interesting to see her battle her feelings for him versus what she thought was the right thing to do. I also adored Amani because she has an incredible mind for the politics of the world. We get to follow Maram and Amani as they tour the world after the wedding and I loved getting to see more of this culture. It was beautiful and fascinating. Amani is the mastermind behind all of Maram’s moves, but once the two and Idris start planning together my heart was singing.
This story started with many very unhappy people, but by the end of this book, they are all (mostly) put back together. This is a story of exploring your roots and your history. It’s a story of figuring out who you are and what you want and getting those things that you wanted, that you dreamed of having. I loved every page of these characters finding their way together, to friendship, and to love. I cannot say enough how much these characters and this story weaved its way into my heart. The writing was beautiful and took me right there, into this world, the drama, the politics, and the emotions. This series will definitely be making my 2020 favorites list.

Quotes:

“All of us have suffered one loss of another. All of us live in the shadow of that. And those losses do not absolve us of the choices we make.”

“Sometimes,” she said contemplatively, “all the paths lead where we would rather not go. Sometimes you can’t outrun home or destiny.”

“It’s not about the teller,” I said. “But the fortune. Good or ill, true or false, it haunts the listener.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

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GoodReads Summary:
The daughter of two astronauts, Romy Silvers is no stranger to life in space. But she never knew how isolating the universe could be until her parents’ tragic deaths left her alone on the infinity, a spaceship speeding away from Earth.
Romy tries to make the best of her lonely situation, but with only brief messages from her therapist on Earth to keep her company, she can’t help but feel like something is missing. It seems like a dream come true when NASA alerts her that another ship, the Eternity, will be joining the Infinity.
Romy begins exchanging messages with J, the captain of the Eternity, and their friendship breathes new life into her world. But as the Eternity gets closer, Romy learns there’s more to J’s mission than she could have imagined. And suddenly, there are worse things than being alone….
The Loneliest Girl in the UniverseReview:
I buddy read this book with one of my favorites, Alana @ The Bookish Chick. I think we both felt similarly. This book was a wild ride.
We’re following Romy as she’s traveling alone through space. She was born in outer space to two astronauts that were on a mission to go to a planet thought to be able to support human life. But some mysterious something happened and Romy ended up alone. I think the suspense was done really well. For the first half of the book, I was really interested to find out what had happened to Romy’s parents and the rest of the astronauts on the mission. Sadly, the further into the book I read the less I liked it. I thought the mystery of Romy’s parents and the other astronauts was great, I also liked the representation of anxiety that we get from Romy. But I just really didn’t like the last third of the book.
So, for this last third of the story, we are anticipating another ship joining with Romy’s. Earth has sent another space ship to help her so that she isn’t alone when arriving on the planet she’s headed for. J is the astronaut from the other ship. J and Romy exchange messages while they’re waiting to meet. I liked this at first, but then it sort of felt icky. Romy is only sixteen and she’s falling in love with a 20-something-year-old. It just got worse when they finally met. I won’t go into too much detail because of spoilers, but I didn’t like it.
Overall, I wanted to like this book more than I did. I think Romy was a great representation of anxiety, but that and the mystery of how Romy ended up alone were the only things I liked about the story and they weren’t the main focus of the book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

GoodReads Summary:
This is the way the world ends. Again.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)Review:
The Fifth Season was an absolutely wild ride and I loved every page. I definitely spent most of this book confused, but that’s really nothing new when it comes to my reading fantasy or science fiction that’s really in-depth like this. I really loved the way Jemisin wove this world. We follow Essun as she’s trying to follow her husband and her daughter while the world is ending. I was immediately gripped by this story. I am blown away by Jemisin’s ability to pull me into a story so quickly. Especially since I really had no idea what was going on most of the time. We also follow two other perspectives, Damaya and Syenite. The twist that involved these two characters really blew me away. I had started to suspect that these two points of view were in a different timeline than the one of Essun (because for Essun the world was ending and that wasn’t happening for the other two girls). But Jemisin went even further and that took this story to a whole new level of greatness.
The world this story takes place in was fascinating. The culture and politics were pretty terrible to those with abilities. I liked that we got to see the way they are raised in Yumenes. But I also really enjoyed getting to see how hard it was for Essun to live free and undiscovered. What I really want to know is whether or not this is happening on Earth in several hundred years. I suspect this is the case, but I didn’t see any concrete evidence in the actual story.
Overall, I am trying to type like the wind so that I can immediately go and pick up the second book. We were definitely left on a cliff hanger, but I’m not even mad about it. I loved this book. I loved its characters and their complexities. I am just fascinated by every aspect of this story. I cannot wait to continue on with this world and the people in it. I also want to mention how incredibly diverse The Fifth Season is. We see several transgender characters, there are many different races and skin colors, we even get a wonderful polyamorous relationship (that I would die for). I loved all of the representation we got.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

GoodReads Summary:
Thirteen-year-old Min comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times.
Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.
When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.
Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.
Dragon PearlReview:
I have been loving the books that are coming out of Rick Riordan Presents publishing imprint. These stories are unique and diverse and Dragon Pearl was no different. This story was a mix of Korean folklore, science fiction, and a bit of magic. We follow Min, who has fox-magic (which is thought to no longer be around). She sets out to find her brother and ends up way over her head.
I really liked Min. She’s just a young girl, so she didn’t always make the best decisions, but most of the time she was really thoughtful about her choices and I appreciated that. I loved that Min was determined to find her brother. The family dynamics in this story were really interesting. The whole story is because Min sets out to find her brother. But she finds other adventure along the way. I really liked that Min was getting to be a part of the Space Forces, even if it wasn’t how she’s originally hoped it to be.
My favorite part of this book was the ending. When she finally makes it to the world filled with ghosts and everything finally comes out. It was such a satisfying ending.
Overall, there was action and adventure. There were really likable characters. There is a nonbinary character, which was something I really appreciated as this is a middle-grade book and I think that was so important for it to be included. I also really liked that there wasn’t any sort of romantic aspect of the book. Min was just a kid trying to do the right thing for the people she met and for her brother. I definitely think more people should be reading this story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Aurora Burning by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

GoodReads Summary:
First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.
Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces.
And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri.
Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.
When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.
Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.
Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2)Review:
I really wanted to like this book I swear I tried. But I just was more disappointed the further I read. I didn’t love the first book (Aurora Rising) but I enjoyed it a lot. I thought it was creative and interesting. But many of the things I loved about the first book didn’t seem to be in this one.
I liked the characters, but they seemed to have gotten less mature somehow. I think what the authors were trying to add as ‘lightheartedness’ really just made them seem immature and childish. There was literally a whole chapter where Scarlett talks about her boobs. Normally, I’d love this, but they’re supposed to be saving the galaxy and it just seemed out of place. There just wasn’t any sense of urgency or seriousness about the task they’re supposed to be working toward and I didn’t like that.
I also didn’t really care for this book because not much happened. There was action and adventure, but it didn’t really seem like all of the events were especially important toward their larger mission.
Overall, I wanted to love this book but it just didn’t do it for me. I wanted to like this book so much, but I just didn’t. To top it all off, the ending of this book made me so mad. I get a cliff hanger but this ending was just ridiculous. I think I’ll probably continue the series, but I hope the next book is better than this one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The 100 by Kass Morgan

GoodReads Summary:
Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents—considered expendable by society—are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.
CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves—but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.
Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.
The 100 (The 100, #1)Review:
I have to start this review with a little backstory. I have been wanting to read this series for quite a few years because I watch (read: am obsessed with) the tv show. The final season of the 100 tv show is starting and I thought I would try to catch up with the books before I finish the show. I might even rewatch the whole show after I read the whole book series. Okay, onto the book review.
The 100 follows 100 people that are under 18 and have been arrested. The space station they grew up on is running out of air, so the higher-ups need to figure out if Earth is livable again or not. We follow four different points of view and their stories. I really enjoyed the science fiction parts of this story. The concept of the human race destroying the Earth is not out of the realm of possibilities, and I’ve always been fascinated by space. I would love to travel in space and live there as well. I didn’t love the class issues that still lingered in space. This was something that was changed in the show, there were different stations, but none were better than another.
Clarke is the first point of view we see. We get her backstory as well as where she currently is. I really liked her. She’s smart and creative. She’s good in hard situations. I thought she was strong and well developed. I thought the backstory with her parents (which is different in the book from the show) was dark but somehow fascinating.
Wells is the chancellor’s son. He’s also Clarke’s ex-boyfriend and the reason that her parents died. I thought that Wells had the hardest journey. He purposefully committed a crime so that he would be sent to Earth alongside Clarke. Was that choice worth it? He’s made to be ‘other’ because he is the son of the chancellor. He’s familiar with leadership, but when he tries to share what he knows, he’s shunned. Wells is determined and continues trying to be helpful which I liked. I’m interested to see how his story compares to the show in the next book.
Bellamy is my favorite. I love him in the book and the show. I also totally ship him with Clarke. Bellamy did whatever he needed to get onto the ship that held his sister, the one going to Earth. His sister, that he doesn’t know as well as he thinks he does, that never should have been born. Bellamy isn’t afraid of making waves or pissing people off. But he quickly proves that he’s probably the most prepared to survive on Earth. I will love him forever.
Then there’s Glass. She’s not even in the show so I was interested right from the start. Glass was supposed to be one of the 100, but snuck off the ship through the air vents to see her boyfriend, Luke. I had a love/hate relationship with her story. Her history is not pretty. She’s a part of the wealthier station and Luke is not. So, when certain events happen, she says hateful things and breaks up with him to protect him. But once she sees him again, the truth starts to come out. I’m definitely interested to see where her story goes. There are more secrets to be spilled and I thought it was an interesting choice to keep one of the perspectives on the space station.
Overall, I definitely enjoyed this book. I’m very excited to continue the series and see what happens to these characters that I love dearly.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Goldilocks by Laura Lam

GoodReads Summary:
The Earth is in environmental collapse. The future of humanity hangs in the balance. But a team of women are preparing to save it. Even if they’ll need to steal a spaceship to do it.
Despite increasing restrictions on the freedoms of women on Earth, Valerie Black is spearheading the first all-female mission to a planet in the Goldilocks Zone, where conditions are just right for human habitation.
The team is humanity’s last hope for survival, and Valerie has gathered the best women for the mission: an ace pilot who is one of the only astronauts ever to have gone to Mars; a brilliant engineer tasked with keeping the ship fully operational; and an experienced doctor to keep the crew alive. And then there’s Naomi Lovelace, Valerie’s surrogate daughter and the ship’s botanist, who has been waiting her whole life for an opportunity to step out of Valerie’s shadow and make a difference.
The problem is that they’re not the authorized crew, even if Valerie was the one to fully plan the voyage. When their mission is stolen from them, they steal the ship bound for the new planet.
But when things start going wrong on board, Naomi begins to suspect that someone is concealing a terrible secret — and realizes time for life on Earth may be running out faster than they feared . . .
GoldilocksReview:
Goldilocks was not what I was expecting. I was expecting a more adult version of The Final Six where people are sent into space (some authorized and some not) to find a new world for humanity. That’s sort of what happened. But this book was more of a thriller set in space than a search for a new world.
I really enjoyed this story. It’s told from the point of view of Naomi but written in a book as she’s telling her daughter what happened many years later. I thought that was an interesting way to tell the story.
I like Naomi. She’s a girl that has experienced loss, but still acknowledges the privileges she had growing up as a wealthy white female, except for the female part because in this story female’s rights are slowly being taken away. I thought the future world was realistic and terrifying. I liked seeing Naomi’s history and the things she experienced that turned her into the person she was in space.
Then there’s Val. I really liked her storyline. It was interesting and surprising. I could find myself agreeing with her more outlandish ideas, which was a little scary.
The rest of the crew was interesting too. Though I would have liked to learn more about them. I would have liked to see a little more friendship and comradery among these women.
Overall, this thriller was a wild ride. The science-fiction aspect of the story was interesting and horrifying. I liked the characters and the diversity among them. I definitely think this will be a hit for lovers of thrillers and lovers of science fiction.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Artemis by Andy Weir

GoodReads Summary:
Jazz Bashara is a criminal.
Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.
Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.
ArtemisReview:
After reading and loving The Martian, I was really excited to pick up the other Andy Weir book I already owned. I’m glad I’ve finally read Weir’s books that I own because I loved them both.
We follow Jazz, who is a criminal. She’s smuggling things into her home on the moon when the opportunity of a lifetime arises. She can make a million slugs off one job, though it’s a rather dangerous one. Murphy’s Law is in full effect, even on the moon. Anything that could have gone wrong for Jazz, did. I loved Jazz as a character. We get her backstory in bits and pieces. There were emails from her pen pal on Earth and we learn a lot from him, which I really liked. I thought the emails were an interesting way to give us more information. Jazz was a real firecracker. She’s sassy, says what’s on her find, even if it’s vulgar and completely inappropriate. I totally loved it.
The plot of this book took a little while to get to. At first, we’re led to believe that the plot is going to center on Jazz doing this job and what will happen after she succeeds. But there ends up being so much more to the story. There are some murders, a bit of chloroform, and a whole lot of action.
Overall, I really loved this book. It was sassy and unapologetic about that sassiness. There was action and adventure, friendship and love, and of course, walking on the moon. I absolutely look forward to reading more of Andy Weir’s writing.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune

GoodReads Summary:
Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.
Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?
After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).
The Extraordinaries (The Extraordinaries, #1)Review:
Huge thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I have to say that I 100% requested this book because of the cover and the comparison to Marissa Meyer’s Renegades series. I didn’t really have very high expectations going into this book. I think that’s because the summary of the book really doesn’t cover the awesomeness inside. It’s interesting because it does cover all the things that make this book wonderful, but it’s a case of the summary telling and the book showing these things that really makes the difference.
This book follows Nick, who is a queer boy in high school that has ADHD. I absolutely loved him right from the start. I have people very close to me in my life that have ADHD, so it was really interesting to see Nick’s experiences with it and get his thoughts and feelings. He manages to get in trouble in and out of school very often. Nick doesn’t have it easy, but he really tries so hard and I think that’s what I liked so much about him. He really makes the effort to do and be better. I thought the portrayal of his ADHD was really thoughtful. He also takes medication to help him, which I thought was a great addition. While Nick is the most cinnamon-y of all the cinnamon rolls out there, he was also quite oblivious. He really had a problem getting stuck in his head and hyper-focusing on his problems. So, I totally predicted the end of this book around the 50% mark, but I had the secret identities mixed around.
Nick’s friend group was the best. He is a misfit, as are his friends. Seth and Nick have been best friends since elementary school. Gibby joined them in middle school. She’s a lesbian and will literally kick your ass. I loved Gibby. She calls Nick out when he needs it, but is a loyal friend to Seth at the same time. Then there’s Jaz, Gibby’s girlfriend. She was last to the friend group, but no less loved. I really enjoyed getting the history of their friendships and their banter and interactions literally had me laughing out loud.
I laughed so hard during this book, but this author didn’t hesitate to turn it all around. I also balled my eyes out once or twice. Another really great part of the story was Nick’s dad. The relationship that these two have was nothing short of wonderful. But it’s also realistic. It’s hard to be a single dad and Nick’s dad was certainly not perfect. But it was clear how much he loved Nick and how hard he was trying. I can’t imagine trying to grieve the death of my wife while also still having a child to take care of. I loved how accepting his dad was, but also their open communication. They talked about Nick’s sexuality. They talked about his ADHD. His dad was there for him as much as he could be as a cop that had to work nights. Nick and his dad also made me laugh so much.
Overall, this book surpassed all expectations I had for it. The writing was fantastic. The characters were incredible and I love each of them so very much (even the villain). The world was really interesting (with a history I’m dying to know more of). And the book left of leaving me wanting so much more. I’m so glad this is a series, but so sad I will have to wait who knows how long for the next book. Please do yourself a favor and read this fabulously queer and heartwarming book.

Quotes:

“Sometimes, people do things just because they can. There doesn’t have to be a reason. It’s all chaos.”

“Nick knew the power of words. He knew that sometimes when they landed, they exploded with the force of a carelessly tossed grenade.”

“We’re teenagers. Everything is unnecessarily complicated. We’re told that we have to be a certain way, even if we know it’s wrong. We’re not taken seriously. Our ideas are cast aside as though they’re without merit. Sometimes we need to act out so that people pay attention to us. So that people know we mean what we say. That we’re capable. That we shouldn’t be dismissed.”

“They’re brave,” Mary said. “But we are too. Because while they’re out there, saving the world, we’re the ones they come home to. And it may not always be fair, and there are times when you know they’re in harm’s way, but they’ll always fight like the dickens to get back where they belong.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Martian by Andy Weir

GoodReads Summary:
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
The MartianReview:
I absolutely loved this book. I bought it a few months ago after Antonia read it and loved it. But I couldn’t seem to pick it up until the Bookclub I’m in with a few local friends pick this one for March’s book. I read this book on the best day, it was warm and sunny so I got to sit outside and imagine myself on Mars.
Mark Watney was such a great character. He’s trapped on Mars after his crew left him behind thinking he didn’t survive after getting hit by a piece of equipment during a dust storm. The best part of this book was Mark. Despite facing what is likely imminent death he has such a positive attitude. He really excelled at focusing on one problem at a time. He has a really great mindset of “well I’ll worry about starving later because I won’t be able to worry about starving if I can’t solve problem x right now.” I think this was one of the best parts of the book.
Once we get to see what’s going on back at NASA the story really gains momentum. Things seem to move fast even though time isn’t actually moving fast, but we only get updates from Mark every few days. But the whole book was high stakes and full of excitement even if Mark made the situation seem funnier than it was.
Overall, this book was funny and exciting. Sometimes it felt like I was right there with him trying to work through the problems that he needed to solve for his survival. I loved everything about this story and I am beyond excited to read more books by this author.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Supernova by Marissa Meyer

GoodReads Summary:
The epic conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s thrilling Renegades Trilogy finds Nova and Adrian fighting to keep their identities secret. While the battle rages on between their alter egos and their allies, there is a darker threat shrouding Gatlon City.
The Renegades’ worst enemy is back among them, threatening to reclaim Gatlon City. Nova and Adrian must brave lies and betrayal to protect those they love. Their greatest fears are about to come to life, and unless they can bridge the divide between heroes and villains, they stand to lose everything. Including each other.
Intrigue and action will leave readers on edge until the final, shocking secrets are revealed.
Supernova (Renegades, #3)Review:
I have to start this by saying that I listened to the audiobook and somehow I managed to listen to all seventeen hours in less than two days. This may make it seem like I really loved the story, which isn’t completely true. I really enjoy the characters and the conflicts and the things going on, but I had issues. I was annoyed quite a bit but I was definitely gripped by the story.
Supernova was the finale book in the Renegades trilogy. It’s a series I was determined to finish this year (because 2020 is the year of finishing series I’ve gotten behind on.) Superficially, I had fun with this book but I spent most of the time yelling in my head “JUST TELL THE TRUTH ALREADY!” I thought this in the direction of several characters.
So, there’s Nova. She’s a complex character. I really loved her as a whole because of her inner struggle, between loyalty to the villain family that raised her or the heroes that she’s struggling not to agree with. This inner battle was honestly fascinating. Her journey was the only reason I kept going in this series, to see how her choices fell and her story ended.
Adrian was interesting too, but he just irritated me. He had a great life. Though it’s sad he lost his mother, he had two wonderful adoptive dads and brother. He had powers to draw things that come to life. But that wasn’t enough for him. He had something to prove. Enter his alter ego, who is a vigilante and plays outside the rules that his dads enforce for all Renegades. I just wanted him to tell his parents and Nova the whole book.
Between Nova’s secret identity and Adrian’s, I was just annoyed. I really hate the secret-keeping trope when if Nova had just told the truth the plot twist (which I should have seen coming but totally didn’t) would have come out earlier and maybe she could have become a hero sooner.
Overall, this story was action-packed and full of interesting and diverse characters. I loved all the supporting characters and their stories. I loved that Nova and Adrian were both morally gray. The audiobook was super well done and kept me engaged, but there were just too many moments that really annoyed me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Life Below by Alexandra Monir

GoodReads Summary:
As Naomi lifts off into space and away from a rapidly deteriorating Earth, she watches the world fade away, and along with it Leo, a Final Six contestant she grew close to during training. Leaving Earth behind is hard, but what’s ahead, on Europa, could be worse. The International Space Training Camp continues to hide the truth about what happened to the last group of astronauts who attempted a similar colonization but failed mysteriously. With one shot—at this mission and to Europa—Naomi is determined to find out if there is alien life on Europa before she and her crew get there.
Leo, back on Earth, has been working with renegade scientist Dr. Greta Wagner, who promises to fly him to space where he can essentially latch on to Naomi’s ship. And if Wagner’s hypothesis is right, it isn’t a possibility of coming in contact with extraterrestrial life on Europa—it’s a definite. With Naomi unaware of what awaits, it’s up to Leo to find and warn her and the others.
With all the pieces of their journey finally clicking into place, everything else starts to fall apart. A storm threatens to interfere with Leo’s takeoff, a deadly entity makes itself known to the Final Six, and the questions the ISTC has been avoiding about the previous failed mission get answered in the worst way possible. If the dream was to establish a habitable domain on Europa… the Final Six are about to enter a nightmare.
The Life Below (The Final Six, #2)Review:
I loved this book. I really loved the first book, The Final Six, but honestly, I think I somehow loved this second installment even more. I really adore series that have books that just keep getting better. This seems like it’s definitely going to be one of those.
I loved everything about this book. The crew has officially left the Earth and things are getting real. We follow the crew through the perspective of Naomi and Leo, as we did in the first book. Traveling through outer space is fascinating, but sad for some of them. Naomi will likely never see her family again. There are some losses and they totally took me by surprise. I thought the author did such a good job of showing what happens to these characters rather than just telling us the events. Naomi feels alone now that Leo is not with her, but she does her job and manages to make friends. Leo, however, is doing whatever he needs to get back to her. I loved their love story more and more with every page. Getting to see them reunite what literally my favorite part.
Now, science fiction is one of my favorite genres. This book had some really excellent science parts. The crew is flying through space. They need to make a pit stop near Mars before continuing onto Europa. I thought the Mars bits were horrifying and fascinating. Then we get to get to Europa and things get even more horrifying and fascinating. I liked that the science was well explained so that I could understand it but not overly dumbed down for me. The creatures and their reactions, as well as the crew’s reactions, were all so realistic.
Overall, I feel like I’m not doing this book justice. So, if you’re a science fiction lover like me, please just go buy or borrow The Final Six so that you can read this incredible sequel.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.