The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

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

Quotes:

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

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May

GoodReads Summary:
This first book in a feminist space opera duology follows seven resistance fighters who will free the galaxy from the ruthless Tholosian Empire — or die trying.
When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray.
Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.
When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.
Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die.
Seven Devils (Seven Devils, #1)Review:
Seven Devils is a book that Antonia brought to my attention earlier in the fall and I’m so glad that she did. I absolutely devoured this book. The story is told from a few different perspectives. This is something that can either make or break a story. There are many books where the multiple perspectives all blend together, this was not one of those cases. Each character was distinct and I was never confused about whose perspective I was reading. I think the writing was really good. This world they created was so fascinating and well built.
We follow some members of the resistance that have history with one another from before the book starts. Eris and Clo worked together for the resistance in the past. Clo learned Eris’s biggest secret and the two haven’t worked together since. But there is a mission they must work together to fulfill and that’s where this story starts. Clo is angry that she has to work with Eris. I really enjoyed that we got chapters from both the present and the past for many of the characters. We got to see exactly what happened between Eris and Clo. I liked Eris. I liked her even more after learning about her past and her secrets. I just genuinely liked all of the characters. We meet the rest of our squad a little way into the story. I liked that it worked like this because we got to settle into the world and get to know Eris and Clo and figure out what was going on before three more characters were added. I liked the three friends that became a part of the crew. They each added something different, but equally important. I thought all the characters had such an interesting dynamic as a group because the three friends knew one another, but they were unsure about Eris and Clo. There wasn’t much trust, but it was really wonderful seeing these characters learn to trust one another individually and as a group.
Overall, this was such a good story. I loved that the story jumped back and forth between the past and the present (and was clearly labeled when it did this). I loved the group of characters that needed to learn to work together and trust one another. I loved the secrets that eventually came out. There were slower moments, but there were also some pretty high stakes. The representation was also wonderful. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the representation but I do want to mention what was in this story. One of the leaders of the rebellion is a trans woman. There is a romantic relationship between two women (this was my favorite and the story was so casual about it which I loved). There’s an autistic character. There’s bisexual representation and ace representation. I cannot wait for this series to continue. I will definitely be reading more by both May and Lam.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth: Favorite Tropes in Science Fiction

ARTWORK by Tithi Luadthong from 123RF.com.

Hello, lovelies! Today I want to talk about tropes that I love within the science fiction genre. I don’t know if tropes is really the correct word, but it’s what I’m going with and you will all see what I’m talking about when you read a bit further. There are a few topics I just love to read about when it comes to the sci-fi I pick up.

End of the world storylines (dystopian) – By this I mean, the world has ended in some scenario. Some of my favorites are climate change, illness that change the world as we know it, and world ending wars (not that I like this, but it makes for an interesting story usually.) There are others but these are the few that pop into my head.
Some recommendations: This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada, The Final Six by Alexandra Monir, The 100 by Kiss Morgan, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor, The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, Internment by Samira Ahmed, Dry by Neal Shusterman, Year One by Nora Roberts, The Fever King by Victoria Lee andScythe by Neal Shusterman.

Space Squads (also known as found family) – I love the found family trope in any genre, but it’s a great one in science fiction. There’s something about a bunch of people coming together and making their own family that hits me in the heart. I love seeing the relationships grow and develop into something wonderful.
Some recommendations: The Disasters by M.K. England, Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, The Angel Experiment by James Patterson (I haven’t read this in a really long time, so take this with a grain of salt), and Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez.

Aliens – I’ve always been a sucker for alien stories. What really would happen if aliens came to earth? I just love reading about all the potential human reactions, positive and negative. There are so many different kinds of alien stories out there, which I think is why this is one of my favorites.
Some recommendations: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, and When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry (this is only sort of aliens, but I loved it.)

Time Travel – Time travel is one of those things that I think many people dream about. If I could go back in time and see anyone I wanted, I already know who I would go to see. There are so many complexities to the idea of time travel that it makes my brain hurt, but I still love it.
Some recommendations: Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen, This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North.

Alternate Realities/Histories – This one is a topic I didn’t know I loved until more recently. I’ve read some really great stories with people traveling to alternate realities or stories that are the story of how things would be if one thing changed in history. It’s almost dystopian and almost fantasy and I almost always enjoy it.
Some recommendations: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix, and American Royals by Katharine McGee.

Superheroes – Who doesn’t love superheroes? I love the creativity with all the different abilities and the potential for what the world looks like when people have these abilities.
Some recommendations: Vicious by V.E. Schwab, Renegades by Marissa Meyer, The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune, and Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Deborah Biancotti, & Margo Lanagan.

Off Earth – This is a more general topic in science fiction, but there are so many great books that fit the generalization of books not on earth. Some are space operas, some are not. I love books that are sci-fi, but none of the above.
Some recommendations: The Martian by Andy Weir, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, Bonds of Brass by Emily Strutski, Skyward by Brandon Sanderson, Zodiac by Romina Russell, Mirage by Somaiya Daud, and Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee.

These are some of my favorite things to read about when I pick up a science fiction book or series, along with some recommendations of my favorites within each topic. I could literally talk about this for a million years, so I tried to keep it on the shorter side. Tell me in the comments about your favorite science fiction tropes or topics.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

GoodReads Summary:
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.
Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.
The Love That Split the WorldReview:
The Love That Split the World was my last Emily Henry book and I was not disappointed at all. I didn’t realize this was going to be as much of a romance as it was, but I still really loved it. The story follows Nat as she’s trying to figure out who needs to be saved. Natalie has seen Grandmother for most of her life. She sees her late at night and no one really believes that Grandmother is real. Nat tries a certain therapy to stop seeing Grandmother and it works, until one night, Nat sees Grandmother and she tells Nat that there are only three months to save him. Nat has to figure out who Grandmother is talking about. I really liked Nat. She was adopted and her biological mother is an Indigenous woman from a reservation in another state. So, not belonging and trying to figure out who she really is had been a bit part of Nat’s life so far. I really liked this aspect of the story. Nat’s journey to figure things out about herself was one of the best parts of the book. I also really loved all of the stories we got to hear about that Grandmother told her. I really loved all of the Indigenous cultures that was included. I can’t speak to the representation, but as an outside opinion, I thought the stories were beautiful and beautifully written.
Enter Beau. I feel like I only really liked Beau because most of the other people in Nat’s life sucked. Especially her ex-boyfriend. Beau was kind and had some issues, but he was there when Nat needed him and he could understand a bit of what Natalie was dealing with what Grandmother was trying to tell her.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t mind that it was mostly a romance. I loved how much it reminded me of my own high school experience. I liked the characters. But most of all I loved the twists and turns of the story. It was beautifully written and Emily Henry has solidified a place as one of my favorite authors.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The First 7 by Laura Pohl

GoodReads Summary:
Clover Martinez and The Last Teenagers on Earth are busy exploring the galaxy after leaving earth behind…even if they can’t help but be a little homesick.
So when their ship receives a distress signal from their former planet, they hope against hope that it means other survivors. But as soon as they arrive, they realize something’s deeply wrong: strange crystal formations have popped up everywhere and there’s some sort of barrier keeping them from leaving.
Seeking the origin of the formations and the reason for the barrier, the group discovers a colony of survivors hidden in the mountains. But the survivors aren’t who they seem…
The First 7 (The Last 8, #2)Review:
I enjoyed The Last 8 so much that I immediately had to start the audiobook for book two, The First 7. I loved The First 7 so much that I listened to the entire audiobook in one afternoon.
I loved this book for the characters. I enjoyed the plot and the whole storyline, but I was so invested in the characters and oh boy, was there drama with this found family. I’ll mention the storyline first and then I can get into what I actually want to talk about today. I was interested in the storyline. At the end of book one, our characters travel into space. At the start of this book, we get to see the characters in space after exploring for several months. There is an altercation toward one of the Last Teenagers and they leave the planet they’re on. When they return to their ship, they receive a distress signal. A distress signal that was coming from Earth. They argue about whether or not to return and see what or who sent this signal.
After returning to Earth, they realize that they weren’t the last humans on Earth. Other people survived. They arrive near the community called Unity. But they soon have more problems to solve than they bargained for. Something happens to one of their friends that they need to figure out and there is this barrier preventing them from going back into space. I will say that I completely saw through one of the smaller twists, but I was stumped about most of what was actually going on. The mystery and suspense of waiting for this found family to find all the answers was really well done.
Now, the characters. Sadly, this friend group has some issues during this book. They’re at odds because some of them aren’t acting like they’re worried about the problems anymore and they just want to stay and live in normal lives in Unity. But the problems that are in this book are ones that really need to be solved. So, the half of the group that’s working on it is mad at the other half for not making any effort. There’s all sorts of issues and hurtful things are said. It was really hard to see this found family that I loved be so at odds with one another. But I was really happy with the resolution and how they all worked the issues out. There were moments of putting their fights aside for bigger issues, but they also talked about what their fights were really about and I liked that a lot.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I think the narrator did a really great job with both of these books. I will definitely listen to more books that have this narrator. I really enjoyed getting to see these characters return to Earth and I thought the plot was interesting. I will absolutely be reading more books by Pohl in the future. This was a diverse story that followed characters that weren’t always easy to love, but had wonderful growth and development.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth – Science Fiction That Makes Me Feel Nostalgic

ARTWORK by Tithi Luadthong from 123RF.com.

Hello, lovelies! When thinking about what kinds of things I wanted to talk about for #SciFiMonth, I had an idea to talk about science fiction I read years and years ago that always makes me feel nostalgic when I think about them or reread them. I read quite a bit of dystopian fiction when I was in high school (it’s still one of my favorite genres) and I’ve been slowly rereading some of the older ones to see if they’re still as good as I remember them. So, today I want to talk about those books. The books I read and loved in my younger years that might not be as good as some newer stuff that I’ve read. I thought it would be fun to share some of the books that got me into reading science fiction, and see if anyone else read these in their formative years too.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld: I loved this series when I was in high school. There’s four books and in the last few years, Westerfeld started a new series that is set in the same world. So, obviously I had to reread the original before starting the new series. I enjoyed the original series mostly because of nostalgia, but objectively there were some elements I didn’t love. It’s one that I will own forever and probably reread again in the future. I don’t think it completely stands, but it’ll always be a favorite in my heart.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman: I remember nothing about this series except the feeling of loving the books. I have the boxed set on my kindle and I’m hoping to reread it before the end of 2020 (maybe not, but definitely in 2021). Shusterman is one of my favorite authors and I’ve loved all his books. So, I’m hoping I still love the Unwind series.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: I loved this series so much the first time I read it when I was in high school. Basically, aliens come and take over the earth. The movie was pretty terrible. I reread the first book a year or two ago and it did not stand up to what I remembered at all. I actually unhauled the series because it wasn’t at all what I remembered. I didn’t get the same nostalgic love that I did while rereading Uglies.

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout: I have so much love for this book. I reread it last year and only managed to read the first book. I will eventually continue my reread. It’s definitely in the vein of younger YA, but this book is the reason that Antonia and I created Classy x Book Reviews, so it will always hold a place in my heart. Also, there’s a continuation series that follows different characters in the same world.

The Angel Experiment by James Patterson: I got really into Patterson’s books when I was in high school. I read many of his adult mysteries before moving on to his YA books. I loved this series, but the books seemed to get progressively worse because it was supposed to end several times and it kept getting ‘just one more book’ to the point where another book was published in 2020. I own the books and want to reread them but I’m worried that it will kill the happy nostalgia that I still have for it.

Legend by Marie Lu: This is another one that I remember loving, but have no memories of what the series is actually about. I have them on ebook and I definitely want to reread them. I’ve enjoyed all of Lu’s book and I think this one will hold up because it’s a very well loved book in the book community.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix: I think I read this book because of school (maybe even so long ago that it was middle school). I think this was the book that pulled me into dystopian fiction. I absolutely loved this series. In a world where people are only allowed to have two children, the main character starts to suspect that his neighbors have a third child. I want to buy these books for my daughter so I can make her love science fiction as I do. I really want to reread this series again, but like some of the others, I worry it won’t hold up to my imagined love for it.

These are the science fiction books that I read in my formative years. These books are what fostered my love for the genre. This was so fun to think about and figure out which books to include. It also made me realize that I read a lot more fantasy in high school than I thought I did. What books did you read that helped you fall in love with science fiction? I love reading backlist books, so leave me a comment with some recommendations!

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.

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

GoodReads Summary:
Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.
Finally, the time has come.
But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.
Morning Star (Red Rising Saga, #3)Review:
There are so many incredible things about this book but my favorite was by far Sevro. His friendship with Darrow was absolutely what shined through in this book. Their relationship is so complex and interesting. At one point, I thought it would end because of a leadership struggle but they just ending up beating each other up and then laughing about it. I loved how much Sevro has grown. The person he is now is so strong and he is absolutely my favorite character.
That’s not hard to say, but Darrow is a very close second. Darrow is a complicated person. He’s a Red in the body of a Gold and he means to change the world. But he’s just spent 9 months being tortured. So, he’s not the Reaper everyone knows him to be. He takes time to get back to that person. I loved that Darrow always actively thinks about his choices and his actions. He thinks about how many lives will be lost and if that’s a weight he can bare in his soul. He loses and mourns friends in this book. I really appreciated that this grief was shown. It wasn’t just a page or two, but is talked about throughout the story, well the whole series really. Darrow was a fascinating character and I’m very excited to continue this series.
We get to see more of this universe again and I thought that was really interesting. I liked that a big chunk of this story was traveling through space collecting allies. But it was also working through what all of the colors were raised to believe and feel. There are disagreements and lots of death. The action in this book was incredible. I felt like I was there with Darrow, fists clenched in anticipation of what the outcome would be.
Finally, the narrator. He’s done an absolutely incredible job with this series and I hope he narrates the new books too. He brings this story to life in ways that many other narrators don’t even try to. All of the characters get different voices and the narrator really puts emotions and feeling into what they’re saying or doing. I think I loved this book (and the series) as much as I do because the narrator does such an incredible job telling this story.
I definitely recommend this book for sci-fi lovers that haven’t read it yet. It’s full of action, characters you can’t help but love and then are devastated when they die, boys making boy jokes, and of course a rebel cause worth fighting for.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

GoodReads Summary:
Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.
When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.
Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.
The Last 8 (The Last 8, #1)Review:
The Last 8 follows Clover as the world is ending because aliens have come to Earth, and they’re not friendly. Everyone Clover has ever known is dead. She travels aimlessly around the United States for many months until she hears a radio broadcast made by another survivor. She travels to what used to be Area 51. This is where she meets seven other survivors. But they’re happily hiding in their military base and aren’t interested in doing anything to fight back against the aliens, until Clover convinces them anyway.
This story was incredible. I wasn’t sure what to expect while I was listening. The plot twists were interesting and kept the story going at a steady pace. I think one of my favorite things about this story was that it’s realistic. The world ends and all of Clover’s loved ones are gone, she really struggles with suicidal thoughts and considers killing herself several times while she’s traveling alone. Most of the ‘end of the world’ stories have these hopeful teenagers that think they’re invincible, but this book has a diverse cast of characters that just want the aliens to go away. They want to hide and not have to be responsible for saving the world.
Clover was a complicated girl. She was raised by her grandparents, grew up as the only Latinx girl in a small town. I really liked that this was addressed even though that small town was soon unrecognizable. I also liked that Clover was sort of a jerk. She pushed people to do things they don’t really want to do. She pushes her new friends to ask questions, to do something, anything. She isn’t the hero they wanted, but she is the one they needed.
Overall, this might be one of my new favorite science fiction stories. There was action and drama. There were interesting relationships that I was easily invested in. There was a diverse cast of characters that each brought something to the story. I loved the twists and turns that the characters went through. They learned things about themselves that they never wanted to know. They learn things about each other too. I think this story was so well done and I’m confused why this book hasn’t been talked about more. I will now go to my rooftop and scream about this book so that others will read it.

Quotes:

“I don’t belong to the sky anymore. Hope is the thing that kills me in the end. Because it doesn’t take my body, but it takes my soul.”

“I’ve learned that there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely.”

“My instinct is not to speak, but I’m tired of silence. I’m tired of not knowing how to bridge the gaps between me and the others.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

GoodReads Summary:
As a Red, Darrow grew up working the mines deep beneath the surface of Mars, enduring backbreaking labor while dreaming of the better future he was building for his descendants. But the Society he faithfully served was built on lies. Darrow’s kind have been betrayed and denied by their elitist masters, the Golds—and their only path to liberation is revolution. And so Darrow sacrifices himself in the name of the greater good for which Eo, his true love and inspiration, laid down her own life. He becomes a Gold, infiltrating their privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within.
A lamb among wolves in a cruel world, Darrow finds friendship, respect, and even love—but also the wrath of powerful rivals. To wage and win the war that will change humankind’s destiny, Darrow must confront the treachery arrayed against him, overcome his all-too-human desire for retribution—and strive not for violent revolt but a hopeful rebirth. Though the road ahead is fraught with danger and deceit, Darrow must choose to follow Eo’s principles of love and justice to free his people.
He must live for more.
Golden Son (Red Rising Saga, #2)Review:
Golden Son was somehow even more wild than Red Rising. I really didn’t think that was possible, but apparently it was. In this book, it’s two years after the end of Red Rising. Darrow has started working for the man that killed his wife. He’s been sent to the Academy which seems to me like a more relevant version of the Institute. I don’t want to get too much into the plot (and that will probably continue in my reviews for the rest of the series).
Darrow is such an interesting character. He’s born a Red but was carved into a Gold and thrown into their world. He’s still the boy that grew up in the mines, but he’s also now a man that has killed. He’s a Red that’s been turned into a leader. He isn’t with his loyal friends that he made during his time at the Institute at the start of the book, but they do eventually all come together. I didn’t love the start of the book because it felt like I’d missed a bunch of time because I had. There was more than a year of time that we just didn’t get to see. We do get a few memories of that time, but I was confused at first.
I didn’t really start loving this book until the crew got back together. I missed Darrow being with Mustang and Severo and all of the friends. Darrow is completely in his element when he has his friends. I liked that he was still thinking about how it would be hard to do what he was sent to do when that meant betraying the people that were loyal to him.
I really loved that we got to know more about the Sons of Ares. I didn’t like the first meeting with them in this book because who and what we saw wasn’t what the Sons of Ares were supposed to be about. So, when we see other members that we already know, it was exactly what I wanted it to be. I love the plot twists that involved the Sons of Ares because I totally didn’t see them coming. And the ending was absolutely devastating.
Overall, this book was just as violent and gory as the first book. It was excellent. I loved Darrow. I loved getting to see another planet in this universe. I liked the politics. This was a very political story and I really enjoyed that. I love all the characters and their relationships. I liked how thoughtful Darrow was about the things he was doing. I can’t wait to continue the series. I do want to say that I listened to the audiobook for this book and the narrator was incredible. I will absolutely be continuing the rest of the series on audio because I loved the narrator so much.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

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

Quotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth – Diverse Science Fiction

ARTWORK by Tithi Luadthong from 123RF.com.

Hi, lovelies! I was inspired by a friends post from last year’s #SciFiMonth and wanted to do my own version. Kal from Reader Voracious did a post about diverse YA science fiction last year and I thought of so many books I could do for my own version. So, thanks to Kal for the inspiration and let’s get right into it. I’m going to list them by age range, starting with middle grade.

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee: 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 enjoyed this book. I’ve loved all of the stories that have been published through Rick Riordan Presents. I loved the combination of things that made this story what it was. It’s definitely one I’ll be adding to my daughters library. Also, the audiobook was great.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez: This is my second favorite of the books that have come from Rick Riordan Presents. Sal is a boy who lives in Miami. He has diabetes, but he also has the ability to create holes in the universe. Sal is a little firecracker, but Gabi is even more so. They both come from fascinating families that I couldn’t help but adore. Sal and his father are Cuban and that is a big part of the story too. Sal and Gabi team up to try to fix the holes he’s created in the universe. Sal is also grieving his Mami. I think this is such a great middle grade story.

The Fever King by Victoria Lee: In what used to be the U.S. a magical virus has infected some, leaving them with magical abilities, and most others dead. Noam gets sick and wakes up in the hospital as a technopath. This attracts interest from government officials in ways that Noam isn’t sure he likes. This story gets pretty wild even though the fries 15% or so is pretty slow. Noam is bisexual, Colombian, and Jewish. This story is full of grey morals and I really enjoyed it.

The Disasters by M.K. England: This disastrous found family is one of my all time favorites. 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. They essentially have to take down the government and it’s wonderful.

The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune: “A queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.” Nick lives in a world where ‘extraordinaries’ exist, people with special abilities. After he meets his idol, he’s decided he needs to do whatever he can to become an extraordinary. This book was so wonderful. It highlights the ADHD experience, friendship, fan fiction writing, and many other important things.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud: Amani is kidnapped to play body double to the cruel half Vathek princess, Maram. Too much happens in this series for me to summarize. Amani is amazing. Her romance is great. Maram is horrible at first but has great development. I ended the series really loving her. They both get romances, one of which is female/female. I believe it’s also inspired from Moroccan culture. This one is going to make my 2020 favorites list (and the audiobooks are great!)

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor: This book is compared to The Lunar Chronicles often, but it’s honestly better (and I really liked that series). Set in a world called Earth Adjacent (because technology destroyed Earth) we follow The Technician who illegally helps people with mechanic work. Then the Commissioner’s son, Nathaniel, finds a lead to the Technician’s identity. Things get a little wild here with overthrowing the government and an arranged marriage. Eliza, the Queen’s spy, comes to Earth Adjacent and things get even more exciting. There’s a romance between two female characters that I completely adored.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin: Get ready to be confused. I was confused for the entire series and despite that I enjoyed the shit out of this book. I’m going to talk about all three books. The writing was incredible. There are several perspectives we follow and they are all written so well. There’s one that’s written in second person and it was such an interesting way to tell the story. The characters draw you in and the world is incredible. I just cannot say enough good things about this series. I’m hoping to read the rest of Jemisin’s backlist titles in 2021.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: This series is such a fun one. Each book follows a different set of characters. This universe is so interesting. There are so many different species. It was such a treat to learn about them all. Some are very specific about gender roles and how they change as the species age. I think this book did a wonderful job of showing a unique, interesting, and diverse universe.

These are some of my favorite diverse science fiction books for all different age ranges. They’re all diverse for different reasons and they’re all wonderful books that I highly recommend. What diverse books would you recommend?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth: Amanda’s Entire SciFi TBR

ARTWORK by Tithi Luadthong from 123RF.com.

Hey, lovelies! I mentioned in my TBR post (here) that at some point this month I was going to share a list of all the science fiction I own and haven’t read yet. Today’s post will be that list. These are all of the books that I own, both physical copies and ebooks), that are on my TBR.

Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Inheritance by Malinda Lo

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

The Power by Naomi Alderman

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

The End and Other Beginnings: Stories From the Future by Veronica Roth

Skyward, Vol. 1: My Low-G Life by Joe Henderson, Lee Garbett, & Antonio Fabela

Skyward, Vol. 2: Here There Be Dragonflies by Joe Henderson, Lee Garbett, & Antonio Fabela

Skyward, Vol. 3: Fix the World by Joe Henderson, Lee Garbett, & Antonio Fabela

Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson, & Jared K. Fletcher

Paper Girls, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson, & Jared K. Fletcher

So, this is my list. I’m pretty happy with it. But I’m also always looking for new recommendations, so leave your favorites in the comments please! I’m pretty new to adult science fiction so I’m looking for backlist titles I may have missed out on in the last few years. What books are on your TBR?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth – Audiobook Recommendations

ARTWORK by Tithi Luadthong from 123RF.com.

Hi, lovelies! As a huge fan of audiobooks, I always try to share my favorite audiobooks so that others will love them as much as I do. Science fiction has some books with really great narrations.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel: The audiobooks for this trilogy are nothing short of perfection. It’s a full cast narration and the story is just so good. There’s an anonymous interviewer asking the characters questions, but there’s also radio broadcasts, and audio journal entries. This is an all-time favorite forever.

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir: This is a dual narrator audiobook. I loved this story. Six teenagers are chosen and trained to go into space to terraform a new world. The narrators did a great job of brining these characters to life.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer: The narrator of this series is my all time favorite narrator. I will listen to everything she narrates. She really gives the characters emotions. I am awed by Rebecca Soler’s narrating skills. She really blew me away with this series.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud: I also have to mention the sequel, Court of Lions, because it’s narrated by the same person as the first book. This series is incredible and the narrator kept me drawn into the story the whole way through. I’m really glad I listened to the audio, otherwise I would have butchered literally all of the names of everything.

Internment by Samira Ahmed: This book was devastating. The narrator did a really great job making me feel all of the things while listening. There were also some interesting effects that added to the story.

These are my favorite science fiction audiobooks. What audiobooks are on your list?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.