Internment by Samira Ahmed

GoodReads Summary:
Rebellions are built on hope.
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the camp’s Director and his guards.
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.
InternmentReview:
What a horrifying potential future this story was. I cried for most of the beginning of this book. I chose to read this via audiobook and I just have to mention that it was incredibly well produced. Though there’s only one narrator, there were all sorts of interesting effects included. I don’t want to say that I enjoyed this story because it was terribly hard to listen to and it was a very hard topic, but it was a fascinating story.
We follow Layla as her family is removed from their home and forced into an internment camp. This was the hardest part of the story. Samira Ahmed did an incredible job of filling Layla’s experience and internal thoughts with emotions. I couldn’t help but cry at the things that Layla was made to see and experience. The hardest thing for me about this story was how easily this “five minutes in the future” could come to pass. As someone who was born and raised as a white girl in America, I kept saying to myself, “this could never happen because of xyz.” Then, minutes later, Layla would say the same thing to her parents. I think that was the worst part for me. Layla was born in America, she was a citizen, and yet all of these horrible things were happening to her because her family wouldn’t hide their religion.
I really loved Layla’s spirit. She refused to be beaten down while in the internment camp. Surrounded by horrible things, seeing people speak out getting taken away or literally beaten didn’t stop her from plotting a rebellion. I really liked this aspect of the story. Hope in the face of something so hopeless was the highlight. Along with this, I really liked that this wasn’t an “I hate America” story. There were guards that were on the side of those imprisoned. There were protests all over the country. The people that weren’t hateful and horribly racist stood up for the Muslims that were being taken from their homes. I liked that all of the people came together to change what was happening.
Overall, this was a hard story to read, but an important one. It’s a story sure to make you cry, but by the end of it you will see that hope and resisting those with hateful beliefs will not win.

Quotes:

“What’s that thing people always say about history? Unless we know our history, we’re doomed to repeat it? Never forget? Isn’t that the lesson? But we always forget. Forgetting is in the American grain.”

“But it’s also a reminder that being quiet doesn’t always signify weakness. Sometimes it takes great strength to find that silence. Sometimes it takes incredible strength to survive.”

“It’s not about danger. It’s about fear. People are willing to trade their freedom, even for a false sense of protection”
“Then I glance beyond the fence at the sea of people. In this place where I thought I was lost, the world has found me. Hope courses through my veins.”

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 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

GoodReads Summary:
At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem. Deeply atmospheric and ingeniously plotted, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a highly original debut.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn HardcastleReview:
This book was an absolutely wild ride. We follow Aiden Bishop as he’s placed in the mind of eight different guests. He has eight days to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. Each of the eight days, Aiden is in the mind and body of a different guest. I don’t know how to explain the experience that was this book. We didn’t know who the next guest would be, but at the same time, Aiden was still in the mind of his previous hosts. Anything he did in the present host could potentially affect the things he had already accomplished. This book was beyond complicated and confusing. Each new day we learn a little bit more, and the mystery unfolds a little bit at a time. This author did an incredible job of keeping the reader in suspense and giving enough answers to keep the story going at a good pace.
When we find out what’s really going on, I was blown away. I’m not going to spoil anything, so I’m going to keep this review short. The intricacy that was this book is honestly amazing. I am blown away by Stuart Turton’s brain and his capability to make this story what it is. There were so many details and connections.
My only complaint is that I still had a few questions when I finished the story. I felt like there were one or two things that weren’t answered or weren’t clarified enough for me.
Overall, I will absolutely be reading this author’s next book. I was captivated by this story. It sucked me in and wouldn’t let go until the mystery was solved.

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.

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

GoodReads Summary:
Nova’s double life is about to get a lot more complicated:
As Insomnia, she is a full-fledged member of the Renegades, a syndicate of powerful and beloved superheroes. She works with Adrian’s patrol unit to protect the weak and maintain order in Gatlon City.
As Nightmare, she is an Anarchist—a group of villains who are determined to destroy the Renegades. Nova wants vengeance against the so-called heroes who once failed her when she needed them the most.
But as Nova, her feelings for Adrian are deepening, despite the fact that he is the son of her sworn enemies and, unbeknownst to Nova, he has some dangerous secrets of his own.
In this second installment of the Renegades trilogy, Nova, Adrian, and the rest of their crew—Ruby, Oscar, and Danna—are faced with escalating crime in Gatlon City, while covert weapons and conflicting missions have Nova and Adrian questioning not only their beliefs about justice but also the feelings they have for each other.
The line between good and evil has been blurred, but what’s clear to them both is that too much power could mean the end of their City—and the world—as they know it.
Archenemies (Renegades, #2)Review:
I’ve tried to start Archenemies a few times and just couldn’t get into it for some reason. But this time I finally stuck through, I’m glad I did because after not too long I was really invested in the story.
There are so many different secrets being kept in this book. Adrian’s secret, Nova’s many secrets. I liked this aspect but it was frustrating at times because I just want the truth to come out.
Nova’s struggle was an interesting one. She’s working for the Renegades and getting to know them as people instead of the anonymous face of the organization that didn’t save her parents. But she’s still loyal to her makeshift family, the Anarchists. This internal battle is one that I really cannot wait to see the outcome of.
Adrian is torn between his secret identity and doing what he knows will make his dads proud. He’s also very interested in Nova.
I liked the relationship between these two and I’m anxious to find out how things will turn out when their secrets are revealed.
Overall, I did enjoy this one. I’m excited to finish the series with the final book and see how everything is going to come together.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

GoodReads Summary:
Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.
Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.
Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.
The Electric Heir (Feverwake #2)Review:
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me this eARC in exchange for an honest review. So, if you read my review for the first book you’ll remember that I said I was bored for the first chunk of it. That was definitely not the case with The Electric Heir. This book felt like almost nonstop action. There was so much going on that it was almost hard to follow at times.
We get two perspectives this time. One is Noam’s and the other is Dara’s. Dara is still my favorite and must be protected at all costs. I believe I mentioned in my review for the first book that I could really relate to him and that’s why I liked him so much. I too have struggled with alcohol and still do. So the parts with Dara trying to stay away from drinking even though he literally lived above a bar hit me hard. I know what he was feeling and I really just love him. I felt betrayed by Noam when he did, I was feeling all of the things right beside him. I think he has incredible growth in this book and I’ll love him forever.
Now, Noam. Honestly…I hated him. I was just as pissed as Dara was when I found out what he’d been doing with Lehrer. He was the kind of person that thinks he knows what he’s doing and because of that won’t take advice from those that actually know more than him. He really just made me mad over and over again. I felt bad for him at times because he didn’t deserve to be going through some of the things he had to deal with but he still really made me mad.
I loved that the rest of the friends from Level IV got involved in the craziness too. They are a great found family and I adored them.
As for the ending, I’m a bit disappointed. It seemed a little rushed to me. I liked the transcripts that summed up a bit of right after the big climax, but we get a sort of summary after that and I thought it could have been more. I don’t know if I missed it or what but I didn’t see anything about the big bad losing his power or dying and that’s very disappointing to me. I did see there were some legal ramifications. But they weren’t explained.
I really enjoyed that we got to see more of this version of America and hear a bit about how the other places (Texas) run things. It was something I’d hoped for in this sequel and I’m glad that I got it.
Overall, this was a quick read because so much is happening and it’s all very high stakes. But I’m left with so many questions about the end result of the villain. While I definitely liked this series and understand why so many love it, it wasn’t anything over the top for me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

GoodReads Summary:
Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.
Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.
Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.
Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.
The Sound of StarsReview:
Thank you to NetGalley and the applicable publishers for providing me an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I had to wait a few days to write this review because I had to talk with a friend who also read it and gather my full thoughts. I know I say this a lot but, which any book there were things I liked and things I didn’t. I think it’s pretty even on what I liked and what I didn’t.
This story follows Ellie who is a human living in a distant future where the world has been taken over by aliens. I really liked Ellie. She’s an avid reader and managed to hide her books and lend them out to others that living in her building. She lends books and follows the motions to get through the day. I believe she’s pansexual, though that word is never actually used. But she does say that gender doesn’t matter if she feels a deep connection to a person.
We also follow Morris, which is spelled with numbers in his language. He’s an alien that’s developed the “vaccine” that his superiors plan to use on the human race. He has a secret too. He loves music, though he’s not supposed to. I liked Morris because he wanted better for his people. He wasn’t in agreement with the things they were making him do and he was working toward dismantling the system.
I thought the concept of the aliens was really interesting. But there was a lot I didn’t understand about them. They seemed almost like cyborgs but I feel like it wasn’t very well explained. There were also other aliens that we met and their species (?) wasn’t explained very well either. Though I did see the identity of the other aliens coming from a mile away.
Another problem I had with this book was that it was a bit repetitive and over political. Our main character is black and lived in the Upper East Side before the alien invasion so she dealt with a lot of racism. I’m all about these sorts of topics because they’re real and relevant, but she mentioned it about a hundred times. I think it would have been okay to mention a few different events. But she thought about and talked about the same events over and over.
Overall, I had a good time reading this book. Right up until the ending. If there’s going to be another book (I’ve not seen it announced anywhere or anything) I’m more okay with the ending, but the final action scene seemed rushed and the events after were even more rushed. There wasn’t really a resolution either. I’m really hoping it has a sequel because if not, the whole goal they were working toward was never achieved. So if there will be another (which I will be asking when I see this author at the NoVaTeen Book Festival) I can accept the ending but if not then I will definitely be lowering my rating. This was a fun science fiction book, but it has a few issues.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Girls With Razor Hearts by Suzanne Young

GoodReads Review:
It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.
The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.
And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.
Girls with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks, #2)Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for approving my request for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. This second book made me just as angry as the first. But this one was less with the girls than with the rest of the world. The things that the girls face in this world hit a bit close to home. They were things that women in the real world deal with every day and it honestly just hurt my heart.
I think my favorite part of this book is Young’s writing. She tells the story in a way that I just can’t put it down. The story was fast-paced, even though not much really happened.
Sadly, as I said above, not all that much happened in this story. They had a mission and successfully completed it along with a bit of a side mission. But other than that, they didn’t learn much more about themselves and I wanted them to take more of an initiative to make the word different. They helped the school they attended, but they didn’t really have any ideas or plans for the bigger picture.
I still enjoyed this book and flew through it. It was a wild ride. But I didn’t love it. I think maybe this series is just not for me because I didn’t love the first one either. But I will probably eventually read the third just to see what’s going to happen next.

Quotes:

“All the attention society pays to the behavior of girls, and never once have they realized how they’re neglecting their boys. The absence of rules is turning them into feral animals.”

“Deeply felt emotions are our power. Our ability to feel is just as important as our ability to think.”

“Words have immeasurable power, Philomena. They affect what we believe, how we see the world.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

GoodReads Summary:
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make a change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.
The Fever King (Feverwake, #1)Review:
I have to be honest here, as I am with all of my reviews. I almost chose not to finish this book because for the first twenty percent or so I was just bored. Things didn’t really get interesting until after Noam and Dara finally started talking. I loved Dara immediately. He’s precious and needs to be protected at all costs. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen with him in the next book. I thought he was so complex and interesting. It was clear that there was more going on than was shown on the page and I loved learning his secrets.
Noam annoyed me a little because it was so clear who was really the villain, but also I could see things from his perspective and why he felt the way he did. I learned to love Noam and respect his choices. I’m very interested to see how things will play out with where this first book was concluded.
I really enjoyed the world-building of this futuristic America but I would have liked to see a bit more of it. We’re only told a bit about the different areas but I would have liked to actually see some of the other places.
Overall, I ended up really enjoying this book. It was a little slow in the beginning but definitely picked up as the story went along. I’m definitely excited to see what is going to happen in book two, which I will be picking up in the next few days as I’m lucky enough to get an ARC.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

GoodReads Summary:
The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.
As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.
Girls with Sharp Sticks (Girls with Sharp Sticks, #1)Review:
Girls with Sharp Sticks straight up pissed me off. It was to the point where I almost DNF’d it, but after talking to a friend, she told me the things that I hated got better. So, I continued on. I’m glad I did because this book was a wild ride.
The thing I hated about this book was the views that the girls are trained to believe. Girls are meant to be obedient and serve men is what it essentially boils down to and boy did that make me mad. But things get so good when Mena starts to realize that something isn’t right at the academy. She starts to realize that something more was going on than the girls knew. This was when things got really interesting.
I wanted to know more about the rest of the world. It seemed like this story is supposed to take place in a near-future where the rest of the world is going on how it is now, but some are taking things to extremes with these girls.
Overall, I don’t want to say too much because most of the things I liked are spoilers. So, I’m going to keep this review on the shorter side. This book made me really mad, but by the end of the story, all of the things that angered me were challenged. There were twists and turns, and mysteries that I never could have expected. I have an ARC of the second book and I’m dying to get into it right away.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

GoodReads Summary:
When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.
For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.
As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.
The Final Six (The Final Six, #1)Review:
I picked this book up because Alexandra Monir is one of the author’s that I’d not heard of until the lineup of authors was released for the NoVaTeen Book Festival. I was really intrigued by the synopsis for this one, but part of me didn’t expect to love this as much as I did. I listened to the audiobook. And the one thing I will say about the audio is that it threw me that Leo was Italian, like born in Italy and lived there his entire life, but the narrator for him didn’t have an accent? It’s a small thing, and I quickly got over it. I liked both narrators, but also, they didn’t talk at the same speed, so listening on 1.5x speed Leo’s narration was perfect but Naomi was a little fast. Again, a small thing and I quickly got over it.
I really enjoyed this story. I liked that it was science-y, but not so much that there were constant explanations about the scientific things that were going on. It was explained well and not overly so. Too many science fiction novels are too filled with over explanations and big science words when it’s not needed. I loved this story’s version of ‘the end of the world’ via extreme natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. I love dystopian and science fiction books that are mildly terrifying because of their potential to become our future. This was a great one. Twenty-four teens are selected from around the world to train and learn to maybe become a part of the final six that will be sent on a mission to terraform one of Jupiter’s moons that is habitable for humans.
Seeing the characters learn and train for this mission was interesting, but even more so was the contrast between Leo and Naomi. They’re two people that have connected when they otherwise wouldn’t have, all thanks to this program. Leo fiercely dedicated to doing his best and being a part of the final six, whereas Naomi is adamantly against the mission because she feels that those in charge of the space program are keeping secrets they shouldn’t be. I thought the fact that their relationship developed despite their very different views on the mission was really compelling, one always trying to sway the other.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Final Six and I am very excited to read the second book. The ending was killer in the sense of leaving the reader hanging. Many things were wrapped up but also left in a way so that the reader is excited about what is going to come next. I cannot wait for book two, and you lovely, have just enough time to read this book before its sequel comes out.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Disasters by M.K. England

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Nexus by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, & Deborah Biancotti

Summary:
The Zeroes are in disarray.
One of them has vanished. One of them is in prison. The rest are on the most wanted list. And something big is brewing.
Accused of murdering Swarm, Bellweather is in a high security prison, isolated and unable to use his powers of influence. Flickers, Crash, Mob, and Scam are on the run as suspected domestic terrorists. And Agent Phan of the FBI has a secret weapon up his sleeve—a teenager with a superpower that the Zeroes haven’t encountered yet.
After a daring breakout, the group is drawn to New Orleans, where celebrating Mardi Gras crowds promise enormous power to anyone who can channel it. There, an army of Zeroes is gathering around a charismatic leader—whose plans are nothing short of cataclysmic.
Time is running out for the Zeroes, but they must learn to trust one another again to avert the looming disaster, in this action-packed conclusion to the NYT bestselling trilogy.
Nexus (Zeroes, #3)Review:
I just finished this book and I can’t help but say that I am deeply unsatisfied with the last ten pages or so. But I will get to that at the end of this review. This story starts pretty much right where book two left off. It starts right in the thick of things which I really enjoyed. It was fast-paced almost the whole way through right up until the ending. Which I will talk about at the end.
My feelings toward the characters are mostly the same as they were for book two. Though I think I like Scam a bit more. He seems to have gotten over being whiney and complaining so much. I think that’s due to the girl he likes, which is a relationship I’m totally here for. Bellweather seems to lose his way in this conclusion but then brings himself back in the final chapters. I don’t really feel too strongly one way or the other about him. I’m glad he didn’t turn evil, but aside from that I just don’t care that much about him. I’m still obsessed with my two favorites, Flicker and Anonymous. Crash really had an interesting storyline. She meets others with her ability and learns just how far she can push her powers. I thought she was really interesting. Mob is still fighting the battle to not become Swarm. Which was alright, but could have been more interesting. I liked her for her desire to stay good. I also enjoyed her trying to find her mother. That was interesting.
I really enjoyed the representation in this series. There was a female/female romance. There are characters of all the different races. There is a character that is blind. I think there was a pretty well-rounded group of characters in this series.
Now, the ending. I can understand why it was done this way. But I wanted more. I wanted more from the last 50 pages or so. The ending seemed a little too rushed to me. I think there could have been another book in the series or at least add another 100 pages to this conclusion. I think things were wrapped up too quickly. And the final two chapters were infuriating. We barely get a blip from each character after the big to-do that happens. Then the final chapter was just not enough for me.
Overall, despite not liking the ending, I really enjoy this book and the series as a whole. I will definitely reread it in the future. I’d also definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys books with superpowers and superheroes of any sort.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.