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

fullsizeoutput_238b

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.

Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, & Deborah Biancotti

GoodReads Summary:
They thought they’d already faced their toughest fight. But there’s no relaxing for the reunited Zeroes.
These six teens with unique abilities have taken on bank robbers, drug dealers, and mobsters. Now they’re trying to lay low so they can get their new illegal nightclub off the ground.
But the quiet doesn’t last long when two strangers come to town, bringing with them a whole different kind of crowd-based chaos. And hot on their tails is a crowd-power even more dangerous and sinister.
Up against these new enemies, every Zero is under threat. Mob is crippled by the killing-crowd buzz—is she really evil at her core? Flicker is forced to watch the worst things a crowd can do. Crash’s conscience—and her heart—get a workout. Anon and Scam must both put family loyalties on the line for the sake of survival. And Bellwether’s glorious-leader mojo deserts him.
Who’s left to lead the Zeroes into battle against a new, murderous army?
Swarm (Zeroes, #2)Review:
What a wild ride this was. Swarm was not at all what I expected. I thought I was going into a story similar to Zeroes and in some ways it was, but this one was much darker.
We follow the group of friends that call themselves the Zeroes while they try to learn more about their powers and how best to use them. They’ve created their own nightclub to practice with groups of people. I liked seeing them all come together to try to learn how to better control their abilities. Right up until the group finds more Zeroes, a couple who tells them of Swarm and how he is coming to kill them all.
Ethan, or Scam, has this other voice that always knows exactly what to say to get what Scam wants. Except when there’s nothing to be done. I think he was interesting but a little whiney. He’s trying to be better and not let his voice hurt the people he cares about. But it still happens. I think he’s the most interesting because his power is the only one that doesn’t work better with six or more people.
Nate, or Bellweather, or Glorious Leader, seemed to lose his footing in this story. I really like the ending and how he managed to use his power in a different way. That was really interesting. He’s the one that motivates everyone and hypes them up. He connects them all to one another. I also think he’s the one with the least development. We finally see him in a situation that he doesn’t know how to get out of, which was interesting.
Riley, or Flicker, is my favorite. She is blind, but her ability lets her see through the eyes of others. She’s frustrated at constantly being underestimated and I can understand that. I really like her romance with another Zero and my heart was a little broken in the final pages.
Chizara, or Crash, has the most inner turmoil. She wants to be good and not to cause any damage, but her power is all about damage. Though she’s learning that she can fix things too. I think there were more opportunities to explore with Crash’s character and her development but I really liked her complexity.
Kelsie, or Mob, has lost her father and she’s trying to figure out where she fits in a world without her dad. She struggles with the moral ramifications of her abilities. She’s able to manipulate emotions within a crowd. So when she finds out she could potentially become another Swarm, she’s understandably scared. She’s also one half of a female/female relationship that is a part of the story.
Finally, there’s Thibault, or Anonymous, who is my second favorite. He’s been through so many hard things in his life and is just trying to make his loved ones remember him. So the way this story ends for him was a little devastating. I’m dying to know what’s going to happen for him in the next book. And maybe he can figure out how to change his abilities like Nate did.
Overall, Swarm was a wild ride and I’m dying to jump into the conclusion. I really cannot wait to find out what’s going to happen in the end. This book was fast-paced but also full of so many different plot lines. These Zeroes always manage to get themselves into all kinds of trouble and I can’t wait to see how they escape it in the final book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray

Summary:
The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.
Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.
So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.
In the conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites…and only one can win.
A Million Worlds with You (Firebird, #3)Review:
What to say about this conclusion, A Million Worlds With You, that I haven’t already said about the previous two books? I’m definitely going to repeat myself a bit, but that can’t really be helped.
I absolutely loved the different realities that we were shown. We saw quite a few new ones, but we also got to travel back to a few realities we’ve already been to. I thought that was really interesting. There were some scenes that were almost comical with the confusion of who was from which reality and whatnot. I really enjoyed the traveling and meeting new versions of the people I’ve gotten to know. I can’t go further into it but I liked that Marguerite gets called out for the things she’s done and it really makes her think about it.
Now, Marguerite really started to annoy me in the previous book and that continued until about halfway through this one. I don’t know that I could pinpoint when she started being less annoying, but I sort of liked her by the end of the book. I think it’s because she put everything on the line to save everyone she loves in all the different alternate realities. Regardless, I came to understand her more and, in the end, I liked her.
Overall, this series wasn’t one that blew me out of the water. It’s not a new all-time favorite, but I enjoyed the wild ride. This series was exciting and complex. It was past-paced without seeming rushed. There was adventure and love and friendship and family. I enjoyed the series overall and definitely would recommend it for anyone new to the science fiction genre.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda