Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Summary:

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

Review:

I was very excited to find out that after the Illuminae files that Kay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman was going to write another series, because if you have read my blog, you know that I love the Illuminae files and its one of the few series that received 5 stars for each of the books.

Aurora Rising, isn’t however written in the multi media format that the Illuminae files was written in but in the standard format with POV chapters for the characters. I like that each of the characters has their own personalities and charter arcs within those chapters and what makes it really good, is the fact that you get to see the different perspectives of what is going on in the story. It really reminded me of Mass Effect in a sort of way.

What also made the story great, was that it was about a crew of misfits who no one would really want on their crew, especially the main character of Ty, who is in the top of his class at the academy and is now dealing with the rejects because he was late for the ceremony and now has to deal with the last picks of the cadets.

The main plot of the story is dealing with a young girl named Aurora who wakes up and is found by Ty. Aurora is a girl out of time who was suppose to be in a sort of hyper sleep and is now waken up to a time not her own. There is a lot of mystery to unpack in the novel, and the story takes a lot of twists and turns.

My only issue with the book, was sort of the pacing. While the beginning and the end was very well done, the middle section of the book It is not as action packed as the Illuminae files but it still kept up with my attention.

In the end, I enjoyed Aurora Rising, while it did have some issues with pacing, it was the characters that kept my attention. I am very excited to see another Jay and Amie Sci Fi series.

Grade: 4/5

Sky Without Stars by: Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

Summary:

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spying on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a traitor. Groomed to command by his legendary grandfather, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when he discovers a cryptic message that only one person, a girl named Alouette, can read.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have roles to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Misérables.

The Review:

When I heard the terms “Les Mis in Space” I of course had to get this book, because I always love a good retelling especially one set in space. While it did have a Les Mis feel to it did tell its own story.

The book is told through three different POVs. First there is Chatine, a thief who hustles her way out of everything  especially when trying to survive as a young orphan girl. Her storyline involves disguising herself as a boy and is set to spy on Marcellus, for his grandfather.

Marcellus, has the reputation of being the son of a “traitor” and dealing with the aftermath of what his father did . As the book goes on he starts to learn more about what his father did. Throughout the book Marcellus is contently at odds with dealing with what his father did in the name of the revolution and also dealing with his grandfather.

Then there is Alouette, who spends most of her life as a refugee living in the underground being raised by sisters. A majority of her story line is discovering the world outside of her being a refugee because most of the what she knows is through books

The main story kicks off with the murder of the Premier Enfant, the the people trying to find out who murdered her. A major strength about the story is how it is full of political intrigue, and the while the beginning of the story is very slow, mainly because it focuses a lot on fleshing out the characters and the world it is set in.

Each of the POVs has their very own fleshed out stories to them. My favorite POVs is the relationship between Chatine and Marcellus. It does come across as a sort of enemies to lovers or more like undercover and then falling in love trope. But I did find myself rooting for them.

There is also Marcellus’s grandfather, who I always pictured as Tywinn Lannister from Game of Thrones mainly as a leader who finds himself engaged with power, but he always sort of have a gentlemen quality to him, trying to mold his grandson into something like him.

The book also has discussions about class issue, with the planet being divided into classes in which the rich lives extravagant lives, while the poor suffer. Like Les Mis it talks a lot about the theme of revolution and part of me was almost singing the soundtrack as I was reading the book.

In the end, Sky Without Stars, was a great read. It was a mostly character driven story. While it did have some pacing problems especially towards the beginning, I do find myself wanting to know what happens next.

Grade: 4.5/5

June TBR

Happy June everyone,

The summer is about to begin, and there is so many books I want to read this month and I want to put together a TBR to help me keep track. It may be subject to change, depending on what I would want to read

Image result for reign the earth

When I was at an author talk with Claire Legrand discussing Kingsbane, A.C Gaughen was also at the talk, and I really enjoyed hearing talk about the different aspects of elemental magic in their books.

 

Image result for exo by fonda lee

This was a book I kept seeing at bookstores and would it always be one of those books I would pick it up and put it back down, and then recently I decided to actually buy the book, and the premise is interesting, dealing with Earth after the aliens invade.

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This is a graphic novel series that I recently got into, and it deals with a pretigous prep school with a very dark secret, and a bunch of misfits who are starting to figure out whats going on. This is one I would highly recommend.

 

Image result for legendary stephanie garber

I know, Finale just came out, but I realized that I haven’t read Legendary yet, and heard so many good things about the book, and I really enjoyed Caraval.

Image result for rule ellen goodlett

Earlier in the spring, this author came to Boston, and the book was always on my TBR, because its a fantasy dealing with illegitimate children with a lot of mystery.

That’s my TBR for the month of June. What books do you plan on reading in June? Let me know in the comments below.

WWW Wednesday 5/15/19

Happy Wednesday everyone,

Welcome to WWW Wednesday which is currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s really just a place to do little update on what all you’ve been reading lately. Anyone is welcome to join, just leave a link to your post in the comments and be sure to give the appropriate credit to Sam

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Image result for sky without stars

A Les-Mis retelling set in space, of course I will want to read it, and I am enjoying it so far. It was some great world building and the characters are amazing.

Saga Vol. 6 

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Earlier this year I started reading graphic novels, and I started reading Saga again and I am loving it. The story just keeps taking a lot of twists and turns, and I am just along for the ride.

What did you recently finish?

Image result for princess and the fangirl

Ashley Poston has done it again. She made a fairy tale retelling set in a Sci Fi convention and made it awesome. I love who she expanded the world of Geekerella.

Image result for descendant of the crane

Another great Asian inspired fantasy. While the beginning of the book, starts off slow, it really picks up and I couldn’t put it down. So much suspense I just had to keep reading.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Image result for ruse by cindy pon

I loved Want, and Cindy Pon, is starting to become one of my favorite authors. I felt the wait was very long in-between books and I want to know how this ends.

That is my WWW Wednesday. What books are you currently reading? What have you recently finished and what will you be reading next? Let me know in the comments below!

Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Summary: 

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

The Review:

Geekerella, was one of my favorite contemporary stories, and I don’t usually read a lot of contemporary stories. This is more of a companion novel to Geekerella rather than a direct sequel, it is still set in the world of Geekerella with even some of the characters making a few quick cameos.

The star of this one, is Jessica Stone, who was the leading actress of the Starfield movie who was in Geekerella, who used the Starfield movie to try to push her own career. She really gets to shine in this book, and I like that she became a more fleshed out character in this book, talking about her own career and how the Starfield movie affected her.

Then there is Imogen, who is the definition of a fangirl, with her own fan campaign to #SaveAmara, Jessica’s character in Starfield. She also deals with online fan culture plus dealing with an ex-boyfriend who also goes to the convention.

I did feel that the beginning of the book was a little bit slow, and the plot really didn’t get going still at least 30% into the book. But the story did takes its time to follow the new characters in the Once upon a Con universe.

This book also touched upon a lot of issues in fandom culture especially when one is a female, and the online hate they would receive. It happened a lot to Jessica when Starfield premiered, and she was the one getting online hate and “ruining the franchise”. It was one of the main reasons why she hated Starfield and going to conventions and dealing with the hate, which is what of actresses have dealt with in real life, just ask Brie Larson, and Kelly Marie Tran.

The story also touches upon con harassment and dealing with the Cosplay is not Consent. Especially as this book is a love letter to fandom it does a good job at highlighting the dark side.

The main plot of the story is a retelling of the Prince and the Pauper in which two doppelgangers switch places and learning about the other side. It was mainly for good reason because when a script for the Starfield sequel got leaked it is up to Jessica to find out who did it by disguising herself as Imogen. Jessica as Imogen was one of my favorite parts about the book, she learning about much the character Amara means to people, and why Imogen wants to #SaveAmara. Also I loved her romance with Harper especially when pretending to be her best friend Imogen but wanting her as Jessica.

Also I really want Ashley Poston to write a Starfield book series, because I think it would be awesome, or even a collection of short stories I will take.

In the end, Princess and the Fangirl, was a perfect companion novel to Geekerella. It was a nice retelling of the Prince and the Pauper while also being a love letter to fandom. I love that the Once upon a Con series is really coming through.

Grade: 4.5/5

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.

The Review:

Last year at BookCon, there was a secret arc drop hosted by Penguin Teen, and it was there that the secret arc  was of course, Four Dead Queens. I unfortunately was a little late for the arc drop or the 2018 Hunger Games as it was called, but after finding out about the book, it became one of my most anticipated of 2019

This book is a sort of futuristic fantasy world, in which the world is divided by quadrants and each has their own ruling queen. There is Archia, which is agriculturally based, and values nature. Eonia, which is technology based. Toria which is coastal and values commerce, curiosity and expropriation and Ludia, which values music, art and entertainment.

I like that each of the quadrants has there own set of values and beliefs, which makes them very distinct from one another, and even learning how with different belief systems there could be clashes with one another. A major strength was the changing POV from the queens and learning more about the world from their perspective. Seeing their POV chapters helped flesh out the queens a lot more, and they didn’t feel like just a plot device.

Each of the Queen POV chapter was perfectly paced, and it kinda left me wanting more. I kinda want a series of books, from just the Queen’s perceptive and learning more about their courts . Also with the Queen’s POV chapters also gets glimpses of the Queens’ relationships with one another.

The main POV is Keralie, who is a thief and liar. She spent most of her life, thieving her way through the Quadrants. She has  a very clever narration, especially since her chapters are told through first person, so you get to see her wittiness and her snark, which made it a very clever read. There is also Varin, a citizen from Eonia, who she stole from.

I loved the relationship between them. Mainly a lot of there back and forth, while trying to survive. The murder mystery aspect of the book really kept me guessing. In each of the Queen POV chapters there was almost a time where I think I knew what was going, and there would be a twist that took me by surprise, and the author did a good job at setting it up.

Even though I know that it is a stand alone, I really wish to see more of this world. I though Four Dead Queens was a great debut novel, which mixed fantasy and mystery very well. It had great characters with a plot that never slowed down.

Grade: 5/5

The Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Summary:

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

TW: violence and sexual abuse.

The Review:

This is a book that I heard so many good things about. Just to let you know that there is a really graphic rape scene in the book for trigger warning.

It is set in world in which some women are seen as concubines to the demon king, and eight girls are chosen to do so. Lei, a member of the paper caste is one of the eight chosen. She is also dealing with some trauma at the start of the book. For one being in a the paper caste which is one of the lowest caste also when she was young her mother was taken by royal guards.

Once the demon king takes the young girls they are sent to live in the palace for a year and having a “sort of” life of luxury, and their role is the serve the demon king and do anything he asks them. A lot of the young girls was very well developed. My favorites were Wren and Zelle.

A lot of the first half of the book is introducing Lei, to the world of the palace, and also meeting the other girls who serve the demon king as well as learning a lot of the rules of the courts.

What I loved about the story is that very rich world building. It is an own voices Asian inspired fantasy, which gave a good amount of back story without feeling like info dumping. The caste system I thought added a lot more weight into the world especially when seeing a lot of the higher castes mainly the Steele caste who are half human and half demon  and the Moon caste which is entirely of demons.

The romance was another highlight of the book. While it does deal with a forbidden f/f romance I like the fact that there are stakes involved with the romance and how Lei begins to bond with her and fall in love. Knowing that there are future books I want to see how the romance flourishes. It shows that a romance can be so well developed and you want to root for the happy couple.

One of the main themes of the book, is the theme of trauma and how it affects people. Especially with the issue of sexual assault and male “ownership” of a woman’s body. It also draws on themes of trauma and PTSD, and trying to survive in a dark and messed up world, and having someone you love helping you against the world.

In the end, Girls of Paper and Fire, was a fantastic debut fantasy novel. It introduces you to lust fantasy world, with great characters and a loving romance. It should be a start to a great series.

Grade: 5/5