Ahsoka by EK Johnston

Summary:

Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance…. 

The Review:

I have always been interested in the story of Ahsoka since I started watching the Clone Wars on Disney Plus, (I’m on season 2 right now) and very intriguied by her story. She was Anakin’s apprentince during the Clone Wars, and one of the very few Jedi that survived Order 66.

This book is set after the events of Revenge of the Sith, when the Empire took over and starting to hunt down any surviving Jedi, so of course Ahsoka is trying to lay low and not draw attention towards herself.

With Ahsoka, there is a lot of elements of her reeling from the events of the Clone Wars, and surviving Order 66, and you really feel a sense of isolation with her, realizing that she has no one. The story is very character driven and the plot is very simple as to mainly being Ahsoka in hiding, and fleeing from Inquisitors.

She meets with a few characters, and goes by the name Ashla to hid her identity, and then tries to protect them from her past. I love a lot of the meditation chapters that peak into her memories of her time during the Clone Wars including her fight with Darth Maul, giving him more glimpses of her character.

The story was very character driven, and a little light on plot, however, I did like a few of the cameos including Bail Organa and little Princess Leia. Hopefully if there is a sequel I want to see the Ahsoka, and how she ended up on Fulcrum in Star Wars Rebels.

In the end, I really enjoyed Ahsoka. It was a nice character piece about one of my favorite Star Wars characters and how she dealt with the events after Revenge of the Sith, and puts Ahsoka. I know EK Johnston wrote other Star Wars stories and I am more than happy to read them

Grade: 4/5

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

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.

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.

The Review:

This was a sequel that I was very excited for, seeing that I really loved Skyward, so of course I wanted to see how this story goes on. Spensa is still dealing with learning the truth about her father and now she has been tasked with another mission to be a spy.

Spensa is still an awesome character and I love her relationship with M-Bot, and with this book it begins to grow a lot more, and M-Bot even gets a little snarky for a bit.

The main mission revolves around her infiltrating the Krell, the alien race that been in war with the humans, by using a holographic disguise from an Alien named Alanik, who is a Urdial, a species who has had an alliance with the humans. What made it great was seeing the Krell more up close and personal and begins to see the war from their perspective. Throughout the book she trains with the Krell and even begins to make some friends, which makes her mission very hard.

There is also a lot of political intrigue in the book, and you get to learn a lot more about the Krell politically, and it was not just the Krell, but other alien races and their relationship with the Krell, and differences they have.

I would have like to have seen more of the  other characters that was in Skyward, which was one of my only minor gripes with the book. But I did like the new characters that was introduced.

Like a great sequel, this book really upped the stakes, and also fleshed out the world or galaxy and making the world more expansive. It also has a really great cliffhanger, which makes me beg for the next book.

In the end, I enjoyed Starsight. It was an amazing sequel up there with Torch Against the Night. The characters and world became much more expansive.

Grade: 5/5

Skyward by: Brandon Sanderson

Summary:

Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul. 

The Review:

I was always a fan of Brandon Sanderson, I loved Mistborn and the Reckoners series, and while his writing may seem very dense but he is very good at world building, and I always wanted to read this book ever since I got a sample at BookCon 2018.

It was also nice to see Brandon Sanderson write a space opera, since he has done a lot of fantasy, most of which I would highly recommend to readers so it was a nice change of pace.

The main character is a girl named Spensa, who wants to be a space pilot like her father. She also has to tend with the the fact that her father was branded a deserter and coward and has to live with the fact everyday since she entered the academy. She was always told by her grandmother how she was descended from people such as Beowulf, Sun Tzu and Genghis Kahn, while she may have known it was obviously fake it have Spensa something to look up towards and the learning of Old Earth.

The main setting is on a planet called Detritus, which is inhabited by humans who live underground because of the Krell who keeps attacking. It seemed like an odd setting for the book, but I like that it was very different and using an underground city made it a lot more cramped and added a lot to the characters.

One of the main highlights was the relationship between Spensa and M-Bot an AI -driven ship. M-Bot was very snarky and I really liked it. I liked that she would confined in M-Bot, especially when dealing with everything that she is going through at the academy.

When Spensa is at the academy, while still being the daughter of a coward, she begins to learn more about what happened when her father died. It takes a lot of good twists and turns, and it kinda begs the question of what makes a hero and what makes a coward, with the consequences that come with it.

A lot of the supporting characters are also well developed. One of my favorites is Jorgan, and there back and forth is amazing, and I like how it kinda grew into a friendship between them and learned to respect each other.

In the end, I really liked Skyward, it of course has the same Sanderson style. Spensa is an amazing character and I really want to follow this series and see where it goes.

Grade: 5/5

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

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

November 2018 TBR

Happy November everyone, and for my writers Happy Nanowrimo!

I haven’t done a TBR in a while, and since for the past month I have been buying a lot of books I think it is high time that I read some of them and give me my own reading schedule.

This maybe subject to change.

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This maybe cheating, since I am currently reading it and I am half way through and really enjoying it so far. I love Ben and Arthur.

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This author was on my TBR for such a long time, it is kinda strange that I haven’t read any of his books, especially with me being a Game of Thrones fan.

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Another confession, I never read anything by Naomi Novik, and I saw this in a little book sale and I had to buy it. It looks like a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, and if you know me, you know I love my fairy tale retellings.

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Yeah, yeah, I know. But if you have been following me, you know I am a Marissa Meyer fan. She is an autobuy author for me. I loved Renegades so much and I was very excited to find out that it will be a trilogy.

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I know, I am late for the party, especially since Kingdom of Ash just came out, but I do enjoy most of her work. I also did a good job at avoiding spoilers for myself, so I have a clear head on.

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I am finally going to break down, and read Cassandra Clare. I did read a bit of the Mortal Instruments series, but never got back to it. I did hear some good things about Lady Midnight, and it would be nice to read a series back to back without the waiting in between.

That’s me TBR for the month of November. What books do you plan on reading this month? Let me know in the comments below! I also wish the best of luck to those participating in Nanowrimo.

Wildcard by Marie Lu

Summary:

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

The Review:

This book, just proved why Marie Lu, is one of my favorite authors. I was also lucky to get an ARC of this book, while at a Sabaa Tahir event.

Wildcard picks up pretty much where Warcross left off. In which Emika found out about Hideo’s plan to use the Neurolink to basically control the population. What made it great was the act that it was one of those things that really makes you think whether or not that Hideo was right.

Emilka also joins Zero’s gang in order to take down Hideo, while also simultaneously trying to avoid Hideo at all costs, because some tried to kill her, and that’s where the plot gets moving. A major strength is how fast paced this book was, and I felt that there was never a dull moment in the book.

Also there is Zero’s story. His story arc was amazing, while in the Wildcard he was mainly a background character who speaks to Emika secretly, he really has some great development, and you find out about his backstory and all that has happened to him. I also loved seeing some Black coats especially Jax, who was one of my favorite characters.

Also Hideo’s story arc was great as well. He was a very complex character, and while he wants to use the Neurolink to basically control the population and destroy the notion of freewill. What made it great was how what he believed what he was doing was right, and was driven my the kidnapping of his brother. I always feel that best antagonists believe that they are the protagonists of their stories.

Also like a Marie Lu book, there is some twists and turns that I did not see coming. There is also the fact that the Neurolink was a small part of a bigger issue. That is all I am going to say because I do not want to spoil anything.

If there was a negative, I felt that I wish I saw more of the Phoenix Riders because I loved those characters so much in Warcross, and I wished they were more fleshed out in this book.

In the end, I loved Wildcard. It has everything that I love about Marie Lu’s books. With its amazing characters and a non stop plot. It takes some great twists and turns with a an amazing story to go with it.

Grade: 5/5

Children of Blood and Bone by: Tomi Adeyemi

Summary:

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy. 

The Review:

This was another of one of my anticipated reads for 2018, ever since this book was announced. You don”t really see a lot of fantasy novels set in Africa, unless you read N.K. Jemison and Nnedi Okorafor. I also believe that the hype is definitely well deserved for this book.

The books setting is mainly in West Africa in a Orisha. A place in which magic was been suppressed and the maji, has been killed by a ruthless king. Zeile, is a young maji, whose mother was killed in the raids of the king, and her death was to serve as a reminder for the maji.

The world building was extremely well done. You get a sense of the world it is set, and the history within that world. Different clans has their own maji title and deity, for example the Iku clan are reapers who deal with souls and worship the Oya. Also tied within the world building is a sense of history, learning that long ago the maji were seen as corrupt so there was a reason why the king decided to eliminate the maji. With its world building it didn’t feel like info dumping like most books does and it brought up a lot through conversations that the characters had with one another.

The book also has 3 POVs, Zeile, who is the main character, whose mother was a powerful maji. Amari, the daughter of the king who flees from her ruthless father after he does something that traumatizes her. Inan who is the prince and next in line to become king who is tasked to bring back Amari.

Inan is one my favorite of the POVs. His POV chapters deals a lot with his inner struggle of basically if he should do what he is tasked to do, especially when dealing with his father.

The story mainly deals with Zeile and Amari trying to bring back magic to Orishi by bringing an ancient scroll to the temple, and would deal with teh world around them. While it does seem like a cliche, the world is so magnificent and throughout their journey you get a good scope of the world and its magic system, along with its politics. A lot of the book could serve as a racial allegory dealing with oppression, especially dealing with a light skinned vs. dark skinned context.

There is also a romance in the book. Mainly between Zeile and Inan, and Amari and Tzain. I did like that it wasn’t the forefront of the book, and both romances I felt was actually developed. With Zeile and Inan, you constantly see Inan dealing with his inner turmoil. It did lead to a few funny moments with both of them wondering if they should actually kiss each other. It was a nice twist on the enemy to lovers trope.

In the end, this book definitely lives up to the hype. It was a great book that had an amazing story especially with a YA fantasy set in West Africa. It features a good magic system and excellent world building. The characters are extremely well developed and I cannot wait to see how this series continues, because it was that good.

Grade: 5/5

Top 5 Wednesday: Autobuy SFF Authors

Happy Wednesday everyone, and here is another Top 5 Wendnesday and the topic is:

April 11: Auto-Buy Scifi and Fantasy Authors – Booktube SFF Awards Babble Crossover Topic! 
— This month’s crossover topic is your auto-buy authors that write SFF.

Top 5 Wednesday is a group in Goodreads and was formerly created by Lainey at gingerreadslainey and is now done by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. It is open to everyone.

VE Schwab

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Author of great books such as Vicious, This Savage Song, and Shade of Magic series. I have a read most of the books she has published, but I need to read A Conjuring of Light. I am also very excited for the sequel to Vicious, which is Vengeful. Her worlds are magnificent, the characters are engaging and well developed, and her stories are amazing.

Marie Lu

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She wrote the Legend trilogy which was amazing. The Young Elites trilogy which I really liked. Warcross was one of my favorite books of last year, and she wrote Batman Nightwalker, which I loved. I love that she is willing to write different genres and go from dystopia, to high fantasy and futuristic Sci Fi. I am very excited for Wildcard this year.

Leigh Bardugo

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While I did enjoy Shadow and Bone, my main reason for loving Leigh Bardugo, was the Six of Crows duology. The characters, the worlds and the story, drew me in. While I am disappointed that I won’t see those characters again I am excited to read what she has written.

Cindy Pon

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She is, in my opinion a very underrated author. I loved the Serpentine duo-logy, especially with the use of Chinese mythology into a fantasy world. I loved Want, which was another favorite book that I read last year. I loved all of the characters she has written and I can’t want for the sequel to Want,

Marissa Meyer

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For those who have been following blog for a long time,should know how much I love the Lunar Chronicles. Sci Fi retellings mixed with fairy tales are my jam. I loved Heartless which was a stand alone retelling of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. I also loved Renegades which dealt with the superhero genre. Her characters are amazing and I am excited for Archenemies.

Honorable Mentions: Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman, Megan Spooner, Holly Black, Susan Dennard, Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, Cinda Williams Chima

Those are my SFF auto buy authors. Who are your SFF auto buy authors? Let me know in the comments below.