Posted in Books, Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (3/31/20)–The Survivor (The Pioneer, #2)

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Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

 

Ever since I first read The Pioneer last June, I’ve been itching to read the sequel. It just came out around two weeks ago, and I bought it on my Kindle last week. Needless to say, The Survivor was worth every single penny. 🪐

WARNING: This review contains some major spoilers for the end of The Pioneer, so PROCEED WITH CAUTION if you haven’t read book one, and want to! 

If you want to read my review of The Pioneer, click here! 

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Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: The Survivor: A Pioneer Novel (9780062658098): Tyler ...

The Survivor (The Pioneer, #2)

After the tumultuous events on Tau Ceti E, the planet where humans planned to settle, Jo and her family and crew have set a course back to Earth. But a haunting message stands in their way, delivering the news that Earth is now uninhabitable, and most of human life was wiped out in an extinction-level event.

Left with no choice, Jo and the others return to Tau. But Jo knows that in doing so, they are violating the peace agreements they barely struck with the Sorrow, the indigenous, sentient species of Tau. A war is brewing, and betrayals wait for her on every corner of her crew…

 

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SO MANY FEELS, PEOPLE, SO MANY FEELS.

 

I was so glad to re-immerse myself into Tyler’s masterful writing. She has such a way with words, and understands the intricacies of human nature like no other author I’ve read. The major plot twist that WRECKED ME at the end of book 1 was still fresh in my mind, so I had a decent-ish jumping off point going into The Survivor.

Even though I didn’t feel as attached to many of the characters in book 1, most of them grew on me in book 2. And even if that attachment didn’t quite grow, there’s no denying that they have excellent chemistry, and that they’re masterfully written.

And, as always, we need to give a raucous round of applause to Ms. Tyler for ACTUALLY GIVING US WELL-DESIGNED ALIENS THAT AREN’T JUST HUMANS WITH WEIRD EYES! Not gonna lie, I was SO excited to explore the world of the Sorrow once more, and her lush writing made it all the better. We also get to explore a few more critters that weren’t mentioned in book 1, so that was fascinating, as always.

Ancient Aliens | Know Your Meme

Though I’m heartbroken that this was the end of the duology, I am over-the-moon glad that I was able to discover these novels. They will always hold a special place in my heart. After a week of mulling it over, I think The Pioneer and The Survivor are equal in rating to me, which is to say that I give The Survivor 5, massive stars. 

 

As I said before, The Pioneer series is a duology, ending with The Survivor. [single tear slides down cheek]

 

Today’s song:

 

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful day, and please take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (3/24/20)–Crown of Coral and Pearl

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Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve talked briefly about this novel on Goodreads Monday and Everything That I’ve Managed to Cross Off of Goodreads Monday or Down the TBR Hole (Part I of ?),but I wanted to take the time to write an entire review for this one just to get out some…feelings. My addled brain thought this book had mermaids, and I was desperately wrong; that disappointment may have skewed my feelings on the rest of the novel, but even beyond that, Crown of Coral and Pearl was a fairly forgettable novel, though it did have a few bright spots.

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Enjoy this week’s review!

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Crown of Coral and Pearl (Crown of Coral and Pearl, #1)

For centuries, the mountain kingdom of Ilara has demanded tribute from the lesser coastline village of Valeria–once the Ilaran Crown Prince has come of age, a Valerian bride must be sent to become the queen of Ilara. What emerged in Valeria was a morbid beauty pageant among the eligible girls; only the most beautiful and unblemished girl could be considered to be sent to the Crown Prince.

For her whole life, Nor has known that her twin sister, Zadie, would be sent to live in Ilara; a scar on her face ruined her own chances of being eligible. Zadie is chosen, but on the night before being sent to Ilara, she retains a near-fatal injury, and Nor is sent as her replacement. Undercover as her twin sister in the Ilaran palace, she meets Prince Ceren, her groom-to-be, who may be harboring a secret that may spell the end of life as the Valerians know it. Will her secret be discovered–and will she be able to save her home from Ceren’s wrath?

 

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All kinds of meh…

I’m not sure what genre to put Crown in, and for once, that…really isn’t a good thing. It’s been most often shelved as fantasy on Goodreads, but other than the fact that there are a few magical creatures and a bit of mythic lore, there’s nothing that would peg it as fantasy. Same with science fiction, too, but the closest I could say is that it was fantasy.

Crown of Coral and Pearl, for all intents and purposes, was a mass regurgitation of the same plot that’s been plaguing YA for the past decade or so–forced arranged marriages that lead to the toppling of the royal family/government/society. Not to say that it can’t be well-executed from time to time, but it’s just been done innumerable times before, and it’s been stale for far too long. Not the most original of books.

I…sort of liked the characters. Though most of them were pressed from the mold of said arranged marriage plots (the determined heroine who is Not Like Other Girls, scheming prince, royal love interest, etc.), they were decently written. I did sort of have a liking for Talin, Ceren’s brother, even though the romantic subplot between him and Nor could be seen a mile away. Nor had some moments of being wonderfully butt-kicking, and her twin relationship with Zadie was very well-executed and genuine. The dialogue was very forced, but overall, characters seemed to be something of a stronger point here.

Overall, Crown of Coral and Pearl had the beginnings of good characters and writing, but ultimately fell prey to many of the overused tropes that run rampant in the YA genre. Two and a half stars for me. 

 

Crown of Coral and Pearl is the first in a duology. The final book, Kingdom of Sea and Stone, comes out this October.

 

Today’s song:

[zoom in on my last brain cell dancing with a giant grin on its face]

 

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Stay tuned for more content later in the week! Have a wonderful day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (🍀3/17/20🍀)–Loki: Where Mischief Lies

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Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and a happy St. Patrick’s Day as well! I don’t/haven’t had anything planned to celebrate on here [ahem], but…I suppose we’ve got a green book cover here? I hope that counts for something…sorry…

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Hey, since I’m reviewing Loki, why not throw in a Tom Hiddleston gif while I’m at it?

Anyway, I also had my first day of online school today. It’s been…an experience. Most of my teachers have been fairly organized in their lesson plans, but my Spanish class was absolutely chaotic, so that was…interesting, to say the least. My AP US History teacher showed us her cat in one of the videos she put up, so that was a major plus. Cats. Always cats.

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Now, back to our main program…

I bought Loki about a month ago, along with Sky Without StarsThough I was a tad hesitant going into it (I’m not sure why, come to think of it), Lee delivers an absolute joyride of a historical fiction/Norse mythology/Marvel comics mashup!

 

Enjoy this week’s review!

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Loki: Where Mischief Lies 

Pushed aside in favor of his brother Thor more often than not, young Loki is tired of his sibling having all of the limelight and the unwarranted scorn he garners from his father Odin. His only friend–and partner in crime–is Amora, a budding sorceress. When they cause the obliteration of a vital artifact, Amora is banished to the realms of Midgard, where she is cursed to watch her magic slowly fade away.

Distraught after his best friend’s banishment, Loki’s scorn for the people of Asgard only grows. But soon after her absence begins, a series of horrendous crimes begin to crop up, Loki and Thor are split up and sent to a sprawling, 19th century London, where nothing is as it seems. Can Loki crawl out from under the shadow of his older brother–and not spell ruination for the human city, while he’s at it?

 

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Despite my expectations, Loki pulled out nearly all the necessary stops to make for a fun, twisty, and whimsical adaptation of Marvel Studios’ younger Loki.

I haven’t read as much by Mackenzi Lee (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, and a few short stories scattered across some YA anthologies), but she deftly weaves in her love of history–specifically, London in the 1800s–seamlessly into Loki’s mythological heritage, even tying in an early version of S.H.I.E.L.D. into the dark, mysterious world. Loki and the rest of the varied cast of characters fit snugly into the historical setting, despite their magical backgrounds.

Full disclosure: I’ve been a huge fan of Loki since I started watching most of the MCU movies, so at this point, I’m primed to like him as a character. But someone like him can easily be poorly-executed, and Lee perfectly balances his trademark mischief and the deep envy festering inside of him. The other characters, though a few seemed a tad interchangeable and difficult to keep up with, were well-written, and generated palpable emotion and chemistry. Oh, and I *kind of* imagined Amora looking similar to Princess Nuala from Hellboy II: The Golden Army, so that’s always a plus.

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My only major complaint was the dialogue; I get that the various denizens of Asgard and beyond are supposed to be overtly formal in their mannerisms, but even so, some of the exchanges between Thor and Loki in the early parts of the novel felt unnecessarily stilted. There was a lot of potential for some good banter from those two.

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And finally, another wonderful given from Lee’s works…LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION, EVERYBODY! Besides Loki (who is now canonically genderfluid and pansexual), we do have a gay side character, and a romantic subplot between him and…okay, I won’t spoil it, but you can probably guess. 🏳️‍🌈

All in all, a wonderful imagining of Marvel’s Loki that’s just as mischievous and mysterious as he is. Four stars for me! 

 

Today’s song:

I can always count on this one for an atmospheric song to write to. 💙

 

That just about wraps up this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day, if you’re celebrating, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (3/10/20)–Roar

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Hello there, bibliophiles!

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Hey, gotta fit that in a few times a year…my sacred duty as a Star Wars fan…

 

Aaaaanyway, I finished this one up not too long ago. It had been on my TBR for a while, and I mentioned it in one of my Down the TBR Hole posts a few months back. In my endless search for quality sci-fi, I often push fantasy and other genres aside, so I figured that Roar would be a good change of scenery. And overall? A well-imagined and well-written fantasy!

Enjoy this week’s review!

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Roar (Stormheart, #1)

In a ruthless land where violent storms rule all, Aurora is next in line to inherit the throne of Pavan. Forced into an arranged marriage and lacking in the storm-controlling powers that define Pavan royalty, she is unsure of her next move. But before she can resort to lying, her betrothed, Cassius Locke, sweeps her into the underbelly of Pavan, telling her of the black market business of buying and selling Stormling powers. Now, Aurora–under the alias of Roar–thinks she has all of her problems solved. But what is the cost of stealing something that is rightfully earned?

 

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Overall, Roar didn’t overtly exceed or fall below my expectations; my expectations were adequately met. The worldbuilding, as well as all of the lore surrounding the Storm magic, was fascinating to dig into. There was clearly a lot of time put into developing the mythology around the magic system, and although the use of gems as a plot device is vastly overdone, I…sort of think it works? I guess? I dunno. Could’ve been a bit more creative.

As far as the character department goes, I didn’t feel a great attachment to any of the characters, but I loved the misfitty team dynamic that they began to have about a third of the way through. Once Roar and Locke got together with the rest of *the gang*, they had wonderful chemistry, and played off of each other with ease. However, the romance was what mainly made me feel iffy. Locke was chock-full of tropes, and the fact that he and Aurora/Roar start getting all heart-eyes for each other MERE HOURS AFTER MEETING… a) Insta-love, the bane of my existence, and b) uh, Locke? Ever hear of something called CONSENT? HMM? So that was…very weird. Not ideal. I suppose it got the teensiest bit better after they got to know each other better, but still veeeery uncomfortable for the first 100-ish pages of the book.

 

In conclusion, Roar had some well-executed elements and an interesting magic system, but fell flat (almost problematically so) in some respects. 3.5 stars, but the .5 mostly comes from the team dynamic that comes later on in the book. 

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Roar is the first book of the Stormheart trilogy, which also includes Rage (book 2, released 2019) and Reign (to be published this August). Not sure if I like it enough to continue with the trilogy, but I’ll think about that.

 

Today’s song:

One of those rare covers that surpasses the original material. More on that here…

 

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (3/2/20)–Sky Without Stars

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Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve gone back and forth between buying this book or not for the last few times I’ve been to the bookstore, but I finally gave in about a month ago. Even with just about zero knowledge of Les Misérables (which this series is a retelling of), it was a thoroughly enjoyable and well-thought-out novel packed with action, political intrigue, and romance.

Enjoy this week’s review!

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Sky Without Stars (System Divine, #1)

Long ago, humanity fled a dying Earth to seek a habitable solar system to carry on their legacy. What they found was System Divine, twelve planets that were then split amongst the remainders of the population.

500 years later, the planet Laterre is in turmoil. The elite First and Second Estates fill their stomachs to gorging as they continually leave the poor Third Estate to starve in the wreckage of the ships that transported them to the stars. But all the classes can be certain of one thing: rebellion is brewing, and the day of reckoning will soon be upon the rich. And three unseemly teens may be at the heart of the revolution.

The fates of Chatine, an expert Third Estate pickpocket, Marcellus, a Second Estate officer harboring a dark truth, and Alouette, an underground rebel and the guardian of a sacred library, all intertwine as they must reconcile their pasts and join forces to bring about peace to their tumultuous world.

 

Clocking in at almost 600 pages, Sky Without Stars isn’t quite for the faint of heart, in that respect. In fact, it’s part of the reason why my reading progress lagged a bit last week. But if I’m being honest, it was worth all that, and whatever it cost.

Whether or not you’ve read Hugo’s original work, Sky Without Stars is no doubt a daring and action-packed novel. Brody and Rendell deftly delve into the history and complex societal and political structures in place on Laterre without excessive info-dumping. The writing was incredibly vivid, making you feel as though you were transported to the slums of the Frets or the glimmering palaces of the Second Estate.

Bouncing off of that point, my favorite aspect of Sky Without Stars Granted, other than the fact that there were cyborgs, droids, and interplanetary travel, it wasn’t as sci-fi as I would’ve liked it to be, but hey, I recognize that my standards are astronomically high.

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Most of the main cast I thought to be decent. The writing made their strifes understandable, but I didn’t truly get attached to any of them, save for Alouette. I suppose I’ve got a soft spot for her since she’s the guardian of a library and has a great appreciation for literature, so no surprises there. And you know how much I despise love triangles, so the one that exists between the main cast took a little bit out of my enjoyment. Not as painful as others I’ve read, but not quite necessary. I could’ve lived without it.

Overall, a fascinating and action-packed reimagining of a classic. 3.75 stars for me, rounded up to 4. 

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Sky Without Stars is the first in the System Divine series. I’m unsure if it’ll be a duology, a trilogy, or have 4+ books, but I can say that the sequel, Between Burning Worlds, comes out on March 24! A MATTER OF WEEKS! YAY!

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Today’s song:

(This one decided to lodge itself in my head at around lunchtime without warning…I’m good with that.)

 

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (2/25/20)–The Order of Odd-Fish

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Hello, fellow bibliophiles!

YIKES, this one’s been on my TBR for ages. Another artifact from my January-ish early TBR cleaning and scouring of Prospector, The Order of Odd-Fish was just about as I expected it to be, and how the reviews promised it would be. And that’s a perfectly good thing, because what The Order of Odd-Fish delivered was a bundle of absolutely madcap fun.

 

Enjoy this week’s review!

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The Order of Odd-Fish

This is Jo. Please take care of her. But beware. This is a dangerous baby.

Thus went the inscription that was delivered along with baby Jo to Lily Larouche, an aging veteran of old Hollywood. For 13 years, she has raised Jo in a remote desert in California, throwing parties for the masses and not knowing exactly what made Jo so dangerous. But after an unfortunate series of incidents at one of Lily’s famed Christmas parties, Jo is swept into the fantastical world of Eldritch City, and into the Order of the Odd-Fish, an organization of knights dedicated to the study of functionally useless knowledge. Aided by the Order (and a certain bipedal cockroach), it finally occurs to Jo why she is so dangerous–and this unrevealed secret could spell her death.

 

It’s difficult to compare The Order of Odd-Fish to any recent MG or YA literature; that’s just how absolutely bizarre it is. Bursting with creativity and absurdity (and decidedly British humor), it’s such a fun ride from start to finish. Everything, down to the most inconsequential details, is peppered with something strange and unheard of. Even when the twists grow a little darker, Kennedy handles them with deft humor and ingenuity. Verging from the corny to the positively mind-boggling, The Order of Odd-Fish pulls out all the stops as a sci-fi/fantasy-comedy.

Though I didn’t relate to or particularly care about all of the characters, most of them ended up eliciting at least a snicker from me–everyone from the various Knights to the Belgian Prankster, the character who ends up going from a running joke in the background to a major villain. Every detail comes back to bite the characters eventually, and in the most surprising and unexpected ways.

Alright, I *sort of* take back what I said about not being able to compare The Order of Odd-Fish to anything. Though I find no comparisons in any literature I can remember, it absolutely reeks of Monty Python. (Hence, British humor.) And I absolutely adored that quality.

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All in all, The Order of Odd-Fish was an absolutely bizarre comedy–and not one that I’ll forget anytime soon. Four stars for me. 

Today’s song:

(Guess what’s been stuck in my head all day…)

 

That just about wraps up this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (2/18/20)–One Giant Leap (Dare Mighty Things, #2)

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Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ever since I finished up Dare Mighty Things about a year ago, I’ve been absolutely ITCHING to read the sequel. I’m excited to say that One Giant Leap was almost better than its predecessor, delving deeper into complex themes while still retaining everything that made book 1 so spectacular.

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Dare Mighty Things, so if you haven’t read it (and plan to), I suggest you turn away right now. In the meantime, click here for my review of book 1! 

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Enjoy this week’s review!

 

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One Giant Leap (Dare Mighty Things, #2)

The competition that landed Cassandra Gupta on an exclusive mission into the vast reaches of space is finally behind her. But before her is an extensive mass of trouble.

What appeared to be a mission to explore extraterrestrial life on other worlds turns out to be humanity’s entrance into an intergalactic war. Luka, the one other cadet chosen to accompany the more experienced astronauts on the mission, is not who he seems: he is one of the few, extraterrestrial survivors of an unprecedented, near-extinction attack on his species. Now, Cassandra and the others must grapple with their newfound truths, and take action against the vrag, the perpetrators of this intergalactic war. But is it all so black and white?

 

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After the absolute whopper of a cliffhanger that Dare Mighty Things left us on, One Giant Leap was a smooth transition into an entirely new novel. Kaczynski dealt with a wildly different subject matter, and her storytelling proved to be just as deft–if not more so–that the previous novel.

Cassandra and Luka had the best chemistry, and I immensely enjoyed spending more time with them. Plus, I’m all for male-female friendships that don’t automatically end in romance. Cassandra’s asexual, anyway, and though they only touched on this in book 1, I’m still giddy about that representation. 🏳️‍🌈

Kaczynski’s handling with the aliens was equally deft. I was worried at first, because we’ve stumbled onto yet another trope that I positively despise in YA sci-fi…aliens that look exactly like humans, but with a few minor changes in eye color/powers that make them oh-so-special.

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I was so afraid that One Giant Leap had fallen into this trap, but Kaczynski explains it an inventive way: Luka’s species (I forget what they’re called, though I believe it started with an ‘M’…oops…) gave themselves genetic modifications in order to blend in with humans on Earth, and therefore look just like them. (Permanently.) So thank you for that reprieve, Mrs. Kaczynski! The vrag as well were very well designed, making for some stunning and gorgeous imagery that I might just want to draw. I’ll get back to you all on that one.

Beyond that, One Giant Leap explored the theme of the gray areas that exist during war; in this instance, both species had their reasons for going to war with one another, and one had trouble grappling with who was the “hero” and who was the “villain”. And truly, that’s how things are in real life; as my teachers have said countless times during my various history classes, history is written by the victors of these wars, and therefore, they’re painted as heroes. The losers might have equally reasonable motives, and have gone to similar lengths to get their way. And in reality, there are no clear heroes and villains. So kudos to Kaczynski for tackling this subject matter.

If nothing else, come for the POC/LGBTQ+ representation, stay for the aliens in book 2. All in all, an incredibly satisfying end to a masterful duology. 4.5 stars for this one. 

 

Today’s song:

I watched The Life of Brian on Sunday night, and it was an absolute RIOT. This song’s been stuck in my head ever since. Easily the best end to a film in cinematic history.

 

That just about wraps up this review! Have a lovely day, and take care of yourselves!

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