Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (5/3/22) – Beyond the Ruby Veil

Happy Tuesday!

Beyond the Ruby Veil wasn’t a high priority for me, but I figured I would check it out and give it a chance despite the bad-to-mediocre reviews. However, when I read it, I found the result to be lukewarm and underdeveloped—all the potential in the world without the execution to pull it through.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Beyond the Ruby Veil – Mara Fitzgerald

In Occhia, all of the water comes from a creature called the watercrea; in order for the city to be hydrated, it demands sacrifices in the form of the townspeople who show an omen mark on their skin. For centuries, all of the citizens of Occhia have obeyed. But Emmanuela Ragno has hid her omen for years, evading death until now. When her omen is exposed at her arranged wedding ceremony, she kills the watercrea, effectively cutting off Occhia’s entire water supply.

To return water to Occhia, Emmanuela must venture into a secretive neighboring kingdom that seems to have everything that Occhia doesn’t have. But behind the veneer of luxury is something far more sinister, and Emmanuela will do whatever it takes to take back her city’s water.

TW/CW: blood, violence, murder, torture, body horror

Describing a book with the words “queer,” “dark,” and “fantasy” are always enticing. Do I love queer books? I’m bisexual, of course I do! Do I love dark books? Yes indeed. Do I like fantasy books? Also yes. And yet, a good half of the books described as “queer, dark fantasy” end up being disappointing for me (also see: Ruinsong, Beyond the Black Door…maybe the problem is books with “Beyond” in the title?). I’m sad to say that the case was the same for Beyond the Ruby Veil.

If I had to describe Beyond the Ruby Veil in one word, it would be underdeveloped. I’ll give Fitzgerald one thing—the premise is still intriguing. Suffice to say, there isn’t a whole lot else to it. The bones of a story were there: a good start on worldbuilding, history, and a general direction for the plot. However, the muscle of the book was completely missing. It felt like a first draft, one where Fitzgerald hadn’t fully fleshed out the book and instead published the start of a story.

At least the one part of the book that I wasn’t supposed to like worked—Emmanuela. One of the major selling points of Beyond the Ruby Veil that I’ve seen was of her as an unlikeable anthero; unlike most of the book, I did like this part. Emmanuela was appropriately headstrong, rash, and impulsive, and those traits made for a character that wasn’t likable as a person but fun to follow as a character.

However, she wasn’t enough to carry the rest of the plot, and the few characters that showed up didn’t pick up her slack in the slightest. Ale wasn’t much more than a stereotypically clumsy sidekick, and he served almost no purpose whatsoever. Verene was one of the only other characters that mattered in the story, and she was only introduced at about the halfway mark; even then, her only personality trait was that she was alluringly secretive. As fun as Emmanuela was, Fitzgerald doesn’t give much to work with as a reader, making for a story that felt filled with holes.

The plot itself didn’t hold much water (no pun intended) either. After the botched wedding ceremony and the killing of the watercrea, it was mostly just Emmanuela and Ale bumbling around a foreign kingdom and trying to find clues. Not only did Emmanuela seem to get away with a lot more than was realistic (there wasn’t any context on how she enters this completely foreign kingdom and is immediately able to attempt and pull off the accent AND subsequently speak to the palace?? And get an audience with The Heart?? In a relatively short amount of time?? HUH??), but after the halfway mark, there wasn’t a whole lot of plot to speak of. There’s the beginning of…well, I won’t quite call it romance since there wasn’t much other than heavily implied context to hint at it instead of, y’know, actual chemistry, but in the midst of a book that already felt like a first draft, it felt even more like an afterthought than everything else did. And that’s saying something. Like I said: with a lot of polishing, this could’ve been a fascinating book, but it didn’t have much to sustain it—even in a book that’s less than 300 pages long.

All in all, a book with an ambitious premise that ultimately suffered from a lack of fleshing-out in all departments. 2 stars.

Beyond the Ruby Veil is Mara Fitzgerald’s first novel, and it is the first book in the Beyond the Ruby Veil series. This book is succeeded by Into the Midnight Void.

Today’s song:

first heard this in 6th grade, forgot about it for years, and just remembered it last week…good stuff

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (2/15/22) – Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

As soon as I found out about Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves, I immediately put it on hold at the library. The premise of a sci-fi survival story with racing wolves and vengeful gangsters hooked me in no time. However, what I found inside was a different story: too much exposition, too little story.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves: A Novel: 9781250785060: Long,  Meg: Books

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves – Meg Long

Sena Korhosen vowed to never involve herself in sled racing after it claimed the lives of both her mothers. But when her pickpocketing habit gets her in trouble with a prominent crime syndicate, she’s forced to flee. Along with the head gangster’s prizefighting wolf, Iska, Sean bands up with a team of scientists who can get her off of the frozen planet of Tundra—but at the cost of her helping them win the sled race that killed her moms. Trapped in the frozen wilderness, Sena faces a choice: brave the woods and the beasts within them, or risk a fate worse than death?

shadow and bone 1x06 | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

TW/CW: violence, gore, blood, past death of parents, animal cruelty, animal death, animal attacks

This is what I get for getting my hopes up for every YA sci-fi book I come across…

It’s such a shame, though; the premise hooked me with no effort, but Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves ended up being a disappointment through and through.

For Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves, its best aspect was simultaneously its worst aspect. That aspect was the worldbuilding. I’ll start out with why most of it worked: with each page, it was clear that there was so much time put into making all of the dominoes fall in the right place. Everything from the social cleavages to Tundar’s fauna to the intricacies of the sled race were so thoughtfully written with a clear intent on making an immersive world—which Meg Long succeeded in.

However, said worldbuilding was lumped into so much of the first half of this novel that it felt more exposition than story. The plot didn’t pick up until about halfway through. I expected more of a through-and-through survival story, but Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves lingered more in civilization than it did out in the frozen wilderness that it promised. What wasn’t exposition was most often just descriptions of animal attacks, and that combination wasn’t ideal.

The other curse from the worldbuilding was the naming of certain things. There was already a degree of suspension of disbelief implied, but naming a frozen planet Tundar (tundra) and giving the animals names like rënedeer (reindeer) made Meg Long’s world all the less plausible. With all of the thought that was clearly put into this book, I feel really bad saying this, but the names just felt…plain lazy. I’m not saying that the names have to be perfect, but they shouldn’t be that derivative of what they’re based on.

With all of that mess piled on, I found it hard to get attached to any of the characters. Sena’s personality got on my nerves from the get-go, and since most of the other characters were introduced around the 1/3-1/2 mark, they came off as having little to no personality. Sena never quite developed, either, and a lot of her actions seemed to have unrealistic motivations, given her past. Add an all-too-easily-defeated villain to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a batch of very halfhearted characters.

All in all, a sci-fi novel with a bold premise that was unfortunately bogged down by too much of a good thing—great worldbuilding, but half a book’s worth of exposition to show it. 2 stars.

Luke skywalker star wars mark hamill GIF - Find on GIFER

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is a standalone, and is Meg Long’s debut novel.

Today’s song:

HELP I CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO THIS I LOVE IT SO MUCH

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/30/21) – Six Wakes

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Six Wakes is one of those books that’s been on the first shelf of my Goodreads TBR since the dawn of time. (Read: early 2017) I forget exactly when I fished it back out of the depths, but the premise looked interesting, so I figured I’d put it on hold at the library. Sadly, Six Wakes befell the same fate as most of the books that sit and wither in my TBR for too long: it didn’t live up to my expectations—average as they were—and ended up just being mediocre.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Six Wakes – Mur Lafferty

The spaceship Dormire is home to six clones. Each of them were convicted of crimes in their past lives, and by steering the Dormire to a new planet, they will be pardoned of all their past misdeeds. But when they wake up to find the corpses of their previous clones strewn around the spaceship, all six suspect foul play. But with their memories wiped and the Dormire’s AI malfunctioning, will they be able to find the perpetrator of the crime before they strike again?

Deshi Basara | 4orror: In space no one can hear you scream. ...

TW/CW: murder, blood, gore, poisoning, descriptions of death/corpses

From the premise of Six Wakes, I expected a sci-fi thriller. The sci-fi box was ticked off, without question, but the further I progressed in the novel, I was more convinced that all I was reading was 50% fictional cloning history, 48% backstory, and 2% plot.

I’ll give Six Wakes one thing, though; the worldbuilding, at its best, was incredibly thorough and well thought-out. Mur Lafferty clearly spent so much time on creating a rich, century-spanning history of cloning and its ethics, as well as the effects it had on world governments and the criminal underworld. It’s the kind of worldbuilding that made me think, “wow, I doubt I could ever have the patience to create something that detailed.” It was fantastic, really. However, it ended up being a bit of a curse to the rest of the book.

This worldbuilding, extensive and detailed as it was, ended up being delivered in such long chunks that I found myself forgetting what the novel was supposed to be about in the first place. There was so much content shoved in that it distracted from the plot as a whole, leaving it suspended in time for so long that I had to go back and re-read just to remember where we left off before the clone rambling started.

Along with the blessing/curse of the worldbuilding, the other 48% (excluding the plot) that bogged down Six Wakes was the excessive backstory. I may not be a frequent mystery reader, but I’ve read enough to know that the whole point of figuring out the mystery is to very slowly realize key details of the characters. And yet, Six Wakes went and did the EXACT opposite. Almost half of the book consisted of multi-chapter sections of backstories for the characters. Not only were they the most inorganic way possible to learn about the characters, they dragged away from what was supposed to be the main plot, and contributed to my lack of enjoyment for the book.

Even with all that backstories, none of the characters really had much of a personality. At all. We got their stories, sure, but save for maybe Hiro (whose personality seemed to be solely for comic relief), I got no sense for what made any of them tick, or what any of them were like as people. I will say in Lafferty’s favor that at least the cast was diverse—two of the main characters were Latinx (Mexican and Cuban-American) and one character was Japanese, so that was a plus.

All of those lacking plot aspects ultimately numbed me to what could have been an inventive and chilling mystery. By the time I’d trudged through all of the backstory and clone history, the plot twists made me feel nothing. And I still don’t have a clear picture of how the book was even resolved. Maybe that’s because by then, I was just skimming, but it still felt so weak and lacking as a whole.

All in all, a sci-fi thriller that had the potential for greatness but got bogged down by excessive backstory and info-dumping. 2 stars.

space aesthetic gifs | WiffleGif

Six Wakes is a standalone, but Mur Lafferty is also the author of the Afterlife series (Heaven, Hell, Earth, Wasteland, War, and Stones), the Shambling Guides series (The Shambling Guide to New York City and The Ghost Train to New Orleans), the novelization of Solo: A Star Wars Story, and several novels.

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books

Popular YA Books I Couldn’t Get on Board With

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been wanting to do a post like this for a little while, so here goes nothing…

We all know the feeling. We’ve picked up a book because of the seemingly endless 4 and 5 star reviews and the high praise from friends and fellow readers and book bloggers, and then it turns out to be a steaming disappointment. For me, popular YA books live up to the hype about 50% of the time for me, and the other 50% is either just…not feeling anything from it, or not liking it at all. And there’s plenty of hyped books that I’ve loved! But sometimes, a lot of these books just haven’t worked for me.

And before I start, I just wanted to say this – if you liked any of these books, this post isn’t meant to shame anybody’s reading preferences at all. If you liked them, good for you! These are just my opinions here, and as per the Latin proverb, to each, their own is beautiful. I just wasn’t a fan of these books.

Let’s begin, shall we?

My Disappointment Is Immeasurable And My Day Is Ruined | Know Your Meme

😕POPULAR YA BOOKS I COULDN’T GET ON BOARD WITH😕

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) – Victoria Aveyard

Amazon.com: Red Queen (Red Queen, 1) (9780062310644): Aveyard, Victoria:  Books

MY RATING: ⭐️ (DNF)

It’s been about three years since I’ve read this one, but it was a pretty quick DNF for me. Red Queen felt like every bad YA trope melted into a single book – an unoriginal dystopian world with the “plain heroine that doesn’t realize how beautiful she is and is THE CHOSEN ONE” and gets into an insta-love romance…gah, I forget how long it took before I put it down, but this was just painful.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1) – Holly Black

Amazon.com: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, 1) (9780316310314):  Black, Holly: Books

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️

Holly Black is a hit-or-miss author for me, but The Cruel Prince definitely fell among the misses for me. The worldbuilding was great here (and I loved the little ink drawings at the beginnings of the chapters!), but all of the characters were astronomically unlikable. Everybody just seemed intent on bullying and backstabbing everybody else, and there wasn’t any balance with a character with a slightly better moral compass. And don’t get me started on Jude and Cardan being a thing…WHY? If I remember correctly, Cardan spends about 3/4 of the book relentlessly degrading Jude, and then gets down on his knees and tells her that he loves her…HUH?

IOS 14.5 – And ATT Enforcement – Is Finally Coming Next Week | AdExchanger

HOW MUCH MORE TOXIC CAN YOU GET? And somehow, Cardan’s up there with Kaz Brekker and that dude from ACOTAR (I don’t remember his name, I haven’t read the books and don’t intend to) with the brooding YA dudes that everybody fawns over? Makes me lose a little faith in humanity sometimes…

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) – Sarah J. Maas

Amazon.com: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, 1) (9781599906959): Maas,  Sarah J.: Books

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️

Here’s one that everybody recommended to me…should of listened to that guy in my class in middle school who did a book report on this one and didn’t like it

Okay. Maybe this one’s a little skewed. I read most of Throne of Glass when I was home sick with a stomachache, but even then, I think I wouldn’t have been a fan. The ✨fantasy names✨ were a pain to pronounce, Calaena came off as a very static character with very little development, if any, and everything seemed to worked out a little *too* well for her in the end. The worldbuilding was interesting, though. I guess. Probably not gonna pick this one up, but I don’t think I’ll go for ACOTAR or Crescent City either. Meh.

Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik

Amazon.com: Spinning Silver: A Novel (9780399180989): Novik, Naomi: Books

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️

My main problem was the same one I had with The Cruel Prince – the toxicity of the main relationship. Mirnatius spends about 3/4 of the book being borderline abusive towards Miryem, and then, ✨poof!✨ Happy relationship!

Schitts Creek Excuse Me GIF - SchittsCreek ExcuseMe WeekendVibe - Discover  & Share GIFs | Funny relatable memes, Schitts creek, Relatable

Yeah, no, that’s just weird. Also, wasn’t there a significant age gap between the two of them? Final nail in the coffin, really…

All the Stars and Teeth – Adalyn Grace

Buy All the Stars and Teeth: 1 (All the Stars and Teeth Duology, 1) Book  Online at Low Prices in India | All the Stars and Teeth: 1 (All the Stars  and

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️

This one lured me in with a gorgeous cover and the promise of mermaids, and…well, we got a mermaid, but the rest of the book didn’t make up for it.

All the Stars and Teeth felt very formulaic for me, right down to the conveniently-placed puppet show to explain the worldbuilding. We’ve got a protagonist with dangerous magic, the mysterious love interest…it just felt like every other YA fantasy in the last few years. Not much to distinguish it from the others, if anything at all.

Cinderella is Dead – Kalynn Barron

Amazon.com: Cinderella Is Dead (9781547603879): Bayron, Kalynn: Books

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️.5

Out of all of the books here, Cinderella is Dead is probably the one that I had the highest expectations for. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with a book with a sapphic, POC lead taking down the patriarchy in a world sculpted from the myth of Cinderella?

…several things, as it turned out.

I found the worldbuilding to be full of holes, none of the characters were very distinct, the villain was an irredeemable caricature, and all of the attempts commentary on abuse and misogyny and such relied way too much on telling, as opposed to showing. For me Cinderella is Dead was just a case of a great idea, but poor execution. Shame…

Revenge Of The Sith Episode 3 GIF by Star Wars - Find & Share on GIPHY

A Curse so Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, #1) – Brigid Kemmerer

Amazon.com: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (The Cursebreaker Series)  (9781681195087): Kemmerer, Brigid: Books

MY RATING: ⭐️ (DNF)

This one was another DNF for me about two years ago. I still really appreciate that Kemmerer chose to have a disabled character at the forefront of a YA fantasy (Harper has cerebral palsy – not sure how accurate the rep is, though), but otherwise…meh. On top of the obvious attempt to make this Beauty and the Beast retelling as Dark And Gritty™️ as possible, the love triangle (and both love interests, if memory serves) put me off in the end.

Storm and Fury (The Harbinger, #1) – Jennifer L. Armentrout

Storm and Fury (The Harbinger Series Book 1)- Buy Online in Antigua and  Barbuda at antigua.desertcart.com. ProductId : 134271270.

MY RATING: ⭐️ (DNF)

Ugh, this one was a mess…

This was my first exposure to Jennifer L. Armentrout, and I don’t think I’ll be reading anything of hers after this. Again, this falls into almost every YA trope that I hate – the Chosen One who is so very clearly Not Like Other Girls, the Sarcastic Bad Boy Love Interest (Zayne still makes me squirm)…I forget where I DNF’d this one, but I just could not take another page. Yikes.

Instant Karma – Marissa Meyer

Amazon.com: Instant Karma (9781250618818): Meyer, Marissa: Books

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️

Instant Karma was a sore disappointment…I’ve loved almost everything else of Marissa Meyer’s, but I just didn’t click with this one. I loved the premise of a magical-realism rom-com and all of the Beatles references were great, but Pru really got on my nerves, and the romance never made me feel anything.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What were your thoughts on these books? What’s a popular YA book that you didn’t like?

Huge Mistake GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Today’s song:

That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books, Mini Reviews

Mini Reviews of Books I Read on Vacation

Good morning (or whatever time it is where you are), bibliophiles!

I’m back from vacation! I took a trip with my family to Glacier National Park last week, and it was STUNNING. We did some hiking, went on a few boat tours, and went canoeing, and it was such a beautiful experience. Walking through the forest fed my soul…I’m recovering from online learning crushing my soul last year, and the trees certainly helped

Anyway, I bought a few books on my Kindle for the trip, and I thought I’d share my reviews for them. It was definitely a hit-or-miss batch, but at least 2/3 of them were good.

Let’s begin, shall we?

🏔VACATION MINI-REVIEWS 🏔

Off Planet (Aunare Chronicles, #1) – Aileen Erin

Off Planet (Aunare Chronicles, #1) by Aileen Erin

Blurb from Goodreads:

In an all-too-plausible future where corporate conglomerates have left the world’s governments in shambles, anyone with means has left the polluted Earth for the promise of a better life on a SpaceTech owned colony among the stars.

Maité Martinez is the daughter of an Earther Latina and a powerful Aunare man, an alien race that SpaceTech sees as a threat to their dominion. When tensions turn violent, Maité finds herself trapped on Earth and forced into hiding.

For over ten years, Maité has stayed hidden, but every minute Maité stays on Earth is one closer to getting caught.

She’s lived on the streets. Gone hungry. And found a way to fight through it all. But one night, while waitressing in a greasy diner, a customer gets handsy with her. She reacts without thinking.

Covered in blood, Maité runs, but it’s not long before SpaceTech finds her…

Arrested and forced into dangerous work detail on a volcano planet, Maité waits for SpaceTech to make their move against the Aunare. She knows that if she can’t somehow find a way to stop them, there will be an interstellar war big enough to end all life in the universe.

There’s only one question: Can Maité prevent the total annihilation of humanity without getting herself killed in the process?

Gardengirl — The Baths- Obi-Wan Kenobi Smut

TW/CW: sexual assault, graphic violence, burning, near-death situations, trauma-related dreams, claustrophobia

Off Planet wasn’t perfect, but it was a solid sci-fi! It blended elements of hard sci-fi and space opera, and for the most part, they came together somewhat seamlessly.

The plot and tension shone in this novel – Aileen Erin did a great job at making a fast-paced, high-stakes story that kept me on the edge of my seat. The worldbuilding was well fleshed-out as well. I loved all of the different planets that we saw, as well as the near-future, dystopian vision of Earth.

I didn’t get attached to any of the characters, but I’d say they were decently developed. Most of them were likable, but I did like Tyler a lot. I wish we’d seen more of him. However, even though I liked Lorne, his name threw me off a little, because a) hey, it’s more of a human name, and he’s an alien, and b) my inevitable association of that name with Lorne Malvo from Fargo, which…[shudders]

My only major problem was the dialogue – it felt a little stilted and not quite authentic, which took away some of the believability of the characters. Other than mannerisms, there wasn’t a whole lot that distinguished each character’s voice.

But overall, a solid start to an intense and well-thought-out sci-fi trilogy. 3.5 stars!

⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

The Orphanage of Gods – Helena Coggan

The Orphanage of Gods by Helena Coggan

Blurb from Goodreads:

Twenty years ago, the humans came for their gods.

In the bloody revolution, gods were all but wiped out. Ever since, the children they left behind have been imprisoned in an orphanage, watched day and night by the ruthless Guard. Any who show signs of divine power vanish from their beds in the night, all knowledge of their existence denied.

No one has ever escaped the orphanage.

Until now.

Seventeen-year-old Hero is finally free – but at a terrible price. Her sister has been captured by the Guard and is being held in a prison in the northern sea. Hero desperately wants to get her back, and to escape the murderous Guardsmen hunting her down. But not all the gods are dead, and the ones waiting for Hero in the north have their own plans for her – ones that will change the world forever . . .

As she advances further and further into the unknown, Hero will need to decide: how far is she willing to go to do what needs to be done?

Television - I used to dismiss THE CLONE WARS as a "kid's show" ... | Page  2 | Sherdog Forums | UFC, MMA & Boxing Discussion
am I gonna put a Star Wars gif with every review? Possibly…

TW/CW: graphic violence, discrimination, death, blood, gore

I really wanted to give this one a chance – the low average rating on Goodreads put me off a little (2.88 at present), but there didn’t seem to anything blatantly offensive in the reviews I read, so I gave it a shot.

…which was a mistake on my part. Oops.

The Orphanage of Gods had an interesting premise on the surface, but it was weighed down by a whole bunch of aspects. The worldbuilding was flimsy at best, the plot seemed to ramble without meaning, the characters didn’t have many defining traits (and there were too many of them to keep track of, making them interchangeable), and the POV switches at each of the three parts didn’t seem to have any point. If Coggan had kept the POV at Hero for the whole book, it might have made more sense, as she was unfamiliar with the world introduced. But alas…

I tried. I really tried. I wanted to give this one three stars, but it just got worse and worse as the book went on…I think the only redeeming factor was that there was a sapphic romance at the forefront, but even that was just thrown in there at the last minute. The writing had moments of being good, and I think that’s the only reason I didn’t DNF this one entirely.

All in all, a novel weighed down by poor handling of almost every aspect save for the writing. 2 stars.

⭐️⭐️

Chameleon Moon (Chameleon Moon, #1) – RoAnna Sylver

Chameleon Moon - Kindle edition by Sylver, RoAnna. Literature & Fiction  Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Blurb from Goodreads:

The city of Parole is burning. Like Venice slips into the sea, Parole crumbles into fire.

The entire population inside has been quarantined and left to die – directly over the open flame. Eye in the Sky, a deadly and merciless police force ensures no one escapes. Ever. All that’s keeping Parole alive is faith in the midst of horrors and death, trust in the face of desperation… and their fantastic, terrifying, and beautiful superhuman abilities.

Regan, silent, scaly stealth expert, is haunted by ten years of anxiety, trauma and terror, and he’s finally reached his limit. Evelyn is a fearless force on stage and sonic-superheroic revolutionary on the streets. Now they have a choice – and a chance to not only escape from Parole, but unravel the mystery deep in its burning heart. And most of all, discover the truth about their own entwining pasts.

Parole’s a rough place to live. But they’re not dead yet. If they can survive the imminent cataclysmic disaster, they might just stay that way…

Xmen Mutant GIF - Xmen Mutant Proud - Discover & Share GIFs
…so I guess I’m not putting a Star Wars gif with every review

TW/CW: violence, PTSD, loss of loved ones, fire, anxiety, torture, trauma

This is just the kind of sweet, diverse and hopeful dystopia that the world needs more of. Chameleon Moon wasn’t without its flaws, sure, but it was such a lovely novel.

First off, this is easily one of the most diverse novels I’ve read in a long time – we’ve got a polyamorous family at front and center, an asexual MC, a trans woman MC, several nonbinary characters, several Black characters, and several characters with anxiety and PTSD. So a big thank you to RoAnna Sylver for making an effort to make a novel with all that representation!

The characters were the best aspect of the novel for me – they all had such distinct personalities and quirks, and I loved all of the different superpowers they sported. Danae was easily my favorite – I loved all of her little metal creations, and she had such a spirited personality. (Kind of imagined her like Jessie Buckley, for no particular reason.) Hans was also great – he reminded me a lot of Klaus from The Umbrella Academy, if he were a bit more unhinged.

What was really special about Chameleon Moon for me, though, was that even though it was clearly a dystopia, there was a consistent message of hope. Even in the midst of unimaginable horrors, there was still love, still families caring for each other, still listening to everybody’s traumas, and still persisting no matter the odds. It’s an uncommon sight in dystopia, and in times like these, it’s just the kind of novel we need.

All in all, a queer and hopeful dystopia that sets itself apart with no shortage of representation and a powerful message. 4 stars!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Today’s song:

That’s it for these mini-reviews! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: The Brighter the Stars

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I haven’t done an eARC review in a little bit, and it was nice to see this one pop up after I’d forgotten about requesting it. It was a quick read for me, but although there was clearly a lot of care put into the worldbuilding, much of The Brighter the Stars fell flat for me.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Image result for the brighter the stars bryan prosek

The Brighter the Stars–Bryan K. Prosek

At only twelve, Jake Saunders witnessed the murder of his uncle by Romalor, the tyrant of a distant world. His death shaped him for years, eventually leading him to the Legion, the intergalactic military. For years, he has sought revenge, but only now does he have the chance to avenge his uncle. But when Diane, an ambassador to Earth and a close friend to Jake, is captured, he must find a way to rescue her–and right the wrongs of the murderous Romalor.

Image result for space gif tumblr

TW/CW: violence, loss of a loved one

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and CamCat Publishing for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Wait, so we’ve got a protagonist who witnessed the murder of his Uncle Ben in his formative years? Wait a minute…[PETER PARKER INTENSIFIES]

(Kidding, kidding…)

Image result for spiderman gif

I always feel pretty bad giving more indie books low ratings. It’s hard to put yourself out there, and especially since this one has hardly any reviews or ratings on Goodreads as of now, it did pain me a little bit to give The Brighter the Stars a lower rating. But hey, I’m supposed to give an honest review here, and to be honest, this novel really wasn’t my cup of tea, even though I’m a huge fan of sci-fi.

Let’s start off with the positives. What stood out most to me about The Brighter the Stars was the worldbuilding; the author clearly put a lot of work into making a fleshed-out, intricate world, and for the most part, he succeeded. Although there were several instances where I felt like the information was being info-dumped, the futuristic world that Prosek crafted was one that felt very lived-in.

I also liked the dynamic between Jake, Cal and Diane. They had great chemistry together as a trio, and even though Jake’s and Cal’s personalities/voices were almost indistinguishable, I liked Diane’s character.

What bothered me most about The Brighter the Stars was the writing. It was often very choppy, with long clumps of sentences that were almost the exact same length. Within at least half of the paragraphs, most of the sentences seemed to start with the same word(s); this, combined with the lack of variation for the sentence length, made for a novel that didn’t really flow. I can usually just scan the pages if the sentences have differing lengths, but even the action sequences failed to flow. Additionally, the descriptions leaned quite a lot on telling instead of showing–there’s a whole lot of “was,” “[they] felt,” “[they] knew,” etc., which also contributed to the lack of fluidity throughout the story.

There’s an interesting combination as far as genres go; The Brighter the Stars is pretty hardcore sci-fi, but there’s some clear Western influences on it. (I really don’t know much about Westerns, so take this all with a grain of salt. I guess The Mandalorian was pretty Western-inspired, soooo…) There were quite a few nods to the latter throughout, and I did kind of like the desert/saloon planet, but plot-wise, it still felt quite flat. It was fast-paced, but everything felt far too easy for Jake (ex. beating the supposedly “unbeatable” fighter in the arena, another plot point that I won’t spoil). Now, I’m all for good triumphing over evil in the end, but there seemed to be little to no struggle for Jake to get over the obstacles in his path. He was definitely more of a Gary Stu-type protagonist, which…mmm, nope.

Overall, a sci-fi that clearly took time to create a fleshed-out world, but suffered from dry, choppy writing and unrealistically skilled protagonist. 2 stars.

Image result for meh gif

Release date: November 10, 2020

Today’s song:

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (6/23/20)–Fourth World

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I hope you’re all having a good day. I had a lovely hike yesterday, and just a spectacular day in general…and I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY WIP.

I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT! THIS IS THE FIRST OF MY IDEAS THAT I’VE ACTUALLY BOTHERED TO WRITE OUT IN FULL!

vince mcmahon excited gif on Make a GIF

So that was certainly a bright spot.

Now, back to our scheduled program…

I found this book on Queer Books for Teens, and the fact that it was a) sci-fi and b) had great LGBTQ+ representation ultimately hooked me. I quickly found it on the Kindle library and read it. But while it boasted great representation, Fourth World failed to meet its ambitious premise.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Fourth World (Iamos Trilogy, #1) by Lyssa Chiavari

Fourth World (Iamos trilogy, #1)–Lyssa Chiavari

2073. Isaak Contreras struggles to go through the motions of his life on a Martian colony. Two years ago, his father disappeared, leaving him to long for him back in his life. But when he finds an artifact hidden among his father’s old possessions, he stumbles upon a conspiracy hidden by the Martian government–one that may answer the question of the humanoid skeleton that the archaeology team dug up on Martian soldier. What they’ve hidden? A portal to another world, and one that may not be as alien as they believe it to be.

Now stranded in this foreign, dystopian world, Isaak is taken in by Nadin, a girl struggling with an oppressive society of her own. But what they both don’t realize is that the ground beneath their feet is not so different as they thought. Will they be able to save both of their worlds?

David Rose Schitts Creek GIF - DavidRose SchittsCreek Eh ...

Let’s start off with the good aspects. Our cast of characters is incredibly diverse–virtually all of the characters are POC (Isaak is Latinx, Nadin is POC, and several other POC side characters). Additionally, Isaak is demisexual, and Nadin seems to be on the asexual spectrum. So props to Chiavari for creating a wonderfully diverse cast!

Now…other than that…

[awkward silence]

Eh…

The main problem of Fourth World is that it seemed to get lost within itself. The plot became very convoluted far too quickly, and I found myself losing interest rapidly. There’s an interesting, almost cosmic-horror aspect of it (Remember what I said about the humanoid skeleton they dig up?) that was well-executed at the start, but failed to capture my attention as the book went on.

The concept of a past civilization on Mars is fascinating, but I found it poorly executed. There’s so much possibility for these kinds of societies, but alas, it fell into the trap that all too many sci-fi YA novels fall into…

Ah, yes, Aliens™️, but…they’re basically just humans with different hair/eye colors. NOT AGAIN…

Black Ink Crew Stop GIF by VH1 - Find & Share on GIPHY

[Luke Skywalker screaming] “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

And beyond that, this past civilization is the exact same, overdone, dystopian society. You’ve got your oppressive class systems, your tyrannical government, and your secret, underground resistance, and the realization to our naïve heroine that the world she’s grown up in is far worse than she imagined. At this point, the trope has become so overdone that it doesn’t get any emotion out of me anymore. Sometimes, it can creatively done, but in the case of Fourth World, it…just wasn’t. Nope.

Overall, Fourth World was an ambitious sci-fi novel, but while it scored points in the diversity department, it crumbled to pieces in most other places. 2 stars.

Sorry GIF by Michael Bolton - Find & Share on GIPHY

Fourth World is the first in the Iamos trilogy, followed by New World (book 2, 2018), and One World (book 3, 2020).

Today’s song:

Okay, Danny Elfman, I love you, but the fact that you decided not to release this is a crime. A CRIME.

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

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Lyrics and Curses

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Music references. I’ve grown up in a family of music nerds, and it’s been a passion of mine for almost my whole life–almost as fervent as my love of books. So you can imagine my joy to find a paranormal romance eARC that promised lots of them. But though I liked that aspect of the novel, most of it didn’t click with me.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Lyrics & Curses (Cursed Hearts, #1) by Candace Robinson

Lyrics and Curses (Cursed Hearts, #1)–Candace Robinson

1985. Lark Espinoza longs for an escape–from her stepmother, her popular sister, and her town where nothing seems to happen. But when a mysterious, cloaked stranger appears in her workplace, she knows something’s amiss–but even more so when she realizes that no one else can seem to see him.

It turns out she isn’t the only one. Auden Ellis, the boy Lark shares notes filled with song lyrics with, has also had an unexplainable experience–out of nowhere, he sees a stranger playing a flute that nobody can see–except for him and Lark. Auden and Lark sense that there’s a link between these unexplainable events–but would could they possibly mean?

Sesame Street Idk GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Filles Vertes Publishing for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

For a while, I was teetering between a 3 star and a 2 star rating. The second half of the book pushed it towards the 2 star end, sadly. The Goodreads blurb pegs it as Pretty in Pink meets Stranger Things–both of which I love–but Lyrics and Curses felt weak in most respects. (Also, I…really don’t see the Pretty in Pink part? Maybe that’s just me, but…)

Let’s start off with what I liked. I loved Auden and Lark’s friendship/almost relationship, even though the latter felt forced and rushed towards the end of the novel. Their shared bonding over music was something I related to, and plus, they (I mean, I guess I should be saying Candace Robinson) had great taste. Jumping off of that, I LOVED the music references–David Bowie, Talking Heads, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode, Queen, all the good stuff. There’s a clear love of all things 80’s, and it really shines through in Lyrics and Curses.

Legion Review: 9 Moments from the Premiere to Admire, Recap + ...

But that’s where the good aspects ended for me. Speaking of said music references…I loved them, but most of the time, much of the 80’s references felt more like namedropping, like the author was just sprinkling them in to say “OH, and DID I MENTION that this is the 80’S?!? Would you look at THAT!!! 80’S!!!!!!1!!!” The more that were piled on, the more tired and forced the setting of the novel felt. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a big fan of most 80’s content as well, but some of the references only ended up dragging the novel down, and making the historic setting less genuine.

Aside from that, the plot generally felt weak. The paranormal aspect was barely touched on until the second half of the book, and even then, it felt like there weren’t any high stakes for the characters–at least until…maybe the last 90% of the book? I wasn’t invested in Lark and Auden’s journey, and the paranormal aspect was only mildly gripping. As a result, the last half of the book felt incredibly rushed, and I ended up skimming the last 75% or so. After Lark and Auden realize the source of these paranormal occurrences, the book got *slightly* more interesting, but by that time, the book was nearly over, and there wasn’t too much time to touch on it further. I suppose that’s what a sequel is for, but I still felt that most of the beginning could have been cut out, and the paranormal aspects of the plot been expanded upon more.

All in all, a novel that showcases a nostalgic love of music and the 1980’s, but fails to deliver on most other aspects. 2 stars.

Joaquin Phoenix Reaction GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Me 50% of the way through trying to decide if I’d give this 3 or 2 stars

Expected release date: November 10, 2020

Since I’ve already posted once today, check out today’s Goodreads Monday for today’s song. (Not 80’s, sorry…)

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!