Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/27/20)–The Other Side of the Sky

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Whew, my week went from “relaxing snow day” to “dear god I have at least 4 different tests and projects due next week” in the span of 24 hours…it’s only Tuesday, have mercy on my poor soul…

Hence why I’m writing this review a little later than usual. I’ll probably be a bit less frequent with my posting in the upcoming weeks, but I can do the usual memes and reviews, at the very least. ✌️

Anyway, I preordered this book back in July, mostly just on the basis of a) Amie Kaufman and b) THAT PRETTY COVER. It came in the mail with Skyhunter a few weeks back, and I’m pleased to say that The Other Side of the Sky was a genre-bending success!

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Other Side of the Sky by Amie Kaufman

The Other Side of the Sky–Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

My copy feat. Rey

North and Nimhara are from worlds that couldn’t be more different than each other. But a twist of fate will bring them together, with possibly disastrous consequences…

North is the prince of his domain in the sky, a floating city fueled by advanced technology. A tragic accident with his aircraft causes him to crash, thrusting him into the world below. The world that, legend has it, is uninhabitable.

The legends were wrong.

In the lands below lives Nimhara, anointed at a young age as the living vessel of the divine. But her people are suspicious of her–every god and goddess has a unique aspect. Nimhara has yet to summon hers.

North’s crash landing thrusts them both headfirst into the words of an ancient prophecy, once that may spell the end of both of their worlds. Will Nimh and North be able to join forces and save their homes?

Social - CLOUD CITY CANTINA (20.0) The Force Ghost Party! | Page 51 | Jedi  Council Forums

Melding opposing worlds of science in magic is uncommon in literature, and it may be for good reason. Both of the times I’ve read books with such concepts (see The Wrinkled Crown, Story Thieves), it’s fallen disappointingly flat. But never fear–The Other Side of the Sky is the shining exception to that rule! Though most of the book is set in Nimh’s terrestrial, magic-oriented home, the fantasy and science worlds both felt seamlessly fleshed out–and packed with lovely imagery, at that.

Going off of that…this is honestly worldbuilding that I could–and want to–lose myself in. Every inch of this fantastical realm felt so lived-in and authentic, and there wasn’t any instances where I felt like information was being unceremoniously dumped over my head. The imagery only accentuated the fact–rich, vivid, and immersive, it made reading this novel not just a way to take a break from my (overwhelming) reality, but an experience in and of itself.

And the characters! I really haven’t read much by Meagan Spooner (save for These Broken Stars and Unearthed, which are others that she co-wrote with Kaufman), but Amie Kaufman (or, at least *partially* Amie Kaufman) never misses the mark with every aspect of the characters, from their individual personalities to their chemistry. Nimh was not only intelligent and resourceful, but she had an authentic vulnerability to her as well. Anyone with a big responsibility on their shoulders (even though I don’t know anybody who’s actually a living/god/goddess/goddexx…hello?) will absolutely relate to her. North was similarly cunning, but it was kind of funny to see how bumbling he first was upon landing in Nimh’s world and seeing how he coped with knowing nothing at all about his surroundings. Made for some great character development, too.

Oh, and the representation! Both Nimh and North are implied to be POC, and North not only has two moms, but was in a polyamorous relationship with a girl and another boy, so he’s poly and bi! πŸ™‚ (Sidenote…I kind of imagined North like Hunter from Raised by Wolves…random, but I thought it was worth noting…)

Raised by Wolves, Part 4 – Weird Getting Weirder (Season 1 Episodes 8 & 9)  | 25YL
Hunter’s the one on the left in this picture, for reference. There’s very few pics of him when I google him, for some reason…I guess it’s bc the show’s newish…EH I digress

All in all, a vividly designed and lushly written melding of science fiction and fantasy. 4 stars!

Beautiful 8-bit Color Cycling Pixel Art - Imgur | Pixel art background,  Pixel art, Vaporwave art

The Other Side of the Sky is the first in a duology, followed by an untitled second book set to be released next year (2021). Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner together are also the authors of the Starbound Trilogy and the Unearthed duology. Kaufman and Spooner have also written several series on their own, including the Elementals trilogy (Kaufman), the Illuminae Files (Kaufman, cowritten with Jay Kristoff), the Aurora Cycle (Kaufman, cowritten with Jay Kristoff), the Skylark trilogy (Spooner), Hunted (Spooner), and Sherwood (Spooner).

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 Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/20/20)–Skyhunter

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been a fan of Marie Lu’s for a good three years, and since first reading Warcross, she’s been one of my favorite authors. So of course I had to preorder Skyhunter over the summer (and who wouldn’t, with that gorgeous cover?).

It came in the mail the Sunday before last, and by the time I finished my library holds, I realized that I never knew how much I needed this book in my life right at that time. Last week was an incredibly taxing and emotional week for me, and immersing myself back into Lu’s lush prose was just the thing I needed to get me crawling back out of the pit of despair I’d fallen into. And even if I hadn’t been in such a dark place last week, I’m positive that I would have loved Skyhunter just the same.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1) by Marie Lu

Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1)–Marie Lu

My copy, ft. Rebel, Wildcard, a cool filter, and a metal bookmark I got from the preorder offer πŸ™‚

Talin has lived a life of turmoil. Her home country of Basea was swallowed by the Karensa Federation, and she and her mother were forced to flee to Mara, the only nation who hasn’t been choked by their iron grip. But the warfront shrinks every day, and hordes of Karensa’s Ghost–captured humans that have been mutated and trained to kill–encroach on Mara’s territory every day. Fighting against them are the brave Strikers, Mara’s league of warriors trained to keep the Ghosts at bay.

When a defector is brought from the Karensa Federation, Talin knows that he hold secrets far beyond what Mara and the Strikers could have possibly imagined. Assigned to keep watch over him, Talin soon learns that his name is Red–and that he may hold the key to turning the tables on the Karensa Federation. But should she go against the Strikers based solely on faith–or leave Red to die?

Brice Jale's review of Temptation and Tights

Skyhunter came into my life during a rough patch (which still hasn’t entirely faded), so that may or may not put a bit of bias on my high rating. But then again…it’s Marie Lu, of course I’m going to adore it. Over the past few years, Lu has proven herself to be a true master of her craft, and Skyhunter is no exception–a tale of resilience and resistance in a time where we all need just that.

I’ll spare you all from my blabbing about the cover, but seriously, I could go on for DAYS about it–the minimalist style, the blending of the colors, the figures…the EVERYTHING?

Now then…

Marie Lu was one of the first pioneers of YA Dystopia with her Legend trilogy, and with Skyhunter, she proves once more that she is a wordsmith to be reckoned with. Every detail–be it in the worldbuilding, the characters, or the plot–made me love the story ten times more, and there’s clear evidence on every page that Lu truly poured her heart and soul into this tale.

As with most of her novels, the characters are what stood out the most to me. Talin is such a stubborn yet resilient heroine, and her determined nature drove the story into fantastic places. Red was my personal favorite–he had wonderful chemistry with Talin and the rest, and I loved all of his little quirks and his sarcastic mannerisms. (Also, his mouse deserves a medal–that poor thing’s probably traumatized from riding around in his pocket while Red just…does his thing.) Jeran and Adena had wonderful chemistry with them, and Lu did an incredible job of making them feel fleshed-out and authentic. Also, even though I could go for Talin and Red being a thing, I appreciated that Lu didn’t throw them headfirst into insta-love or a forced romance. Again–there could be an ADORABLE possibility for some classic enemies-to-lovers romance by the time book 2 rolls around, but it could honestly work either romantically or platonically.

Skyhunter has plot twists aplenty, most of which I didn’t see coming. Combined with the fast-paced plot and gripping action, I just could NOT put this book down–every time I had to set it down, I found myself anticipating getting to read more of it later on. There’s no shortage of vivid imagery, and I felt immersed in the story in a way that I haven’t felt in quite some time. The worldbuilding helped the latter fact as well–the different cultures of each country that the characters visited had such well-thought-out cultures, and everything felt wholly real, like I could just walk through the pages, and I’d be in Talin’s mother’s house, or on the middle of the warfront. My favorite aspect of the worldbuilding, as far as the Karensa Federation goes, was that of the Ghosts. I’m just a sucker for any kind of freaky, Mike Mignola-style monsters in stories, so…(I kind of imagined them how the wendigos are drawn in B.P.R.D.)

TW FOR THE IMAGE BELOW: Blood

For me, this is the most perfect example of the nature and atmosphere of  Hellboy and everything he stands for. : Mignolaverse

And through it all, there’s themes of fighting back–against colonialism, against discrimination and prejudice, and against all odds. It’s just the right blend of resourceful determination that we need in these troubling times, and even though most of us have grown tired of dystopias as a whole (seeing as we’re currently living in one…[ahem]), it’s a must read for all.

All in all, another stunning gem of a novel to add to Marie Lu’s near-flawless repertoire, and a tale of resistance and resilience that will stand the test of time. 4.5 stars!

6 Things We Know About 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' So Far

Skyhunter is the first book in the Skyhunter duology, followed by an untitled, forthcoming second novel set to be published in 2021. Marie Lu is also the author of the Legend series (Legend, Prodigy, Champion, and Rebel), the Young Elites trilogy (The Young Elites, The Rose Society, and The Midnight Star), the Warcross series (Warcross and Wildcard), and the standalone The Kingdom of Back.

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 Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/13/20)–To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I think…I think I’m one of the few people that didn’t pick this up after The Inheritance Cycle? My brother loved them, but I never got around to reading them. Hence why I bought this book in the first place–as a birthday present for him. It ended up arriving a good month before his birthday, so I figured I’d read it before I wrapped it up for him. (I was intrigued, anyway–Prometheus vibes, anyone?) The first half was painful to read at points, but it picked up at the halfway mark by a long shot.

Enjoy this week’s review!

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars - Christopher Paolini - Paolini.net

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars–Christopher Paolini

Kira NavΓ‘rez, a budding xenobiologist, has just uncovered an artifact that could determine the fate of the galaxy. When the coating of dust surrounding it grows a mind of its own, she knows that something is awry. What she didn’t anticipate was to be thrown into the beginnings of interstellar war, and approaching first contact with a potentially hostile species. Can she face the gravity of her consequences alone, or will she succumb to the war inside and outside of her?

BadSciFilm: Prometheus | The Other Sociologist

Let’s just start off with something I’d like to discuss: weaving pop culture references into literature. I’m 100% for it, most of the time–I love finding those hidden Easter eggs and discovering that the author may have a like mind. But there’s a certain art to slipping them in–drawing them from a variety of sources, spreading them out, making them subtle; placing them in a way that works for the story, but making them just noticeable enough to pop out in a way that makes the reader go “oh hey, That Thing!” without it being wholly distracting. I’ve read a variety of novels where this works, and lots that haven’t.

Remember how I said that I was initially drawn to reading this from the likeness to Prometheus?

Well…

Can we talk about the first half of the book? For lack of better words, and I hate to say this…it feels like Alien/Aliens fanfic. And it’s almost…self-aware of the fact? There’s no shortage of similar plot lines, and even the references scattered throughout only emphasize the fact. In the first 200-300 pages alone, we have:

  • Kira’s homeworld, Weyland
  • A ship AI called Bishop
  • Several references to a minor character (I think?) named Geiger
  • Kira using Ellen as a fake name (as in Ellen Ripley)

(I may have missed a few, but these are the ones that most prominently stood out for me.)

Paolini’s clearly drawn quite a lot of inspiration from the mythos of Ridley Scott and James Cameron–and I don’t blame him–but it really isn’t subtle. At all. There’s several little threads that felt veeeeeeeery similar to said films…

…And then the second half came along!

For me, the second half saved the novel, really. Whether or not that was influenced by the quote from David Bowie’s “Blackstar” at the beginning of Part 3 is up for debate. (Hey, I’m a woman of simple tastes.)

From there, Paolini’s originality and fast-paced plot truly shone through, making for a tense and riveting sci-fi.

My favorite aspect of the novel was absolutely the Jellies/Wrannui (wait, did I spell that right?). Their design, all of the little intricacies of their culture and society were so well thought out, and I had such a blast getting to know all of the ins and outs of them. I liked Itari a lot, even though they had a fairly small role.

As far as the characters go, I didn’t get super attached to any of them, but they all had at least a decent amount of personality and development. There’s a pretty diverse cast as well, so kudos to Paolini for that as well. The romance between Kira and Falconi definitely felt like an afterthought and didn’t add anything to the story, but all of the other interactions between the characters were alright. But on that subject…is it weird that my favorite character was a ship AI? I LOVED Gregorovich–he was the most fascinating out of all of them for me, and I loved the psychological aspect that Paolini explored with his character. Reminds me a bit of a Kaufman/Kristoff type of AI–a slightly more unstable Magellan, or a far more calmed down and sane AIDAN? You decide!

This is my first exposure to Paolini’s writing, and it was…hit or miss for me? It tended to be quite choppy and terse, which was both a blessing and a curse. (Whoops, did I just rhyme? Would ya look at that…) Sometimes it had the effect of making a scene appropriately tense, but it occasionally erased some of the emotion in the character interactions. The dialogue had a similar quality to it–not quite authentic, but not so bad that it made the characters feel/sound cardboard.

A lot of the reviews I’ve skimmed through have complained about some of how drawn out the scientific aspects of the novel were, but they didn’t bother me at all; in fact, they had the opposite effect on me. The research made the world feel fully fleshed out, and while it did have moments of sounding jargon-y, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment. Apparently Paolini spent years researching the science behind some of this novel’s aspects, and it’s clearly evident in every word. (And yes, it’s a really long novel, but I think that the battle scenes went on longer…maybe parts of those should have been cut out as opposed to all of the aforementioned content.)

All in all, a well-thought-out sci-fi that suffered from too much borrowing in the first half, but rocketed to a tense and gripping second half. 3.25 stars.

Prometheus Gif - ID: 75033 - Gif Abyss

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is confirmed to be a standalone, but will be the first in Paolini’s future Fractalverse. He is also the author of the Inheritance Cycle, consisting of Eragon (book 1), Eldest (book 2), Brisingr (book 3), and Inheritance (book 4).

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 Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/6/20)–All These Monsters

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Yeah, everybody has a different definition of happiness, but can we really deny the universal giddy joy of finding out that your preorder has reached the shipping department? SKYHUNTER WILL BE IN MY HANDS VERY, VERY SOON…[incoherent screaming]

Anyway, I put this on my TBR at the beginning of this year, but remembered it from Amie Kaufman’s recommendation of it in an episode of Amie Kaufman on Writing. Since it was available on the Kindle library, I decided to check it out, and I am SO glad I did! I didn’t think that anything would ever fill up the B.P.R.D.shaped hole in my heart, but All These Monsters very nearly did it.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: All These Monsters (9780358012405): Tintera, Amy: Books

All These Monsters–Amy Tintera

For nearly a decade, the Earth that Clara knows has been decimated by the Scrabs, burrowing monsters that have popped up in cities all over the world and prey on any humans that stumble into their paths.

Clara feels confined in her home, considering dropping out of high school and trapped by her abusive father and absent mother. But when an opportunity to join an international scrab-fighting task force arises, she sees it as exactly the kind of escape she needs. Leaving her home behind, she joins the fight, but soon realizes that fighting monsters is more deadly–and lifechanging–than she ever imagined.

hellboy gifs | WiffleGif

After B.P.R.D. came to a close last year, I thought that there wouldn’t be anything that could ever measure up to it. I didn’t even go into All These Monsters thinking that the two were all that similar, but somehow, this novel partially filled up the B.P.R.D.-shaped hole in my heart–and seeing how close those comics are to my heart, that’s seriously high praise coming from me.

First off, All These Monsters has some great representation–our protagonist Clara is half white, half Latinx [INTENSE HAPPY NOISES], and we have Black, Asian American, and Indian-American side characters. I loved Clara, and the team dynamic Tintera creates with her, Patrick, Edan, and all the rest is lovely! Those of you who have been following my reviews for a bit know that I’ll take found family any time of day, and All These Monsters portrayed it wonderfully.

And monsters. MONSTERS! I loved the scrabs–they gave me major Hell on Earth vibes, and I had so much fun going along for the ride with Clara and the rest of the gang. Not only does Tintera give us baseline physical descriptions of the scrabs, she goes in-depth to explore the international/political implications of them laying waste to the world. It’s certainly a lived-in kind of setting, so…come for the monsters, stay for the worldbuilding.

Beyond that, All These Monsters isn’t just about misfits fighting monsters–it’s a very raw exploration of abuse and toxic relationships. I’ll be clear–it’s not an easy read, but Tintera handles all of these tough topics with grace and aplomb, making you sympathize with some of the characters and hate some of the others with an appropriately fiery passion.

All in all, a dystopian sci-fi that delivers in both diversity and good old fashioned monster fighting. 4 stars!

The Mandalorian' 1x04: "Sanctuary" Roundtable | Fangirlish

All These Monsters is the first in the Monsters duology, concluding with the forthcoming All These Warriors, which is scheduled to come out in July 2021. (I got an eARC of it and read it over the weekend, so expect that review soon!). Tintera is also the author of the Ruined trilogy (Ruined, Avenged, and Allied) and the Reboot series (Reboot and Rebel).

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 Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/29/20)–The Black Kids

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Just a heads up before I begin, and probably one that’ll apply for the next few months. Now that I’ve been in school for a month, my schedule and workload are both getting more demanding, and so I won’t be able to post quite as much. This week in particular, I probably won’t be able to post much after this review–partly due to the slew of exams and quizzes I have later this week, but I’m also going to be gone for a few days. I’ll probably still be able to visit everyone else’s posts, but my posting schedule will be a bit more lethargic–Goodreads Mondays, Book Review Tuesdays, my Weekly Updates, and sometimes Top 5 Saturdays can probably be expected, but other than that, I won’t post as much per week. So just a heads up.

Now, back to our scheduled program…

I don’t read much historical fiction, but The Black Kids was such a stunning novel! All at once relevant to our past and our present, this book is brimming heart and the universal (I hope) desire for justice and equality in marginalized communities.

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Black Kids | Book by Christina Hammonds Reed | Official Publisher Page  | Simon & Schuster

The Black Kids–Christina Hammonds Reed

1992. Ashley Bennett’s life has been a sheltered one, nearly finished with high school and hanging out with her friends in Los Angeles. Her older sister took up the cause of advocating for racial justice years ago, but Ashley always preferred to stay on the sidelines.

But as riots begin to spread across the country after the brutal beating of Rodney King, she tries to continue to live her life as she always has, staying on the sidelines, not caring what goes on around her. Her friends have begun to isolate themselves from her, and she accidentally spreads a rumor about a classmate that could make or break his future. Ashley soon realizes that the world is bigger than the bubble she’s confined herself to–and that unity is the key to righting her personal wrongs.

I Cant Breathe Black Lives Matter GIF by Digital Pratik - Find & Share on  GIPHY

Historical fiction isn’t a genre that I readily pick up, most of the time. But instances like these remind me of the sheer possibility of the genre, to not just tell a story about our past, but to inspire change and to encourage readers to better examine themselves and the world around them. I’m glad to say that The Black Kids was one of these great novels–brimming with heart and with a message that will resonate for decades to come.

At the time I’m writing this review, it’s been about a month and a half since The Black Kids‘ release (August 4), and I must say, what better time than this to publish a novel like this one? Even though it’s set almost 30 years in our past, the themes of racial justice and police brutality resonate as though this book was set a year ago. (Which…okay, it’s absolutely disgusting that police brutality, racism, and everything related to that is still rampant today, but what I’m trying to say is that it’s timely and brilliantly timed.) Whether or not readers experienced the Rodney King riots or felt its repercussions, its sure to inspire a wide range of the audience.

The Black Kids boasts a dynamic cast of characters, and even better, no shortage of great character development, mostly on Ashley’s part. Her transformation from someone so sheltered to someone who genuinely cares about the world around her was beautiful to see, and Reed’s heartfelt writing fleshed it out even more so. There’s some relatable themes of letting go of toxic friendships and finding those who you truly connected with, which is something that I connected with the most.

On the subject of her writing, Reed’s prosed managed to be simultaneously authentic and poetic, a mix of brutal realities and immersive language that made me feel as though I was living in the novel. I’m not a 90’s kid, but I loved all the little music and pop culture references that were slipped in there as well.

All in all, The Black Kids boasts nearly all the hallmarks of a good historical fiction–facing the harsh realities from a fresh perspective, but making you feel immersed and invested in the setting and characters as though they were from the present day. 4 stars!

Standing Ovation Applause GIF by BAFTA - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Black Kids appears to be a standalone, and it’s Christina Hammonds Reed’s debut novel. (I can’t wait to see what else she writes in the future!)

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 Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/22/20)–TRUEL1F3 (Lifelike, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and happy Autumn Equinox! 🍁

Two reviews of trilogy finales in one week? I’m in rare form…

Anyway, this is the last of my birthday book haul that I’ll be reviewing. TRUEL1F3 was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and with this novel, I can clearly say that Jay Kristoff has never once disappointed me (though I’ve yet to read The Nevernight Chronicle…) The Lifelike trilogy was a sci-fi series to be reckoned with, and it all came together for a third book that surpassed both books 1 and 2–and made me feel ALL the feels, trust me.

WARNING: This review likely contains spoilers for LIFEL1K3 and DEV1AT3, so if you haven’t read them and intend to, tread lightly!

My review of LIFEL1K3

My review of DEV1AT3

(Would you look at that…my review for book one was almost exactly a year ago…) :,)

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: TRUEL1F3 (Truelife) (LIFEL1K3 Book 3) eBook: Kristoff, Jay:  Kindle Store

TRUEL1F3 (Lifelike, #3)–Jay Kristoff

My copy, ft. LIFEL1K3, my guitar amp, and K-2SO

Once, Eve and Lemon Fresh were the best of friends. But war and love, family and fate have torn them apart. Now, the destiny of the entire Yousay is in their hands.

Lemon has been captured by the BioMaas swarm, who are convinced that her Deviate genes hold the key to turning the tides of war in their favor. A rift has come between Eve and her Lifelike siblings, who are bent on unleashing a computer virus–one that will free every android and robot in the Yousay from the programming given to them by the humans. And despite everything that has come between them, joining forces once more may be what tips the balance between salvation and annihilation.

star wars GIFs - Primo GIF - Latest Animated GIFs

The simplest way for a book to get me choked up? Separate some of the main cast over the course of a book or two, and let them have a happy, tearful reunion after both parties thought the other was dead. (See The Battle for WondLa, “Frankenweenie,” etc.) It’s the little things, man, it’s the little things.

I was itching to find out what happens to my beloved gang of misfits ever since finishing DEV1AT3 about a year back, but I truly didn’t expect the absolute masterpiece that book 3 would bring. TRUEL1F3 brings back every stellar aspect about the previous two novels, and brings them all together in a blazing fireworks display of a trilogy ender. I laughed, I cried, my eyes bugged out of my head…this novel made me run the emotional gamut, but in the best way possible.

In this end to the trilogy, Kristoff introduces a whole plethora of catastrophic twists and new aspects, especially to the post-apocalyptic android mythos, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The various family ties–be it true family or found family–are explored even more in depth. Even though it’s been nearly a year since finishing book 2, I was fully invested in everybody within the first few pages. (Also, the little recap/glossary/whatever you’d like to call it helped.) All of the varied, multifaceted cast had their time to shine, and shine they did, until the very last page.

Lemon and Cricket are still my favorites, and they were as wonderful as ever in this final book. Solomon and Abe are up there too, but…I’m thinking that Kristoff had a bit *too* much fun playing with our feelings in their department. (No spoilers, but…yikes, can anybody in this book get a rest? Jeez…) There’s no shortage of fascinating themes, from the morally gray to the role of AI in our lives. I loved the plotline with the virus–not only did it make for some great action, there’s some seriously tense psychological business that results from it as well. (Remember what I said about Kristoff having a bit too much fun?)

TRUL1F3 took me a little longer to read because I was still adjusting to online school, but that doesn’t mean that every page was positively action-packed. The tension is higher than ever, and Kristoff’s lush and fast-paced writing never fails to throw you right smack in the middle of the action, making you feel as if you’ve fallen into the Yousay yourself. The worldbuilding was as detailed and immersive as ever, making for a final book that I won’t forget anytime soon.

All of these elements made for a trilogy ender that I ate up every last page. It chokes me up to say goodbye to Eve, Lem, Cricket, and all the rest, but the Lifelike trilogy is one that I’ll never forget. 5 stars!

Leia Rey Hug.gif GIF by Streamlabs | Gfycat
Too many Star Wars gifs? Never…

TRUEL1F3 is the final book in the Lifelike trilogy, preceded by LIFEL1K3 and DEV1AT3. Jay Kristoff is also the author of The Nevernight Chronicle, the Lotus Wars trilogy, and the forthcoming Empire of the Vampire (all of which are on my TBR). He has also co-authored The Illuminae Files and The Aurora Cycle with Amie Kaufman.

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 Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/15/20)–The Burning Kingdoms (The Smoke Thieves, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! I blatantly refuse to believe that we’re actually halfway through September…nope…

Sorry that this review’s coming a little later than you all are probably used to; I had a ton of homework to do this afternoon, but I’ve got it all done for today, so here I am now! Better late than never, I suppose.

I’ve been following and loving Sally Green’s Smoke Thieves trilogy for about a year, gobbling up books 1 and 2 in weeks flat. It’s one of the most immersive, detailed, and gripping fantasies that I’ve ever read, and now that I’ve read book 3, I can say it’s true for all three books. The Burning Kingdoms came out just under a month ago (August 25), and I was able to snag it a few days after its release when I promptly blew the contents of my bookstore gift card. In short? The Burning Kingdoms was a perfect end to a near perfect series.

WARNING: This review likely contains spoilers for books 1 and 2, The Smoke Thieves and The Demon World, so I suggest you tread lightly if you intend to read them and haven’t yet!

Click here for my review of book 1!

Click here for my review of book 2!

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Burning Kingdoms by Sally Green: 9780425290279 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

The Burning Kingdoms (The Smoke Thieves, #3)–Sally Green

My copy ft. part of my backyard

Catherine, Tash, Ambrose, Edyon, and March dedicated their lives to halt the impending war in its tracks. But despite their efforts, war has come, and it could cost them their lives–and the lives of their nations.

King Aloysius has unleashed his invincible boy army, powered by demon smoke, across all who dare cross his path. There, March finds an opportunity to reunite with Edyon, his beloved, after a betrayal saw them torn apart and him banished. Edyon grapples with his newfound power as the heir to the throne of Calidonia, and Tash must find her way out of the demon world.

Meanwhile, Catherine must grapple with the fate of her country and her secret addiction, while Ambrose is determined to win back her heart at all costs. Their paths will collide in order to avert this great war–but will they make it out alive?

I Did A Bad Thing GIFs | Tenor
– Every single one of the main characters at some point in this book

Admit it: everybody–yes, everybody–who has ever dyed their hair has done the exact same thing as Geratan–dye it, put on a hat, and then dramatically rip it off in front of everybody. The only proper way to reveal your new hair color, if you ask me.

All of my fellow book bloggers and readers know the feeling that comes along with finishing the final book in a series. It’s like reuniting with an old friend, only to have them leave you. No matter what, though, their memory will live on in you forever.

That’s the feeling that finishing a great series gives you, and certainly the one that The Burning Kingdoms gave me. This entire series is criminally underrated, a true force to be reckoned with in the world of YA fantasy, and I’m delighted to say that book 3 is no exception!

The Burning Kingdoms is definitely one of those books where you’re just being dragged along with the character’s bad decisions–five POVs, five times the grave mistakes! (Quite a lot of “March, no–” “MARCH YES” going on). However, it isn’t to the point where you’re internally groaning in frustration, because it propels quite a lot of action, and provides for character development in all five.

As always, I loved seeing how the relationships between the characters developed. March is still my favorite of the bunch, but I had such a blast getting back into all five of their heads and exploring their internal conflicts. Green does such a masterful job of writing both authentic characters, but genuine development for them as well.

The immersive and detailed worldbuilding and politics were as sharp as ever, making for a novel that I could imagine nearly every detail of. There’s plenty of action and drama to spare, and I enjoyed every page. The Burning Kingdoms is a finale that truly has something for everyone–and delivers on every possible aspect.

All in all, a beautiful end to an underrated and immersive fantasy. 4.5 stars!

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Me @ this series

The Burning Kingdoms is the final book in Sally Green’s Smoke Thieves trilogy, preceded by The Smoke Thieves (book 1) and The Demon World (book 2).

Today (September 15) is also the start of National Latinx Heritage Month, so sometime this week, I’ll also be posting a list of Latinx YA reads to celebrate. Stay tuned! πŸ™‚

Today’s song:

Brain: oh, so math is boring you?

Me: yep, you got that right

Brain: so why don’t I get this REALLY DEPRESSING song stuck in your head–

Me: WAIT NO

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, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/8/20)–Cinderella is Dead

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

It’s been a bit of a chaotic day for me–I couldn’t get into one of my zoom meetings for one of my classes, and it’s snowing. The latter is deeeeefinitely kind of worrying–here in Colorado, it usually doesn’t start to snow until mid to late October, and persists until late May.

IT’S THE SECOND WEEK OF SEPTEMBER. Yep, friendly reminder that climate change isn’t just global warming, but unpredictable weather patterns like this. Climate change is still very real, folks.

Anyway, I’ll step off that soapbox for a minute…only to get right back onto another one.

Ever since I found out about it in May, Cinderella is Dead was one of my most anticipated releases of this summer. A Black, sapphic protagonist, a multiracial wlw relationship, and a dystopian society based on the tale of Cinderella? I was FASCINATED. And while this novel did deliver in the aforementioned aspects, it was dragged down by the poor execution of nearly everything else.

Prepare for a rant review, folks…

Enjoy this week’s review!

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

Cinderella is Dead–Kalynn Bayron

Everybody knows the tale of Cinderella, the dismissed orphan who was visited by a fairy godmother and lived happily ever after with the dashing Prince Charming. But do you know what happened 200 years later?

In Sophia Grimmins’ world, the tale of Cinderella is now the backbone of every tradition in town. Every year, all of the eligible girls must attend the Annual Ball, to be picked and chosen by the men. But for as long as she can remember, Sophia has never wanted a man–she’s wanted a woman. She flees the ball with her life, only to find herself in the tomb of Cinderella herself. There, she finds Constance, the last surviving descendant of Cinderella, who seeks to help bring down the patriarchal kingdom. Sophia and Constance join forces, and sparks soon fly between them–but the truths they thought about Cinderella are far from true…

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My range of emotions through the course of this book

Let me be perfectly honest: it truly pains me to give this book such a low rating. It’s such a joy to see #OwnVoices books outside contemporary and historical fiction with POC/LGBTQ+ leads, and we certainly need more of those out in the world. But even though Cinderella is Dead boasted great representation all around, it failed to meet my expectations in almost every other aspect.

I’ll start off with the good before the bad: representation! This dystopian fantasy is absolutely an #OwnVoices book, with a Black, lesbian protagonist, a lesbian love interest, and a gay side character who has a semi-prominent role. Throughout the book, there’s themes of contradicting patriarchal tradition, abuse, and misogyny, and it’s always wonderful to see a sapphic couple kicking sexist butt, so that’s always a win. But even then…Sophia wasn’t a very distinct character. I struggle to find any traits that would make her much of an individual, other than the desire to smash the patriarchy. (Don’t we all, though? Can’t go wrong with that.) I liked Constance a little bit better, but their relationship felt very rushed and glossed over. And the themes I just talked about it? They felt very forced, relying more on telling than showing. There wasn’t very much subtlety or creativity in the ways that they were tackled, making the commentary…almost not worth it. I appreciate Bayron’s attempt to discuss these issues, but there are so many ways that they could have been handled better.

All of the Cinderella mythos had SO MUCH potential, from the punchy title to the concept itself. It was still reasonably spine-chilling in execution, but other than the fact that the tale has been weaved into the world’s operating system, the worldbuilding was…wait a minute…[picks up a telescope] wait a minute, where’d it go? A little help here?

…okay, that was probably harsh, but it was RIDDLED with holes.

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Me @ the worldbuilding

[spreads out a sheet of paper] Okay, let’s see. We’ve got a country ruled by a monarchy, with some forests around it, presumably. It’s hinted that it’s a bit more antiquated technology-wise, but we don’t get any sense of where society has gone as far as technology, transportation, all of that. There’s a little bit of evidence to suggest that magic exists, but the only wielder we know of is the Fairy Godmother. (So is there some sort of ban on magic? Has nobody else been able to find it? Who knows…) The character’s names range from ones that were popular in the 19th century to those in the 21st century, but most of them fall into the latter. (ex. Liv, Isla, Sophia) So…wait, what? It’s been a good two and a half weeks since I’ve read Cinderella is Dead, and I STILL have no idea what’s going on there. I NEED ANSWERS. PLEASE. THIS IS A MESS.

Confused Screaming | Filthy Frank | Know Your Meme

The worldbuilding is my main criticism, but other than that, my issues are a little more nit-picky. Things like Sophia having very few defining traits (if any) and the telling method of tackling the issues, the villains had very lackluster, overdone motives and no redeemable qualities to speak of. The dialogue also had a tendency to be overly stiff, and nobody had a distinct voice.

Again, I feel so bad for giving this book such a low rating. #OwnVoices books are so pertinent and important in this day and age, but…there are so many better ones that you could be reading than this one. I could chalk this rating up to my high expectations, but other than the representation and concept, Cinderella is Dead was such a mess. Amazing concept, terrible execution. 2.5 stars, but the half star is likely just for seeing a multiracial wlw couple smashing the patriarchy. [sad harmonica noises]

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Cinderella is Dead is Kalynn Bayron’s YA debut, but she has several other adult and nonfiction works. Cinderella is Dead is likely a standalone, but I’ve heard a rumor about spin-offs set in the same universe, but I haven’t been able to confirm their validity.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! I promise that the next reviews I write will be more positive. Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/1/20)–On a Sunbeam

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! I can’t believe it’s already September! All the better, the sooner we get 2020 over with, the better…

But to take your mind off of everything, here’s a review of my most recent 5-star read! I had piled most of Tillie Walden’s graphic novels on my TBR a year or two ago, but after a family friend mentioned Are You Listening?, I looked for everything on my library. On a Sunbeam was available, and I jumped at the chance to check it out. Though I had high expectations, I didn’t expect for it to be such an emotional and atmospheric graphic novel.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: On a Sunbeam (9781250178138): Walden, Tillie: Books

On a Sunbeam–Tillie Walden

My library copy ft. Abe Sapien and a crystal, because I NEEDED to make all that lovely teal pop

Mia has her reasons for joining the crew of the Sunbeam. It’s an easy job–hopping through the galaxy and restoring structures of all kinds to their original glory. But Mia isn’t here for the money–not completely, anyway.

Her main objective? Find Grace, her long-lost love who she was separated from five years ago. When a job lands Mia and the rest of the crew on Grace’s secretive homeworld, she jumps at the chance to reunite with her girlfriend. But will the rest of the crew be willing to go to such lengths?

Tillie Walden on | Aesthetic art, Art drawings, Cool art
Art by Tillie Walden

On a Sunbeam is the comic equivalent of a Radiohead song; hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric, with a story that will never truly leave your mind. It is “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” it is “Sail to the Moon,” it is “Videotape,” and it is very nearly everything I could ever want in a graphic novel.

I’m not normally a fan of more simplistic art styles like Walden’s, but she makes it work in all the best ways. The character’s facial features are simple, but are able to show such a wide range of expression. There’s so much detail and care put into the backgrounds and settings, with carefully picked color schemes that make for an immersive, lived-in sci-fi world. I kid you not, both the desktop wallpaper of my laptop and the home screen of my phone are both panels from On a Sunbeam now. That’s how much I loved it.

The design of the vast reaches of Walden’s universe is beautifully atmospheric, a sci-fi with a fantastical twist. Each planet that the crew visits is so unique, and I ADORE the design of all of the ships–all inspired by fish! What’s not to love?

On a Sunbeam is a Beautiful Love Story in Space | A Place to Hang Your Cape
WHERE. CAN. I. BUY. ONE.

Beyond the beautiful artwork, On a Sunbeam boasts a tender romance that spans across the stars. It alternates between the past and present fluidly without any confusion, and through both, you come to love the whole cast of characters. And speaking of that cast–there is diversity aplenty here! In the group of main characters, there is not one but two multiracial wlw relationships (including Mia and Grace). Most of the Sunbeam crew is POC (Black, Latinx, etc.), and there’s also a nonbinary character who plays a crucial role. There’s also several background wlw relationships and…not a single man in sight? I simultaneously love that but also recognize that it raises a few questions. Walden makes her cast effortlessly diverse, making On a Sunbeam a tale for the ages.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…FOUND FAMILY VIBES! The chemistry between Mia and the rest of the crew is impeccable, and I can’t help but adore every single character we come across. Grace was wonderful as well. They were all so distinct, and I managed to love every single one of them.

All in all, On a Sunbeam is a graphic novel that hits all the right spots, whether it be in the worldbuilding, the art, or the characters. Seriously, if you haven’t already read it, you are missing out. 5 stars!

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On a Sunbeam is a standalone, but Tillie Walden has several other graphic novels out, including Are You Listening?, I Love This Part, The End of Summer, A City Inside, and her graphic memoir, Spinning.

Today’s song:

Also, because this was in a meme that brought immeasureable joy to this grim year…

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, Books

Book Review Tuesday (8/25/20)–The Good for Nothings

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

This book came on my radar via Edelweiss over the summer, and I bought it on my kindle before my trip to Vail, right around its release date. I’d seen it garner comparisons to Guardians of the Galaxy, The Lunar Chronicles, and the Aurora Cycle, so naturally, I was ITCHING to read it. Sadly, it lived up to none of its comparisons–but that certainly doesn’t mean that it wasn’t fun.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: The Good for Nothings (9781250311252): Banas, Danielle ...

The Good for Nothings–Daniella Banas

Cora Saros belongs to one of the most formidable crime families in the galaxy. Her role? The family disappointment. A heist gone awry lands her in prison, without any hope and with the eyes of all her family on her. Her only way out of the mess she’s in is through a deal with the shady prison warden–if she retrieves a long lost relic rumored to grant immortality, he’ll wipe her records.

With the help of Elio, her robot companion with a knack for baking cookies, Wren, a chipper pickpocket, and Anders, a warrior with a tough exterior, Cora sets off to clear her name–but soon realizes that she’s in over her head. Will she and her crew be able to live up to the task?

funny-guardians-of-the-galaxy-gif-3 - The Marvel Report

Imagine a mashup of Guardians of the Galaxy and Indiana Jones. Add in some of the charm of Heart of Iron and the Lunar Chronicles, and make all of the characters secretly ENFPs. Mix it all together, and you’ve got The Good for Nothings. But although all of the books and films that I mentioned should have made something I would love with every inch of my body, it was…decent, for me. Not bad, but not spectacular, for me.

I’ve mentioned GotG twice already, so I’ll attempt to make this quick: this novel certainly drew a lot from it, but with varying degrees of success. On one hand, it succeeded in making a classic, irreverent found-family sci-fi, filled with great treasures, banter, and reluctant friendships. But there were some portions that seemed to rip it off almost to a T–remember the “nothing goes over my head, my reflexes are too fast, I would catch it” scene with Drax, anyone?

Guardians Of The Galaxy Gotg Edit GIF | Guardians of the galaxy ...

Even though it’s been a solid four years since I’ve seen that movie, it was easy to see that Banas ripped off this gag with lines of Anders’ dialogue. Several times, too. I’m all for drawing inspiration from media, but don’t…y’know, borderline plagiarize it. As much as I love that scene, it fell flat for me with The Good for Nothings.

Now, onto my favorite part…found family! Though it’s not nearly as well-executed as, say, Aurora Rising or the Honors trilogy, I still liked some of the chemistry between Cora, Wren, Elio, and Anders. I wasn’t overly attached to any of them, but they were decent characters. All of them had moments of being funny or lovable. However…well, remember how I said in the first part of the review to make all of them secretly ENFPs? Now, nothing against ENFPs, but at their cores, all four of the main characters had the same personality. On the surface level, they had a few distinguishing traits to their names (Wren is cheerful, Anders is secretive and tough, etc.), as we got to know them better, their personalities were startlingly similar to one another.

With that aside, I’d say that The Good for Nothings was entertaining, if nothing else. The writing was decent, and the humor fell flat more often than not, but the world-building had moments of being fascinating, and I liked all of the different settings that Cora and the rest of the gang got thrown into. It’s a very light-hearted and feel-good novel, so if you’re looking for something to take your mind off the state of things (which I’m sure a lot of you are), The Good for Nothings would be a great pick for you.

Overall, a YA sci-fi that leaned too much on some of the material that it may have been based off of, but was still a fun, feel-good novel at heart. 3 stars!

Not bad obama GIF on GIFER - by Kezshura

It appears that The Good for Nothings is a standalone, but Danielle Banas has two other books out: Once Upon Now and The Supervillain and Me.

Today’s song:

(Happy birthday, Jeff Tweedy!)

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