Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/16/21) – Aurora’s End (Aurora Cycle, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Wow. The day has finally come, folks. 1 and a half years of waiting, and now I have answers. My favorite series has come to a close, and yet it doesn’t feel like the end. It’s surreal to think that this may be it—the series that changed the course of my life, finally capping off. But if this really is the end, then Aurora’s End is the best conclusion that I could have ever asked for, and a book that I will no doubt cherish just as fervently as the first two books.

Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! If you haven’t read Aurora Rising or Aurora Burning and intend to, beware of spoilers! If you want to read my previous reviews, look no further:

Enjoy this week’s review!

Aurora's End by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff | Penguin Random House Canada
F I N

Aurora’s End (Aurora Cycle, #3) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

my copy ft. Aurora Burning and Aurora Rising, plus a cool filter and some crystals (not Eshvaren crystals oop)
last picture, I promise—here’s Finny boy with Hobbes, one of my cats

For all intents and purposes, the Battle of Terra was the end for Squad 312. They failed to stop the Starslayer from harnessing the Eshvaren’s Weapon, and intergalactic war is imminent. Meanwhile, the Ra’Haam slips in through the chaos, threatening to cover the entire universe in its spores.

But by a cosmic twist of fate, Tyler, Auri, Kal, Zila, Scarlett, and Finian are unscathed. They’ve been separated by time, and the only chance they have at thwarting the Ra’Haam is turning history itself inside out. Time is not on their side, though, and it may not be enough to save civilization itself from being wiped out.

karlmordo - This is how things are now! You and me. Trapped in...
Aurora’s End without context

TW/CW: graphic violence, mild sexual content, blood, near-death situations, severe allergic reaction, emergency medical procedures, loss of loved ones, death, descriptions of injury, body horror

[WARNING: this review may contain spoilers for Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning!]

I still haven’t come to grips with the fact that this is really the end of the Aurora Cycle. But as someone whose life was permanently altered for the better by this trilogy, I can say with certainty that this is the best end to the series that I could have ever asked for. My heart is so, so, so full of love.

There were so many factors that went into the separate situations that Squad 312 got themselves into, but Kaufman and Kristoff have once again proved that nothing is impossible. Time is distorted, there are future selves to be dealt with, technology and ancient aliens races are as complicated as ever, and of course, Past Pete is here to kill Future Pete. Lucky for us, Kaufman & Kristoff have been rapid-firing Chekhov’s gun, and every detail from the past two books comes full circle. After how mind-boggling the plot and cliffhanger of Aurora Burning were, Aurora’s End brings everything back in superbly clever and surprising ways, making for a trilogy that’s more cohesive than ever before.

And my emotions…MY EMOTIONS! After so long apart, reuniting with Squad 312 felt like reuniting with long-lost friends. Despite this being the last book, the development that many characters got was such a beautiful way to bring them all the way back and display the enormous growth many of them have had over the course of the series. Out of all of them, though, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see Finian and Scarlett’s relationship develop; they’re such an unlikely couple, but the love they have for each other is so consistently tender and heartwarming. Plus, a) NORMALIZE BI PEOPLE IN STRAIGHT PASSING RELATIONSHIPS! STRAIGHT-PASSING RELATIONSHIPS ARE SO VERY VALID!, and b) DISABLED PEOPLE!! IN LOVING RELATIONSHIPS!! WE NEED MORE OF THOSE!! Nothing can top Kalauri, but Fin and Scar come very, very close. I LOVE those two. Power couple. Finian is the once and future disaster bisexual.

Also, Tyler trying to be all “space pirate”-y after an entire lifetime of being Captain America was a train wreck…comedy gold

One aspect of Kaufman and Kristoff’s writing that I haven’t often touched on is how they build tension. Their skill at developing heart-pounding tension is especially evident in Aurora’s End; they did such a masterful job of raising the stakes over the course of these three books, and bringing it all to a nail-biting cataclysm towards the end. The last 100 pages of Aurora’s End had me stressed out to no end, but…in a good way? It made me genuinely worried for everybody involved. Look, I’ve gotten way to attached to my space misfits over the past two years. Let me off the hook this once.

Along with all that, Kaufman and Kristoff once again more than delivered with everything that made the first two books so strong. The universe was expanded upon in surprising ways, the characters were more fleshed out and lovable than ever, the chemistry was impeccable, the action sequences had me clutching the book in a vice grip, and the dialogue hit the perfect balance of levity, tenderness, and solemnity. The found family of Squad 312 is stronger than ever, and my heart is still bursting with love for all of them.

It’s hard to end this review. It isn’t every day that a series changes my life, but the Aurora Cycle truly did. These books taught me so much about moving through this world as an outsider; Auri taught me that I didn’t have to be brave or strong to be a hero, and that people with the fate of the world on their shoulders can have their big feels too. She was the first time I’d really seen a mixed-race hero, and having a character like her means the world to me. I’ve come to see myself in Finian, and he’s taught me that I deserve love just as I am. And Squad 312 has taught me that no matter who you are, there will always be a home for the outsiders. It cemented, more than ever, that even if you think that you are alone in the world, somebody out there loves you, and will give you a home.

All in all, the perfect ending for a series that changed my life for the better. 5 stars for the sake of Goodreads, but realistically, however many stars there are in the known universe.

Squad 312 forever. 💗

never again shall we submit

Aurora’s End is the final book in the Aurora Cycle, preceded by Aurora Rising (#1) and Aurora Burning (#2). Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have also written the Illuminae Files together; Amie Kaufman is also the author of the Starbound trilogy (co-written with Meagan Spooner) and the Elementals series, and Jay Kristoff is also the author of the LIFEL1K3 trilogy and Empire of the Vampire.

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

YA Books for Disability Pride Month

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

For those of you who didn’t know, here in the US, July is Disability Pride Month! I myself didn’t know about it until this year, which is a little embarrassing, but better late than never, I suppose. I hardly see anyone in the bookish community talking about disability rep in books – especially where YA is concerned – so I wanted to make a post of my own with some YA reads with disability rep of all kinds. Unfortunately, not all of them are from disabled authors, but it seems like there’s such a dearth of disability rep in YA as a whole, so for now, I’ll share these ones, and I’ll always be on the hunt for more books by disabled authors in the future. But as with all of my posts like this, AMPLIFY DISABLED VOICES 24/7/365!

And if you’re looking for book bloggers who talk about disability, disability rep, and breaking down ableist tropes, I’d highly recommend checking out Luminosity Library and The Inside Cover. (They’re both amazing!! Show them some support!!)

So let’s begin, shall we?

Pride Wheelchair Sticker for iOS & Android | GIPHY
the fact that I can barely find any disability pride gifs…that’s depressing…

YA READS FOR DISABILITY PRIDE MONTH

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Amazon.com: Six of Crows eBook: Bardugo, Leigh: Kindle Store

GENRES: Fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+, adventure

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Kaz Brekker (otherwise known as the “morally gray” teen idol of the YA book fandom) uses a cane for mobility (and it’s a really snazzy cane, too), and his experiences are based off of Leigh Bardugo’s own experience with osteonecrosis.

Sick Kids in Love – Hannah Moskowitz

Amazon.com: Sick Kids In Love (9781640637320): Moskowitz, Hannah: Books

GENRES: Contemporary, romance, LGBTQ+, realistic fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I just finished this one up a few days ago, and it was INCREDIBLE! I don’t usually jump for rom-com, but this was one of the most tender books I’ve read in a while. Gave me all the warm fuzzies…

The protagonist has rheumatoid arthritis, and the love interest has Gaucher’s disease. And lemme tell you, I GOT SO EXCITED THAT WE HAVE A DISABLED, BISEXUAL LOVE INTEREST. BI DISABLED CHARACTERS?? NO KIDDING, MY BRAIN DID THE “WOOOOOHOO” FROM SONG 2 WHEN I REALIZED IT…

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens – Marieke Nijkamp et. al. (anthology)

Amazon.com: Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens (9780374306502):  Nijkamp, Marieke: Books

GENRES: Anthologies (short stories), realistic fiction, LGBTQ+, fantasy, science fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s been a while since I’ve read this one, so I can’t recall the stories that stood out to me, but this one has a whole load of perspectives from disabled authors, and there’s stories of all genres!

Mooncakes – Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

Amazon.com: Mooncakes (9781549303043): Walker, Suzanne, Xu, Wendy: Books

GENRES: Graphic novel, urban fantasy, paranormal, LGBTQ+, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

THIS GRAPHIC NOVEL IS THE CUTEST. What’s not to love about a love story about a queer, hard-of-hearing witch and a nonbinary werewolf? The art is so lovely, I highly recommend this one for everybody.

Otherbound – Corinne Duyvis

Amazon.com: Otherbound eBook: Duyvis, Corinne: Kindle Store

GENRES: Fantasy, science fiction, LGBTQ+,

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Again, it’s been a while since I’ve read this one, but I LOVE how diverse this one is; we have the dual POVs of an epileptic Latino character with a missing leg and a mute bisexual girl who uses sign language to communicate. It’s an interesting blend of fantasy and sci-fi as well!

Love from A to Z – S.K. Ali

Amazon.com: Love from A to Z (9781534442726): Ali, S. K.: Books

GENRES: Contemporary, romance, realistic fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Adam, the love interest of this novel, has multiple sclerosis, and both of the protagonists are Muslim; there’s a lot of great conversations about Islamaphobia and other pertinent issues in this one, but it’s also a really sweet romance!

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily – Laura Creedle

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily: Creedle, Laura: 9781328603661:  Amazon.com: Books

GENRES: Contemporary, romance, realistic fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This one’s a romance between a girl with ADHD (the author has ADHD as well!) and an autistic boy, and like Love from A to Z, tackles a lot of discussions surrounding mental health and disability while still being a sweet romance!

Aurora Rising (Aurora Cycle, #1) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora Rising: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff: 9781786075338: Amazon.com: Books

GENRES: Science fiction, space opera, LGBTQ+, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

(There is no escape from the Aurora Cycle-posting on this blog…)

Even though Finian’s disability is fictional (bc, y’know, he’s an alien), he uses mobility aids, and we get to see a lot of his inner thoughts surrounding his disability. Disability in realistic fiction is all cool and good, but it’s even better to see casual disability rep in fantasy and sci-fi too!

Queens of Geek – Jen Wilde

Amazon.com: Queens of Geek (9781250111395): Wilde, Jen: Books

GENRES: Contemporary, realistic fiction, LGBTQ+, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Queens of Geek features a protagonist with Asperger’s and an anxiety disorder, and there’s lots of queer and POC representation in this one as well! If you love stories set at Comic Cons with lots of pop culture references, then this one’s for you!

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite books with disability rep? Favorite disabled authors? Any recommendations for me?

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Today’s song:

Sophie Allison becoming a Mii wasn’t on my 2021 bingo card but I’m here for it

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

Posted in Books, Random

Aurora Rambling, Revisited: AURORA 3 HAS A COVER AND A TITLE AND NOW I’M EXCITED AND REALLY SCARED

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Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

Back in August, I made a rambly little post about my theories for the cover of the third Aurora Rising book. Of course, back then, I thought I’d get answers by October or November, since that’s what happened with the reveal for Aurora Burning, but alas, it seems the pandemic (I think?) has pushed it back from the May release date I thought it would have to early November. So now I have to let that horrendous cliffhanger fester in my mind for about 7 more months…

Paolo 🩸 on Twitter: "I'M LITERALLY THIS CAT RIGHT NOW… "

But there’s more good news than bad! On Wednesday, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff announced that there would be a cover and title reveal on Friday, and yesterday afternoon, it came! So without further ado…

AAAAAAAAAAA | Motion Blur | Know Your Meme
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Rock the Boat 🌊 (@Rocktheboatnews) | Twitter
via Rock the Boat News

OH

MY

GOD

I CAN’T HANDLE THIS ALL AT ONCE THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL

FINIAN???? KING OF THE SPACE BISEXUALS??? FINALLY GETTING THE COVER HE DESERVES! AND THE RA’HAAM IN THE BACKGROUND

But can we talk about that title too? I certainly didn’t see it coming, but I guess we were foolish to think that Kaufman & Kristoff would stick to the Aurora [blank]ing formula for the past two books…either way, I am very excited. I’m also very frightened.

So as you can imagine, my brain has pretty much sounded like this since Friday afternoon:

…wait for it

And here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

The squad you love is out of time. Prepare for the thrilling finale in the epic, best-selling Aurora Cycle series about a band of unlikely heroes who just might be the galaxy’s last hope for survival.

Is this the end?
What happens when you ask a bunch of losers, discipline cases, and misfits to save the galaxy from an ancient evil? The ancient evil wins, of course.
Wait. . . . Not. So. Fast.
When we last saw Squad 312, they working together seamlessly (aka, freaking out) as an intergalactic battle raged and an ancient superweapon threatened to obliterate Earth. Everything went horribly wrong, naturally.
But as it turns out, not all endings are endings, and the team has one last chance to rewrite thirs. Maybe two. It’s complicated.
Cue Zila, Fin, and Scarlett (and MAGELLAN!): making friends, making enemies, and making history? Sure, no problem.
Cue Tyler, Kal, and Auri: uniting with two of the galaxy’s most hated villains? Um, okay. That, too.
Actually saving the galaxy, though? 
Now that will take a miracle
.

The Muppets Screaming Gif - IceGif

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

So let’s see how this all matches up with my cover predictions from my Aurora Rambling post.

My main three contenders for the cover were Scarlett, Finian, and Zila, though Tyler was in the mix there. I also had a dream at some point about Tyler being on the cover, and that it was green.

…well, I’m glad that the green part came true and not the Tyler part.

But anyway, here were some of my original thoughts, circa August 2020:

PERSONALLY? I’d like to have either Scar, Finian, or Zila, but more so the latter two. 

SEMI-LOGICALLY? I think that Zila or Tyler have the best chance of being on the cover, judging from their previous roles. Of course, they’d face the wrath of the Finian side of the fandom, but will that stop them? I doubt it…

Accident Oops GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

[insert an infinite string of clown emojis here]

Welp. Sort of screwed that up. But let’s revisit what I thought about Finian’s chances:

Finian: At this point, a good 80% of the fandom is willing to hand over their entire life’s savings to Kaufman and Kristoff for the chance to have him on the cover, so the chances here are…interesting. 

And to be honest? I ABSOLUTELY understand the sentiment. Aside from Auri and Kal, he’s my favorite of the Squad, and such a wonderful balance between comic relief and a genuinely complex character. Beyond that, I think he might have an important role to play–after all, we haven’t seen how he uses the ballpoint pen, and how the “tell her the truth” note plays into that. 

Also, as with Zila, wouldn’t it be great to have his representation on the cover? He’s bisexual and has impaired mobility, so that would be amazing to have him front and center.

But hey, now we can rejoice, because we DO have a disabled, bisexual character on the cover! And I think we all adore Finian, myself included. (Plus, I’m glad we didn’t have to see the Finian side of the fandom go feral if he didn’t make the cut…) I’ll fully admitting to freaking out when I saw his face on the cover. I would’ve freaked out either way, but he’s one of my favorite members of Squad 312, so…

Now you can all join me in anxiously trembling and ferociously re-reading until November 9th of this year, I guess…(hey, I actually have an excuse for Aurora Burning…one of my friends suggested it for our my school’s book club and he’s amazing for it…) Also, I’ve preordered a signed copy, because I am nothing if not impatient and predictable.

So there you go. I guess I’m as bad at predicting covers as I am at predicting plotlines. Doesn’t matter, though. All that matters is that we have more Aurora Cycle content coming our way in November!

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Today’s song:

That’s it for yet another rambling, incoherent post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books, Geeky Stuff, Random

Aurora Rambling: My scatterbrained theories for the cover of Aurora Rising #3

Pepe Silvia | Know Your Meme

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been wanting to do this post ever since I finished Aurora Burning, because ever since May, there have been OH SO MANY THOUGHTS RUNNING AROUND MY BRAIN. As a reader, I’m not really the best at predicting plot twists and theorizing about the actual content of books (and judging from That Ending, I’m even more clueless than usual), but I’ve had a lot of fun thinking of who the cover might feature.

So, prepare for a lot of incoherent thoughts here, folks…

Let’s begin, shall we?

Now, FAIR WARNING: This post is guaranteed to be CRAWLING with spoilers for both Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning, so please be careful if you intend to read them and haven’t yet!

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THE COVER, AND WHO MIGHT BE ON IT

First, there’s a few characters we can probably eliminate from the pool for the star of the cover:

  • Auri: Our favorite Space Rogue had the gorgeous cover of book 1 all to herself.
Rogue x men GIF - Find on GIFER
“Check a mirror, Elrond…”
  • Kal: Same deal–his lovely face was on the cover of book 2.
  • Cat: [ahem] apologies for putting salt on the wound here, but…unless Kaufman and Kristoff decide to tear our hearts in two again and just put Ra’Haam Cat on the cover (which I highly doubt), Zero’s out of the running.

Gone, but not forgotten…[sad harmonica]

So now that we have those three characters out of the running, let’s see who else might make an appearance:

  • Tyler: Personally, my last choice for the cover, but hey, a lot of people like him. (For the same reason people adore Captain America, I guess.) By the end of book 2, he’s separated from the rest of the Squad, so if he’s on the cover, that might allude to one last, grand finale hero act for him, proving his eternal loyalty to Squad 312 above all else.

I also had a dream where Tyler was on the cover of book 3, and no offense to all his fans out here, but that’s a dream that I’d prefer not to come true. I don’t hate him, or anything, he’s grown on me a lot, but he’s my least favorite of the Squad.

Captain america GIF - Find on GIFER
“Ease off, legionnaire!”
  • Scarlett: I would LOVE to see her on the cover, but I’m not sure what the authors have planned for her. There was that reveal in the last few pages of book 2 that her *diamond* necklace might have far more importance than the others once thought, so that could give her an interesting role in trying to save the universe. Scarlett’s played an essential part in each novel, but she’s never fully had the spotlight, so maybe book 3 could be her time to shine?
  • Zila: I’m thinking that this one has SO much potential for book 3. Other than the fact that we haven’t seen how her gifted hawk earrings factor into it (most of the Squad’s gifts from Admiral Adams have had a crucial role to play, like Kal’s cigarillo box and Scar’s necklace), it’s not unlikely that she could have an answer to all this intergalactic chaos. Her quick wit has gotten the Squad out of many a bad situation, and since we’ve started to see her character arc develop in book 2, I think she could finally come into herself in the final installment in the trilogy.

And honestly? I would be 100% here for it. I adore Zila. Short girls UNITE! Plus, a sapphic, Black girl on the cover? SIGN ME UP!

Last but not least…

  • Finian: At this point, a good 80% of the fandom is willing to hand over their entire life’s savings to Kaufman and Kristoff for the chance to have him on the cover, so the chances here are…interesting.
Wholesome memes | Wiki | Furry Amino
The entire fandom @ Finian

And to be honest? I ABSOLUTELY understand the sentiment. Aside from Auri and Kal, he’s my favorite of the Squad, and such a wonderful balance between comic relief and a genuinely complex character. Beyond that, I think he might have an important role to play–after all, we haven’t seen how he uses the ballpoint pen, and how the “tell her the truth” note plays into that.

Also, as with Zila, wouldn’t it be great to have his representation on the cover? He’s bisexual and has impaired mobility, so that would be amazing to have him front and center.

PERSONALLY? I’d like to have either Scar, Finian, or Zila, but more so the latter two.

SEMI-LOGICALLY? I think that Zila or Tyler have the best chance of being on the cover, judging from their previous roles. Of course, they’d face the wrath of the Finian side of the fandom, but will that stop them? I doubt it…

In conclusion, I really haven’t been able to get this series off my mind. At all. May 2021 can’t come soon enough, but it’ll certainly be bittersweet, knowing that this will be the final book in the trilogy. Judging from what happened last year, we’ll likely get the title by October and the cover reveal by November, so I’ll check back then to see how my scatterbrained ramblings match up.

So stay tuned, folks…

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Today’s song:

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