And here we are. August, the end of summer and the start of the school year. My birthday month too, so that’s always a lot of fun. Still can’t believe we’re four months away from 2022 though…
[ahem] that aside…
For the most part, August was a pretty nice month. I didn’t plan on getting bitten by mosquitoes in Florida (okay: not that many mosquitoes, getting bug bites in Florida is kind of a given), but I got to read some good books while I was there. Plus, Kaz cane. Other than that, I just enjoyed summer’s last hurrah, reading, watching movies with friends, and soaking up the last of the warm weather. I had my birthday later in the month as well, and I had a lot of fun celebrating with family!
I started school about two weeks ago, and I’m slowly easing back in, and knock on wood, I’ll be able to keep all the A’s I have so far. 🤞I’m still in mostly honors/AP classes, but I’m glad that I have those classes in the subjects I’m good at. After AP Bio, I don’t think I could take another honors/AP science class…
After getting through Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve had mostly steady progress in my sci-fi WIP for most of the month! I’m close to the end of the draft, and I’ve gotten to write some of my favorite scenes in the whole story this month. My progress petered out a little bit once I had to adjust to my new school schedule, but I’m getting back on track now. As I’m writing this, I’ve just finished up the climax, so I’m getting close!
Other than that, I’ve just been volunteering at the library, working my way through It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Gravity Falls, and What If?, going to my first live concert since the pandemic started (Wilco!),doodling still more aliens, watching The Suicide Squad, and eating all the cake and candy leftover from my birthday.
READING AND BLOGGING:
I read 20 books this month! I think this month is tied with January and June for the least amount of books read, and I can probably attribute that to a) a few really chunky books and b) getting back into the school routine. Nevertheless, I found some unexpected favorites in the bunch!
I was in Florida about a week ago for a quick trip, but as I always do, I brought some books along on my Kindle to get me through the plane rides and the heat. I like doing little mini-reviews of these books when I go somewhere else, so I figured I’d do it again here, since I certainly read a couple of very interesting books while I was in Florida. So here we have three mini-reviews of books I read in Florida.
Following a devastating encounter with an unknown alien ship resulting in the disappearance of her parents as a child, Tamara Cartwright now spends her life scouring the galaxy in the hope of finding the dark force that attacked her father’s ship. Now the Captain of a rescue vessel, The Massey Shaw, she makes a choice, resulting in the destruction of a star in order to save a stricken vessel, a prohibited act while using alien technology. Now, an outlaw, she is entrusted with the fate of a very unusual young girl endowed with special abilities. She must also find the survivors of an ill-fated ship at the hands of a malevolent race know only to the humans as the Ghosts. Driven by the hope of finding the truth of her parent’s disappearance and one last chance to make a difference to those in need of rescue, she must go on one final mission into deep space and deal with the monsters from her past.
TW/CW: human experimentation, loss of loved ones, death, graphic violence
Forgotten Star wasn’t without its flaws by a long shot, but it was such a fun and fascinating piece of space opera! With lots of political intrigue, strange aliens, and mysterious powers, there’s something for every sci-fi fan in here.
I need to start off with my main problem, though: the grammar. It was…inconsistent, at best. This novel definitely needed an extra round of editing (or two) in that respect; there were lots of errors in punctuation (mostly placement of commas), and there were a few misspellings and omissions that could have been fixed. (As well as a misspelling of “berth,” as in “a wide berth,” as “birth” …YIKES) On occasion, the faulty grammar was enough to take me out of the story entirely, but for the most part, I could let it slide. Sometimes.
But other than that, Forgotten Star was a great piece of sci-fi! One thing this novel did incredibly well was the handling of multiple POVs – for a lot of multiple POV books, it takes a while for all of the characters/elements to coalesce, but it didn’t take long for all of the elements here to come together, making for a cohesive and intricate story. I also loved all of the alien races, and the intricacies of their relationships with humans. It’s always a breath of fresh air to see aliens that clearly have some creative design put into them.
Some of the dialogue and characters were a little stiff and inauthentic at times, but for the most part, a lot of the characters were interesting to delve into. I liked Ona and Urhan, in particular – they had very interesting arcs and backstories, and I loved seeing them develop.
My only other major problem was that the ending wrapped up a *little* too nicely? From everything that built up over the course of the story, it seemed like there was a setup for a sequel, but the ending tried to wrap everything up too quickly. I’d like to see more from this universe.
All in all, though, a well-thought-out and intricate piece of space opera. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!
‘She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade’
When Lia, an idealistic queen, falls for Xania, her new spymaster–who took the job to avenge her murdered father–they realise all isn’t fair in love and treason.
Lia won’t mourn her uncle: he’s left her a bankrupt kingdom considered easy pickings by its neighbours. She’s sworn to be a better ruler, but if she wants to push through her reforms, she needs to beat the Court at its own games. For years, Xania’s been determined to uncover her father’s murderer. She finally gets a chance when Lia gives her a choice: become her new spymaster, or take a one way trip to the executioner’s axe. It’s an easy decision.
When they fall for each other, their love complicates Lia’s responsibilities and Xania’s plans for vengeance. As they’re drawn together amid royal suitors and new diplomats, they uncover treason that could not only end Lia’s reign, but ruin their weakened country. They must decide not only what to sacrifice for duty, but also for each other.
TW/CW (from Helen Corcoran): off-page suicide, murder, emotional torture
I’m not sure if I would necessarily call Queen of Coin and Whispers a fantasy novel – there wasn’t a whole lot that would distinguish it from a historical setting (no different magic properties/creatures/worldbuilding/etc.). But that’s not to say that it was a bad book – in fact, it was stunning!
There’s plenty of YA fantasy books on the market with protagonists who suddenly ascend to royalty. But Queen of Coin and Whispers addresses what most of those novels don’t – the mental tax of ruling a country at such a young age. Lia goes through endless trials and tribulations and even faces becoming the ruler that her uncle was, all while grappling with love and other relationships. Corcoran wrote her development so well, and it’s so refreshing to see a genuine-feeling story like Lia’s.
Additionally, the romance! Lia and Xania’s relationship was so sweet – sharing books, secret conversations, and all things warm and fuzzy. They go through all the ups and downs of first love, and I love seeing wlw rep like theirs in non-contemporary stories. I love those two. 💗
Other than that, the political intrigue and the depiction of the transition of power was so well-done! Everything was so multi-layered and detailed, making it feel like Lia and Xania’s world was a real and fleshed-out one. Just when you think you know the answers, something new pokes out its head, and you’re left guessing until the very last page.
All in all, a fascinating royal mystery with genuine characters and a sweet sapphic romance. 4 stars!
Parole is still burning. And now the day everyone has been waiting for is finally here: it’s collapsed. A lucky few managed to escape with their lives. But while their city burned, the world outside suffered its own devastating disaster. The Tartarus Zone is a deadly wasteland a thousand miles wide, filled with toxic storms, ghostly horrors, and just as many Eyes in the Sky as ever. Somehow, this new nightmare is connected to Parole. And it’s spreading.
Now Parole’s only hope lies in the hands of three teenagers reunited by their long-lost friend Gabriel – in their dreams. Now they’re on a desperate cross-country race, carrying vital plans that may be Parole’s salvation. First they’ll board the FireRunner, a ship full of familiar faces that now sails through Tartarus’ poison storms. Then, together, they’ll survive Tartarus’ hazards, send a lifeline to lost Parole – and uncover the mystery connecting everyone, inside Parole and out.
The world outside Parole isn’t the one they remember, and it didn’t want them back. But they’ll save it just the same. It’s what heroes do.
(for my mini-review of book 1, Chameleon Moon, click here!)
TW/CW: loss of loved ones, violence, near-death situations
I didn’t like this one *quite* as much as I did Chameleon Moon, but it was still such a fun read!
One of the things I love most about this series is how diverse it is – easily the most diverse series I know! We have an almost entirely different cast of characters in The Lifeline Signal, but among the three main characters, we have a nonbinary (xie/xir pronouns) Native American (Tsalagi) character with Arnold-Chiari malformation, a bisexual Indian-American character, and an aro-ace autistic Vietnamese-American character! Among the side characters, there’s no shortage of queer, POC, and disabled characters, including a Black hijabi woman, a nonbinary character, polyamorous relationships, and more! Books as diverse as this series don’t come along very often, so three cheers for RoAnna Sylver for all this representation!
The worldbuilding outside of Parole was also fascinating – there’s all sorts of weird sci-fi and fantasy aspects, including, but not limited to: superpowers, ghosts, dragons, giant ships, and robotic animals of immense size. As you can imagine, it’s a lot of fun! Between the relationships between all of the characters and the expansion of the worldbuilding, there’s no shortage of interesting elements to chew on. Plus, it was so sweet to see all of the characters from Chameleon Moon come back.
My only major problem was that the plot got a little bit convoluted at times – I found myself thinking “wait, why is all this happening?” several times throughout the novel, but it didn’t take me out of the story itself. Don’t get me wrong – The Lifeline Signal has a great story, but it seemed to get lost in itself at times.
All in all, a sequel that does justice to book one as well as expanding its world, while still providing an original storyline. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!
That’s it for these three mini-reviews! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.
The first part of my week wasn’t terribly eventful, but I’ve been in Florida for some family stuff since Thursday, and my flight leaves tomorrow. It’s been…very hot to say the least, but I’ve had plenty of time to read, write and draw, so it’s okay. Plus, I found that awesome Kaz cane the other day! (See the Grishaverse Book Tag linked below for a picture…) I can’t wait until we can ship it home…
Reading-wise, I’ve been reading everything on my Kindle this week, both library holds and books I bought for the trip. I got an unexpected 5-star read though, so expect a review next week! I’ve had a lot of writing progress as well, which I can mostly owe to the fact that I got to my favorite favorite scene in my sci-fi WIP and ended up chugging out a longish chapter.
Other than that, I’ve just been drawing, playing a bit of Minecraft, watching a few episodes of Alien Worlds (for a show with a name like that, there’s…less aliens than I expected?), and trying to beat this Florida heat.
Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.
As Pride 2021 comes to a close, I’ve found an exciting LGBTQ+ pick for this week’s Goodreads Monday! I’d forgotten that it was on my TBR, but now I can’t wait to read it – sapphic romance between a queen and her spy? COUNT ME IN.
Let’s begin, shall we?
GOODREADS MONDAY (6/28/21) – QUEEN OF COIN AND WHISPERS by Helen Corcoran
‘She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade.’
When teenage queen Lia inherits her corrupt uncle’s bankrupt kingdom, she brings a new spymaster into the fold … Xania, who takes the job to avenge her murdered father.
Faced with dangerous plots and hidden enemies, can Lia and Xania learn to rely on each another, as they discover that all is not fair in love and treason?
In a world where the throne means both power and duty, they must decide what to sacrifice for their country – and for each other …
So why do I want to read this?
I was digging around for some queer fantasy on my TBR the other day, and I found this one sitting in the middle reaches – I shelved it a while ago, and now I can’t wait to get my hands on it! I couldn’t find it on the Kindle library, but maybe the physical library will have it…
Even though YA fantasy has been a bit hit-or-miss for me as of late, Queen of Coin and Whispers sounds incredible! I’ll have to let go of my “x of y and z” title pet peeve, because this one shows loads of promise.
What I’m most excited for is the relationships – I can’t wait to see how Corcoran executes the dynamic between Lia and Xania as a queen and a spy! I haven’t seen a whole lot of dynamics like that, and it sounds like the perfect setup for a fantasy romance. And it’s sapphic, too! Helena Corcoran confirmed that both Lia and Xania are lesbians, and that Xania is also demisexual! I don’t see a whole lot of aspec literature floating around, so I’m glad that this one exists. Maybe I’m getting my hopes up too high, but this looks amazing.
That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!