Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: August 23-29, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

This was my first full week of school, and…well, it had its ups and downs. College applications have been a bit stressful, but now that I’ve seen everything a little more simplified, it’s slightly less so. Still stressful, but at least I know how everything works now. But on the other hand, I had some great things happen this week! I aced a math quiz, I have As in all of my classes so far (I don’t care that it’s the second week of school, I’m still proud of myself), and I’m slowly getting more people into book club.

Reading-wise, I’ve just been reading through all of the books I bought/was gifted for my birthday. Most of them have been pretty good, but re-reading The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was just what I needed to take my mind off of college. I got some cool-looking books at the library, so I’m excited for that! As for writing, I haven’t been doing it as frequently as I’ve been getting used to my school schedule, but I’m slowly but surely working through the climax of my sci-fi WIP.

Other than that, I watched The Suicide Squad (solid 3/5 for me, fantastic cinematography and also the best live action Harley look), had a busy shift at the library, and busily tried to convert people to my school’s book club. But the latter isn’t too out of the ordinary for me, really.

Oh, and in case you’re having a bad day, enjoy this picture of one of my cats (her name is Hobbes) with my library books:

look at my precious baby

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Ahsoka (Star Wars) – E.K. Johnston (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Star Wars Ahsoka: 9781484705667: E.K. Johnston, Wojtowicz,  Jason P: Books

Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes, #1) – Elizabeth Lim (⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Amazon.com: Six Crimson Cranes: 9780593300916: Lim, Elizabeth: Books

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea – Maggie Tokuda-Hall (re-read) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

My review of THE MERMAID, THE WITCH, AND THE SEA by Maggie Tokuda-Hall |  Maria Hossain

The Good Luck Girls – Charlotte Nicole Davis (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Girls at the Edge of the World – Laura Brooke Robson (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Girls at the Edge of the World: 9780525554035: Robson, Laura  Brooke: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

She Drives Me Crazy – Kelly Quindlen

Amazon.com: She Drives Me Crazy: 9781250209153: Quindlen, Kelly: Books

Broken Web (Shamanborn, #2) – Lori M. Lee

Broken Web (Shamanborn, #2) by Lori M. Lee

Curses – Lish McBride

Amazon.com: Curses: 9781984815590: McBride, Lish: Books

The Unbinding of Mary Reade – Miriam McNamara

Amazon.com: The Unbinding of Mary Reade: 9781510727052: McNamara, Miriam:  Books

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts – Rebecca Hall, Hugo Martinez

Amazon.com: Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts eBook :  Hall, Rebecca, Martínez, Hugo: Kindle Store

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (8/24/21) – Ahsoka

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Over the weekend, I got to visit my favorite bookstore for my birthday, and I got lots of books! I have my dad to thank for finding the Star Wars section (thank you!!), and I decided to buy Ahsoka because she seems like a super cool character. All in all, though, Ahsoka was a fascinating look into the Star Wars universe immediately post-Order 66 and a good exploration of a character that I wasn’t as familiar with!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Star Wars Ahsoka: 9781484705667: E.K. Johnston, Wojtowicz,  Jason P: Books

Ahsoka (Star Wars) – E.K. Johnston

my copy ft. a cool filter, some quartz and bismuth, and my Yoda Funko Pop! Figure

After Order 66 caused the assassination of almost all of the Jedi order, Ahsoka Tano is on the run. Alienated by her former mentor, the new Sith Lord Anakin Skywalker, she flees to Raada, a backwater farming moon, with the hopes of laying low and blending in. But when the Empire sets its sights on occupying Raada, Ahsoka faces the choice of risking Imperial rule or escaping and revealing her Jedi identity.

Obsessed With The Mandalorian — More than Partners- The Mandalorian x reader

TW/CW: assassination, colonization/occupation, sci-fi violence, descriptions of injury

Okay. Look. I’m a massive fan of Star Wars, and I have been for most of my life. Thing is, I’ve never seen the new Clone Wars series (I adored the 2D one from the early 2000’s, though…that was the stuff) or Rebels, and that’s where Ahsoka primarily shows up. I knew enough about both of them to piece together Ahsoka’s backstory, but she’s still a character that I wasn’t super familiar with. I’ve always liked the idea of her, though, and I thought she was FANTASTIC in The Mandalorian. So I figured I’d give the book a try, both to explore Ahsoka’s character and this part of the Star Wars universe.

For the most part, Ahsoka was a success! There were interludes interspersed throughout that gave a good deal of backstory of Ahsoka’s life as a Padawan, which helped me to piece out everything I’d missed from The Clone Wars and Rebels. I’d say that you can read this without watching either, but this is coming from someone who lives and breathes most things Star Wars, so take that as you will. Even then, Ahsoka’s character was fascinating! For the most part, I liked the way that her character was written, and her arc throughout the novel was well-executed, showing her transition from a Jedi to a full-blown rebel.

There are also a lot of details interspersed throughout that made me giddy as a Star Wars fan – we get details about how Ahsoka gets her lightsabers, several cameos (inside and outside of the flashback interludes) from prequel characters, and…I think the main villain from Rebels? I think? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure it was him? Either way, I had a lot of fun finding all of those Easter eggs.

The writing was decent, but I didn’t find it to be anything special. I found it rather bland, and with such an immersive and extensive universe as this one, the writing style did a bit of a disservice to several aspects of the novel. Some of the dialogue felt too stilted and forced (no pun intended), and I wasn’t a huge fan of Ahsoka’s inner dialogue as well. But it wasn’t anything egregiously bad. It just didn’t stand out for me. Not necessarily well-written, but not badly-written either. Just in the middle for me.

Additionally, the plot moved along a little too quickly. Ahsoka is about the average size for a book (around 370 pages in the paperback edition), but for each plot point, there was usually only a short time spent, and the transitory periods between them were virtually nonexistent. Ahsoka herself also had a bit too easy of a time overcoming many of the obstacles she encountered, but…okay, she’s a Jedi. I wouldn’t say she was written as a Mary Sue, but it was closish. But seeing as, y’know, she’s a lightsaber-wielding being with pseudo-magical powers and friends in high places, it makes a little bit of sense.

All in all, an addition to the extensive Star Wars universe that did some of the universe itself a slight disservice with indistinct writing, but fleshed out a beloved character in an inventive way. 3.5 stars!

Ahsoka Tano in The Mandalorian | Chapter 13: The Jedi - The Mandalorian Fan  Art (43663792) - Fanpop

Ahsoka is a standalone novel in the universe of Star Wars novels, but E.K. Johnston has also contributed two more Star Wars novels, Queen’s Shadow and Queen’s Peril, both centering around Padmé Amidala. Johnston is also the author of Aetherbound, Exit, Pursued by a Bear, That Inevitable Victorian Thing, and several other novels for young adults.

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 Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (8/23/21) – Every Sky a Grave

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

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.

I put this one on my TBR almost exactly a year ago, and it looks like a fascinating twist on your typical space opera! And if it’s described as being perfect for fans of Star Wars…well, I’ve been led astray by that line maybe one too many times, but I love Star Wars, so I don’t think I’ll stop any time soon.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (8/23/21) – EVERY SKY A GRAVE by Jay Posey

Amazon.com: Every Sky a Grave: A Novel (1) (The Ascendance Series):  9781982107758: Posey, Jay: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

HER WORD IS HER WEAPON.

Mankind has spread out and conquered the galaxy by mastering the fundamental language of the universe. With the right training, the right application of words, truth itself can be rearranged.
Language is literally power.

Peace reigns now. Order reigns.

For if a planet deviates too far from what the authorities plan, an agent is sent out to correct that. To quietly and with great skill, end that world.

One such agent is Elyth – a true believer.

But on a clandestine mission to stop an uprising before it can truly begin, Elyth comes to realise she hasn’t been told the whole truth herself. There’s so much she doesn’t know. How can there be people whose truth is different to that of the authorities?

Elyth’s faith in the powers that be is shaken just when she needs it most. While on her mission, a dark and unknown presence makes itself known at the edges of the galaxy – and it cannot be controlled, for nobody knows its name…

So why do I want to read this?

Beeple - Sci-Fi / Cyberpunk Art - Album on Imgur | Cyberpunk art, Cyberpunk  aesthetic, Cyberpunk

Ooh, the fundamental language of the universe? I’m certainly interested.

All of us sci-fi readers have seen all sorts of intergalactic tyrannies come and go in literature, but I haven’t seen one quite like the one that Every Sky a Grave promises – I’m super interested to see where Posey takes the concept of this fundamental language of the universe and its reality bending powers, as well as the powers controlling it.

Also, Every Sky a Grave is such an eye-catching title! I bet it’s the kind where somewhere along the 75% mark, it’ll appear somewhere in a quote and I’ll have that “oh…OH! They did that! They did The Thing!™️” moment. Hey, it’s the little things in life.

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Today’s song:

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

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (7/26/21) – Persephone Station

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

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.

I’m always on the hunt for a good space opera book, and so this one immediately caught my eye. It’s drawn a couple comparisons to The Mandalorian (which wasn’t perfect, but I liked it a lot), which should be promising…

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (7/26/21) – PERSEPHONE STATION by Stina Leicht

Amazon.com: Persephone Station (9781534414587): Leicht, Stina: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Persephone Station, a seemingly backwater planet that has largely been ignored by the United Republic of Worlds, becomes the focus for the Serrao-Orlov Corporation as the planet has a few secrets the corporation tenaciously wants to exploit.

Rosie—owner of Monk’s Bar, in the corporate town of West Brynner—caters to wannabe criminals and rich Earther tourists, of a sort, at the front bar. However, exactly two types of people drink at Monk’s back bar: members of a rather exclusive criminal class and those who seek to employ them.

Angel—ex-marine and head of a semi-organized band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins, and washed up mercenaries with a penchant for doing the honorable thing—is asked to perform a job for Rosie. What this job reveals will affect Persephone and put Angel and her squad up against an army. Despite the odds, they are rearing for a fight with the Serrao-Orlov Corporation. For Angel, she knows that once honor is lost, there is no regaining it. That doesn’t mean she can’t try.

So why do I want to read this?

You now have the Star Wars Cantina song in your head. - GIF on Imgur
please tell me somebody else can HEAR this image

This one has lowish ratings on Goodreads as of now (about 3.49 at present), but from the reviews, there really isn’t anything that’s making me want to kick it off my TBR. Maybe it’s that gorgeous cover, maybe it’s because it’s space opera, but either way, I can’t wait to read Persephone Station!

The synopsis is absolutely giving me Mandalorian vibes; I love the potential setting of Persephone Station itself, and I’m getting the feeling that I’ll see a strange cast of characters. (Fingers crossed!) Plus, it apparently has lesbian, bisexual, and nonbinary rep throughout, which makes me even MORE excited! (There’s only one thing better than space opera…and that’s QUEER SPACE OPERA.) Plus, the cover is so pretty! Whoever did the illustrations for it did such a great job.

In short: you sold me at queer space opera and Mandalorian vibes.

Anime Gifs

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books

Sci-Fi Tropes: Cryosleep, Unhinged AI, and everything in between 🪐

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been trying to think of more original posts to do, and I figured that this one would be something really fun to explore. I’ve seen a lot of posts talking about tropes, but genre-specific ones are always interesting to think about/discuss, and in much of the YA book fandom, I feel like sci-fi doesn’t get as much love. So I decided to look at six tropes that are specific to sci-fi (for the most part). Sci-fi is my favorite genre, so I got super excited thinking about all of these different tropes, and some (mostly) YA books that use them in different ways.

So let’s begin, shall we?

These Are Not The 130 "Star Wars" GIFs You Are Looking For | Star wars gif,  Star wars characters, Star wars episodes

WARNING: This post may contain some book spoilers (Aurora Cycle & Dare Mighty Things series), so read at your own risk!

🛸SCI-FI TROPES🛸

CRYOSLEEP, BUT FOR WAY TOO LONG

Quiz: Ripley, Our Lady of Survival | Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

Ellen Ripley – and Aliens in particular – probably set the blueprint for this one, but as the trope gets more popular, authors have started to push the limits on this one, which I think is a really cool move.

It’s most often the protagonist that this happens to – our hero, on the eve of something great, is put into cryosleep for an interplanetary mission, only for something to go terribly awry and stay in cryosleep for longer than they were supposed to. Ripley got an accidental 50 years, Auri from Aurora Rising got 200 years, and Andra from Goddess in the Machine got a whopping 1,000 years.

This trope presents two main advantages for writing: a vehicle for exploring the novel’s world through fresh eyes, and internal conflict within the character. If your cryosleep character is completely unfamiliar with the world, seeing it through their eyes gives the reader a more in-depth look at the world than they’d get with a character that’s already familiar with it. They’ll inevitably notice more things and fixate on different things than another character might, which gives the reader more insight about what’s unique about the world that the author has crafted.

As for the internal conflict piece, this part’s always touched on, but in most of the novels I’ve read with it, it’s a lot more shallow than you’d think. There’s the existential crisis that inevitably occurs when the character realizes that everything they know and love is all but gone, but beyond the first few chapters from their POV, they get over it…relatively quickly? It seems like the kind of trauma that would leave lasting psychological scars, and probably physical health repercussions as well. I’ve yet to read any book that explores all that in depth, but it seems like the perfect setup for a sci-fi novel.

So this one’s a trope that can make for a lot of creative choices, but often has a lot of untapped potential.

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: Aurora Rising (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff), Goddess in the Machine (Lora Beth Johnson)

GOTTEN INTO A SITUATION YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF? TIME TRAVEL!

Best Avengers Endgame GIFs | Gfycat
“Time travel!”

Apparently this one is a lot more common than I thought, but I’ve only started to see it in YA more recently. (Well, there’s Avengers: Endgame, but it took me a while to realize how common of a trope it is…)

This trope has the possibility of ENDLESS freaky hijinks whilst traversing through time. Sometimes it’s just pushing the events of the past so that everything lines up a little bit nicer, and sometimes it’s rocketing back to another time period entirely. It usually happens only with the last book in a trilogy or duology, just so everyone can fix the mess they got into in the first books.

I have mixed feelings on this one; one the one hand, there’s never a dull moment – time travel jokes, fitting VERY badly into a different time period, and very high stakes, most of all. If the first books have followed a similar formula, it might be good to try for something else to end the series with a bang.

On the other, though, something about it almost feels…lazy to me. Often, this trope arises from The Gang™️ getting a situation so bad that there may not be a feasible way out of it, but…maybe they could? If done wrong, it can feel like lazy writing – an easy way out, and one that provides instant comic relief. And often, the means of said time travel are vague, and often reduced to technobabble from The Smart Character™️, which, hey, I don’t know much about the science of it either, but maybe at least put a little time into it?

So this one’s a double-edged sword: instant plot, or lazy writing? The choice is yours!

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2) (A.R. Capetta and Cori McCarthy), Aurora’s End (Aurora Cycle, #3) (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)*

*this one doesn’t come out until November [screams] but we know that time travel will play a big part in this one, so…

ALIENS THAT BASICALLY JUST LOOK LIKE HUMANS (BUT WITH A FEW MINOR DIFFERENCES)

Pin on Asteria Academy
I know Jean Grey isn’t an alien, but most of the aliens mentioned below have similar powers to her, so…

Most of the other tropes I’m going to be discussing in this post are ones that I like on some level, but…this one gets on my nerves. For the most part.

Far too many times, I’ve fallen into the trap of picking up a sci-fi book that promises aliens, only to discover that the aliens just look like humans, but with either a) unusual eye colors, b) some sort of powers, or c) a combination of both. And of course, they have to be ✨ridiculously attractive✨ as well. 🙄

Now, I completely get making your aliens humanoid (hey, I’m doing it with some of my aliens for my sci-fi WIP), but there’s a certain point where it feels a bit lazy. Unless there’s some way you can back it up, it seems weird to me that in this entire universe, the only other intelligent beings, by some cosmic chance, are similar to us in almost every way.

But I’ve seen some authors use it to their advantage – in particular, One Giant Leap (the sequel to Dare Mighty Things) does this especially well. The main alien civilization there look exactly like humans, but it’s because of genetic modifications performed so that they could survive on Earth. See? That’s actually a really good way of turning the trope on its head, and doing so in a practical way!

For the most part, this trope never ceases to bug me, but there’s a few ways to turn it on its head.

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: One Giant Leap (Dare Mighty Things, #2) (Heather Kaczynski), Amid Stars and Darkness (Chani Lynn Feener)

UNHINGED A.I.

David - Prometheus --- ah! DON'T TELL ME THAT!!! (lol) | Michael  fassbender, David 8, Sebastian moran
BREAKING: Michael Fassbender Sustains Fatal Back Injuries from Carrying all of the Alien Prequels

For me, at least, this trope is the most fun – and it presents some of the scariest and most formidable antagonists in sci-fi.

Villainous AI are some of the most fascinating characters to explore – they have unmatched power, in some cases, and whether they’re a pre-installed ship AI or an android, it’s always interesting to hear their perspective on all of us puny mortals.

Given that humans trust AI a bit *too* much in most sci-fi novels, they often have a fearsome amount of power at their disposal. AI installed inside of a ship? Access to all the security footage, navigation, communications, and controls of the ship. They know their crew up and down, and have the possibility to play everybody’s weaknesses against each other. They have the power to sabotage anything and everything, and more often than not, they do. WITHOUT HESITATION. A corrupt AI often harbors a hatred or jealousy of human beings, and if it’s not that motivating them, it’s some sort of technologically-stemmed god complex, which is always terrifying to watch play out. (Lookin’ right at you, David…) It’s even more of an interesting development if their moral compass shifts over the course of the series – if there’s one thing I’ve learned from sci-fi, it’s that benevolent robot overlords never stay benevolent for very long.

Corrupt AI as antagonists are often more compelling than human or alien ones (for me, at least) partly because so much is left up to the imagination about the inner workings of their minds. We’ve never developed any kind of artificial intelligence that’s become intelligent enough to have devious tendencies like many sci-fi villains, so a lot of it is the author’s personal choice. There are endless possibilities – but more often than not, they’re all terrifying.

And even if they aren’t main antagonists, the addition of a slight unstable AI as a character is always amusing; for all of its flaws, I loved Gregorovich’s existential musings in To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, and his character added some much-needed flavor to the rest of the cast.

TL;DR: There’s nothing more terrifying than a villain that knows everything about everything, and uses that power for its own gain at whatever the cost.

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars (Christopher Paolini), Illuminae (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff), Scythe (Neal Shusterman)

HIGH-STAKES COMPETITIONS TO GO TO SPACE…WITH SOME SERIOUS ULTERIOR MOTIVES

artoo, that way

Scared to send your experienced, highly intelligent scientists to space? Send some teenagers instead!

This one tends to crop up the most in YA, as it’s primed for a book that has a primarily teenage cast. The ones I’ve read do tend to follow a formula, but for the most part, it’s one that’s actually a lot of fun!

The worldbuilding/motives behind it are always a little bit messy (again: sending teenagers into space! What could possibly go wrong?), but often times, you just have to hang in there; it’s a given that whatever program is funding the competition is doing something astronomically shady. (No pun intended.) Part of the fun with this trope is the mystery of it; slowly but surely, the competition starts dropping like flies, and things go very wrong very quickly.

More on the mystery aspect – the mystery that often occurs in these types of novels is very slow-burn, building on itself before the heartstopping reveal at the end (often a cliffhanger). From program superiors lying to scheming androids to deaths under mysterious circumstances, there are endless possibilities for many, many things to go wrong. Add in the not-so-friendly rivalries between the competitors (also scheming, along with everybody else), and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a nail-biting sci-fi mystery.

And once/if they get to space? Everything gets way worse. There’s bound to be aliens, but whether they’re intelligent or just parasitic, things are bound to go way, way south. But there’s never a dull moment – there’s no shortage of suspense, and our protagonist is often at a loss as to how to escape their situation.

Plus, for reasons I’ve yet to figure out, these ones always tend to have the most clever pop culture references. (See: all of the Radiohead songs in the Final Six duology)

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: The Final Six (Alexandra Monir), Dare Mighty Things (Heather Kaczynski)

EXPLORING OTHER PLANETS GOES VERY, VERY WRONG (Or, “Don’t do intergalactic colonialism, kids”)

Large yacht passes by gargantuan yacht - boing - Boing Boing BBS

Here’s another common – but by no means overdone – trope that’s always open to endless possibilities!

Because our planet was never enough, apparently (or if we destroyed it…probably), there’s a whole host of sci-fi stories that are set on entirely new planets, with the sole goal of making them a new home for humankind. But just like with our planet, it’s always unpredictable, whether you’re dealing with a foreign contagion, carnivorous wildlife, or superiors who aren’t what they seem.

I’m always a nerd for creature design in sci-fi, and life on other worlds presents all sort of possibilities for creatures lurking in the bushes. Whether it’s flora or fauna, exploring these sci-fi worlds along with the characters is an adventure, especially if the author is particularly creative. Of course, most of the wildlife ends up being carnivorous, or malicious on some level, so there’s all sorts of danger lurking.

But beyond that, this trope is often a great commentary on colonialism. Human history is rife with frightening periods of raping and pillaging land that wasn’t ours to begin with at the cost of those who originally lived there; telling the same story on alien planets serves as a particularly potent comment on the malicious tendency of our species to overstep and overstay our welcome. Books like A Conspiracy of Stars and The Pioneer explore what happens when humanity comes in contact with intelligent life and unlawfully sets foot on their land; both of them do an amazing job of exploring the intricacies of the political implications, as well as the tense conflict that results. I think sci-fi as a genre is one of the best mediums for raising commentary on this kind of thing. Exploring new frontiers in space is bound to happen once we get the technology, but we must always ask ourselves if it’s the right thing to do. Just because we can doesn’t necessarily mean that we should. (Let’s be real: I would be SO excited if we found evidence of life elsewhere in the universe, but…let’s not have a repeat of all of human history, okay?)

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: The Pioneer (Bridget Tyler), A Conspiracy of Stars, (Olivia A. Cole), Tangled Planet (Kate Blair)

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite/least favorite tropes in sci-fi? Have you read any of the books I listed, and what were your thoughts? This’ll probably be one of several posts on the subject, so I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

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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!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (6/22/21) – The Ones We’re Meant to Find

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ever since reading Descendant of the Crane about two years ago and loving it, I’ve been itching to read more of Joan He’s novels. My wishing was rewarded with this book, which came out in early May of this year. (Star Wars day, I think….YES) I bought it recently at my favorite bookstore, and I’m glad to say that The Ones We’re Meant to Find is even better than her debut – complex, tense and tender!

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Ones We're Meant to Find — Joan He

The Ones We’re Meant to Find – Joan He

my copy ft. a cool filter and yesterday’s overcast skies

As far as everyone else knows, Celia Mizuhara – Cee for short – went missing three years ago, presumed dead. But Cee is very much alive, stranded on a distant island. She’s been eking out an existence there for three years, with only a strange android for company. But when a boy washes ashore and nearly kills her, she must question what she knows of her life before – and herself.

Meanwhile, Cee’s sister Kasey lives in a floating city, protected from the natural disasters that wrack their climate change-ravaged world. Intelligent and reclusive, she lives an isolated lifestyle, working with experts on the latest technology that could further protect their floating utopia. But Cee’s fate remains at the back of her mind, and Kasey knows that her sister is still out there.

amie kaufman – The Bookish Mutant

TW/CW: loss of loved ones, cancer, grief, violence, near-death situations (drowning, attempted murder), natural disasters

It’s been almost a week since I finished this one, and lemme tell you, I am still REELING. I think I need to go back and re-read it soon…

The Ones We’re Meant to Find is very nearly a masterpiece. It’s haunting in every sense of the word, from the natural disasters surrounding it to the conspiracy within it, and it hooked me to the last page.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find is told in the dual POVs of sisters Cee and Kasey, but I enjoyed Cee’s the most; her story was the more compelling of the two, in my opinion, and I loved seeing her unravel the mystery of her marooning and of her life before. I honestly would’ve been fine if it was just her story – as much as I loved the rest of the novel, her story would’ve been a great standalone as well. I loved all of her little mannerisms and quirks, and she was such a fascinating, multi-layered character. Her tense dynamic with Hero was also so well-written – their relationship was never certain, and I loved the mercurial aspect of it. And she bounced so well off of U-me, the android, too! The friendship that they’d built over the course of three years was so weirdly touching.

Who is the best sidekick droid? (others in comments) | Fandom

And the worldbuilding? PHENOMENAL. Both Cee’s island and Kasey’s floating utopia were so complex and well-developed. There was clearly so much love and care put into every inch of this novel, and it shone through in the best way possible. I could practically feel the hum of machinery, the pouring rain, the battering ocean waves…IMMACULATE.

The mystery at the heart of The Ones We’re Meant to Find was equally compelling. I had to look back through the last few pages just so it could sink in – just when I thought it was over, He delivered another heartstopping twist that had my eyes bugging out of my skull. There are plot twists upon plot twists UPON PLOT TWISTS, and I loved it.

My only complaint is Kasey’s side of the story. I appreciated that she was more of a cold, unlikable character, but her whole side of the plot seemed rather convoluted. Remember how I said that the care put into the worldbuilding showed? There’s a bit of a catch to that, sadly; there were so many aspects that factored into the conspiracy around Cee, Kasey, and Actinium, but the sheer amount of them made me forget their significance, and when the final reveal was made, I had to flip back through just so I could remember “wait, what did that mean again? Why do we care about that?” Like I said – I need to give this one another re-read. Maybe that’ll help me absorb it all. But in the midst of all this wondrousness, this is basically my only major complaint.

Visible Confusion GIF - Visible Confusion StarWars - Discover & Share GIFs
here I go piling on all the Star Wars gifs again

All in all, a haunting and complex cli-fi with androids, sisterhood, and no shortage of thrilling twists. 4.5 stars!

𝖣𝗂𝗌𝗍𝗋𝗂𝖼𝗍 9 - 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗹𝗼𝗴𝘂𝗲 - Wattpad

The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a standalone, but Joan He is also the author of Descendant of the Crane, and an untitled mystery/thriller novel slated for release in 2022.

Today’s song:

hmm, I listened to this whole album yesterday and loved it? what could have possibly tipped you off?

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 Tags

The Boba Fett Book Tag

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I figured I’d do another book tag, and since I love all things Star Wars, I wanted to give this tag a go! (I would’ve done it on May 4, but alas, I was very busy.) I found it over at Brooke @ The Reader’s Game, who also created the tag. (And if you haven’t checked out her blog, I highly recommend it!)

Rules

  • Thank the person who tagged you
  • Link back to original post
  • Tag around 10 people
  • You don’t have to watch anything Star Wars related to do this- only to get the references!
  • Have fun!

Let’s begin, shall we?

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🚀THE BOBA FETT BOOK TAG🚀

LIGHTSPEED SKIPPER: A character who is constantly in danger or on the run

Traveling with warp speed | Optical illusions art, Science fiction artwork,  Optical illusions
Amazon.com: Off Planet (Aunare Chronicles Book 1) eBook: Erin, Aileen:  Kindle Store

Maité from Off Planet is certainly on the run for quite a lot over the course of the novel – there’s quite a lot of planet hopping in this book!

RAZOR CREST: A character with a spaceship

BROTHERTEDD.COM - beheworthy: R.I.P. Razor Crest, she was a... |  Mandalorian, Star wars, Far away
Amazon.com: Heart of Iron (9780062652850): Poston, Ashley: Books

Captain Siege from Heart of Iron has her formidable ship, the Dossier, and she’s proud of it! (So is Jax, come to think of it…)

DARTH VADER: A villain who always hides their face

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Oh jeez, I can’t really think of any character that would fit this prompt…don’t mind me…

EX-IMPERIAL: A character who is not what they seem

egg sac - Zen Cart,Magento
The Ones We're Meant to Find eBook by Joan He - 9781250258571 | Rakuten  Kobo Singapore

Cee from The Ones We’re Meant to Find certainly fits the prompt, but for…ah…shall we say spoiler-y reasons, so I won’t say why. If you know, you know.

MANDO: A character tracking down something that was stolen from them

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Amazon.com: The Smoke Thieves (9780425290217): Green, Sally: Books

I suppose none of these characters are tracking down something that was stolen from them, specifically, but the whole plot of The Smoke Thieves centers around a stolen bottle of smoke, and Tash in particular is most involved with capturing demons for their smoke, so I’ll say this fits.

YOUNG BOBA FETT: A character who had a family member killed/taken/beaten before their eyes

Attack of the clones episode ii GIF - Find on GIFER
Amazon.com: Six of Crows eBook: Bardugo, Leigh: Kindle Store

Kaz from Six of Crows witnessed the death of his older brother Jordie firsthand, which…yeah, I got choked up re-reading this recently. It’s a ROUGH flashback scene.

BESKAR: A character who wears armor/weapons

Boba Fett back in his armor | The Mandalorian Chapter 14 [gif by Elisha on  Tumblr] | Star wars pictures, Star wars artwork, Star wars art
Amazon.com: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within: A Novel (Wayfarers Book 4)  eBook: Chambers, Becky: Kindle Store

This was another hard one – my first thought was Speaker from The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, though her armor is more for mobility outside of her homeworld than anything.

RAISED ON MANDALORE: A character who isn’t allowed to show their face

Aaaand just 1 month shy of Season 2 premiering, I... - What Will Your Verse  Be? | Star wars fandom, Yoda wallpaper, Star wars art

Uh…yeah, I’m blanking on characters with masks/characters that can’t show their faces, so I think I’ll have to skip this one…sorry…[Mandalorian theme plays on a kazoo]

UNEXPECTED DOCKING: A character who joins a mission at a random point on the mission

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

Auri from Aurora Rising certainly joins the rest of Squad 312 at an unexpected time in the mission – but ends up setting the course for the rest of the book.

HIGH BOUNTY: A character in debt and/or on the run

Baby Yoda The Mandalorian GIF - BabyYoda TheMandalorian Warrior - Discover  & Share GIFs Star Wars | Star wars humor, Star wars memes, Star wars fandom
Amazon.com: How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse: Book One of the Thorne  Chronicles eBook: Eason, K.: Kindle Store

Fitting that I used mostly sci-fi books for this tag…hehe…

Anyways, Rory from How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse goes on the run for much of the novel after discovering the assassination plot.

I TAG:

(I don’t know if I know 10 people on here who are all into Star Wars, so I’ll just list a few…)

And may the Force be with you!

Incorrect Mandalorian Quotes — Random Star Wars Citizen: Mando, come over!  The...

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (5/18/21) – Victories Greater Than Death

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Whoops…I’ve been meaning to review this for…oh, about a month? But studying for AP tests and finals just said “no you won’t :)” so here we are now

And this is also the first review I’ve written in a month, so…

Awkward Look Monkey Puppet | Know Your Meme

[ahem] now back to our scheduled program

I found out about this book via Edelweiss, and the more I heard about it, the more excited I got; Star Wars-inspired sci-fi with tons of queer characters, found family, and a gorgeous cover? SIGN ME UP. So I preordered it at the beginning of this year, and it came in the mail last month. And although it wasn’t exactly everything that I wanted it to be, it was still a lot of fun!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

Victories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable, #1) – Charlie Jane Anders

My copy feat. some pretty flowers

On the surface, Tina Mains is an ordinary teenage girl, but she hides an earth-shattering secret: she’s the secret clone of a great alien general. When she comes of age, her destiny is to reunite with her old crewmates in order to defeat intergalactic evil.

No pressure.

So when her beacon finally activates, Tina and her best friend are launched into space, joined by a myriad of aliens and an enlisted squad of self-proclaimed nerds from Earth. As Tina struggles to grapple with her transformation, she realizes that it’ll take more than just inherited wisdom to save the galaxy from annihilation.

I'm new to this sub. Would this Kahoot quote be a possible usable template?  : MemeEconomy
me @ the first half of this book

TW/CW: violence, transphobia, racism, mentions of abuse (past), eugenics

The more I found out about this one, the more excited I got, because…yeah, I’ll pick up anything that’s billed as a “queer space opera.” (Hey. I’m a woman of simple tastes.) But although it wasn’t without its flaws, Victories Greater Than Death was SO much fun!

My major criticism was the pacing. Most space opera is generally pretty fast-paced, but this was…far too much so. I like for things to move along quickly, but for the first half of Victories, everything seemed to happen in mere seconds. We’re on Earth? Nope. WHAM. Weird stuff’s immediately happening. Next page? Different weird thing. WITHOUT MERCY. The pacing made my head spin a bit, but luckily, this was my only major criticism.

Otherwise? GAAAH THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN! The world needs more sci-fi like this; diverse, and with a balanced tone juggling light-hearted fun and grave action. Tina’s struggle as she was thrust into a completely unfamiliar world of aliens and intergalactic politics (and not to mention her newfound legacy) was wonderfully relatable, and I had so much fun tagging along with her adventures across the galaxy. The representation was also incredible: Tina herself is bi/pan, her love interest is a Black trans woman who is also bi/pan, there’s Black, Chinese, and Indian side characters, and many of the alien crewmates have a variety of pronouns. And I’m always up for normalizing asking for people’s pronouns in introductions, and there’s lots of that.

One of the unique aspects of Victories Greater Than Death is that Anders took some pitfalls that most books handle poorly and used them to her advantage. There’s quite a lot of infodumping, but there’s a good reason for it – as Tina is making the transition from her human self to her original alien form, her brain is filling in the gaps as the information from her old life is returning to her. Normally, I absolutely despite infodumps (don’t we all, though?), but this was a genius way to make it work! There was also a huge cast – Tina, Rachel, the rest of the humans, plus all of her alien crewmates; it was tough to remember all of them for most of the book, but weirdly enough, the high body count…helped? Most of the alien characters were fairly underdeveloped, but the ones that we knew almost nothing about were killed off by the end of the book, which…morbidly enough, made things a bit less confusing. Morbid, I know, but I think there had to be at least 20 characters in all. (Same deal with season 4 of Fargo, if you think about it – super wide cast of characters, but at least 80% of them die by the end, so…)

Through it all, though, Victories Greater Than Death made me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside; even though these characters face unbeatable odds, they’re consistently there for each other. No matter their backgrounds or beliefs, they stuck together no matter what. It’s such a sweet found family story.

All in all, a YA sci-fi that was messy and a bit *toooooooo* fast at worst, but diverse, light-hearted, and colorful at best. 3.5 stars!

the next world | Guardians of the galaxy, Marvel cinematic universe, Marvel  cinematic

Victories Greater Than Death is the first in the Unstoppable trilogy, followed by two untitled (as of now) books set to come out in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Charlie Jane Anders is also the author of All the Birds in the Sky, The City in the Middle of the Night, and several other novels.

Today’s song:

no I’m not gonna shut up about this album

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

A YA Reader’s Guide to Space Opera 👽

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

Would you look at that…for once, I actually have a post that isn’t a meme, an update, or a book tag…

I’ve been planning for this one a little bit, and I’m excited to get into it! If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know how much I love sci-fi. So for this post, I decided to go semi-in-depth on my favorite subgenre of science fiction and dole out some recommendations of mine.

Let’s begin, shall we?

So first off, what is space opera anyway?

Steam Community :: :: Obi-wan has taught you well.

In all forms of media, space opera is a subgenre of science fiction. It tends to focus less on the heavy science/physics of the universe it’s in, and more on aspects such as plot and characters. There’s often adventures at a breakneck pace, intergalactic war or conflict, strange planets/other locations, and drama between a set of characters. A lot of space opera media that I’ve consumed tends to throw in a ragtag bunch of characters with nothing in common together, and then throws them into an adventure of epic proportions. (Commonly referred to in many of my posts and reviews as “[chaotic] space misfits.”) More often than not, there’s some light elements of fantasy, sometimes as placeholders to explain the workings of the universe. And, as you probably can figure out, it’s usually set in space or on a distant planet.

Star Wars is often used as the quintessential example of a space opera–dogfights in space, romance, strange worlds, and (amazing) lightsaber duels. (What more could you possibly want?) Although it’s probably not *the original* space opera, it’s influenced a huge chunk of space opera/sci-fi media for the last 40-ish years. Guardians of the Galaxy is another widely-known example of space opera, and from= the world of literature, Dune and Foundation are some of the most well-loved space opera classics.

I'm Mary Poppins, y'all! (gif) | Guardians of the galaxy, Marvel cinematic,  Marvel cinematic universe

Sci-fi has only become my favorite book genre in the past…six or seven years; for a while, I was mostly drawn to fantasy, but after reading Tony DiTerlizzi’s Search for WondLa trilogy, there was no going back. And I was raised on a steady diet of Star Wars, so it was bound to happen eventually. There’s a multitude of reasons why I’m drawn to it. Even though fantasy has virtually no limits as far as making up universes goes, there’s just something about about flying through the vast reaches of space and traveling to strange worlds that has always appealed to me. And as someone who’s been something of an outcast for the better part of my life, I’m drawn like a magnet to any kind of found-family tropes. Now, I know full well that it’s not exclusive to space opera, but everything from Star Wars to Aurora Rising has a cast of strange and distinct characters that come to see themselves as a family, and I’ve always loved the theme of finding your tribe of weirdos.

So now, if you say “space opera,” there’s a good chance that I’ll immediately want to read it. (Doesn’t mean I’ll love it–there’s good and bad books in every genre, of course–but I’ll certainly read it.)

Pin on Art

Now, I’ve compiled a list of some YA space opera recommendations! Each one is tailored to different types of readers/tastes, because I firmly believe there’s something for everybody, even if sci-fi isn’t normally your thing. So let’s get to it, shall we?

🪐YA SPACE OPERA RECS🪐

For readers who like character-driven books…

Amazon.com: Heart of Iron (9780062652850): Poston, Ashley: Books

Heart of Iron duology–Ashley Poston

A retelling of the story of Anastasia, this unique duology boasts a diverse and lovable cast of characters, royal intrigue, creepy androids, and some really cool spaceships.

For readers who like fairytale retellings…

Amazon.com: Once & Future (9780316449274): McCarthy, Cori, Capetta, Amy  Rose: Books

Once & Future–A.R. Capetta and Cori McCarthy

A retelling of Arthurian legend where the reincarnation of King Arthur is a pansexual woman of color and a spell gone wrong made Merlin age backwards…into an awkward, voice-cracky teenager. Super diverse, super feminist, and super fun!

For readers who love a good found-family story…

Aurora Rising - (Aurora Cycle) By Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Paperback) :  Target

Aurora Cycle–Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

In short, this is what happens when you put Captain America in a spaceship with his sister, his ex, a whole bunch of random students from the bottom of his class, and a girl with a glowing eye that may or may not start an intergalactic war. Hands down, my favorite series of all time.

For readers who love a little romance…

Amazon.com: Defy the Stars (Defy the Stars (1)) (9780316394031): Gray,  Claudia: Books

The Constellation trilogy–Claudia Gray

The worldbuilding and the imagery are beautiful in all three books, but it’s really the unlikely relationship between Noemi and Abel that shines in this one. [🥺 intensifies]

For readers who like plots with high-stakes competitions…

Amazon.com: Crownchasers (9780062845160): Coffindaffer, Rebecca: Books

Crownchasers–Rebecca Coffindaffer

(Would you look at that…another pansexual protagonist!)

I had my expectations a *bit* too high for this one, but it was still a whole lot of fun! A lot of reviewers have pitched it as Aurora Rising meets The Hunger Games, and I’d say that’s pretty spot-on. I’m excited to see what Coffindaffer has up their sleeve for book 2.

For fans of steampunk…

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

Tarnished Are the Stars–Rosiee Thor

This one has elements of both sci-fi and fantasy woven in–royal intrigue on other worlds, and lots of clockwork hearts! Plus, it’s a beautiful queer story; we have a wlw romance, as well as a beautiful aro-ace coming out scene for one of the main characters.

For readers who prefer standalones to series…

Amazon.com: Last of Her Name (9781338243369): Khoury, Jessica: Books

Last of Her Name–Jessica Khoury

Another space opera retelling of Anastasia, comin’ right up…

Last of Her Name is a truly beautiful novel, with intricate and detailed worldbuilding, tender romance, and no shortage of twists that I couldn’t see coming. I do wish we’d gotten a larger glimpse into this world, but it was still satisfying as one book.

For thriller fans…

Amazon.com: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files) (9780553499117): Amie Kaufman,  Jay Kristoff: Books

The Illuminae Files–Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Normally, I’d try to avoid putting two series from the same author(s) in a post like this, but Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff are masters of sci-fi, so I kind of *had to.* Composed of interviews, emails, security footage, and more, this is truly a trilogy like no other.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK? What are your favorite space opera books? Do you have any space opera recs for us? Tell me in the comments!

Baby Yoda Soup Baby Yoda Tea GIF - BabyYodaSoup BabyYodaTea BabyYoda -  Discover & Share GIFs | Star wars nerd, Star wars yoda, Star wars

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (11/23/20)–How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

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.

I put this one on my TBR at the very beginning of this year, and rediscovered it today after trawling through the middle reaches of my TBR shelf. I’m always down for a good space opera, and if all goes well, I’m hoping that Rory Thorne will deliver!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (11/23/20)–HOW RORY THORNE DESTROYED THE MULTIVERSE by K. Eason

Amazon.com: How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse: Book One of the Thorne  Chronicles eBook: Eason, K.: Kindle Store

Blurb from Goodreads:

Rory Thorne is a princess with thirteen fairy blessings, the most important of which is to see through flattery and platitudes. As the eldest daughter, she always imagined she’d inherit her father’s throne and govern the interplanetary Thorne Consortium. 
 
Then her father is assassinated, her mother gives birth to a son, and Rory is betrothed to the prince of a distant world.
 
When Rory arrives in her new home, she uncovers a treacherous plot to unseat her newly betrothed and usurp his throne. An unscrupulous minister has conspired to name himself Regent to the minor (and somewhat foolish) prince. With only her wits and a small team of allies, Rory must outmaneuver the Regent and rescue the prince.
 
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse is a feminist reimagining of familiar fairytale tropes and a story of resistance and self-determination—how small acts of rebellion can lead a princess to not just save herself, but change the course of history.

So why do I want to read this?

Carrie Fischer Princess Leia Star Wars GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
/ Hands down, my favorite movie quote of all time. Period.

Excuse me? “The Princess Bride meets Princess Leia?” Feminist fairytale retelling? SPACE OPERA? JUST SHUT UP AND TAKE MY LIBRARY CARD!

I’m loving all the fairytale allusions peppered into the synopsis, and I’m getting some major Heart of Iron vibes too. I’m not expecting anything deep or impactful, but man, How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse sounds like SO. MUCH. FUN. And why wouldn’t it be, with a memorable title like that? (Oh, and book 2 is How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge…[Magneto voice] “Perfection…”)

And how cute is this cover? The color scheme, the typeface, the little space-themed designs…🥺

In short: if everything gets well-executed, maybe I could get *that much* closer to filling up the Heart of Iron-shaped hole in my heart.

Outer Space 3D GIF by Michael Shillingburg - Find & Share on GIPHY

Today’s song:

Bandcamp link–I can’t find any of the Jim Noir Club Collection on YouTube…

“Dried Up Paint”–Jim Noir

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