Posted in Books

Found Family Sci-Fi recommendations

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

I haven’t done a recommendations post/something other than a book tag or a review in a while, so I figured it would be fun to mix things up a little bit.

Yeah, yeah. I get it. This is a very specific post. But these are the kind of books I love, and I know other people love them too, so I thought I would put this out into the world.

The found family trope is easily one of my favorites in media as a whole; usually, it involves a character, often an outsider, who meets a series of strangers, often outsiders as well, on whatever journey they are on, and these strangers become a family to them. Often, these characters have very different personalities, but their differences are what make them stronger. They come to accept each other no matter what, growing closer than they ever could have imagined. As someone who has been more than a little bit of an outsider over the course of my life, the trope has resonated with me a quite lot; I’m glad now to have found friends that love me for being as weird as I am, and I love them for being weird too. And for those of you who are in the place where I used to be, I promise: someday, you’ll find people who love you and celebrate you for who you are.

In my opinion, sci-fi is the most entertaining genre to see the found family trope in action. Sci-fi has a tendency to throw all of the characters into a life-changing adventure, and if the execution is right, their relationships deepen along the way, making for a tight-knit group of what I love to call “chaotic space misfits.”

Now, the books I’m putting on this list aren’t exclusively space-centric sci-fi. I’ve included a few books from other sci-fi branches, but all have similar found family themes. It’s mostly YA, but I have a few Adult and MG books on the list as well.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

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THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S FOUND FAMILY SCI-FI RECOMMENDATIONS

Victories Greater Than Death – Charlie Jane Anders

Amazon.com: Victories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable, 1): 9781250317315:  Anders, Charlie Jane: Books

young adult

Fast-paced and full of heart, Victories Greater Than Death is a perfect fit for longtime sci-fi fans and readers that are new to the genre! The relationships in this novel are so sweet, and I’m excited to see how they develop in the sequel!

Aurora Rising – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle): 9781524720964: Kaufman, Amie,  Kristoff, Jay: Books

young adult

Two YA sci-fi books with purple covers with beautiful and VERY powerful space girls on them? In one post? It’s more likely than you think.

Aurora Rising is, in my opinion, the textbook-perfect example of the found family trope, and both the platonic and romantic relationships within it never fail to make me feel soft and happy inside.

The Disasters – M.K. England

Amazon.com: The Disasters: 9780062657671: England, M. K.: Books

young adult

The Disasters is the perfect book for you if you’re a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy-esque characters and banter. This one has action, drama, and misadventures in space aplenty!

Gearbreakers – Zoe Hana Mikuta

Gearbreakers eBook : Mikuta, Zoe Hana: Kindle Store - Amazon.com

young adult

Nothing like taking down giant, overpowered robots to bond a couple of people together…

The bonds between all of the characters in Gearbreakers truly shone, and the balance of soft levity, dystopian grit, and brutality were so well-handled!

Skyhunter – Marie Lu

Book Review: Skyhunter by Marie Lu – RARELY IN REALITY

young adult

Continuing on the dystopian train, here’s an action-packed book from one of of my favorite authors! Amidst all of the horror and desolation in Skyhunter’s ravaged world, the relationships between Talin, Red, and the rest of their ragtag gang of Strikers brings hope to a bleak novel. I read it almost a year ago, and it was just the thing that I needed to get through a rough patch in my life.

The Search for WondLa – Tony DiTerlizzi

The Search for WondLa | Book by Tony DiTerlizzi | Official Publisher Page |  Simon & Schuster

middle grade

Looking back, The Search for WondLa wasn’t just my gateway into sci-fi literature—it was probably my gateway to the found family trope as well. This was my favorite series from late elementary school through middle school, and even when I look back through it, I love it just as much as I did when I was younger. Middle school Madeline would be elated to hear that I still highly recommend it; an intricately crafted piece of sci-fi, filled with an immersive world, unique characters, and beautiful illustrations.

Honor Among Thieves – Ann Aguirre & Rachel Caine

Honor Among Thieves (The Honors, #1) by Rachel Caine

young adult

Spaceships are often the perfect vehicle for interstellar bonding (and anything interstellar, really), but have you considered…sentient, intelligent spaceships? What’s more fun than having your own spaceship join the found family?

Honor Among Thieves, with its diverse and chaotic cast of characters and intergalactic intrigue, is sure to both capture your heart and keep you on the edge of your seat!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

Amazon.com: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: Wayfarers 1 eBook :  Chambers, Becky: Kindle Store

adult

I said earlier that the found family trope often involves the characters bonding over some life-changing adventure, but it isn’t always—and never has to be—the case. It seems to me that Becky Chambers has pioneered the “soft sci-fi” novel, one that’s set in a future universe filled with aliens and strange politics, but there are no cosmic, fate-of-the-world wars or over-the-top conflict. It’s more slice-of-life, but in space. (Oh, look at me and all my hyphens…) Which I love.

The relationships of the crew of the Wayfarer made my heart so happy, and I bet they’ll make you just as happy too!

Heart of Iron – Ashley Poston

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

young adult

The main cast, along with the rest of the crew of the Dossier are the sweetest, messiest found family, whether they’re human, robot, or alien. If you love retellings, lost chosen ones, and plenty of banter, Heart of Iron is the book for you!

Larklight – Philip Reeve

Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of  Space: Reeve, Philip, Wyatt, David: 9781599901459: Amazon.com: Books

middle grade

Here’s another one for middle school Madeline…

Larklight, from my memory, is imaginative, kooky, and perfect if you’re a fan of steampunk. Never a dull moment if there are pirate ships and floating houses in space, right? Plus, all sorts of odd creatures…

LIFEL1K3 – Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike): 9781524713928: Kristoff, Jay: Books

young adult

Turning back into dystopian sci-fi, LIFEL1K3 is another fantastic example of a novel that finds the smallest bits of hope in the bleakest (and I mean BLEAKEST) of times. This series HURT me, truth be told, but Jay Kristoff is the master of writing friendships that you want to root for with all your heart.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite books with the found family trope? Have any sci-fi recommendations for me? Tell me in the comments!

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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 (7/6/21) – Spellhacker

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I got to take a trip to my favorite bookstore last week, and this was one of the books that I picked up. I’d been meaning to read it for years after loving M.K. England’s debut, The Disasters, and I finally got to buy it and reading! And despite the average ratings, England’s second novel is a genre-bending success!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Spellhacker by M.K. England

Spellhacker – M.K. England

my copy ft. a cool filter and some crystals, stones, and my bismuth

Kyrkata is a place where futuristic technology and magic – known as maz – live in harmony, but after a magical plague wracks the population, the maz supply is depleted. Corporations now hold maz with a tight fist, racking up the prices while the people who need it most turn to crime in order to get it.

Enter Diz, Remi, Jaesin, and Ania. For two years, they’ve run an illegal maz-siphoning operation. But with college on the horizon, their next heist has to be their last. When their “last job ever” results in a deadly new strain of maz, the four teens must stop a dangerous secret from coming to the surface – and get to the bottom of a corporate conspiracy that may mean the end of their world.

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TW/CW: descriptions of illness, loss of loved ones (off-page), violence, near-death situations

Ok. Hear me out.

So if all of the strains of maz have the suffix -az at the end of them (ex. firaz, magnaz), would that mean that Gorillaz would be a valid name for a strain of maz? Guess they’d have to call it maz-19-2000 instead of maz-15…

…okay, I’ll shut up now. I’m just making myself giggle at this point

Gorillaz: Song By Song: 19/2000
the Gang™️ after the maz-15 incident

[ahem] anyways

It’s really such a shame that this book isn’t getting the recognition it deserves. This is what a genre-bending novel should be – it’s a seamless blend of sci-fi and fantasy, with enough worldbuilding to make both of them work! And Spellhacker has everything – heists, found family vibes, weird creatures, exploding magic, and casual queerness!

What stood out most for me was the tender found-family dynamic in this novel. All four of the main characters – especially Diz, our protagonist – are delightfully real and as messy as they come, but they just felt so genuine. They all had their lovely little quirks, and they all bounced so sweetly off of each other. The love between them (both platonic and romantic, I might say) brimmed off the page, and it made my heart so happy. Through thick and thin, they were all there for each other. Spellhacker reminded me of why the found family trope is easily my favorite trope!

And if there’s one thing better than found family, it’s a casually queer and diverse found family! Diz is queer, Remi (her love interest) is nonbinary, and there’s several wlw and mlm couples! (Or, to quote M.K. England themself, “elderly science husbands.”) There’s also a lot of POC-coded characters present, and the diversity truly shines in this novel.

And beyond that, Spellhacker is SO. MUCH. FUN. If any of you here are fans of Six of Crows or The Gilded Wolves, YOU’RE GONNA EAT THIS BOOK UP. It’s fast-paced, high-stakes, and full of disguises, hacking, chase-scenes, and breakneck action. From the moment the crew botched their last heist, the novel takes off, not letting go until the final page. But even with all that, England still allowed the crew moments to be tender, allowing for a lot of sweet scenes and character interactions. It’s the perfect balance of action and softness.

I have…mixed feelings about the worldbuilding, though. For the most part, I thought it was great; there was clearly a lot of care put into the types of maz and how society controlled them, and the various underground operations to siphon it. Kyrkata’s implied to be a world completely different from ours, but there were references to things that were very Earth-specific (I can’t remember them off the top of my head), and several of the characters had very Earth-sounding last names, which threw me off a little. But overall, the things I found were fairly nit-picky, so the worldbuilding was solid overall.

There was also something unexpected hidden in Spellhacker that I loved – England wove the usage of the maz into a metaphor for climate change, and the relationship that corporations have with the environment. Without spoiling anything, there’s themes of greed and destroying the environment in the name of making money, and I love how Diz and the others combatted that. We all love seeing corporations getting their comeuppance, don’t we?

All in all, a fast-paced novel that seamlessly blends sci-fi and fantasy to make an action-packed bundle of exploding fun. 4.5 stars!

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okay I KNOW I need to stop with the Rabbi Milligan gifs, but Diz says something almost exactly like this line and it made me so giddy ksdjhfskjdfh

Spellhacker is a standalone, and M.K. England’s second novel. They are also the author of The Disasters and a forthcoming middle grade novel called Ultimate Gaming Showdown, scheduled for release in 2022.

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 Reads for Bisexual Visibility Week/Day 💗💜💙

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles, and more importantly, happy Bisexual Visibility Day!

Last week (September 15) was the start of Bisexual Visibility week, which blends with today (September 23), Bisexual Visibility Day. Even though we’ve made great steps as far as LGBTQ+ progress goes, there’s still a plethora of harmful stigmas surrounding bisexual people, and not to mention bisexual erasure in the media and elsewhere. But today is a day to celebrate bisexual love, and to remind ourselves and all our bi friends of this: you are loved, you are valid, and you are beautiful.

So today, I’ve compiled a list of books with bisexual protagonists! Sadly, I wasn’t able to find as many who had #OwnVoices bi authors, but I’m always striving to read and find more.

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR BISEXUAL VISIBILITY WEEK/DAY

Reign of the Fallen, Sarah Glenn Marsh

Amazon.com: Reign of the Fallen (9780448494395): Glenn Marsh, Sarah: Books

GENRE: High fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

There’s only one thing better than a bisexual protagonist…and that’s a bisexual protagonist who’s a necromancer! Reign of the Fallen will always have a special place in my heart, and I’ll always have a soft spot for Odessa.

The Scorpion Rules, Erin Bow

Amazon.com: The Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace) (9781481442725): Bow,  Erin: Books

GENRE: Science fiction, dystopia, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was one of my first quarantine reads, and not only is it an original, underrated dystopia, it’s by an #OwnVoices author!

They Both Die at the End, Adam Silvera

They Both Die At The End By Adam Silvera • Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

GENRE: Contemporary, fiction, science fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This one bleeds over from my list of Latinx YA reads last week–it’s so nice to see bi representation and a relationship from two Latinx boys!

Otherbound, Corinne Duyvis

Amazon.com: Otherbound (9781419716812): Duyvis, Corinne: Books

GENRE: Fantasy, science fiction, fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Not only do we have bisexual and lesbian characters by an #OwnVoices author, there’s great disability representation here as well!

Aurora Rising, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle) (9781524720964): Kaufman,  Amie, Kristoff, Jay: Books

GENRE: Science fiction, space opera, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Speaking of sci-fi with both bisexual and disability rep…

There’s seven (later six) different POVs throughout this series, two of which are LGBTQ+; and Kaufman and Kristoff confirmed that Finian, one of these POVs, is bisexual! (And honestly? It’s perfect, he is absolutely the OG Disaster Bisexual…)

Queens of Geek, Jen Wilde

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

GENRE: Contemporary, fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Not only is one of our protagonists biracial and bisexual, it also tackles a variety of issues, such as biphobia, sexism, fat-shaming, and mental health issues. A wonderful read for anyone familiar with the Comic Con scene!

The Disasters, M.K. England

Amazon.com: The Disasters (9780062657671): England, M. K.: Books

GENRE: Science fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Disasters was SO much fun–and the cast is effortlessly diverse in terms of race, gender, and sexuality! Plus, the author is nonbinary as well!

Fire With Fire, Destiny Soria

Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria

GENRE: Fantasy, urban fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I know I’ve been blabbing about this one for the past month, but what’s not to like about a biracial, bisexual girl and a dragon kicking magic butt?

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these books? Do you have any more recommendations for Bisexual Visibility Day?

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Today’s song:

Do you like girls or boys?

It’s confusing these days,

But moon dust will cover you,

Cover you…

That’s it for these bi reads! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books

Pride Month Book Recommendations, Week 1: Sci-Fi

Happy Thursday, everyone! 🌈

For this Pride Month, I’ve decided to do a batch of weekly recommendations of LGBTQ+ books. I’ll do a different genre each week (though they’ll all probably fall into the YA category), focusing on books with LGBTQ+ protagonists/casts of characters and themes. We’ve come quite a long way in YA, so why not celebrate it?

Let’s begin, shall we?

PRIDE MONTH RECS, WEEK 1: SCI-FI

  1. Once and Future, Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta, Cori McCarthy |, Paperback ...

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Pansexual protagonist, some of the side characters are gay, genderfluid, and asexual, respectively, wlw relationship with protagonist

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.75 (rounded up to 5)

Once and Future is a genderbent, feminist retelling of the legend of King Arthur (set in space!), and it’s an absolutely WILD ride.

2. Heart of Iron duology, Ashley Poston

Amazon.com: Heart of Iron eBook: Poston, Ashley: Kindle Store

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: mlm relationship between two of the main characters, wlw relationship between some of the side characters

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I know I blab about this one quite a lot, but both Heart of Iron and Soul of Stars are truly masterpieces. Plus, Jax and Robb are one of my favorite couples in YA literature. Period.

3. Dreadnought, April Daniels

Amazon.com: Dreadnought: Nemesis - Book One (9781682300688 ...

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Protagonist is a trans woman/lesbian

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A poignant and potent spin on the classic, superhero/coming of age story, as Danny comes to terms not only with her gender identity and sexuality, but with her newfound powers. I read this one a year or two ago and haven’t gotten around to reading book 2 (Sovereign), but I REALLY need to do that soon!

4. The Disasters, M.K. England

Amazon.com: The Disasters (9780062657671): England, M. K.: Books

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Protagonist is bisexual, gay love interest, trans woman side character

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Again, it’s been over a year since I’ve read this one, but it was very Guardians of the Galaxy-esque, and an absolute joy to read!

5. Crier’s War, Nina Varela

Amazon.com: Crier's War (9780062823946): Varela, Nina: Books

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: wlw representation between the two protagonists

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Though I was initially hesitant about reading this one, it turned out to subvert all of my expectations and make for a lushly written novel with romance to DIE for! I suppose you could debate whether or not this is sci-fi or fantasy (I mean, there’s…androids? Basically…), but I’d say it’s a combination of both genres.

6. Aurora Cycle, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle Book 2) eBook ...

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: There’s 7 POVs/protagonists in the series (though it later gets knocked down to 6); one is bisexual, another is a lesbian

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

You all knew I was gonna put this one in here…but hey, this series is genuinely masterful, and spoke to me on so many levels.

If you want more YA LGBTQ+ novel recommendations, I highly recommend visiting Queer Books for Teens! They have all sorts of recommendations for LGBTQ+ books of all genres, but mostly YA.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! WHAT ARE SOME LGBTQ+ SCI-FI BOOKS THAT YOU LOVED? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS! 🏳️‍🌈

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (1/15/18)-The Disasters

Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of Book Review Tuesday!

 

WOW. I didn’t realize how long I’d been waiting for this book until a few weeks before I checked it out.

I feel like it was on some sort of EpicReads list, and it looked really good, so I put it on my to-read list, and then on hold at the library. Of course, it wouldn’t be available for another…mmm, give or take 6 MONTHS OR SO, because I was an idiot and I didn’t realize that it was coming out in December.

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So anyway, it became available a few weeks ago, and I was overjoyed to read it at last. And? I must say, I was not disappointed in the least. A truly wild ride, packed with witty banter, classic sci-fi fun, and lots of crazy twists and turns! We’re only, oh, three or so weeks into 2019, but it’s the best sci-fi book I’ve read so far this year!

 

Enjoy the review!

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The Disasters

Nax Hall has dreamed of becoming a pilot since he was a little boy, back on Earth. Now, he is looking to enroll in the Ellis Station Academy, so he can train to be a full-fledged pilot and travel across the universe. But his dreams are tragically cut short after he fails his exams within a day of arriving, and he’s sent on the first ship back to Earth with three other expelled students. It seems as though this is the end for Nax and his friends, until Ellis Station Academy is attacked by a group of terrorists. As the only ones present at the time of this tragedy, Nax and his ragtag gang are now the prime suspects for the heinous crime. Forced to flee to another planet, they must now discover the truth about the attack on the Academy-and evade the law.

 

 

OH. MAN.

I had high(ish) expectations for The Disasters, but nothing could have prepared me for how stellar (no pun intended) this novel was. Feasible, intricate, future world-building? Gotcha. A cast of characters that are not only very diverse, but UNCANNILY LIKEABLE? Look no further. Spectacular writing, paired with a super-fun plot that had me on the edge of my seat? Check and check! Any sci-fi fan, no matter what your specific tastes are, read this book. I promise that you’ll be grinning the entire time you’re reading this.

Oh, and also, it reminded me a lot of Guardians of the Galaxy, which is a pretty major plus, if you ask me.

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Well, thanks for taking the time to read this review! Have a fantastic rest of your week, and take care of yourselves! 🙂