Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Aurora Rising
Series: The Aurora Cycle #1
Written by: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Published: May 7, 2019 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)

Synopsis: From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They're not the heroes we deserve. They're just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.
Why I'm Waiting:

I think I may have first learned about this book when I saw Amie and Jay on tour last year for Obsidio. But if I didn't, I remember them talking about it and being super excited. I love both of these authors and they are completely brilliant together and so I am really excited to read more of them.

Not to mention, I have been really enjoying science fiction lately. Space operas have been some of my favorite books of the year so far and this one is giving me serious Firefly vibes. Not to mention, the characters just sounds really amazing. This is one of those books with an unlikely crew getting up to some shenanigans and I am all for that.

I am very excited to read this book. It is one of my most anticipated books of 2019. I recently saw it on Netgalley and I clicked request so fast! But if I don't get approved, I will definitely be getting myself a copy. It comes out right before my birthday so it will probably be my gift to myself.

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on Aurora Rising along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Standalones I Wish Had a Sequel

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

1.) In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan
I seriously cannot shut up about this book lately because it was sooo good. I listened to the audio and it is one of my all-time favorites now. And I know it was a serialized book to begin with but I just want more.

2.) Sadie by Courtney Summers
Typically with mysteries and thrillers, I like an uncertain ending and feel like a book would be ruined by learning too much but with this book I just want more. I have too many questions that didn't get answered.

3.) To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
I'm going to be honest, I thought the author's new book was a sequel to this one so when I heard it was the start of a new duology I was a little bummed. I really liked this one and I kind of want more from this world and characters.

4.) Invictus by Ryan Graudin
This was such a fun book. It had a distinct ending which I definitely enjoyed but the characters were great and I could use some more of their time traveling/heist shenanigans.

5.) The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
The epilogue of this book was so mean! It just left me wanting a sequel. A book of the Natasha and Daniel all grown up. I want to see how their lives turned out.

6.) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
WHAT DID THE LETTER SAY! It has been years since I read this book and I still periodically think of Eleanor and Park and wonder if they are okay and happily together FINALLY!

7.) I'll Meet You There by Heather Demitrios
This one of those standalones that is essentially about first love and people coming together whichI actually enjoyed. And because I enjoyed it, I want more of them together.

8.) The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater
I mean, this is a perfect standalone and I love everything about this love story about a boy and his horse. That's what it's about, don't @ me! But I want another audiobook of Steve West and Fiona Hardingham reading Maggie's words.

9.) Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
This is an adult mystery/thriller that had the this crazy twist ending that just left me totally surprised and wanting a sequel. It totally shifted everything I thought about the first book and so I was left wanting the next book to get some closure.

10.) The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The Historian is one of my all-time favorite books which is probably why I want a sequel. I tried reading Kostova's most recent read but I couldn't get into it. I think because I wanted it to be a sequel of The Historian and it wasn't

Honorable Mention aka books getting sequels but like WHEN!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I loved Ready Player One and I so excited to hear that Cline was writing a sequel. I don't know where the series can go but I am excited to find out.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
I instantly added this book to my TBR when I learned about it two years ago but it still hasn't come out. I feel like the publishing date has been pushed back twice already and I WANT IT NOW!

There you have it, all the standalones I wish had sequels. What books made your list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Title: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing 
Series: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing #1
Written by: Hank Green
Published: September 25, 2018 by Dutton (Penguin Group)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: In his much-anticipated debut novel, Hank Green—co-creator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShow—spins a sweeping, cinematic tale about a young woman who becomes an overnight celebrity before realizing she's part of something bigger, and stranger, than anyone could have possibly imagined. 

The Carls just appeared. 

Roaming through New York City at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship—like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor—April and her friend, Andy, make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day, April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world—from Beijing to Buenos Aires—and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight. 

Seizing the opportunity to make her mark on the world, April now has to deal with the consequences her new particular brand of fame has on her relationships, her safety, and her own identity. And all eyes are on April to figure out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us. 

Compulsively entertaining and powerfully relevant, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing grapples with big themes, including how the social internet is changing fame, rhetoric, and radicalization; how our culture deals with fear and uncertainty; and how vilification and adoration spring for the same dehumanization that follows a life in the public eye. The beginning of an exciting fiction career, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a bold and insightful novel of now.

Not really what I was expecting but an enjoyable read. I enjoy Hank Green’s YouTube videos and I find him a thoughtful and intelligent person so I was interested to read a book he wrote. It turned out to be a compelling story.

I listened to the audiobook and it was the perfect format. This is one of those books with such a distinct voice that you can fall into the character’s world and personality while you are listening to the audio. The narrator did a great job with developing April May and bringing here to life.

This book also had some really interesting themes that are incredibly topical, but it told them through an interesting lens. Part of this book is about internet fame and how a person can get so wrapped up in their persona and portraying something to and for their audience. I really enjoyed this theme and I wish the book had went into a little more depth on the concept, allowing for more character growth throughout the story. It was one of the more interesting and complex parts of the book for me, but it was almost just taken at face value and I wish it went deeper.

But instead of delving deeper into this theme, instead it explored the fear and fervor that people can whip others into on the internet. It became as much about 24 hour news cycle, political pundits and how they can create this divide amongst people who see the people who disagree with them as the enemy. But again, Hank did this in a subtle way through the lens of these robots. The “Carls” could be an allegory for any number of current political events because of the way they made people respond was so honest and realistic that the social commentary was evident and interesting.

Speaking of the Carls, that was the aspect of the story I wasn’t really expecting. This book was much of a science fiction story than I was expecting. It had definite Ready Player One vibes not only because of it’s discussion of the online world. No, there was also the mystery and race to reveal the secrets of the dream that felt very reminiscent of that book. And while I really enjoyed this aspect of the story as well, I found it kind of lacking. I think however that was because I thought this was a stand-alone. I wanted answers to my questions and this book didn’t give those to me. But there is a sequel coming so hopefully I will get some answers then.

All in all this was an engaging and compulsively readable book. I flew through it and really enjoyed not only the science fiction plot but the complex themes about the internet and society. It wasn’t perfect but it was an engaging debut.

I give An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I really enjoyed this book and I definitely recommend you pick this up from the library if you enjoy Hank Green or are looking for a fast and unique read.

Have you read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Book Review: Immoral Code by Lillian Clark

Title: Immoral Code
Written by: Lillian Clarke
Published: February 19, 2019 by Delacorte (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: For Nari, aka Narioka Diane, aka hacker digital alter ego “d0l0s," it’s college and then a career at “one of the big ones," like Google or Apple. Keagan, her sweet, sensitive boyfriend, is happy to follow her wherever she may lead. Reese is an ace/aro visual artist with plans to travel the world. Santiago is off to Stanford on a diving scholarship, with very real Olympic hopes. And Bellamy? Physics genius Bellamy is admitted to MIT—but the student loan she’d been counting on is denied when it turns out her estranged father—one Robert Foster—is loaded.

Nari isn’t about to let her friend’s dreams be squashed by a deadbeat billionaire, so she hatches a plan to steal just enough from Foster to allow Bellamy to achieve her goals.

I wanted to love this book, I really did. But unfortunately, for me it didn’t quite deliver. It’s not a bad book, it just didn’t impress me in the way I was hoping.

For one thing, I went into this book exciting for a YA heist novel which is something you don’t see very often and I am very interested in reading. And while this book has a heist in it, the actual heist itself was only about 20% of the book and didn’t happen until about 60% of the way into the book. I wanted more from the heist, more about the heist. As the kind of reader who prefers a plot-driven story, I was left kind of disappointed by the fact that this was more of a character-driven story.

I should have realized this was going to be more character-driven when I realized this book have five different perspectives. It’s about a group of five best friends and each of them takes a portion of the story. We get to be in their head, learn about who they are and what makes them tick. They are a diverse group of people who you wouldn’t really expect to be friends but they very obviously care for one another. One of the thing I liked about them is that they felt like teenagers. Their voice felt very young but it realistic. The author succeeded in making them high school students in an effortless way. But I think their “voice” from a narrative standpoint kind of blended together for me. I found myself completely forgetting who the chapter was about and wanted to go back to the start to remind myself of that. It just kind of muddied the narrative for me.

And while this was a short book, I don’t know that I would call it a fast read. I mean, I did read it in just a few days but it also took awhile before I really connected with the story. I read the first half in four days and the second half in a day. The pacing definitely built up to an exciting ending but it had such a slow start. If this was a 400 page novel I think I probably would have DNF’d it because I couldn’t see investing the time. It had a satisfying ending but it took me longer than I would have like to get to what had interested me in the book in the first place.

What I want to convey to potential readers is not that this is not a bad book. It’s just a more quiet and character-driven read. It’s about friendship and family, both found and forced. It’s about making certain decisions and then having to live with the consequences. It’s about morally questionable actions for justice and how maybe getting what you wanted isn’t what you needed. It is not, however, a heist novel.

I give Immoral Code by Lillian Clarke 7 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Bypass. Like I said, this is not a bad book it just isn't the book for me. But that being said I don't know that I would recommend it. I think there are other books that I would suggest more than this one.

Have you read Immoral Code? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, March 1, 2019

February Wrap Up and March TBR

Read in February: Historical Fiction

My blogging slump is still basically hanging around but I have gotten much better this month. I am posting more regularly and even sometimes posting in advance, which is really good. I am still a little behind on posts and don't have much motivation to write reviews, but we are getting there. As for reading, it wasn't a great month but seeing as it is the shortest of the year, I think I did okay. I read a total of 11 books this month. Okay, well I really only read 10 but I'm saying I finished Courting Darkness even though I didn't because I will over the weekend.

For challenges, I am once again low key doing challenges. The only one I am legit doing is how many books in a year. I set a Goodreads goal of reading 150 books in a year. My original goal last year was 150 but I had to lower it so I want to make that happen this year. Adding these 11 to last month brings my total to 27 for the year which is on track for this goal. For the rest of the challenges I only low key set them. I want to read 20 debuts this year and I read 2 again this month which is 4 for the year and on track. I haven't really been reading e-books lately but I did get approved for a good amount on Netgalley so I need to hold myself accountable. I want to read 15 books this year. I read 1 this month which is a total of 3 for 2019. I also want to read 20 backlist books. This month I read 2 backlist books which is 5 for the year. I am on track for all of these goals but it is kind of too early to tell

The Books

1.) Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullogh Rating: 9 out of 10 [My Review]
2.)  King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo Rating: 9.5 out of 10 [My Review]
3.) Saga Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples Rating: 8 out of 10
4.) Saga Vol. 9 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples Rating: 9.5 out of 10
5.) On the Come Up by Angie Thomas Rating: 9.5 out of 10 [My Review]
6.) Spectacle by Jodi Lynn Zdork Rating: 8 out of 10 stars [My Review]
7.) Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard Rating: 9.5 out of 10 stars [My Review]
8.) The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry Rating: 8 out of 10 stars [My Review]

9.) The Wicked and the Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen 
and Jamie McKelvie Rating: 9 out of 10
10.) Immortal Code by Lillian Clark Rating: 7 out of 10 [Review to Come]
11.) Courting Darkness by Robin LeFevers Rating: 9 out of 10 [Review to Come]

To Be Read in March: 

And here is hoping that I can continue the strong reading month. It is the time of year where exciting new books continue to come out, including a few I have been waiting on for years. I am hoping to read at least a dozen books this month but I am honestly not sure which books I want to read. I have a busy month with travel for work and to visit family and friends so we shall see.

Books for Review

Enchantee by Gita Trelease - Add to Goodreads
I wanted to read this last month but I didn't get the chance with the other books I was hoping to read. But honestly this month I don't have many plans of what to read so hopefully I will have time for this one finally.

The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees - Add to Goodreads
I received an advance copy of this from the publisher a while ago and it is finally time to read it. I love low fantasy dealing with forests. They always feel like modern fairy tales and this one sounds great.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan - Add to Goodreads
I am super excited to read this book. I am on the blog tour for early April and I am planning to read this next month in order to prepare for the tour.

The Fever King by Victoria Lee - Add to Goodreads
This is technically a March release but it is one of the Kindle First Reads this month and there is almost never one of those I want to read so when I saw this I snatched it up.

New Releases

Slayer by Kiersten White - Add to Goodreads
I have been wanting to read this one and a few friends and I decided to buddy read it. One of them is a huge Buffy fan and so I am excited to discuss with her.

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton - Add to Goodreads
I loved The Belles. I was late to the party on that book but for this one I have a copy already ordered and I am so pumped to start it.

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Schotle - Add to Goodreads
I have a copy of this reserved from the library. If things go well then I should be able to read it this month. Maybe bring it with me to read on my trip.

Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon - Add to Goodreads
I love Samantha Shannon's writing and I am super excited to read her take on dragons. But this book is a total beast. I am thinking about listening to the audiobook but it's 25 hours long. I'm not sure if I have to time to finish it.

Backlist Books

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green - Add to Goodreads
I have the unpopular opinion that John Green is overrated but I think is because I have always liked his brother Hank more. I'm excited to read his novel. It sounds really good.

Other than that, I have no plans. A few other books I reserved from the library that might come in but I am not sure which and I don't know if I will be able to read them and when.

There you have it. Some of the books I hope to read in March. As always, these are subject to change. I may read all of these or I may only read a few and then read a bunch of different ones. But honestly I think this list I can stick to. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Review: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

Title: The Passion of Dolssa
Written by: Julie Berry
Published: April 12, 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers (Penguin Group)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Dolssa is a young gentlewoman with uncanny gifts, on the run from an obsessed friar determined to burn her as a heretic for the passion she refuses to tame. 

Botille is a wily and charismatic peasant, a matchmaker running a tavern with her two sisters in a tiny seaside town. 

The year is 1241; the place, Provensa, what we now call Provence, France—a land still reeling from the bloody crusades waged there by the Catholic Church and its northern French armies. 

When the matchmaker finds the mystic near death by a riverside, Botille takes Dolssa in and discovers the girl’s extraordinary healing power. But as the vengeful Friar Lucien hunts down his heretic, the two girls find themselves putting an entire village at the mercy of murderers.

The Passion of Dolssa has been on my list since before it came out. I read a lot of historical fiction and I am looking for books that have unique settings and stories and this absolutely fit the build. I tried to read it a few times but after those false starts I was nervous about reading it this month. But my themes is historical France so I took the time and I am glad that I did. It is not my typical read but very interesting.

This book is beautifully written. I listened to the audiobook and I am surprised by how much it pulled me in. The writing had the kind of prose that translates so well to the audio format. I do think it did have a bit of a slow start. As I said before, I tried reading it a few times and it took me until now until I finally finished it. I think it is just one of those slower books that you have to take your time with. It did built to an exciting conclusion that had me so concerned about what was going to happen, it just took it's time to hook me. Although when it did, it didn't let me go.

One of the things that surprised me most about this book is how it combined history and religion. I usually don't read a lot of books with religious content, although it is something I enjoy in high fantasy. But I feel like this book did a really good job of handling the religion. This was a period of time with a lot of religious unrest, especially with the Catholic Church, between the Crusades and the Inquisition. This book did not shy away from these more unsavory activities of the church, but it also didn't portray the church as all bad. There was a lot of grey areas when it came to not only organized religion itself but the people who practiced it. I appreciated that from both a narrative perspective and real life perspective. It made you think and that is all you can really ask for with any book, especially a historical fiction novel.

However, I would have appreciated this book to have established the physical setting. This is really important to me in historical fiction. This is one of those books where it felt like it could have happened anywhere. It could have been any place in Medieval Europe. This might not be that be an issue for many readers but for me I was missing something. I have been to Provence, it's a beautiful place and has a rich history especially in reference to religion and the Catholic Church. But for me the setting didn't really come alive and I had hoped it would.

One thing I did love however is the characters. The author did a really good job in making the reader connect with the characters, especially the women. While Dolssa is the titular character, it is Botille who is really the one who moves the plot along. In the beginning I thought I would be more interested in Dolssa's perspectives but very quickly I found that I enjoyed Botille. She is kind and caring, but also smart and resourceful. She's one of those women who is slightly ahead of her time and therefore is in a kind of precarious position. All of this made me like her and root for her. Dolssa is the character who is easy to root for, however. She is the one who is taken advantage of by society because of her position as a woman. We are not in her head as much as I expected but the times we did gave her a lot of depth. Being in Lucien's head also gave his character depth. He wasn't a totally terrible antagonist which can often happen in these kinds of stories. Now don't get me wrong, he was vile and loathsome but he felt more like of those people who is completely misguided in that he thinks he is in the right, and that made him a much more engaging character.

All in all, The Passion of Dolssa was a complex and engaging read that made me think. It's a good historical fiction novel that handled religion in a really great way and complex characters that I connected with more than I would expect.

I give The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you haven't read this book and you are looking for a unique historical fiction novel then check this book out. What I am curious about is what people who are more religious think about it.

Have you read The Passion of Dolssa? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Places Mentioned In Books I Want to Visit

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

1.) Paris from Spectacle by Jodi Lynn Zdrok
I just read this book and one of the things I loved about it was how Parisian it felt. It made me want to visit Paris again and see all the things I never got to see the first time. It's the kind of city that you can never visit enough.

2.) Scotland from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
There are a lot of places I want to visit but I'll be honest, I wasn't much interested in Scotland until these two books. Outlander makes me want to go to the Highlands and explore the countryside while City of Ghosts has super intrigued me about Edinburgh.

3.) Arizona from Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
So, this is less about the actual book and more about one of my best friends from college moved there. I haven't seen  her in five years and I would like to visit. Also, Arizona in February? Sounds like a great idea.

4.) Prague from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
There are a lot of places in Eastern Europe I want to visit and Prague is one of them. I'd love to go and explore some of the places that Karou and Zuze go to throughout the book.

5.) Santorini from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
I loved this series back in the day. It was one of those books that got me back into YA when I was in college. One of the best parts of the book was Lena's trip to Santorini. It made me want to visit there.

6.) Istanbul (and also Wallachia) in The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and And I Darken by Kiersten White
Again, there are many places in Eastern Europe I want to visit and Istanbul is one of them. Both of these books make it sound beautiful and amazing. Plus Wallachia would be cool because of all the Gothic castles.

Cabeswater Fanart by starsocks

7.) Amsterdam from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Unpopular opinion: I don't like this book. But I do still want to visit Amsterdam. When I was studying abroad I never went to Amsterdam and I kind of regret it because I actually have family from Holland.

8.) London (but mostly Red London) from A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
London is another on of those places I have visited but only for a short period of time. There are so many more places I would like to go to and explore some more. Plus maybe I could find a way to Red London because then.. MAGIC!

9.) Henrietta from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater 
Henrietta is not a real place in Virginia but if it was I would want to go there. I hear the Smoky Mountains are beautiful and the added mystery of this book makes me want to explore Henrietta and try to find Cabeswater.

10.) Adria from the Embassy Row series by Ally Carter
This is also not a real place and I don't know what inspired it but I want to go to there. It's like a beautiful island I think in the Mediterranean. Or maybe the Adriatic. That would actually make more sense.

11.) The Goblin Market from In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
This is the fourth book in the Wayward Children series which is about doors to fantasy worlds opening to people. When I read this book I was so intrigued by the Goblin Market. If I had a door open to me it would be to this world.

12.) Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
This should be no surprise. I mean, every person who grew up on Harry Potter wants to visit Hogwarts, right?

There you have it. All the places in books I want to visit. What locations made your list. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!