Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman And Jay Kristoff

Book: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Published April 2017 by Ember|608 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: The Illuminae Files #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

I really liked Illuminae and I’m glad I gave it another chance!  I tried reading it a few years ago, and had trouble getting through it because of the format.  I mostly gave it another chance because I had to read an epistolary novel of my choice for my final English essay, and of course, none of the books on the list given caught my interest.  I’m really glad we could pick a novel of our choice, and for some reason, I had my heart set on Illuminae.

I had an easier time with it this time around, and I don’t know if maybe I was in the mood for it, or if it was because I had to finish it in order to write my essay and do a video about it.

Random side note: based on the videos I watched (and I didn’t watch all of them), I was apparently the only one who didn’t pick a book from the list.

Back to the book, though.  I really liked it!  So much that I immediately bought Gemina and Obsidio, because I need to know what happens next.

It was interesting, because there are things we know that Kady doesn’t, and I was glad for her when she finds out that Ezra is alive.  I liked seeing all of the documents, and something I mentioned in both my essay and presentation was how the different documents came together to tell a much larger story, and how we were able to take a step back and see things more objectively because the type of documents used didn’t necessarily allow us to know what the characters were thinking at all times.

Kady’s interactions with Aidan really got to me though, and was easily the most beautifully written parts of the book.  I really loved Aidan, and I never would have expected that A.I. would be one of my favorite parts of the book!

I also liked how visual the book was!  Granted, trying to read some of the text was really frustrating because I had to turn the book into some really strange positions.  But we have Starry Night!  A heart!  Kady and Ezra together!  Kady by herself!  That was really cool to see.  So while some of the text placement was really frustrating to read, it also drew your attention to the page.  It is was like, what’s going on here?  What do they want us to draw our attention to?

This is a book that I think is best read in print, and it’s because of how visual it is.  I mean, you could go with the audio book, but I feel like you’re going to lose a lot by doing that.  I can’t begin to imagine the amount of work that went into designing each page, especially with all of the blueprints and schematics.  I commend not just Kaufman and Kristoff, but everyone who worked on the book for writing both a cool story and making it look really cool.

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, and I don’t know why, but I still really liked Illuminae.  I am really glad I gave it another chance!

Book Review: Belle Revolte by Linsey Miller

Book: Belle Revolte by Linsey Miller

Published February 2020 by Sourcebooks|384 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.

Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.

Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.

But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies.

I liked Belle Revolte!  I didn’t love it, but I really enjoyed it.

Emilie and Annette swap lives, and Annette gets to study magic, while Emilie get to be a physician’s assistant.  It was interesting to see them live a life different than their own.  Mostly, I loved that they got to do what they always wanted, though I hated that in their world, they had to switch places in order to do so.

For Annette in particular, things are really difficult for her, but I was glad to see that she got to study magic, and be in a place that allows her to be who she is.  I was glad that Emilie got to do the same, but I especially wanted it for Annette.  I hope, that after this book ends, they both get to do everything they dreamed of.

I wrongly assumed this was a series, so I was surprised to see that it was a stand-alone.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have a stand-alone fantasy, but because of that, things do get a little rushed.  As usual, I wanted to know more about the world.  I feel like a broken record with that, because I feel like I say that a lot with fantasy novels, but especially the stand-alone fantasy novels.  It was nice knowing that there isn’t a series I have to read just to find out more but at the same time, I think having at least one more book would help things not feel as rushed.

The book was a little slow at times, and I had a hard time getting into at first.  Things do pick up, and things get a little more fast-paced as the book goes on.  I know things need to be set up, and that can take a while, but for whatever reason, I had a hard time with this book at first.

I don’t usually mention covers, but I love the cover for this book!  It’s so pretty, and I love the colors.  Plus, it somehow fits with the book really well, even though nothing like it is described in the book.

3 stars.  I liked Belle Revolte, and I am interested to see what else Miller writes.

Book Review: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

Book: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

Published March 2020 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|432 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Seventeen-year-old Tempe was born into a world of water. When the Great Waves destroyed her planet, its people had to learn to survive living on the water, but the ruins of the cities below still called. Tempe dives daily, scavenging the ruins of a bygone era, searching for anything of value to trade for Notes. It isn’t food or clothing that she wants to buy, but her dead sister’s life. For a price, the research facility on the island of Palindromena will revive the dearly departed for twenty-four hours before returning them to death. It isn’t a heartfelt reunion that Tempe is after; she wants answers. Elysea died keeping a terrible secret, one that has ignited an unquenchable fury in Tempe: Her beloved sister was responsible for the death of their parents. Tempe wants to know why.

But once revived, Elysea has other plans. She doesn’t want to spend her last day in a cold room accounting for a crime she insists she didn’t commit. Elysea wants her freedom and one final glimpse at the life that was stolen from her. She persuades Tempe to break her out of the facility, and they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth about their parents’ death and mend their broken bond. But they’re pursued every step of the way by two Palindromena employees desperate to find them before Elysea’s time is up–and before the secret behind the revival process and the true cost of restored life is revealed.

I liked this one!  After reading Four Dead Queens last year, and really liking it, I knew I had to read this one.

Even though I didn’t like The Vanishing Deep as much as Four Dead Queens, it was still an enjoyable read.  This book was told over a very short period of time, so if you’re not a fan of books told in the span of one day, this might not be the book for you.  I liked seeing Tempe race against time, trying to figure everything out.

I completely get why she’d want to revive her sister.  After they lost their parents, I get why she would want answers.  I think I would want answers too.  Tempe gets answers, but I don’t think they were the ones she was looking for.  Looking back, it wasn’t that surprising, but when I was reading the book, I just wanted to know more.  I liked seeing how things unraveled.

Not surprisingly, things aren’t what they seem, and Tempe and Elysea learn what happened to their parents, and the truth behind the revival process.  I don’t want to give it away, but it was interesting and horrifying at the same time.

The underwater ruins seemed really cool, and I wanted to know more about how things got to the point where the Great Waves destroyed everything.  I’m curious about how they survived on the water for…however long it’s been like that.  I feel like it wasn’t mentioned but maybe I just don’t remember it, if it was mentioned.  When the book takes place over the span of one day, you’re not going to get a lot of details.  And it’s also a stand-alone, so when the book ends, that’s it.

While I’m curious to know more, and I wonder what things are like for the characters after the book ends, I’m also glad there aren’t more.  It is perfectly contained in one book, and like her previous book, there are plenty of stories you could write in this world.  It’s another book I’d love to see as a movie- with 24 hours to get things taken care of, it would make for a fast-paced, action-packed movie.

3 stars.  I liked The Vanishing Deep.  While I wanted to know more about Tempe’s world, I also thought what we learned was horrifying and interesting.

Audio Book Review: Prey by Rachel Vincent, Narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck

Book: Prey by Rachel Vincent, Narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck

Published July 2009 by Harlequin S.A.|Length: 12 hours, 33 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audiobook

Series: Shifters #4

Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy

Sometimes playing cat and mouse is no game…Play? “Right.” My Pride is under fire from all sides, my father’s authority is in question and my lover is in exile. Which means I haven’t laid eyes on Marc’s gorgeous face in months. And with a new mother “and” an I-know-everything teenager under my protection, I don’t exactly have time to fantasize about ever seeing him again.

Then our long-awaited reunion is ruined by a vicious ambush by strays. Now our group is under attack, Marc is missing and I will need every bit of skill and smarts to keep my family from being torn apart. Forever.

I really liked this one!  I’ve really enjoyed this series, and this book is no exception.

In Prey, we see Faythe dealing with Marc in exile…and Marc goes missing, of course, so Faythe has to deal with that as well.  She’s not willing to give up on finding him, even though there are so many other things that are going on.  She has a lot of heartbreak in the novel, and I was really sad about it.  Faythe and her family has a lot to deal with and they didn’t need that at all.  It made me really sad for her.

Faythe is Faythe, though, and while it hurts now, she will be okay, even if it takes time.  She’s pretty tough, but we do see her as a slightly more vulnerable person in this book.

There are some mysteries in this one, like everything we see with the strays.  I’m curious to see how that works out in the next couple of books, because I feel like that story is far from over.  Also, I really hope Mark is able to leave exile and come back home, but who knows when or how that will happen, if it does?

Honestly, I’ve been feeling pretty frazzled, so I’m surprised I can remember this much about the book!  Granted, when I take a while to review a book, there are times where I don’t always remember a lot, but with school, my brain is somewhat fried.  At any rate, this was an interesting listen, and I really felt for Faythe.  She does find herself in the weird situations, and trouble seems to follow her wherever she goes.

As an audio book, I really liked it!  Jennifer Van Dyck continues to narrate the series, and she does a great job.  Once I finish this series, I want to check out some of the other audio books she narrated.  Honestly, that’s how much I like her!

4 stars.  I really enjoyed Prey, and there’s both mystery and heartbreak for Faythe and her family.  I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer And Ann Barrows

Book: The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Ann Barrows

Published July 2018 by The Dial Press|322 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction

It’s 1946 and author Juliet Ashton can’t think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance, he’s acquired a book that once belonged to her – and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, her curiosity is piqued and it’s not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.

This was a book I read for school, and I liked it!  I’ve talked about this book a lot in discussion posts.

This book is told entirely through letters- we see letters from a lot of different people, though most of the letters are addressed to Juliet and are from Juliet.  I didn’t love the letters, especially at first, but overall, I liked the story.  I really liked following Juliet as she learns more about Guernsey, the literary society and and the German Occupation during World War 2.  All of the people from Guernsey seem like really interesting people, and while I wasn’t enthused with the letters, I still liked reading their letters.

It is a book about books, and that was one of my favorite things about the book.  Some of the characters love reading, while others haven’t read in years.  I just love books about people who love books, though there are a lot of other things going on.  But a love of books and reading does bring together this very strange group of people.

Getting that letter from Dawsey really changed things for Juliet.  She ends up writing the biography of the mother of the child she adopts, she ends up getting married and settles on an island that had a lot to deal with over the last few years.

I liked Juliet’s story, though.  Though we get the stories of the other characters, hers is the one that’s the main focus.  She’s an interesting one, and I wonder what’s in store for her now that she’s married.  I really want to know what she’s going to write after finishing Elizabeth’s biography, and if she’ll ever write something that’s more in the realm of fiction.  Non-fiction seems more her style but you never know.  Anything is possible.

I don’t know that I would have picked this book up on my own, and if I did, I think the letters would have been the reason I decided not to finish it.  But since it was for school, I had to finish it, and I’m glad I did.  I feel like I learned some things- I never knew Guernsey existed before this book, or that it was occupied by German soldiers.  As much as I want to say that I’m going to learn more about it, I know that I probably won’t.  Still, it is in the back of my mind in case I ever change my mind.

I will say, though, that the letters felt very real and thoughtful.  I liked seeing the characters tell their own stories, and the letters made it easy to connect to characters.  It did feel like I was the recipient of the letters, even though I really wasn’t.  In a way, it made it easy to get through, because there were a lot of points where I could easily put the book down and pick it back up.  I can’t imagine the book being told any other way, but…I just don’t know that epistolary novels are for me.

I know it’s a movie, and I’m curious to see how it translated to film as it’s told entirely in letters.  I’d imagine there’s a lot of liberties they could take with the movies, because there’s a lot they could fill in.  Maybe one of these days, I’ll watch it.

3 stars.  I liked the story but I didn’t love that it was told through letters.  Still, I enjoyed it and I think it’s worth checking out.

Book Review: Aru Shah And The Tree Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Book: Aru Shah And The Tree Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Published April 2020 by Rick Riordan Presents|358 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Pandava Quartet #3

Genre: MG

War between the devas and the demons is imminent, and the Otherworld is on high alert. When intelligence from the human world reveals that the Sleeper is holding a powerful clairvoyant and her sister captive, 14-year-old Aru and her friends launch a search-and-rescue mission. The captives, a pair of twins, turn out to be the newest Pandava sisters, though, according to a prophecy, one sister is not true.

During the celebration of Holi, the heavenly attendants stage a massage PR rebranding campaign to convince everyone that the Pandavas are to be trusted. As much as Aru relishes the attention, she fears that she is destined to bring destruction to her sisters, as the Sleeper has predicted. Aru believes that the only way to prove her reputation is to find the Kalpavriksha, the wish-granting tree that came out of the Ocean of Milk when it was churned. If she can reach it before the Sleeper, perhaps she can turn everything around with one wish.

Careful what you wish for, Aru . . . 

I really liked this one!  I’ve enjoyed the series a lot, and this book was no exception.

We meet two more of the Pandava sisters, though we didn’t spend a lot of time with them.  I’m sure we will in the next book, which would be nice.  The twins are definitely the younger sisters of the group- they want to be part of things, but aren’t completely included because they’re still too young.  Still, they did help in their own way, and hopefully, they’ll have more of a role to play in the next book.  It would be a shame if they were introduced only to have a very minor role to play.

I really liked seeing Aru think about her father, and how things could have been different.  She reflects a lot on their relationship and I think she’s changed in the sense that we wouldn’t have seen that self-reflection in the first two books.

I have to say, Mini is amazing!  She’s changed so much and she really is wise and thoughtful.  She doesn’t get the attention Aru does, but she really deserve more attention!  This group would be very different with her, though you could say that about all of the characters.  Losing one means that entire group dynamic has changed, and they all work really well together!  But as far as Mini is concerned, you can tell she puts a lot of thought into things.

There’s a lot of adventure, and things aren’t easy for Aru and everyone else.  Still, they get through it together.  They really make a good team, and I can’t wait to see how their new sisters fit in.

4 stars.  I really liked Aru Shah And The Tree Of Wishes.  I loved seeing Aru learn more about her father, and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Currently Obsessed With: July 2020

Hi everyone!

It feels like I’m doing this post later than normal for some reason, but maybe that’s because I’ve been staying busy.  As I’m writing this, summer school is over, and I only have a week off before the fall semester starts.  With COVID, I’m taking advantage of the fact that a lot of classes are online, which is great for me because the more I can do from home, the better.  I feel like this post is going to be a little bit shorter than normal, just because I wasn’t great at keeping track of what was going on besides work and school.  I still got some stuff down, though, so let’s get started!

Inspired By:

  • Tarot Cards.  I’ve always liked the artwork on tarot cards, and I’ve been using the Mystic Monday app.  The artwork is really cool, and it gives me something to think about for the day.

Watching:

  • The Babysitter’s Club.  I love this show so much!  It’s really cute and if you haven’t seen it, you really need to!
  • Unsolved Mysteries.  I don’t know why it took me so long to watch it, but I’m glad I did!  The mysteries are really interesting, and the theme song totally gave me chills.
  • Cursed.  I love this take on King Arthur!
  • Person Of Interest.  I remember watching this show years ago, and I don’t know why, but I just really wanted to watch it.  I don’t think I ever got past the first or second season of it.

Reading:

  • I’ve been flipping through Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks a lot.  Baking: From My Home To Yours and Dorie’s Cookies are amazing, and I’m excited to make things from her other cookbooks.

Thinking About:

  • Reorganizing my apartment.  It’s really easy to keep clean, but I just really feel like reorganizing everything.
  • Continuing past the health information technology program.  It’s going to be awhile before I’m finished with that program, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  But it is something that’s crossed my mind.

Listening To:

  • Unfinished: Deep South.  I love this podcast, which is about the lynching of Isadore Banks.
  • Missing In Alaska.  This is another podcast, and it’s about two Congressman who went missing in Alaska back in 1972.  I’m still working my way through all of the available episodes, but it’s really interesting so far.
  • Folklore.  I LOVE this album!  I’ve listened to it all the way through I don’t know how many times, and I know I’m not the only one.

Dreamlife:

  • There’s one dream I remember and it’s pretty wacky but also horrible.  I had a dream I tested positive for COVID, went to work anyway, and didn’t tell anyone I had it.  I don’t know what was going on that I had that dream but at least it was just a dream.

Researching:

  • Public health programs.  This kind of relates to staying in school, and if I do, it would be public health.  I’m still not sure if it’s something I want to do, but there are a couple of programs that seem promising.

Eating+Drinking:

  • Water.  I don’t drink as much water as I should be drinking but I’m at least trying to drink some everyday.
  • Veggie straws.  I’ve really wanted these, for some reason, and while the 3 huge bags I had were a bit too much, at least I had plenty of them to eat.

Grateful For:

  • Nail polish thinner.  I feel like I might have mentioned this at some point, but I’m really glad I have some!  It means I can use my old Julep nail polish instead of tossing them in the trash.
  • Printable planners.  This has gotten me through summer school, and was a great way to keep track of assignments I needed to do for the week.
  • Keeping up with homework.  Mostly because of the planners mentioned above, but I’m just glad I was able to keep up with everything.
  • Taking time for myself.  It wasn’t easy, between taking 3 classes and working full-time, but I managed to take some time for myself.  It kept me sane.

Good Things:

  • I registered for fall classes!  I’m taking astronomy, history, and human anatomy and physiology.  Since it’s the fall semester, and it won’t be as condensed as summer classes, I’m hoping it won’t be as stressful.
  • Getting settled into a study routine.  It took a few weeks, but I eventually got settled in.
  • Reading!  I finally got back into reading.  I haven’t been in a huge reading mood but it seems like that’s over, and I hope it stays that way.
  • A new Taylor Swift album!  I was surprised by this surprise album but I was also really excited, and Folklore is so good!

That’s all for today.

Stay safe, and enjoy your day,

Book Review: Sweep In Peace by Ilona Andrews

Book: Sweep In Peace by Ilona Andrews

Published November 2015 by NYLA|315 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #2

Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy

Dina DeMille isn’t your typical Bed and Breakfast owner. Her inn defies laws of physics, her dog is secretly a monster, and the only permanent guest of the inn is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. The inn needs guests to thrive and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance. Unfortunately, for Dina, bridging the gap between space vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. To make the summit a success, she must find a chef, remodel the inn, keep her guests from murdering each other, and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper.

I really liked Sweep In Peace!  We follow Dina as she hosts a peace summit, and, of course, trouble ensues.

It’s a not a surprise, of course, and I think the book would be a lot less interesting.  She really has a lot to manage, from 3 different groups of people to a new chef to a mysterious and manipulative arbiter…I’m surprised things didn’t go completely haywire.  She really had her hands full, with mysterious guests and fighting and everything else that happened.

I really liked Dina in this book.  She’s an interesting one, and she really does care about her inn.  This treaty means Gertrude Hunt will be okay for a while.  Finding out what happens to her parents doesn’t come up in this book the way I thought it would.  There’s so much going on in this book that I didn’t realize it until later on.  We may see more of that in the future, but don’t expect it for this book.  Still, I did like seeing the couple of times her parents did come up.

I really am curious to see what happened to them, and if a guest will lead the way to what happened to them.  There hasn’t been a change in her rating, but she did get a pretty important endorsement, so anything is possible.  It really makes me wonder what’s going to happen next, and who will be staying at the inn in the rest of the series.  I’m pretty sure we’re going to see some colorful characters- and I think I’d be slightly disappointed if they weren’t as colorful as some of the other characters we’ve seen so far.

4 stars.  Sweep In Peace was an entertaining, fast read and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Around The Internet #28

Good morning!

I’m back with another edition of Around The Internet, where I share really cool stuff I find on the internet.  I feel like I have some good ones this week, but as always, take what you need!

That’s all for today, and have a great weekend!

Audio Book Review: Pride By Rachel Vincent, Narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck

Book: Pride by Rachel Vincent, Narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck

Published February 2009 by Harlequin Books S.A.|Length: 13 hours, 18 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Shifters #3

Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy

The werecat council has three cardinal laws; and headstrong Faythe stands accused of breaking two of them: infecting a human with her supernatural skills and killing him to cover her tracks. With the death penalty hanging over her head, Faythe has no escape route left. That is, until a shapeshifter informs the pride of a rash of rogue strays terrorising his land. Yet this threat is nothing like any they’ve seen before. Only Faythe has the knowledge to save the pride, but can she prove her worth? Or will the council’s verdict condemn them all…?

I liked Pride!  We’ll see how much I actually talk about this book, considering it’s been a few weeks between me finishing the book and me writing this review.

In this book, we see Faythe on trial for everything that happened with Andrew.  There are some interesting developments on the Mark front, and I do want to see how that works out.

I was angry at the panel deciding Faythe’s fate.  Mostly because her fate largely rested on her desire to get married and have kids.  It seems like female shifters are pretty rare, and to execute her because she’s not sure about marriage and having kids?  It made me so angry, and angry for Faythe that more importance was placed on her child-bearing abilities and desires.

And because we’re talking about Faythe, she gets wrapped up in some weird things going on.  Most of which revolve around a girl who ended up in Faythe’s care because she wouldn’t let anyone else near her.  And of course, Faythe realizes that with a new (young) shifter, the council really has no reason to keep her around.  Plus, a younger female would be more likely to listen to them, as opposed to Faythe, who is really headstrong and independent.  Still, Faythe makes it through everything.  I knew she would, but it was quite the journey.  And I’m definitely planning on listening to the next book to see what happens next.  Whatever it is will be sure to get Faythe into some sort of trouble.

Jennifer Van Dyck continues to do a great job at narrating!  She is great to listen to and she really has a way of making me feel like she is Faythe.  She’s a great choice for this series.

4 stars.  I really enjoyed this book, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!