Book Review: A Spark Of White Fire by Sangu Manadanna

Book: A Spark Of White Fire by Sangu Manadanna

Published September 2018 by Sky Pony|320 pages

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

Series: The Celestial Trilogy #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Re-Telling

Named one of the best 25 space opera books by BookRiot!

The first book in a scifi retelling of the Mahabrahata. When Esmae wins a contest of skill, she sets off events that trigger an inevitable and unwinnable war that pits her against the family she would give anything to return to.

In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back. 

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali. 

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart. 

Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.

I really liked this one!  I’m not familiar with the Mahabharata at all, so I’m not at all familiar with the stories that inspired this book.  But I want to know more about them because I am curious about the stories that inspired this book.

I really liked the setting, and you can’t go wrong with a book set in space.  It was an interesting setting for the story, and I kept picturing planets, but it seemed like everything was set on space ships.  Maybe I’m wrong on that one, but that was my impression.  It was a little bit fuzzy for me, since nothing was really described or explained.  I wish there had been a little more world-building, but it’s also possible I missed those details.  It wouldn’t be the first time that happened, and it probably won’t be the last.

I also had a hard time keeping track of who was who and how they were all related, especially at the beginning.  I managed to keep up by the end of the book, but at first, it wasn’t clear to me what was going on.  We were definitely thrown into this world, which is fine but it took a while to get my bearings straight.

Fate, free will and prophecies are pretty important in this book.  There’s definitely the sense that certain events were put in motion because certain characters did everything they could to avoid it.  Esmae is definitely the lost princess no one knows about who comes out of the woodwork to claim her throne and her crown.

I really liked Esmae, and there were a lot of beliefs she had to reconcile and loyalties she had to deal with.  I wish we had more with her and Titania, and I feel like there’s a lot of potential there.  I know Titania is a warship but I’m definitely intrigued by their relationship.  Something about that made me think of the Binti trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor.

I can’t speak to how well it does as a re-telling but based off a quick read of the Mahabrahata wikipedia page, it seems like it sticks to the overall story…but in space.  Again, I could be way off, because I skimmed the Wikipedia page, but it seems like it sticks to the overall story.  I don’t know if we’ll continue to see that, but we’ll find out in the books to come.  I’m sure someone much more familiar with these stories could talk about this aspect a lot better than I ever will.

I really enjoyed this one.  There’s a lot of political intrigue, and I’m curious to see where things go, especially with how things ended.

4 stars.  I was wavering between 3 and 4 stars, but I really liked the setting, the story and Esmae.

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Book Review: On The Edge Of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

Book: On The Edge Of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

Published March 2016 by Amulet Books|456 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Apocalyptic/Sci-Fi

January 29, 2035.

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

On The Edge Of Gone wasn’t what I thought it would be, and I really wished I liked it more.  I can see why people like it, but it just wasn’t for me.

The idea behind it is really interesting.  A comet is about to hit, and some people have left earth, while others have stayed behind in shelters.  I liked seeing Denise fight to get to the shelter she’s been assigned to, and then fight to stay on a ship that needs all passengers to have a skill that would allow them to stay on board.  I get her fears that she won’t be able to stay on board, especially with her mother, and I can appreciate she’d do what she could to help out and have a better chance at survival.

The story felt pretty slow and unfortunately, it felt like it took place over a really long period of time.  It felt like it took place over weeks, that’s how slow it felt.  In reality, it probably took place over the course of a few days, but it was so slowly paced that it felt longer.  It also felt like absolutely nothing happened, and I expected a lot more action, considering it was the end of the world.  I kept waiting for something more exciting to happen, and for me, it never did.

I never felt completely invested, and while I felt for Denise and what she was going through and experiencing, I also never completely cared about what happened to her.  I mean, I knew it was going to be a survival story, but I don’t think I was expecting it to be a slow-paced survival story.  I think, overall, I had a really hard time getting into it, especially since nothing excited happened during the book.

One of the best things about the book was seeing a female character who’s autistic.  We were very much in her head and what she was going through, and you felt her sense of panic and worry as she fought for a place on the ship before it took off into space.  You saw how people (particularly one of her former teachers) didn’t realize she was autistic, especially because she was a female person of color.  People don’t see her as autistic, because she doesn’t match up with their stereotype and image of who an autistic person is or should be.

The setting is pretty cool as well, and I liked seeing an apocalyptic survival set in a place that isn’t the U.S.  While I am not at all familiar with Amsterdam, I felt like we got to explore at least part of it.  The author is from Amsterdam, and it was clear that the author was drawing on her own experiences living there.  It definitely came across that she knew the city.

2 stars.  I liked Denise’s voice, and I felt for her as she tried to survive a comet hitting earth.  But the story was too slow, and it felt like nothing happened.

Book Review: Wildcard by Marie Lu

Book: Wildcard by Marie Lu

Published September 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|341 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Warcross #2

Genre: YA Sci Fi

All bets are off. This time the gamble is survival.

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems—and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

I really liked this one!  I was really curious about where things were headed after finishing Warcross a few months ago, and I’m glad we finally found out.

We learn a lot more about Zero in this book, and the mysterious Blackcoats that he works with.  I don’t know what I was expecting with Zero’s story, and why he disappeared years earlier, but I’m also glad we learned more about him.  I was surprised by everything that happened with Hideo- I wasn’t expecting it, but I am glad there were consequences to what he did.  I definitely get why he wanted to find his brother, and the lengths he would go to in order to find him.  At the same time, though, I think his technology could be used in ways he never intended, but hopefully, everything will turn out okay with his algorithm.

Emika…I don’t have strong thoughts about her either way.  She’s a pawn for pretty much the whole book, and I wish she had been able to make more of her own decisions.  Emika is more of a messenger/go-between than anything else, and I really missed the parts where she’s with the Phoenix Riders.  I also missed the actual Warcross elements as well, though I get why we don’t see more of the Phoenix Riders and Warcross.

Wildcard is definitely more about Hideo and Zero, and less about the technology Hideo created.  I liked those parts, don’t get me wrong, but I still wish we had seen more of the other things I really liked about the first book.

Part of me is glad that this was a duology, because I can’t really see how Lu would stretch the story out.  At the same time, part of me wants to see Emika and Hideo’s story beyond what we saw in this book.  Overall, it’s a pretty good conclusion to the story.  The story did move pretty fast, and there were times where I kept forgetting the book only took place over the course of a few days.

4 stars.  I really liked it learning more about Hideo and Zero, but Emika seemed boring in this one.  I also missed the Phoenix Riders and the Warcross elements but it’s still a pretty good good conclusion.

Book Review: Impostors by Scott Westerfeld

Book: Impostors by Scott Westerfeld

Published September 2018 by Scholastic Press|407 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Uglies #5

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopia

Frey and Rafi are inseparable . . . but very few people have ever seen them together. This is because Frey is Rafi’s double, raised in the shadows of their rich father’s fortress. While Rafi has been taught to charm, Frey has been taught to kill. Frey only exists to protect her sister. There is no other part of her life. Frey has never been out in the world on her own – until her father sends her in Rafi’s place to act as collateral for a dangerous deal. Everyone thinks she’s her sister – but Col, the son of a rival leader, is starting to get close enough to tell the difference. As the stakes grow higher and higher, Frey must decide whether she can trust him – or anyone in her life.

I’ll admit, I was both really nervous and really excited about this book.  Excited, because we get to revisit the world of the Uglies, and way after the end of Specials.  But I was also nervous, because I wasn’t too enthused with Extras, which felt tacked on when I originally read.  I was nervous it would be the same with Impostors.

I’m glad I read it, though, because I ended up being nervous for no reason.  One thing I really appreciated is the fact that you don’t need to read the first 4 books in order to know what’s going on with this one.  Even though it’s the 5th book in the Uglies series, it also felt like a sequel or spin-off series.  You get an idea of what happened before, and it was worked into the book really well but it’s also a completely different story, and you can follow what’s going on pretty well.  I’d still recommend the previous books because they are really good, and the 4th might feel like less of an afterthought now that the series is continuing.

I really liked the characters, and part of me wishes we saw more of Rafi.  We get a good sense of who she is, especially by the end of the book, but I have the feeling there’s more going on with her than what we get in the book.

I liked Frey too, and I liked that she wasn’t always sure what to do, or how to act.  It’s understandable, considering she didn’t get the education Rafi did.  That was something that took me out of it a little, though.  I mean, I know she’s a body double and all, she’s just a stand-in for when they need to make an appearance in front of a crowd, but what if something were to happen to Rafi?  Eventually, it might become obvious that there’s something going on, and I feel like she should have had the same education Rafi did for it to really work.  It seemed like Frey really needed but her father obviously had other plans.

There is a lot of action, and it does move pretty fast, which is good.  There’s also a lot of twists and turns, and it was fun to go along for the ride.

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, and Frey not having the complete education Rafi did took me out of the story a little bit.  Still, it’s worth reading, especially if you liked the original series.

Book Review: Likel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

Book: Likel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

Published May 2018 by Knopf Books For Young Readers|402 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Likelike #1

Genre: YA Sci Fi

On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.

I’m not sure what to think about Likelike.  I read this one because it was this month’s book club pick, and I get why people like Jay Kristoff.  I don’t know that I would have picked up Likelike if it were not for book club, but it’s different.

At first, I had a hard time getting into.  Partly because of the…terminology I guess.  It’s my least favorite thing about sci-fi, and I generally don’t read a lot of sci-fi focusing on robots.  Not only that, but I had a hard time keeping up with who was who, and I had to read the first few chapters a few times just to figure out who the characters were and what was going on, because I wasn’t getting it.  It could have been me, it could have been the book, but that is neither here nor there.

It also felt painfully slow, and the memories that Eve had were kind of disjarring.  I mean, you knew she was remembering things, and there are some secrets that should have stayed secret.  This is a dark book, and it is definitely not for everyone.  I don’t know if his books are ones I would like- there were things I really liked about this one, but I also don’t know what to think about it.  Between this one and Illuminae, which I couldn’t finish because the formatting drove me up a wall, I don’t think I’ll seek out one of his books.  I’d give it a try if it were for book club, maybe, but on my own?  Probably not.

I liked the plot twist (as obvious as it was), and I like the premise of the story.  I liked the world that Eve lived in, and it’s a futuristic wasteland.  I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it, and it is different than a lot of the other sci-fi I’ve read.  It stands out, and in a good way.  If you’re looking for something unique and that doesn’t shy away from the dark side, this is the book for you.  There is no happy ending, but I’m oddly fine with that.  I had the feeling it wouldn’t have a happy ending, and it seems like happy endings are not his thing.

Also, I don’t read a lot of sci-fi.  Well, something so strongly sci-fi.  Set in space, yes.  Dystopia, definitely yes.  Maybe sci-fi that’s not super-technical, but something like this?  Usually not.  Maybe it’s just not my thing.

Anyway, I did like the world he built.  It’s vivid, and I could picture things so clearly.  Honestly, while I’m not sure what to think about this book in book form, I’d probably watch the hell out of a movie or tv show based on Lifelike.  I’m pretty sure it would be interesting to watch, and all of a sudden, I’m thinking that this is one of those books that I’d like far better on screen than in print.  Or maybe, I’d like it better as an audio book, but I’m not sure if that’s something I’m interested in doing.

I feel like I’m making no sense at all with this review.  My thoughts are all over this place for this one, and I can’t seem to get them organized.  Or in a way that’s cohesive and makes sense.  I think it’s time to move on, because I have no idea where I’m going with this.

My Rating:  So, I’m not actually going to rate this one.  Well, not yet.  I have no idea what to rate it because I have no idea how I really feel about it.  So for now, Likelike gets no rating.

Book Review: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

Book: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

Published May 2018 by HMH Books For Young Readers|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Re-telling

Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.

I really liked this one.  It’s a Jane Eyre re-telling, and though it’s been ages since I’ve read Jane Eyre, I still remembered just enough to recognize it as a Jane Eyre re-telling.  I think, even if you haven’t read Jane Eyre, it’s a pretty interesting and good read.

If you like Across The Universe by Beth Revis, I think you’ll really like this one.  I was reminded of it the entire time I was reading this book, and I liked seeing the fleet of spaceships just waiting to get back to earth.  Brightly Burning isn’t really an exploration of earth or space or trying to find a place to live like Across The Universe is, but it’s still an interesting and intriguing read.

I think I was surprised it was a stand-alone.  I think I assumed it would be the first of a trilogy, and there are a lot of questions that aren’t answered.  There are a lot of things I’m curious about, like the fleet sent up to orbit Earth because of an ice-age.  How did we end up in an Ice Age?  How did they decide who would get sent up on spaceships?  Were there people left to die on Earth?  It’s never really explained (and if it was, then it obviously didn’t stick).  I did like the references to movies and books (like The Sound Of Music, which is the only one I’m remembering right now), and it’s clear that that some of the more…pop culture-y things did make their way to space (and hopefully back to earth).

I’m always hesitant with stand-alone sci-books (and also stand-alone paranormal and fantasy books) because I’m always nervous that I’ll be really confused about the world and what’s going on.  Sometimes, one book doesn’t seem like enough to build a world, but I thought we got a really good sense of Stella’s world and what it was like becoming a governess on the Rochester.  And while I did want more of her story, particularly with how things ended, I’m also glad that it was only one book.  Maybe the fact that it’s Jane Eyre in space made it work as a stand-alone.

4 stars.  I really liked it, and the combination of Jane Eyre and space worked really well together.  I do wish I knew more about the ice age that led to us going up to space, and what things are like on earth, but overall, I thought that we got a really good sense of Stella’s world that I didn’t mind that a lot of my questions weren’t answered.

Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Book: Warcross by Marie Lu

Published September 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|353 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Warcross #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. 

The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

I really liked Warcross!  I liked Emika, and the world she lived in.

Emika is a great character, and she really is a girl just trying to survive.  It’s obvious Warcross means a lot to her, and it’s a pretty important part of her life.  A glitch really changed everything for her, and as it would turn out, things do not go the way she though they would.

Emika’s world was interesting, she does struggle.  But one of the things that kept me from truly loving Warcross was that the world (and Warcross) wasn’t explained very well.  I wasn’t quite clear what Warcross was or how it was played.  Obviously, it’s virtual reality, but it didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  Maybe I wasn’t reading the book well enough, or maybe it didn’t make a lot of sense because I’m not a gamer.  I did like the descriptions when Emika and her team was actually going up against another team, and I thought that was well done.

Maybe I just wish that it translated to the rest of the book.

Worldbuilding aside, I did like Emika’s team as well.  Something about them reminded of the group of people we see in Six Of Crows.  It might be an odd comparison, and I’m not at all sure why these two reminded me of each other, but I’m just going to go with it.  I do wish we knew more about them.  Emika is not at all concerned about what’s going on with them, so because she doesn’t know a lot about them, we don’t know a lot about them.  I wish we did, but hopefully that will change in the next book.

Warcross was entertaining and fun and I feel like I went through it pretty fast.  I did understand some of the motivations behind certain characters, especially Hideo.  And he especially had this really interesting balance of good and bad, so I am curious to see how his story plays out.  Him, more than anyone else.  As interesting as he is, part of me doesn’t like him.

I can’t wait to read the sequel to see where things go!

4 stars.  I really liked Warcross, and I thought Emika and the impact Warcross had on both her and the world was interesting.  It’s entertaining and fun, and an especially great book for people who like video games and technology.  I didn’t love it, but it was still a fun read.

Book Review: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Book: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Published March 2018 by HarperTeen|345 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.

For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.

As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.

I had a hard time getting into this book, to the point that I did not like it.  At all.

I mean, sure, I read this book in three days, but the more I read, the more I didn’t like it.  Is it an interesting idea?  Absolutely.  A book about a group of teenagers trying to start a settlement on Jupiter’s moon sounds cool.  But this book just didn’t work for me.

One of my biggest issues were the narrators.  The Final Six follows two teens, Naomi and Leo, as they go through training at the ISTC.

For starters, their chapters/sections sound EXACTLY the same.  The 24 teens are divided into different groups, and of course, Naomi and Leo are on the same team.  It makes no sense to have both of them narrate, at least for most of the book.  It isn’t until the end of the book where it made sense to see two different perspective.  Are they doing different things for most of the book?  No, they most certainly were not.  They’re together  for most of the book, especially with the training exercises, and that is what a lot of the books are.

Their chapters sounded exactly the same, and if it weren’t for the header of Leo or Naomi, I wouldn’t know who we were supposed to be following.  Not that it would have made a difference, because there was no shift in perspective.  Well, for the most part.  The few times they aren’t together…let’s just say that even when they’re not together, there isn’t much difference between their voices.

And the other thing with the narration is this: for the most part, each chapter focuses on either Leo or Naomi.  There are times at the beginning where we change narrators mid-chapter.  Thankfully, that was just at the beginning, when we’re still figuring out what’s going on, and we’re seeing how they’re dealing with being drafted into this program.  It was jarring, though, and really put me off of the narration.

It didn’t help that I didn’t care for Naomi or Leo.  Or any of the other characters.  But especially them, since we see them the most.  I get Naomi wanted to take care of her brother, and didn’t want to leave him or her family, but I also didn’t like how she seemed to hate having to go.  I mean, I get it, but you were chosen, and it doesn’t mean you’ll be part of the final six.  It’s a stark comparison to most of the other 24, who have nothing to return to if they’re not selected.  Like Leo.  I get he didn’t want to go back to Italy, and that being selected meant everything to him, but in case, it did get tiring.  Instead of feeling sympathy, I felt irritated at how whiny they seemed.

There were some twists, but if I’m being honest, I had a hard time caring about anything.  I didn’t care about some of the reveals, or some of the things that were hinted at.

And that ending!  At first, when I finished it, I was thinking that I wasn’t sure if I was interested in continuing with the series.  I really hated this book, and that is not something I say lightly.  But I was curious about what would happen next…and to my surprise, this book seems like a stand alone.  It is weird, because it seemed like it was setting up for future books, and it ends on a note that would make you think that there is more to come.  And yet, there is no series information, which makes me think this was a stand alone.

Though I probably wouldn’t continue with a series, it really felt like a first book to me.  I’ve read (and started) more than my fair share of series, and this book gave off a first book vibe.  So either series information isn’t out yet, or it might be coming, or it’s a stand alone.  I’m actually not sure where I’m going with this, but I did finish the book feeling like there should have been more answers if it is indeed a stand alone.

1 star.  I feel like my rating isn’t a surprise at this point, and if you, for some reason, didn’t pick up on this, I didn’t like The Final Six.  It’s a cool idea, but if you like people settling on a different planet (or moon, in this case), Across The Universe is a much better book to read.

Book Review: Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza and Reign Of The Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Book: Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Published February 2017 by Razorbill|314 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Empress Of A Thousand Skies #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an wants vengeance.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rhee has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

This was a book I was really excited about reading, but unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

The book follows Rhee and Aly, and their stories didn’t match up the way I thought it would.  I felt like the story in the summary was completely different than the story I actually read.  The alternating POV’s didn’t really work for me (which is usually what happens), and I didn’t care for either of their stories.  Also, I felt like it made things more confusing than they needed to be.

If you’re going for similar books, Carve The Mark and These Broken Stars come to mind.  Especially Carve The Mark, so I think if you liked that one, you’d probably like this one.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really like Carve The Mark, so it’s not that surprising that I didn’t like this one.  It’s your typical lost princess out for vengeance who is also trying to re-claim her throne story.  It’s different enough, though, because someone gets accused of murder who didn’t actually do it- this happens pretty early on, so while it is a spoiler, I don’t consider it too big of a spoiler.

I did feel bad for Aly, because he really had to think twice about his behavior.  Things that other characters could do without a second thought, Aly had to think about because he faces a lot of prejudice.  There are some parallels to things we see, and I thought that part was really well done.

Overall, though, I just wasn’t into the story.  As pretty as the cover is, and as cool as the book sounds, I had a hard time getting into it.  I also had a really hard time picturing where all of the planets were in relation to each other.

My Rating: 2 stars.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the book, but if fantasy in space is your thing, this is a book worth checking out.

Book: Reign Of The Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Published January 2018 by Razorbill|375 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Reign Of The Fallen #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

This was another book I was excited about but ended up not really liking.  It’s a cool idea, and the world was really interesting, but for the most part, I thought this book was confusing.

Though the world itself was interesting- and somewhat unique- I also thought it didn’t make a lot of sense.  Things weren’t explained very well, at least for me, and as the book went on, I had a hard time caring about Odessa and everything she lost.

The loss of a loved one in a world where the dead can be raised had a lot of potential, but I didn’t think the execution was quite there.  It was boring, and there were a lot of things I didn’t care about.  I felt like the things I did care about didn’t really come up or weren’t really explored, and the things I didn’t care about were coming up a lot.

I was bored.  I didn’t feel anything, though it seemed like I should have.  While I wasn’t expecting a lot of action, I still felt like I was struggling to get through it.  How I did, I have no idea, because this book seemed so slow.

Her grief and addiction were really well done, I will say that.  Her not wanting help from people after losing someone was easy to understand.  Part of me really wishes that my disinterest in the book was reading it at the wrong time, particularly because it’s about a character who is dealing with grief.  But I’ve read a few other books recently that have a character dealing with grief, and I was really invested in those books, so maybe this one just didn’t work for me.

My Rating: 2 stars.  It’s a cool idea, but it didn’t work for me.  I thought the world was interesting but boring, and while I wanted to like it, I just couldn’t.

Book Review: Mystic City by Theo Lawrence and Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike

Book: Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

Published October 2012 by Delacorte Books For Young Readers|397 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Mystic City #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

For fans of  Matched, The Hunger Games, X-Men, and Blade Runner comes a tale of a magical city divided, a political rebellion ignited, and a love that was meant to last forever. Book One of the Mystic City Novels.

Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City’s two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents’ sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud – and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths.

But Aria doesn’t remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can’t conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place.

Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection – and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city – including herself.

It’s taken me a while to actually review this book, so I’m a little bit fuzzy on what actually happened, and what I thought about the book.  The last months have been…rough…to say this least, but I’ll at least try to review the book.

So, it’s compared to quite a few things.  I didn’t really get why it was compared to The Hunger Games, and I don’t completely get why it was compared to Matched either.  X-Men is a pretty good comparison, though it’s not the best comparison.  And I’ve never seen Blade Runner (nor do I know what it’s about) so I don’t know how that holds up.

The world was…different, I supposed.  It makes me wonder what happened to the rest of the world, but you could probably say that about any other sci-fi/dystopia/post-apocalyptic book out there.  I wish we got a little more of the world than what we got, but this is the first book in a series, so there is probably more about this world in the books to come.

*I feel like I say that about a lot of series, and it almost never goes the way I want it to, information wise, so who knows if that is actually the case in this book.

It does seem very convenient that Aria and Thomas are getting married just when their families need to get along and unite against a rival politician who will ruin everything.  (I’m being slightly sarcastic here, but things do seem very convenient).  It’s also convenient that she loses her memories and that they don’t come back.  I can’t remember if they ever come back. which obviously isn’t helpful, and I know I wasn’t into the book enough to re-read it.  Or continue onto the next book.  Maybe I’ve just read too many dystopias and post-apocalyptic novels to be completely in love with the book.

Maybe I would have liked it a lot more had I read it when it came out.  As is stands, it sounds like a cool idea, but I thought it was okay.  Keeping in mind I have only a vague memory of this book, of course.  Maybe if you haven’t read a lot of YA dystopias, you’d like it.

My Rating: 2 stars.  While I did like the premise of the novel, it wasn’t enough to warrant more interest in the book or continuing the series.

Book: Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike

Published April 2014 by HarperTeen|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Charlotte Westing Chronicles #1

Genre: YA Paranormal

The blockbuster film Inception meets Lisa McMann’s Wake trilogy in this dark paranormal thriller from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Aprilynne Pike. This supernatural young adult novel is perfect for fans of Kelley Armstrong, Alyson Noël, Richelle Mead, and Kimberly Derting.

Charlotte Westing has a gift. She is an Oracle and has the ability to tell the future. But it doesn’t do her much good. Instead of using their miraculous power, modern day Oracles are told to fight their visions––to refrain from interfering. And Charlotte knows the price of breaking the rules. She sees it every day in her wheelchair-bound mother and the absence of her father. But when a premonition of a classmate’s death is too strong for her to ignore, Charlotte is forced to make an impossible decision: continue following the rules or risk everything—even her sanity—to stop the serial killer who is stalking her town.

I’ve really liked Aprilynne Pike’s books, so I knew I had to read this one.  It’s not my favorite of hers, but it was still interesting and different.  I’m curious about their visions, and Charlotte really was determined to put a stop to the serial killer in her town, even if it meant going against everything her aunt taught her to do.

I feel like a lot of what happens in the book could have been avoided had her aunt just been honest with her.  Then again, if she had been honest, this would have been a very different book.

The concept of Oracles is pretty cool, and I did like that there were consequences to changing things.  It could have easily been very different, but there is something very refreshing about there being actually consequences to changing things.

Charlotte puts her trust in some very questionable people, and why she didn’t go to her aunt is beyond me.  We do see the consequences of that, of course, but still.  If only her aunt actually talked to Charlotte, or if Charlotte went to her aunt for help, things would have been very different.  We can do the what if game all we want, and things went how they went, but I couldn’t help but think how they could have gone differently.

This book is strange too, because it had an open-ending.  I mean, things were pretty resolved, and it did seem like a stand-alone, and yet, there is a sequel…

…that I don’t think I’ll read.  I love her books, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t really have an interest in picking up a sequel.  I feel like I probably wouldn’t like it, and this isn’t my favorite book by her.  There was a lot that didn’t make sense, and I don’t know that reading the sequel would help or add to the world.  Part of me is hoping I’m wrong, but there’s no way of knowing for sure.  Not only that, but I didn’t really like this book enough to even want to pick up any other books in the series.

My Rating: 2 stars.  This was an odd one, and it was just okay.  Certain things were frustrating and confusing, and while I wanted to like it more, I couldn’t.