Aurora Rising

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is a new science fiction teen series.

It is 2380 and the recruits of Aurora Academy are about to graduate and be assigned their first mission. Top of his class, Tyler Jones, is ready to draft his dream squad but his restlessness and stupidly ingrained heroism leaves him with all of the academy’s rejects.

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 this crew of misfits isn’t his biggest problem. His biggest problem is Aurora O’Malley, a 200 year old girl whose very existence could start an intergalactic war and it is up to Tyler and his team to keep her safe.

What could possibly go wrong?

I’m not a hundred percent sure how I came across this one, probably skimming Goodreads, but I am so glad I did. I haven’t picked up a serious science fiction read in such a long time and it was really refreshing. A review mentioned that Aurora Rising is a science fiction Six of Crows and I can totally see it!

I love this crew of sarcastic misfits. There’s just something about the banter and how these total opposites work together that is just a lot of fun. And of course, you can already see the sparks that are to come between the characters. It was also good to see that they aren’t always going to get out clean. Things are going to go wrong and they are going to have to work through it.

Finally, I really like where this story is going. It’s fast paced and you can tell it’s going to get interesting. Worlds are in danger, politics are afoot and it’s space–things are like ten times harder in space.

This one gets 5 stars from me. Now please don’t make me wait more than a year for the next one!

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

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A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman is a collection of short stories celebrating folklore and mythology from East and South Asia.

Ellen Oh along with We Need Diverse Books has brought together some of best Asian authors to reimagine tales or folklores, myths or legends, that they grew up with.

Star crossed lovers, robots who think their human, modern day celebrations and more–this collection of short stories crosses genres in so many ways. Fantasy and science fiction, realistic and contemporary fiction, even some romance thrown in there. This is a collection of stories with a little bit of everything.

In all honesty, I tend to shy away from short stories. There’s just not generally enough meat for me and although I am usually entertained, I’m not normally wowed. And unfortunately, I have to say the same thing here, though maybe for more than that reason alone.

First, there were a few tales here that I really liked. But I wanted them to continue. I wanted the background. I wanted the buildup. I wanted the full story, not just a taste. But that has nothing to do with the writing or the stories themselves; that is just my personal taste.

The stories themselves were fun and inventive and if I had more background in Asian culture, then maybe they might have meant more to me. Which leads me to my second issue… there were times where I just wasn’t sure what was going on or I didn’t really get where the myth collided with the story. Most likely due to my ignorance and the afterword of each story did help, but I think I would have liked to read the myth behind the story first.

As a collection, this was great and I am sure many, many people will be thrilled to have a collection of such diverse authors. I am glad I read it, even if it wasn’t completely the read for me.

This one gets 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Gilded Wolves

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi is a new young adult series… fantasy meets steampunk.

Set in Paris, 1889–The world is on the brink of industry and the Exposition Universelle is about to open doors and reveal secrets. And no one knows more about secrets and “opening” doors than Séverin Montagnet-Alarie, treasure hunter and hotel owner. When a powerful society called the Order of Babel offers him the hunt of a lifetime, how could Séverin refuse.

With the help of his team of misfits–a socially awkward chemist, an outcast historian, a dancer with an unknown future, and a brother in all but blood–Séverin and his crew will have to keep their wits about them or risk being drawn into a game none of them intended to play.

Can this ragtag band of thieves put aside their personal dramas and save the day?

Someone told me that this book was Six of Crows meets Dan Brown, and it definitely is but there is also this steampunk quality to the story, which is interesting. I really got into The Gilded Wolves quickly. I liked the story and the characters. However, the book took a bit of a weird spin for me toward the end. I’m not sure if I just got a little lost but there was a moment where I was like, “Wait a minute… What’s happen?”

I actually think I could have use a little more background. I wanted to know more about these Babel rings and the inheritance process. Maybe just a smidgen more world building and I would have been OK.

I am really interested to find out where this story is heading though. Like I said, it got a little weird by the end, so I’m not really sure what is going to happen. So I will definitely stick with the series because I just want to know more.

This one gets 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Afterlife of Holly Chase

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand is a YA fictional take on a classic Christmas Story.

On Christmas Eve, Holly Chase was visited by three ghosts with the hopes of getting her to change her ways. They failed and she died. Now Holly is doomed to work for the very company that tried to save her–Project Scrooge.

Every year, Project Scrooge chooses a new “Scrooge” to try and save. And as the Ghost of Christmas Past, it is Holly’s job to get to know the Scrooge and find out which memories from their past would have the biggest impact in helping them to change their future.

For the past five years, Holly has done her job and helped to save the Scrooge. But this year something is different. The Scrooge is young, seventeen, the same age as Holly. There is just something about this Scrooge that Holly cannot resist. She feels drawn to him in a way she’s never connected to any other Scrooge before.

Can Holly put aside her selfish ways and help this Scrooge before it is too late?

This was a pretty neat take on A Christmas Carol. I wanted something Christmas-y for the holidays that would still be fun and this definitely succeeded. It was just really neat to see the blend of science and magic to make this story happen. I also liked that Holly was one of those characters you were rooting for but you also had to hate, just a little. And you could see begin to change as the story went on… but realistically so. It wasn’t a major 180, but you could see she definitely was going to try to be better.

One of the really great things about this one was, just when I thought I knew where it was heading, it’d go someplace else. That being said, there were some pretty predictable moments but the end was enough of a twist that I enjoyed it.

Overall, this was a neat little read that was unique and fun for the holiday. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Archenemies

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer is the second book in the Renegades series.

We pick this one up where we left off in book one. Nova is still impersonating a Renegade, Adrian is still living a double life as The Sentinel, and both are fighting a losing battle against their feelings. But both still have their mission.

For Adrian, Nightmare’s death was a dead-end in his investigation to track down his mother’s murderer. And things are getting dicey with his alter ego, The Sentinel. Although, Adrian believes he is doing good, the Council wants The Sentinel stopped at all costs and that cost could be Adrian.

For Nova, bringing the Renegades down is still her priority, especially when they introduce the new submission tool — Agent-N. But not all of the Renegades seem bad and Nova seems conflicted.

Who will win when it comes down to a war between the Renegades and the Anarchists? And what side will Adrian and Nova ultimately be on.

Is it weird to write that I found myself muttering to myself, “Oh, God” and rolling my eyes at some of the awkward teen moments? Ha! That being said, this was an entertaining read. I didn’t have to listen to it non-stop like I wanted to do with the first one, so take that for what it is. I just had a hard time believing certain parts of the story this time. It just baffles me that Nova and Adrian haven’t been found out and their conflicting emotions seem just a tad overdone.

Nova, just seems so naïve to me sometimes, especially when it comes to her uncle and the other Anarchists. She “bad” and “powerful” when she’s Nightmare and she didn’t have a problem killing Detonator but she has too much of a conscious… without meaning to. Things “bother” her and she wishes things were different but I think the real thing is, is that she doesn’t realize that her goals don’t actually align with the Anarchists and this is going to cause a whole world of hurt in book three.

I think at this point, I’m mostly in it to see what happens. Entertaining, kept me going but I could go one way or the other. Hopefully, the conclusion will floor me! This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

Blanca & Roja

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Maria McLemore is a magical-realism novel targeted toward young adults.

In the del Cisne family, every generation births two girls–one of which is destined to become a swan. Blanca, sweet and graceful, and Roja, feisty and wild, are as close as two sisters can be but they’ve also grown up as rivals. Together, they have kept the swans at bay longer than an of the del Cisne’s before them. But the swans will not wait forever and the game is about to begin.

When two boys, with troubles of their own, are drawn into the game, the rules change and the stakes are higher than ever. With four fates on the line, instead of two, will Blanca and Roja finally give in to their fate or will the fight a battle that no del Cisne has ever won before?

McLemore’s writing has always been magical and yet believable; this is why her body of work is such a great example of magical-realism. You see the magic, you feel it, and yet the world is still grounded in fiction, in reality. The genre makes the ordinary, extraordinary, which is why I love it so much.

This wasn’t my favorite book my McLemore but I liked it better than some of her others. A lot of what McLemore writes has the same themes and many of the characters have the same problems and personalities, with a few changes here. Sometimes it feels like only the “magical” element changes from book to book. So if you are looking for the familiar, then McLemore’s books are for you.

There’s a familiar fairy-tale aspect to this book. A combination of Snow White, Rose Red, Swan Lake and the Ugly Duckling. But there is also more to this book. We look at different stereotypes and the assumptions people make. Ultimately, this book is about finding the truth–the truth about oneself and understanding, accepting, other peoples the truths.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Dry

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman is a YA fictional novel about what would happen is California literally ran out of water.

All the signs were there–rising prices, restrictions like being unable to water the lawn, take long showers or even throw water balloons–and yet no one could believe it when the State of California’s water ran dry. The “Tap-Out” wasn’t like other natural disasters, which get lots of new and media coverage, this was a slow, quiet beast that no one was prepared to handle.

When Alyssa and her family first noticed that their pipes had run dry, they did what most families did, they planned on stocking up and riding it out. Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street turns into a warzone. Neighbor against neighbor. Friends against friends. No one is safe when on the hunt for water.

As the situation escalates and help is no where in sight, Alyssa must make impossible choices to save herself and her brother before they too, turn into water zombies or worse.

This was such a crazy read. It was baffling for me to think that an entire state could run out of water and no one really knew about it. Were the politicians that successful in hiding the issue that things could get this bad. That being said, I loved how we glimpsed the one reporter who made the connection that no one would take the tap-out seriously until the bodies started adding up and because the destruction isn’t immediate and in your face, it isn’t “hot” news. It’s scary to think of how true this is.

The narration was a little weird for me at times but not necessarily in a bad way. Although this was Alyssa and her groups story, we did get side narratives that were connected in the grand scheme of things. Some of them were dark and awful and some of them were never resolved. But, I think this was purposely done to show how bad things could get and the narrative that weren’t finished, weren’t finished for a reason.

Again, what a crazy read when you really think about it. I bet a lot of people are going to buy an extra case of water when they finish this one. This book gets a high 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-