2019, Books, reading, reviews

Artemis Review

Title: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir
Published: 2017
Country: USA
Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: Set in the not-too-distant future, Jazz is recruited to plan and carry out an act of sabotage on the Moon city, Artemis. When things don’t go as planned, the heist turns deadly.

What I liked: The idea of living on the Moon is pretty cool. The setup and atmosphere felt plausible and the story was engaging and fast-paced.

What I didn’t like: The main character, Jazz, is a 26 year old smuggler but she reads like a 15 year old wanna-be rebel. While there are some deeper and underlying issues, the author tried too hard to make her relatable and many of the snarky comments were directed at the audience to make us think she is cool. Her sass was annoying and not funny, although I think some of it was supposed to be. It just made her really obnoxious and irritating to me.

I hate to say this because I don’t know if it’s me or on the author, but the way she was written is so obviously done by a man that it was almost too much. I am all for being shameless and admitting faults and being open about sexuality but some of the phrases and scenes were so cringey. I don’t know what the author was trying to do, but his depiction of a young woman was so far off that it really annoyed me. Some of the things she said or thought to herself just appeared as a man trying to think what a woman might say but it just came off as something you’d instead hear in a porno. It was unnecessary and ridiculous.

Many people complained about the book being too science focused and while it was definitely heavy and could get complicated, that didn’t seem to bother me as much. Additionally, the side characters weren’t too bad and added to the story.

I also liked the email exchanges between Jazz and Kelvin because it gave us backstory without having to build it into the story dialogue, which I appreciated. It also brought a little more insight into who Jazz was and how she got to where she is when we first meet her in the beginning of the book.

Verdict: Overall, it wasn’t bad and it wasn’t mind blowing. It could make for a cool movie and I could definitely imagine the scenes as they were happening but the overall character depiction really bothered me. The story would’ve been fine without all the sexually explicit stuff that was so over the top that it just got annoying and eye-roll inducing.

2017, 2018, 2019, Books, Favorites, reading, reviews

Warcross Duology Review

Title: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
Published: 2017
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Emika Chen, a skilled hacker, accidentally glitches herself into the opening championship of Warcross. Impressed with her skill, the owner of Warcoss, Hideo Tanaka, offers Emika a job to track down a mysterious figure that could jeopardize the entire company.

Title: Wildcard
Author: Marie Lu
Published: 2018
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Taking place right after the end of the Warcross Championship, Emika is embroiled with a secret organization. With a price on her head, she now fights for survival and what she believes in.

Many have compared this to Ready Player One and while it’s similar in the Virtual Reality aspect, I think this is more modern and fun. The NeuroLink technology they use in this book not only allows for VR gaming, it overlays and affects the world outside of the game as well. The characters are fun and Emika isn’t an annoying heroine like your typical YA novel. Of course she’s smitten with Hideo, the young and handsome genius billionaire, but she’s also smart and driven.

Images by https://twitter.com/thenocturnalfey/status/1000032678614192129

Most of the first book takes place in Tokyo and the Warcross Championship world, as we learn about the technology, the game, and the players. Emika is part of the Phoenix Riders and is helping them defend their honor and title.

Team Phoenix Riders by Marie Lu

The second book definitely increases the action level and world as we move beyond the game and more into the underground world of Tokyo and the Dark Net equivalent of Warcross. I found it very entertaining and thought the world was described well. There are cool artifacts and power ups that would make for a cool visual if this was ever adapted to a movie.

While the story was action packed, it also dealt with a lot of great issues like immortality, the limits and breaches of technology and personal ethics. Additionally, there are lots of betrayals, double crossings and action happen and the game scenes become even more intense! Also, there is a corgi, so she automatically won my heart! I love these types of stories and while this is a duology, the ending set the tone for a continuation! Go read it now!!!

2018, Books, Favorites, reviews

Arc of a Scythe Trilogy Review

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Published: 2016
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: In a perfect world with no death, some are chosen and trained in the art of taking a life to keep the balance of the world.

Title: Thunderhead
Author: Neal Shusterman
Published: 2018
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Citra and Rowan come to understand the complexity of this world and have their own ideas on how to fix it.

Book #3: COMING SEPTEMBER 2019

There is a ton of political intrigue, mixed with our own history that make this world really interesting and possible. Many questions on what is ethical, how our society might be if we no longer experienced natural death, and how to navigate a society that has seemingly everything, are explored and analyzed.

In book one, we are introduced to Rowan and Citra, two teenagers chosen to become apprentices to Scythe Faraday, in a futuristic and seemingly Utopian world centuries after our time. Having discovered immortality, death is no longer something to fear in this world. This is where the Scythes come in: they are chosen to glean people to keep the population balances through statistics or past events that would have eliminated people via natural selection. However, some don’t follow this rule.

VERDICT ON BOOK #1: I loved this story. The ideas and historical knowledge that appear and are intertwined within the story give it a rich and totally possibly future we could experience, which I think enhances the story and makes it feel that more involved. We deal with love, friendship, loyalty, pain, immortality, ethics and a society trying to make the best of their situation (as well as some of those who take advantage of said situations). Highly recommend!

In book two, we follow multiple points of view – Scythes Anastasia & Curie, Rowan, the Thunderhead, and Grayson, with an additional few sprinkled throughout. We pick up shortly after the end of book 1 and learn more about the world of the Scythes, the workings and thoughts of the Thunderhead and a lot of conspiracies and troubles that plague our main characters. There are tons of plot twists, surprises, great character development and the cliffhanger was intense!! I want to know what happens next, as I have my theories.

VERDICT ON BOOK #2: While I also loved this one, I felt it was a tad bit long and some of the parts were dragging for me. While I understand the need for world building and learning about all of the characters and their impact on the world, there was a few times I was bored and just wanted the story to move along. But overall, I really enjoyed the story and am looking forward to the next book!

There is no cover for book three yet, but I am looking forward to it!

2017, Books, Favorites, reviews

A Man Called Ove Review

Title: A Man Called Ove
Original Title: En man som heter Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Translated by: Henning Koch
Published: 2012
Country: Sweden
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: A young family moves in next door to the grumpy, old Ove. He thinks they are the family from hell but when he gets to know them, we get to know him.

I absolutely loved this. I laughed. I cried. I wept! The story was written so beautifully and the characters felt so real that you joined in their laughter, their thoughts and their despair. Mr. Backman uses a great amount of sarcastic and witty writing that resonated well with me and that made it that more heart wrenching when something sad happened to any of our characters.

Ove reminded me of a friends’ grandfather from back home and the grumpy, pessimistic attitude he would have against changing times. But Ove was so much more than an old grumpy man – he experienced great loss and forgot how to live until life brought joy back into his world.

A gorgeous story with gorgeous characters that show that people are on their own journey and that sometimes getting to know someone and showing them kindness and love can be the one thing that someone needed in their life.

Verdict: I must watch the movie and I must read more by Backman!

2019, 2019 unhaul challenge, Books, reviews

2019 Unhaul Challenge – Red Queen Series

Author: Victoria Aveyard
Title: Red Queen
Published: 2015
Country: USA
Genre: YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Synopsis: Mare Barrow, a Red, becomes entangled in the world of the elites, the Silvers, after an accident reveals she has powerful abilities that Reds are not supposed to have.

VERDICT: Oh man. You guys…I really enjoyed this one! I read this book exactly two years ago and did not care for it (I gave it 2 stars on Goodreads) and was torn on whether or not to continue the series. But somehow I had this nagging feeling that I should try it again. So I did and it’s like a read a completely different book!! I don’t know if it’s because my reading tastes have changed so much and this is more along the lines of things I like now, but somehow I feel completely different about it. See, the challenge is working!

This could be considered Science Fiction or Fantasy since there are magical powers, etc but the world feels more Science Fiction/Dystopian than Fantasy. There are Reds, who are basic humans and indentured servants to the Silvers. The Silvers have powers, ranging from readings minds to blasting fire, or controlling metal. It’s very X-Men like, except that they are the ones in power, not hunted.

Images from MORGANA0ANAGROM https://twitter.com/13nakahara13/media

In the background is a century-long war between the different countries in the world and we see bits and pieces of how it affects the world but we mainly focus on the setting of the Great Hall in Harbor Bay and then the capital of Archeon. There is also the Scarlet Guard, a revolutionary group fighting for freedom and equality of the Reds.

Norta, the land the story takes place in (from Red Queen Wiki)
The World of Red Queen (from Epic Reads)

Mare is working at a Silver tournament and the booth she is at falls apart after a Silver blasts it accidentally. She falls and lights up in a ball of energy and lightening. Because she is a Red, the king and queen quickly step in and claim her as a lost silver heiress and betroth her to the younger prince, Maven. Her secret must be kept since Reds don’t have powers and she is now challenging everything the world knows.

Images from MORGANA0ANAGROMhttps://twitter.com/13nakahara13/media

Of course there are some issues. There’s a cringey love pentagon (you heard that right) and Mare is really pitiful. She’s constantly whining and putting herself down, but it does get better as the book progresses and she stops feeling sorry for herself. There were a couple of times the writing tripped me up, but that’s expected from a debut. I suspect the others will get better. But overall, I think it was pretty good and there are 3 more books (yay) and some novellas that I will be digging into.

There may also be a movie someday. The book was adapted and Elizabeth Banks is rumored to be directing. However, this is news from 2015 and I haven’t found any updates. I think it would be pretty cool on screen, if done right. Here’s the story: https://www.slashfilm.com/elizabeth-banks-red-queen-movie/

2018, 2019, Books, reading, reviews, TBR

Caraval Trilogy

Author: Stephanie Garber
Title: Caraval
Published: 2017
Country: USA
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis: Scarlett and her sister Tella are invited to the mysterious Caraval. When Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s leader, Legend, Scarlett soon finds out that Caraval might be more than just a game.

Author: Stephanie Garber
Title: Legendary
Published: 2018
Country: USA
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis: This time, Tella becomes ensnared in Caraval, making a deal with the evil Prince of Hearts. In order to fulfill her bargain, she must learn Legend’s true identity.

Author: Stephanie Garber
Title: Finale
Published: COMING MAY 2019
Country: USA
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis: Even though Caraval is over, the game isn’t. Scarlett and Tella must both achieve their goals to save the empire, and their mother.

My thoughts on Caraval: I really enjoyed this book! When it first came out I thought it would only be another Hunger Games knock-off but I was surprised at how much I got into the story and how I wanted Scarlett to solve Caraval and win the game! The characters really developed throughout the whole book and there was plenty of suspense that kept me wondering what will happen next, who is Legend, and what the ending will be!

All images from the amazing https://www.instagram.com/darkandbeautifulart

My thoughts on Legendary: What a disappointment. I hated Tella’s perspective – mainly because she is as annoying in this book as she was in the first one and Scarlett plays only a small part. Additionally, the metaphors were insane in here and way over the top. I get that everything is supposed to be magical and flowery but I was so distracted from the story because of it that I didn’t even finish the book before a month-long trip.

I did like Jacks and his cunning ways and was also a fan of Dante in this one. The story was interesting but I had my issues with it – mainly how dumb Tella is and all the stupid choices she made. Sadly, Scarlett appeared no better in the few scenes we saw her in. However, I did love the reveal of Legend and how it set up for Finale.

My hopes for Finale: Since this is from both Tella and Scarlett’s perspective, it might be ok. I am really hoping the language is changed and the metaphors aren’t as silly and exhausting as in book 2. I wasn’t bothered by it in book 1, so maybe I noticed it more because the story was dumb.

2018, Books, reading, reviews

The Diabolic Trilogy

Title: The Diabolic
Author: S. J. Kincaid
Published: 2016
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Nemesis, a Diabolic, is created to protect Sidonia, a politicians’ daughter. When the Emperor summons Sidonia, Nemesis goes in her place to protect her from their family’s enemies.

Title: The Empress
Author: S. J. Kincaid
Published: 2017
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: With a new EMperor on the throne, a new person for Nemesis to protect, and a challenge to the status quo of Diabolic rights, Nemesis’s saga continues.

Book #3: TBD, possibly Summer 2019

My thoughts on Book #1: I really enjoyed this book! We follow the story of Nemesis, a Diabolic. A humanoid engineered for companionship and protection, she has to learn how to be human and all of the struggles that come with it. There is love, despair, anger, betrayal and forgiveness – all emotions that teach her that there is so much more than simply what she was created for. I really enjoyed the perspective from Nemesis and her struggle with finding herself and her loyalties.

Found on Tumblr

I buddy read this with a group of gals and we had some awesome discussions, thoughts and predictions, some of which came true, while others didn’t. Kincaid developed a rich, futuristic universe that didn’t seem totally unbelievable but still had enough fiction to really engage the creative senses. I definitely got a Star Wars meets The Selection vibe and thoroughly enjoyed reading the story.

My thoughts on Book #2: What a change in enjoyment from the first book.
This was such a boring book. I LOVED The Diabolic and Nemesis but in this one, she just spent half the book being selfish and short sighted. I still don’t care for Tyrus and my suspicions from book 1 were confirmed! Ha. But oh man, this just didn’t do it for me.

After the events of The Diabolic, Tyrus and Nemesis aren’t the most popular in the galaxy. So they take on a journey to try and change some rules, politics and minds on their way.

From Tumblr

It literally was dragging until almost page 100 when it finally got interesting. Then it was boring again until about 75% of the way through. The ending was pretty intense and set up for the third (when do we get it 😦 !!!!) but I don’t think I will be pre-ordering or jumping on the third book right away. Which is a bummer, because the first was so good!

Fun fact: There may be a movie coming out! Sony Pictures announced in 2016 that they were adapting a movie based on this book. We shall see if it happens but currently there is no further news. Check out the article if you’re curious: https://variety.com/2016/film/news/sony-s-j-kincaid-thriller-the-diabolic-movie-1201911708/