13

[REVIEW] Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Empress of a Thousand Skies

Genre: Sci-fi, YA

Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies #1

Rating: 2 STARS

Description:

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.

In this exhilarating debut for fans of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, RHODA BELLEZA crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

My Thoughts: 

“Rhee tore a path through the bustling marketplace, kicking up dust that fell slowly in Nau Fruma’s low gravity.”

 Ugh, I’m so sad. I was super excited to read this book because it sounded really awesome, not to mention how pretty the cover is. But, unfortunately, I was highly disappointed by this one. And it all started out so well! Those are always the most disappointing books.

 I think my favorite character out of the POVs was definitely Aly. He was so sweet and funny and nice, and I think the reason I liked him so much is that he’s different from the typical male POV, you know, the blonde, white guy who’s a player/professional jerk and also spits out sarcastic comments at all times. Yeah, that one. It was nice to get a change of pace with a sweeter guy. And we also get to balance it out with Dahlen, who’s all mysterious and secretive, and, personally, I want to learn so much more about him. Our main female character is Princess Rhiannon, and I feel sort of meh about her. I’m sure she’ll be a favorite protagonist of many, but for me, I think she’s one of many female protagonists that I’ll probably forget about in a couple of weeks. I do really like the fact that she wasn’t physically badass, by which I mean she wasn’t an amazing fighter or came up with witty comebacks like most female badasses seem to have been degraded to. We also have Kara, who plays a larger part in Aly’s story and someone we meet later in the novel, and, again, pretty forgettable on my end. I just didn’t care too much for her and felt she was quite bland.

 I will say, one of my favorite parts of the novel was how it mirrored our real life at the moment. Aly is black and Wraetan (a race of people that reminded me of a representation of Syrian refugees and immigrants), and is immediately blamed for Rhiannon’s murder, even though he didn’t do it, just because of racial profiling. A new leader, Nero (a.k.a. Donald Trump in Space), bases his entire campaign off the fear people have with Wraetan refugees and saying they’re violent savages and that his supporters need to be protected from them. Aly talks constantly about his struggles and the stories of other Wraetan refugees as they leave their war-torn home and are constantly separated. It was such a fantastic representation, and it’s really what makes me love fantasy and sci-fi: the way it can show us the flaws in our own society and how ridiculous they are, sometimes.

 The romance though? Definitely its weakest point. Fortunately, Dahlen and Rhiannon don’t get together (yeah, a boy and a girl travelled together and didn’t end up making out!), but then it’s rendered completely useless because Kara and Aly meet 2/3 near the end of the book, and Aly can’t. Stop. Thinking. About. Her. And I’m being serious here, because I got so annoyed, I started highlighting. Here are a couple of quotes:

 “Her hazel eyes – were they always hazel? – met his and never left as they counted together.”

 This is when the two of them are, you know, TRYING TO ESCAPE.

 “The curve of her hip brushed against him, and even now – filthy and exhausted, skinned to hell, and on the run for his life – Aly felt his face flush.”

 I don’t think I have to explain this one.

 “He’d bloodied his knees and elbows, and he sure that everything would hurt later, but it felt fantastic here – his arms around her, his face in her big mess of tangles.”

 Literally Aly’s thoughts two paragraphs after the previous quote I mentioned.

 “She squeezed him. He could smell her, feel all the warmth from under her coat. For a long time, there was quiet, except for the sound of Aly’s heavy sobbing.”

 Again, TRYING TO ESCAPE.

 “He reached behind Kara to unravel the scarf, and her messy black hair fell everywhere. It smelled good – just a little bit sweet – and he brushed it out of her eyes for no good reason.”

mor eye rolling

 *rolls eyes into the next century*

 I get it, you love her; can we please move on to the actual plot and action and stuff? Or back to Rhiannon? Come on now! Not to mention the fact that it’s just the most boring romance ever, and I just didn’t care at all.

 But, balancing the negative with the positive, I loved the world-building. Because of my obsession with Red Rising, I just love books that take place in space and such, and I thought the different races and the way the system worked was incredibly interesting and captivating. And, again, the way the fictional world mirrored our own was what made it so brilliant. My hat goes off to you, Belleza!

I felt like it was just personal opinion regarding the pacing, but at times I would be on the edge of my seat, and then I’d just become bored and easily confused. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m just bad at following things, but it just really bothered me how over the place it was.

 Overall, this book wasn’t too good for me, but I can definitely see this become a new favorite for someone else.

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Have you read this book yet? What did you think about it?

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8

[ARC REVIEW] Ubo by Steve Rasnic Tem

ubo

Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopian, Horror

Series: None

Rating: 3 STARS

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Description:

A blend of science fiction and horror, award-winning author Steve Rasnic Tem’s new novel is a chilling story exploring the roots of violence and its effect on a possible future.

Daniel is trapped in Ubo. He has no idea how long he has been imprisoned there by the roaches.

Every resident has a similar memory of the journey to Ubo: a dream of dry, chitinous wings crossing the moon, the gigantic insects dropping swiftly over the houses of the neighborhood, passing through walls and windows as if by magic, or science.  The creatures, like a deck of baroquely ornamented cards, fanning themselves from one hidden world into the next.

And now each day they force Daniel to play a different figure from humanity’s violent history, from a frenzied Jack the Ripper to a stumbling and confused Stalin to a self-proclaimed god executing survivors atop the ruins of the world. The scenarios mutate day after day in this camp somewhere beyond the rules of time. As skies burn and prisoners go mad, identities dissolve as the experiments evolve, and no one can foretell their mysterious end.

My Thoughts:

So, this book is basically the definition of “WTF?” Seriously, all you have to do is read the description, and you’ll probably be saying, “Wait, what?” It’s the main reason why I requested it in the first place, and I was so excited when I got the e-mail that I was approved.

 First, a bit of a warning: this book is slow. SO SLOW. Like, it literally took almost half a month for me to read this. It’s just one of those books where I had to read it in spurts, because it doesn’t have that binge-able quality. It’s not a bad thing, but for those who like faster-paced books, this will probably be the ultimate torture.

 There’s a cast of characters, but, really, we only focus on the main character, Daniel, who has a rough sort of past. He has a son who suffers from a heart disease, and he feels as if his marriage is quickly falling apart, and before he knows it, he’s been dragged off to this torture chamber/science lab where he has to relive history’s worst moments. He’s one of those main characters that’s so easy to cheer for, because you want him to get out of this unimaginably awful situation, but he might not be someone who you’ll relate to, just for the fact that I’m a teenage girl who doesn’t even want kids, and I know most of you guys reading this probably won’t relate either, but he’s definitely someone you’ll sympathize with.

 Of course, the plot is interesting. A weird world where all these people are dragged out of their homes to play the worst men in history? What? And, my God, did it take the weirdest turn. Not like I minded, since I’m a huge fan of super weird sci-fi stories (have you seen Black Mirror? If you haven’t, you need to). I thought it was definitely carried out well, and this actually ties into the world-building of the book. We’re only stuck with Daniel in the limited world of Ubo, and it’s not until we’re in the point of view of the God of Mayhem (“Wait, what?” you’re probably saying, and that’s a 100% accurate feeling) and in the final chapter that we get to see more of the world, so for those who are huge on world-building in sci-fi, you’ll probably hate how this one is very light on it.

 Honestly, it’s so hard to talk about this book without spoiling it, but it’s definitely interesting and I thought it was okay. Not the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read, but it certainly makes me want to see if there’s more sci-fi/horror out there! And, also, a real warning: if you’re not into/sensitive to reading descriptions of graphic violence from the POV of Jack the Ripper or shooters or horrible men in history, or don’t want to read descriptions of horrific events such as the Holocaust, then this book is definitely not for you.

 Overall, a solid sci-fi/horror story, and if you’re pretty curious to read it, feel free to check it out once it comes out on Valentine’s Day!

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Does this book interest you? 

(Also, I finished Caraval today! So good! Hopefully, my review should be up tomorrow!)

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I was provided with a free e-ARC of this book through Netgalley. Thank you so much Steve Resnic Tem and Rebellion Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this early.

7

[REVIEW] Boy Robot by Simon Curtis

boy-robot

Genre: Sci-fi, YA

Series: Untitled Trilogy #1

Rating: 4 STARS

Description:

In a single night, Isaak’s life changed forever.

His adoptive parents were killed, a mysterious girl saved him from a team of soldiers, and he learned of his own dark and destructive origin.

An origin he doesn’t want to believe, but one he cannot deny.

Isaak is a Robot: a government-made synthetic human, produced as a weapon and now hunted, marked for termination.

He and the Robots can only find asylum with the Underground—a secret network of Robots and humans working together to ensure a coexistent future.

To be protected by the Underground, Isaak will have to make it there first. But with a deadly military force tasked to find him at any cost, his odds are less than favorable.

Now Isaak must decide whether to hold on to his humanity and face possible death…or to embrace his true nature in order to survive, at the risk of becoming the weapon he was made to be.

In his debut, recording artist Simon Curtis has written a fast-paced, high-stakes novel that explores humanity, the ultimate power of empathy, and the greatest battle of all: love vs. fear.

My Thoughts:

Run. Her heart pounded in her ears.”

Um, this was surprisingly amazing. I didn’t know what to expect from this book at all, all I knew was that the concept sounded cool and there were LGBTQ+ main characters, so I was all in. 

First off, I really love this whole concept of sci-fi books taking place in the real world. Books like More Happy Than Not and Replica and Kasie West’s Pivot Point duology (that I haven’t read just yet) are creating this new genre that I’m totally falling in love with. It makes it so much easier to believe in the world-building

Also, I loved Isaak. He’s this sweet teenage boy that’s pure and wonderful and he seems like real person. I loved his constant frustrations with not knowing what the hell was going on with him and how annoyed he was with everyone just keeping secrets from him, which is something that I don’t usually see when characters get thrown into a totally new world.  Not to mention he made me laugh out loud, and he was more of a relatable character, since he was awkward and wasn’t a total bad-ass from the beginning. We also meet JB, who I have mixed feelings about, but I’m not going to spoil anything (I’ll let you make your own opinions about him). We also get to meet some badass ladies, Kamea and Azure, who I just adored. I love how the two of them were total opposites – Azure was a total hard-ass and Kamea was a sweet little thing who becomes close friends with Isaak – and I can’t tell if I’m crazy or if I’m sensing a ship between them. Who knows?

The plot was very fast-paced and quite addicting. Most of you guys know that I truly hate long chapters, and I kid you not, one of the chapters was over 130 pages, but I kept my eyes glued to those pages the entire way through. The action just keeps propelling you forward, and I loved how it was a split between the typical journey plot-line and the “join the revolution” plot-line, where Isaak travels with the gang to the Underground, and then actually arrives at the Underground. And the ending was just cruel. Is there any way in which I can just acquire the next book, please?

The romance was one of the craziest I’ve ever seen in a while. I refuse to spoil things, but I ship Isaak and JB, despite the crazy circumstances. I really appreciated the flirting the two of them shared, and how everything wasn’t daisies and roses for the two of them. Nothing makes me happier than a relationship that’s slow and steady that doesn’t develop from annoying insta-love. And that’s pretty much all I can say about that. 

I will say, there are some tragic back-stories in this, and though some people might think they’re a bit too much or a bit over-dramatic, I didn’t really mind it. I thought Curtis’s words were fitting at the beginning of the novel, where he talked about the types of things that kids and teenagers of the LGBTQ+ community have to suffer through sometimes. Maybe it’s just because I’m more aware of the news and hearing horrible thing after horrible thing every single day – some so crazy that I can’t believe some people are just plain monsters – that it makes sense. I can see people acting this way. And I think that’s more tragic than anything, personally. But warnings for anyone who’s sensitive to implied rape, bullying, homophobia, or transphobia, if you don’t like to read about those types of things.

Overall, this was a really good, action-packed debut that kept me on my toes. I can’t wait for the sequel!

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Have any of you guys read this book? What did you think about it?

26

Why Have I Not Read You Yet?

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So, anyone who knows me knows that I have the most intense book shame. So many books that I want to read but have yet to because my priorities are not straight in any way whatsoever. So I decided to share my shame with all of you just in case I’m not alone in an out-of-control TBR that is basically drowning you. We can be shameful together.

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The Martian

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Okay, so I’m super excited to read this one, and I don’t even know why I haven’t read it yet. I’ve heard literally nothing but good things, and the movie got great reviews as well! I promised myself that I wouldn’t watch the movie until I read the book, and I’m going to!

(Soon enough.)

Ready Player One

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Apparently, Steven Spielberg is adapting this into a movie by the end of this year, so I’ll read it before then. I promise.

The Girl with All the Gifts

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This is about zombies!!! I love zombies!!! And I still haven’t read it!!! Literally what is wrong with me???

Room

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The concept for this one also interests me, especially since it’s told from the POV of a child. Again, I heard the movie was great (and that Jacob Tremblay was fantastic in it, and he’s absolutely ADORABLE), and this has been out for way too long for me to have not read it.

All the Light We Cannot See

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I swear on God’s green earth I’m the only one who hasn’t read this book, and I feel so bad! The cover is eye-catching, and the concept sounds brilliant, and I can already feel myself giving it five stars, but I just need to read it!

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

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Once this came out, I saw nothing but fantastic reviews for it, and the fact that it centers around a cult and a girl who has no hands because they were cut off (!!!) immediately pulls me in – I’ve always been interested in cults and such – so I’m actually hoping to get to this one this year!

Fangirl

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Listen, I’ve had this book for SO LONG. I borrowed it off my friend once it first came out, but I had to return it before I could finish it. I actually bought the book, and started reading it again, but got distracted by other books. Again, a year later, I attempted to read it, got further than I did the first time, but I got distracted YET AGAIN. So, this is actually ridiculous; I love it every time I read it, but I’m a failure at finishing it.

I’ll Give You the Sun

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I’ve literally owned this book since a couple weeks after the release date, but I’ve yet to, you know, actually read it. It has a cute gay romance, which I know I’ll love, and, again, hoping to finally get to it this year!

On the Jellicoe Road

on-the-jellicoe-road

Literally every single review I’ve seen for this book has given it a glowing five stars, and I’ve also heard brilliant things about Melina Marchetta and her books as a whole, so I know I must read this, even though I’m still confused as to what this book is actually about from the synopsis. But who cares, I love weird books.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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Again, I’ve owned this book for so long, and, again, I’ve actually read halfway through it (and was really enjoying it), but life probably got in the way, and I left it unfinished. Younger me was not good at completing books, is what I’m learning.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story

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Yeah, I’ve owned this book for a long time and read halfway through it and yep, I think we’ve all heard this story before.

Poison Study

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I heard this was a really good recommendation for those who are fans of the Throne of Glass series, which I’m a super-fan of, so I know I have to get to this one! I actually read a sample of this on iBooks and I found it to be entertaining and well-written, so I’m excited to continue!

The Name of the Wind

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I don’t think I need to explain myself with this one.

American Gods

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This book is actually going to be adapted into an HBO TV series by Bryan Singer, who did Hannibal, one of my favorite TV shows ever (so upset it was cancelled), so I feel like I need to educate myself before I watch it. Even though it’s super long. I’ll attempt to read this.

Nimona

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Last year, I dived into the world of comics/graphic novels, and I failed to get to this one, which, again, nothing but good reviews had popped up in my Goodreads feed. I consider this one to be even MORE shameful because it’s so short and I could get it done so quickly, but, again, failure.

Carry On

carry-on

I actually read a little over 100 pages of this on iBooks last year, but I wasn’t exactly in the mood for a fantasy novel, so I neglected it, but I’m actually part of the 1% that really enjoyed the fanfiction parts of Fangirl, and Simon and Baz’s relationship is basically Drarry, one of my top ships, so, I’m pumped. Plus, I loved what little I had read, so yep.

Fairest and Stars Above

I jumped on the Lunar Chronicles bandwagon in late 2015, so I missed out on Fairest, and Stars Above, but I love this series, so I should really love these too! I just haven’t gotten to them because whenever I have book money, I rarely ever want to buy prequels or extra books in series, if that makes sense, but I would love nothing more than to return to this world again.

The Host

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I didn’t like Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight or New Moon, but I’ve heard that The Host is much better than the Twilight quartet as a whole, so I definitely want to get to this one. I actually watched the movie once it came out (in an empty theatre with only my mom as company), and thought it wasn’t that good, but that was the general consensus, so I can’t wait to read the source material!

(This sort of makes me want to watch the movie again, just for kicks.)

The Lies of Locke Lamora

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I’ve heard this is like an adult version of Six of Crows, and I am intrigued.

The Secret History and The Goldfinch

I borrowed both of these books off Overdrive but quickly returned them because the real pages on Kindle were driving me absolutely crazy and making the reading experience extremely slow, and I knew there was no way in hell I was reading these tomes in two weeks. I purchased the ebook versions instead because I prefer the stretched out pages. I’m probably going to take both of these super slow, but I will definitely get back to them. I was enjoying them while I was reading them, so I can’t wait to finish them!

The Death Cure

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Of course, we weren’t going to make it through this list without a finale being on here, and this one is shameful. I’ve already read and completed the first two books in the trilogy and absolutely loved them, and I was in the midst of reading this one, but, again, middle school me was distracted and abandoned it. I really just need to reread this series and check it off my list!

Game of Thrones

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I’ve only really watched about three episodes of the show, so this actually counts as double shame. I just really need to read this no matter how big this book is, because, again, nothing but good reviews from most of my old Goodreads friends, but, I’m weak.

Me Before You

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Okay, so this one hasn’t been on my list for TOO long, but after the flurry with it becoming a movie and everyone jumping on board the hype train, I was sadly left behind. But I will read this! I promise!

The Assassin’s Blade

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Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the biggest Throne of Glass nerd/fangirl ever, and I JUST NEED TO READ THIS. Seriously, the further I read, the more I realize I need to read these books, and, honestly, this is ridiculous; I should have read this about two years ago.

Made You Up

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First of all, gorgeous cover! Second, the idea of a book where the main character has schizophrenia, and you can’t tell what is real and what isn’t sounds absolutely brilliant, and the reviews are clearly reflecting that!

The Scorpio Races

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Clearly, I’m a huge fan of Maggie Stiefvater. I absolutely love the Raven Cycle, and I know that I’m going to like this once I read it, but I. Just. Haven’t. And it’s even worse because I could easily borrow this on Overdrive, but I’m weak.

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And that’s it for my extremely shameful list of “Why Have I Not Read You Yet?” I have no idea if I’ll complete any of these before the end of the year, but if I do, cheers to future me for doing better than past me!

Also, completely unrelated note, but it snowed this past weekend, and I’m praying that we have no school tomorrow because I’m a lazy bum.

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What are some of the most shameful books on your TBR? Do we share any of the same ones?