To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Kira NavΓ‘rez dreamed of life on new worlds. Now she’s awakened a nightmare. During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins toΒ move.
As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.
While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope…

Sci-fi, 878 pages, published in 2020

Kira NavΓ‘rez dreamed of life on new worlds. Now she’s awakened a nightmare. During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.
As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.
While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope…[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Content Warnings: imprisonment/torture, body horror

I have a complicated relationship with Paolini (and the way he writes women), so I was hoping that this book would restore my faith in. I don’t think it did, but I would be interested to read more in this world.

Paolini is creating a “fractalverse”, similar to Sanderson’s Cosmere. The books will be set in the same universe, but not necessarily related to each other. TSIASOS is a standalone and is the first book in this universe.

Kira, the main character, honestly felt pretty bland. It felt like her reactions to the crazy events going on around her were short and then she was over it. The entire book centers on her and she just wasn’t interesting to follow. There were some weird scenes centering around sex and menstrual cycles that I don’t think were necessary and just felt awkward.

This is a first encounter story, which I do find interesting in general. The aliens in this story were cool, to an extent.

There was a lot of technical, scientific jargon that just went way over my head. There were also appendices that go further in depth, which I did not read. With sci-fi, if the author says something works, I’ll believe them for the most part. I don’t need scientific proof that yes, it does work.

There was a certain aspect of this book that was SO repetitive. It was interesting the first time, but having to read about the same exact situation five or six more times was not fun.

There is an AI in this story that was probably the most interesting part of this book and the most entertaining.

Overall, I just think this book was too long. It should have been shorter or been split into two books, because there was a clear break in the middle. I only felt relief when this book was over.

The ending itself was not what I was expecting. I wasn’t sure where the story was going, but I didn’t think it would go where it is. It didn’t feel satisfying to me and it felt like I had just wasted all the time beforehand.

This story had interesting elements, and to be honest, I would be interested in reading future books in this universe, but this book just did not do it for me.

Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest for more book updates and pictures!

The Original by Brandon Sanderson & Mary Robinette Kowal

Holly wakes up in hospital room and is told that she is a replica of herself with the sole task of hunting down the real Holly for murdering her husband.

Sci-fi, 183 pages, published in 2020

Holly wakes up in hospital room and is told that she is a replica of herself with the sole task of hunting down the real Holly for murdering her husband.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Warnings: guns, murder

This is a futuristic sci-fi, audio-first novella narrated by Julia Whelan that is a collaboration between Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal, who work on the podcast Writing Excuses.

Two things about the audiobook specifically: Julia Whelan does an amazing job and there is background music/noises. The background noise was a little…annoying at times, because I couldn’t tell if the sound was coming from the audiobook or in real life, but overall, I think it worked to increase the atmosphere.

The premise of this story is so interesting. Everyone has ‘themes’ that they use to see the world around them differently than what is reality, and if they die, they can have their backed up memories transplanted into a new body. This information is all delivered by Holly discovering what reality is actually like, which I thought was a cool way of showing it all.

I actually wish this was a full length novel, not a novella. I think it had the potential to explore a lot of ideas, but only focused on a few. I would definitely like to read more in this setting, or even something similar.

The ending was…not my favorite, but it didn’t change how much I enjoyed the rest of the story.

One thing that made me laugh a little is that I saw some reviews being upset by excessive profanity being included…I didn’t notice any at all. At one point, I’m pretty sure she says “hella” which I don’t think is profanity, and also feels like a very dated term in a futuristic world.

Overall, if you have a couple hours and you want to get lost in a cool, futuristic murder mystery, I would definitely recommend this!

Record of a Spaceborn Few (The Wayfarers #3) by Becky Chambers

Generations after the Exodan fleet left Earth, it has found it’s destination. A cast of characters questions what it means when a ship has found it’s destination and the purpose of tradition.

Science Fiction, 358 pages, published in 2018

Generations after the Exodan fleet left Earth, it has found it’s destination. A cast of characters questions what it means when a ship has found it’s destination and the purpose of tradition.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I have loved the previous two books in this series for how character driven they are and the exploration of alien cultures, but this entry in the series just didn’t do it for me. The two elements about the series that I have loved so far were not as present as I wished they were.

There are a ton of POV characters in this book, and their connections aren’t immediately clear. Especially at the beginning, this just made it hard for me to understand where the book was going. Because these characters were so disconnected, it took even longer to get to know them. Had they been interacting with each other from the beginning, you could get to know two of them at once, but since that didn’t happen, there were a ton of side characters for each main character to get to know.

This book takes place on a human fleet, so there are very limited aliens. The previous books have taken place either with a big cast of alien characters, or in a place where there are a lot of aliens. There is one alien perspective, and that’s actually the part of the book I enjoyed the most.

Towards the end, the themes of what home is was really explored, but for me, it just took too much set up to get there. There was an event in the middle of the book that was a catalyst for the main characters to start figuring out what home meant to them, but I wished that had happened a lot earlier.

Even though I didn’t particularly care for this book, I will definitely be reading more from the series! Even though I was disappointed after the first book that the sequels weren’t directly connected, I am glad for it now because I know I can enjoy more in this world and series, even though I didn’t like this one.

Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest for more book updates and pictures!

A Closed and Common Orbit (The Wayfarers #2) by Becky Chambers

Lovelace was supposed to be a ship’s AI system, but after being inserted into a body of her own, she has to figure out what that means for her. Twenty years in the past, Jane 23 is working in a factory, the only home she’s ever known.

Science Fiction, 364 pages, published in 2017

Lovelace was supposed to be a ship’s AI system, but after being inserted into a body of her own, she has to figure out what that means for her. Twenty years in the past, Jane 23 is working in a factory, the only home she’s ever known.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’m surprised again by how much I loved this book! I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the first book in this series, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, because I don’t tend to love space-heavy sci-fi like these, but these books are so character driven that it doesn’t matter to me.

In the main part of the book following Lovelace, later renamed Sidra, there really is no plot. Sidra is trying to grapple with the fact that she is in an unfamilar body, and a body that could get her in trouble if she’s caught. Her story was so frustrating at times because for an AI, she doesn’t put together the pieces that are right in front of her. Sidra spends so long denying that she’s a person, when her struggles – finding her place, her purpose, her interests – are all very human struggles (I should say…sentient being struggles because there are a lot more species than humans in this book).

Jane’s story is a bit more plot driven. It becomes clear how she relates to the main story pretty early on, but her story is about survival and strength. It was hard to read at times, because when I imagined myself in her shoes, I would have given up long before making it through that ordeal.

There are a few main species of aliens and I loved getting to see them interact. The last book took place mostly on a ship, but this book takes place on a moon in a city, so you can see how different species live together. There is a main character that is Aeluon, a species that wasn’t explored that much in the previous book, so it was definitely cool to learn more. The species are all so different from humans and I just love learning more about them.

At first, I missed the characters from the first book, but eventually I became so wrapped up in these characters that I didn’t care anymore. This book focuses a lot on family and especially found family, so it felt very inviting and comforting to me. This series somehow feels nostalgic, even though this is my first time reading it.

I just really enjoy this series! If you are a plot-driven reader, I’m not sure you’ll find much to enjoy, but if you like character-driven books, definitely check this one out! I can not wait to read the next one, and there is an upcoming fourth book as well!

Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest for more book updates and pictures!

Starsight (Skyward #2) by Brandon Sanderson

Six months after saving her people from destruction, Spensa is a pilot in the Defiant Defense Force. She is trying to fight back even harder at the Krell, humankind’s alien jailers, when she finds a way to gain an enormous amount of technology and knowledge from their enemy.

Six months after saving her people from destruction, Spensa is a pilot in the Defiant Defense Force. She is trying to fight back even harder at the Krell, humankind’s alien jailers, when she finds a way to gain an enormous amount of technology and knowledge from their enemy.

Spoiler Free Review:

πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

Skyward was the book the originally got me interested in Brandon Sanderson and I really enjoyed it when I read it in January and again in December of last year. While I enjoyed this book, I didn’t contain all of the things I loved from the first one.

Initially, I was annoyed because I feel like Brandon went a little heavy on recapping the information from the first book. If I hadn’t just read the first book though, I would have appreciated it more.

I loved the characters and budding friendships in the first book, but in this one, Spensa goes somewhere alone, so we got to see almost no interaction with her friends from the DDF. Instead, she goes on to make new friends, but I couldn’t really get attached to them because I was already attached to her original friends.

There was a lot more worldbuilding in this book. The first book is contained to one planet, which I liked, but we get to learn more about the universe in this book. On one hand, I liked it because learning about different alien species was cool, but on the other, I missed the contained setting of Spensa’s planet. The transition from a contained world to an entire universe was a little abrupt for me.

The aliens were probably my favorite part of this book. We get to know quite a few different species of alien, not all of them humanoid! There was so much care put into creating alien species. They were all really different from one another and they were all very different from humans. There was an extra effort to address gender pronouns in this, which I really appreciated. A lot of aliens go by ‘they’ because the idea of male and female is a very human thing.

So, there is a little bit of romance in this book. I had picked up on some romantic hints in the first book and I was into it, even if these characters remained friends. However, I needed more development from their relationship. If it continues in subsequent books, I’m going to see more from them. Otherwise, I really like their relationship and their dynamic! I just need to see more from them.

I enjoyed this book, but I am hoping that the next book in the series will get back to the stuff I loved about the first one.

Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest for more book updates and pictures!

The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman

Citra and Rowan have sunk to the bottom of the ocean, along with the rest of Endura. Now, Goddard is in control of a better part of the world and is changing scythes rules on gleaning so they are more relaxed. The Thunderhead has deemed all of humanity unsavory, except for Greyson, who has become an icon for the Tonists.

Sci-fi, 627 pages, published in 2019

Citra and Rowan have sunk to the bottom of the ocean, along with the rest of Endura. Now, Goddard is in control of a better part of the world and is changing scythes rules on gleaning so they are more relaxed. The Thunderhead has deemed all of humanity unsavory, except for Greyson, who has become an icon for the Tonists.

Spoiler Free Review:

πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

Where do I even start with this book? I recently fell in love with Scythe and Thunderhead while rereading them, so I was so ready to read this last book! I was a little intimidated by the size, but it ended up being such a good conclusion to this trilogy!

My biggest/only issue with this book was the timeline in the beginning. The book follows a few different characters, and their timelines all start off at different points. Eventually, they all do converge and stay at the same time, but I definitely got confused, especially because the description of the book says that it starts three years after the events of Thunderhead. Some story lines do start that late, but some start immediately following those events.

This series grew so much in scope throughout. I was not expecting this book to heavily feature some of things that seemed like background worldbuilding from the first book. This was definitely not a bad thing! It made the world seem so much more fleshed-out, in my opinion. In the first book, we only really see the scythedom in depth, but through the rest of the series, we get to see the actual world as well.

For you, Honorable Scythe Anastasia, I would die a thousand deaths at my own hand.

pg. 404

There was a character in this book who was genderfluid! They are from whole region where children are raised without a gender until they are a certain age. This was handled so well in the book. All of the characters reacted to it like it was normal (because it is) and I really appreciated that there were multiple conversations about it.

The ending of this book messed me up a little bit, I think. It was just so emotional for me, because I really couldn’t predict what was going to happen. I know that no one is safe in this series, so I was seriously worrying about the survival of my favorite characters. I was overall really happy with how everything wrapped up!

This series has just become such a favorite of mine. It is shocking and kind of fun, but it still makes me think about morality and death. I normally don’t love plot-driven books like these, but Neal Shusterman is so good at writing interesting and engaging plots. I can’t wait to read more from him in the future!

If it isn’t clear already, I highly recommend this series!

Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest for more book updates and pictures!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfairers #1) by Becky Chambers

Synopsis: After paying her entire savings to change her identity, Rosemary joins the Wayfairer, a ship that tunnels through space. She joins the crew, which is made up of humans, aliens, and an AI. They take a job that will take them one year to travel to.

Science Ficition, 443 pages, published in 2014

Synopsis: After paying her entire savings to change her identity, Rosemary joins the Wayfairer, a ship that tunnels through space. She joins the crew, which is made up of humans, aliens, and an AI. They take a job that will take them one year to travel to.

Spoiler Free Review:

πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

I originally heard about this book on Overdue, the only podcast I listen to. The guests on that particular episode sang praises for this book! They initially described it as feeling like fanfiction, meaning you get to follow characters that you like around and basically just watch them live. I think that this is a great description for this book, and one that made me really interested in reading it!

The book doesn’t really have much of a plot. I would say that 90% of the book is following the crew as they get to their destination. I really liked this because you get to see snippets from that year. The crew stops at different planets, they go through some troubles, relationships progress, and life goes on. I really loved getting to know the characters this way.

I really liked all of the different species of aliens that we get to see throughout this book. They were all so cool and different from each other and from humans. One thing I thought was interesting is that in this universe, humans are not very important. They didn’t found the governing body, nor are they a big part of anything in the universe.

Nothing about the space ships was very hard to understand. There was some space ship jargon, but it didn’t feel like I was expected to understand it.

The relationships in this book really give it life. There is romance, friendship, and family, but there is also tension and hatred. I felt so many emotions through these characters. One minute I was laughing along with them and the next I was crying.

I really loved this book and I can’t wait to read more in the series! It was just so fun and relaxed, but still emotional. It felt very nostalgic even though I’ve never read it before, or even heard of it before last month. If you are looking for a casual but still fun book set in space, this is your book!

Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest for more book updates and pictures!

How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates

Synopsis: After the world becomes infested with the singers, there are three kinds of people: the wicked, the true, and the vexed. The wicked have been infected by the wickedness spread by the singers and are out to kill. The true are people who haven’t yet been infected. The vexed are a small group of people who are immune to the singers and the wickedness after getting bitten as a newborn.

Sci-fi, 368 pages, published in 2019

Synopsis: After the world becomes infested with the singers, there are three kinds of people: the wicked, the true, and the vexed. The wicked have been infected by the wickedness spread by the singers and are out to kill. The true are people who haven’t yet been infected. The vexed are a small group of people who are immune to the singers and the wickedness after getting bitten as a newborn.

Spoiler Free Review:

πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

I thought the premise of this book was interesting and the cover is pretty, so that’s why I picked it up. I didn’t have any expectations going in, so I ended up loving it!

The book follows two characters: Astrid and Natalie. Astrid lives in a glass-enclosed community in order to stay safe from the singers. She is the only person in the community who is vexed, safe from the singers. Natalie lives on an island with her pregnant mother and wicked grandfather, who they keep confined to the lighthouse.

I think the whole setting was kind of spooky since it was set near the ocean in an almost post-apocalyptic world. The singers or the wickedness wasn’t hard to follow, so you can immediately get right into the world. I also loved the isolated factor, as Astrid is stuck with the same group of people and Natalie only has ever known her family.

I just had such a great time reading this book! I couldn’t put it down because I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next and how the two perspectives related to one another. I don’t even think I gave myself to think about what the ending would be, because it really took me by surprise! In the best way, of course.

I feel like I don’t have a lot to say because I just enjoyed it so much. It is easier to rant about all the things I don’t like about the book and there was nothing I didn’t like about this.

I think if you like books with creepy vibes, a plague/zombie element, or that isolated feeling, you should give this book a try! Even if you don’t like those things, still give this a try because it is so good!

Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest for more book updates and pictures!

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

opsis: After the girls of Raxter Island were infected with the Tox, they were put under quarantine. It has been 18 months since they have been surviving, not breaking the quarantine, and waiting for a cure. This story follows three friends – Hetty, Reese, and Byatt as things intensify on the island.

Sci-fi, 353 pages, published in 2019

Synopsis: After the girls of Raxter Island were infected with the Tox, they were put under quarantine. It has been 18 months since they have been surviving, not breaking the quarantine, and waiting for a cure. This story follows three friends – Hetty, Reese, and Byatt as things intensify on the island.

Spoiler Free Review:

I do not normally read any sort of horror/suspense/thriller books because I scare easily, but this was the Barnes & Noble YA Book Club pick for August, so I wanted to read it for that reason. The author does have some content warnings on her website, so I was semi-prepared for what was in this book.

I thought most of the gore in this book was fine, though there were a few specific things that really got to me. All of the girls get mutated after the Tox, so I don’t think this book would have been the same without these grim, gory descriptions.

I actually flew through this book! Despite quite a few plot holes and other things I wanted more of, it was intense and definitely pulled me in. I definitely think it could have been longer, so more of the lose ends could have been explored and explained.

My favorite thing about this book was the creepy forest imagery. In a way, it kind of reminded me of Uprooted by Naomi Novik because that book features a similar forest, though it is more magical than the one in Wilder Girls. I could picture this looming, dark forest the entire time I was reading the book and the animals in it were equally as dark and creepy as the forest itself.

I was a little confused by the dynamics between Reese, Hetty, and Byatt. In order to not give away spoilers, I’ll say that I just didn’t think the romantic relationship that formed made a whole lot of sense. There were mixed signals all around, so I was just thrown when it actually was revealed. I didn’t particularly love or relate to any of the girls, but they were still interesting to read about and different from each other.

My biggest hangup was just all the plot holes and openness at the end. There were a lot of things that didn’t make too much sense in the story that either needed and exploitation and didn’t get one, or needed to be done in a different way entirely. The ending was also not what I wanted or what I think the story needed to be fulfilling. I’m left wanting more, but in an unsatisfied way.

Overall, I think this is a fun, fast-paced book, but not one I’m jumping to ever reread. I was glad I pushed myself to read outside of my normal genres and was able to participate in the B&N Book Club again! Once again, I was the only person there besides the woman running it!

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Synopsis: After an illegal mining planet gets attacked by a rival company, the survivors must try to run from the ships chasing them through space so they can tell the universe about the injustices of the attack.

Science Fiction, published in 2015 – 2018

Synopsis: After an illegal mining planet gets attacked by a rival company, the survivors must try to run from the ships chasing them through space so they can tell the universe about the injustices of the attack.

Non-Spoiler Review:

I have to admit, I read Illuminae and Gemina last fall, but I just finished Obsidio last week, so that one will definitely take up the bulk of my thoughts. I was initially disappointed in Illuminae, and it is still my least favorite book in the series, but I had heard such good things about the series as whole that I had to continue it.

I think the format of these books is really interesting! The entire book is made up of chat logs, announcements, photos, video descriptions, and more. It make so much sense because there is so much technology in the books. I definitely preferred some of the files over others, with the video transcriptions usually being my least favorite.

Sci-fi is not my normal genre of choice, so I definitely found some of the lingo to be hard to understand. I know a lot of people have said this series is good for sci-fi beginners, but I was still confused! Spaceships confuse me!

My two favorite things about these books are the amount of action and the characters’ relationships. The action in these books can get really wild and there are lots of twists and turns. It definitely kept me gripped throughout. I don’t necessarily love the romantic relationships in these books, but I do love how everyone kind of becomes one big family. Everyone in these books has lost someone, but they still have each other. It got me really emotional at some points.

My least favorite things were the romance and sci-fi lingo. The romance wasn’t necessarily bad, but I didn’t particularly love the circumstances that led to the relationships.

Overall, I think this is a pretty fun series! The unique format keeps it really interesting, and I think even non-sci-fi fans will enjoy it.