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Aurora Rising (Aurora Rising #1) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Aurora Rising (Aurora Rising #1) – Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffTitle: Aurora Rising (Aurora Rising #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publishing Info: May 7, 2019 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1), Unearthed (Unearthed #1), These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1), Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3), Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

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 Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They're not the heroes we deserve. They're just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

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 There was so much hype for AURORA RISING, from the reading community and I admit, my own hype since there’s so much love for Amie & Jay! I think this was a really fun first book and an intro to the main characters, setting up for the rest of a great series.

I’m not sure if I was just unfocused or if it was something other readers experienced/will experience, but I found the beginning to not flow well in some spots. I did listen to the audiobook while I was working, but since I do that all the time, even with complicated fantasy, I found it a bit jarring in some spots where I actually had to go back and re-listen to a couple things to make sure I didn’t have a track out of place or anything. It wasn’t bad but it was just something that didn’t really seem to fit in sequence so I had to adjust to some transitions or lack thereof.

I also just found the beginning to be a little lacking. Going into AURORA RISING after reading NEVERNIGHT and reflecting on The Illuminae Files, I kind of feel like some of the YA plot lines are held back to not overwhelm readers with detail, but I personally love how detailed worlds and characters can get, especially when designing worlds to include alien races, new planets, and even more space! Obviously adult novels and YA novels will differ and this is a project with Amie and not just Jay alone, but after reading NEVERNIGHT, the book just felt like it was being held back and cut down where I would have loved so much more world-building and expansion.

The book was very enjoyable and a lot of fun to read! I always love the misfit crews and classic sass and sarcasm! It just makes everything so much fun and creates a great character and crew dynamic. The story was interesting and I didn’t guess where it was going and how everything was connected! I didn’t totally love it but it was unique and I’m curious to see how everything fits in later on in the series!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Science Fiction. I’ve been wanting to read more sci-fi and I felt like I was… but looking back on my reads I need to read so much more! Books in space are always so much fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Plot flow. I just didn’t feel like things flowed as well as they could have. I was hoping for a little more development in the beginning as well.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This is still a really fun read even though it’s hard to live up to the hype and creativity of Illuminae! It was a lot of fun though.

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BOOKS LIKE AURORA RISING

             

Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) – Suzanne Young

Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) – Suzanne YoungTitle: Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) by Suzanne Young
Publishing Info: March 19, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Program (The Program #1), Just Like Fate

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

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** This review WILL contain spoilers for the book. The paragraph with major spoilers is clearly marked. ** 

I was SUPER excited to pick up GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS expecting some crazy stuff because more than a few of my most trusted reviewers (and good friends) rated this book five stars so I was expecting to finally be in for a treat and not be the black sheep on a hyped book (again). Aaaand then came the awkward moment where I realized I’m yet again just not getting on the hype train.

There’s not really a good way to talk about this book without spoilers because yes, there is a Big Thing at the end of the book and sharing anything about it or noting any comparisons really gives the big reveal away so I’ll put that all in a spoiler tag later. The one comparison I can make that’s not a spoiler is that it reminded mea little bit of the Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano. GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS had a dystopian feel to it like The Chemical Garden books with that same concept of young girls being raised/made to be wives and sold off (or kidnapped) so it had me reeling all the way back to 2012 when I read the first book so hey, 7-year flashback going on and keeping that dystopian hype alive! I was expecting the book to be a little more thriller with some sci-fi aspects and it is creepy and mysterious but I think it feels much more dystopian/dark sci-fi than that thriller aspect, which is really what I was hoping for.

Once you understand the ending, it’s easier to look back at the whole book and see things in a different light, but I was so uncomfortable reading this book until we got to that point. There were some hints dropped but the book was really hard to read with how poorly these girls were treated. A lot of the hype and excitement of the book comes from the girls rising up and smashing the patriarchy but it was just so painful to witness them being treated like property (literally), sexually abused, and trained to be brainless and obedient. This went on for SO LONG throughout the book (okay, really literally through the end) so it was just so hard to read and I was so uncomfortable. There were little rebellions throughout but it was just a constant onslaught of abuse that I found it really difficult to enjoy.

THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS. SKIP IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THEM. Sooo the twist is that this book is basically kind of Westworld but without the western aspect. The girls have all been “born” in a lab with organs and skin that have been grown there but are full of wires that connect to a metal brain and it’s all artificial intelligence. It presents the same kind of question that Westworld did (or does… I stopped watching it because I also found that plot to be slow-moving to get on with the big picture) — when AI starts to adapt, think, learn, and love, it is human and does it have human rights, or is it essentially still just a machine? Is it both? There’s no doubt that these characters are humanized (clearly, since we’re not told that they’re AI until the end of the book) and there are a lot of complicated feelings involved! Did I love the twist? Ehhh. Does it lessen how poorly they were treated? I still felt greatly uncomfortable and didn’t feel any better about reading what I did just because they were AI. It does make more sense to go back and see the “logic” about why they were treated like property but all that really did for me was open up a whole other can of worms. I also kind of felt like it took too long to get there because I would have liked to explore that more in the book.

I don’t know where the series is going but I would have liked to get to the ending a little quicker so we could spend more time soaking it in and exploring those ideas. I suppose it is a series (which I didn’t realize when I first got the book but did know before I started it) so there’s still time for that. I feel like it COULD have been a stand alone. I don’t know where the rest of the series is going but I don’t have any desire to continue on with it, which is also why I rated it down to two stars instead of three. If I had more of a curiosity to continue, I probably would have felt like I was leaving it on a higher note but I just am not interested in more of this story.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dystopian reads! This was a little bit between dystopian and sci-fi and I had some major early 2000s – 2010s dystopian flashbacks!
Left Me Wanting More: Time away from abuse. Gosh, this book was hard to read with the main characters constantly being abused and controlled. I was uncomfortable for most of the book and it just made it so difficult. I get that that’s also the point but I was just constantly on edge in the way that it was presented for some reason.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

Some of my close reader friends really, really loved this one. I just had a hard time reading it. I say check things out and see what you think!

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BOOKS LIKE GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS

             

Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons #4) – Matt de la Pena

Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons #4) – Matt de la PenaTitle: Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons #4) by Matt de la Pena
Publishing Info: March 5, 2019 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Date Completed: March 15, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

When the dawn breaks, a hero rises.

His power is beyond imagining.

Clark Kent has always been faster, stronger--better--than everyone around him. But he wasn't raised to show off, and drawing attention to himself could be dangerous. Plus, it's not like he's earned his powers . . . yet.

But power comes with a price.

Lately it's difficult to hold back and keep his heroics in the shadows. When Clark follows the sound of a girl crying, he comes across Gloria Alvarez and discovers a dark secret lurking in Smallville. Turns out, Clark's not the only one hiding something. Teaming up with his best friend, Lana Lang, he throws himself into the pursuit of the truth. What evil lies below the surface of his small town? And what will it cost Clark to learn about his past as he steps into the light to become the future Man of Steel? Because before he can save the world, he must save Smallville.

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This was a pretty disappointing installment in the DC Icons series and though I haven’t read Catwoman yet (I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on the audio), it’s the most disappointing. This book didn’t even feel like Superman’s origin story much at all. Aside from some of the things that even non-Superman fans know about him (strength, speed, x-ray vision), there really wasn’t much to show how Clark Kent started exploring his powers and what that meant to him as a person and especially as a teenager figuring out who he was and what he wanted to do with his life, which is even heavier than the normal coming-of-age story because of his powers and his potential.

Each of these books has a villain which, not being a comic book reader, I would say may or may not be the most “notorious” villain that we know from the comics or movies. We see Lex Luthor here but he’s not the main antagonist of the story, similar to seeing Harvey Dent in the Batman installment of this series. I don’t really know any other Batman villains so I don’t know if the one in this book is canon or not but he didn’t really feel very complex in any way. Actually, none of the characters seemed complex at all. For it being Clark Kent’s story, there wasn’t much personality packed in here and the side characters didn’t really provide much character growth either.

Some of this could have been overlooked if I had enjoyed the story, which I really didn’t connect with either. Matt de la Pena took this opportunity to explore some important issues of immigration and racism but it just didn’t fit with the Superman story for me and the way that it was incorporated actually felt more demeaning instead of eye-opening. I felt like we needed to actually spend time with Clark and his story (since this IS a book about Clark Kent/Superman after all), so trying to put all of those concepts and issues in this book left us with little time, only exploring the surface areas of these issues with some blanket statements that didn’t tackle the issue well. Maybe it could have worked better somehow but I felt like it was not adapted well into this book and some of the supernatural elements of the adaptation made it feel hokey, taking away from its importance.

This was just a big miss for me. I had hoped to enjoy reading more about Superman and getting to know Clark Kent’s story and I feel like there just wasn’t really much about him at all besides basic plot points that could have been shared in a few paragraphs or chapters.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Superheroes, I guess. I’m not a big comic person and I don’t follow a lot of superhero stories but I actually was interested in reading about Superman since I kind of had the tiniest of childhood connections to him, at least compared to the other DC Icons featured.
Left Me Wanting More: Superman Substance. I felt like this book wasn’t even about Clark Kent. The basics were involved but it didn’t really make me feel like the author knew or cared about writing the Superman origin story.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

Even if you have read the others, I still wouldn’t recommend this book. I was really disappointed in it in so many ways. I guess if you’re finishing the series, it’s worth it just to finish but I can’t make any promises that you’ll enjoy it, especially if you’re expecting a good Superman story.

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BOOKS LIKE SUPERMAN: DAWNBREAKER

             

Undying (Unearthed #2) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Undying (Unearthed #2) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerTitle: Undying (Unearthed #2) by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Publishing Info: January 8, 2019 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Date Completed: December 26, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1), Unearthed (Unearthed #1), These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1), Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3)

Trapped aboard the Undying's ancient spaceship and reeling from what they've learned there, scavenger Mia and academic Jules are plunged into a desperate race to warn their home planet of the danger humanity's greed has unleashed. From the mountains of Spain to the streets of Prague, the sequel to Unearthed is a white-knuckle ride that will send readers hurtling back to earth, and leave them breathless until the last page.

The earth's fate rests in Mia and Jules's hands in the epic conclusion to New York Times best-selling authors Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner's tomb-raiding sci-fi duology.

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UNEARTHED was one of my favorite books from 2018 so naturally I was dying to read UNDYING! The way UNEARTHED ended was such a killer and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next!

UNDYING was quite a solid progression in this series and had some great plot-building and overall concepts that continued building the series, but basically until this review was published, I didn’t realize this was the last book and that there were only two. The whole book read like it was going to be the second book in a series and it felt like a good stepping stone. It had some incredibly interesting elements that I was guaranteed to love, and I did, but I almost wished those things that had been revealed as things that had already happened in the past had been a main part of the book, because they were things I love reading about. (That’s a complicated sentence but without spoilers, it’s a little difficult to word, but you get what I mean.)

I loved the space/other planet element of UNEARTHED and it was part of what made me love the book so much with the added bonus of mysterious alien elements and a treasure hunting feel. UNDYING had a much different feel for me, and it wasn’t a bad thing but it didn’t have that same special feel that UNEARTHED did. The more I think about it, the more noticeable it feels so that’s kind of a bummer. I did still enjoy UNDYING and I liked where the series went, but it didn’t feel as magical and as exciting. Mild spoiler (sorry) to say that we make it back to Earth somewhat quickly in the beginning of the book and so that space element is lost and it just wasn’t as thrilling for me in that respect. The change of setting gave the book quite a different feel for me.

This is where my review gets extra complicated — The whole time I was reading this book, I was sure it was the second book in a trilogy. It just sounded and felt like it was and didn’t feel like it was leading towards the end. There was so much that was left to happen and I thought this was another one of those series (*cough* Renegades *cough*) that was advertised as two books but was getting stretched into three. That’s how not-a-last-book this felt. So as I was reading, I had many “second book” feelings. I was expecting a cliffhanger at the end like the crazy way we were left in UNEARTHED and I was disappointed at the lack of cliffhanger (so I guess thank goodness there wasn’t one). There kiiiind of was something that happened that was supposed to be shocking but I also kind of knew it wasn’t going to stick? (Another complicated non-spoilery sentence but you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it.) Especially me thinking it was only the second book, I just didn’t feel like it was something that would be permanent so I wasn’t too worried about the shocking moment. If I had known better, I would have been a bit more panicked. I also really loved that the other cliffhanger from book one was a reveal about the plot and history and we didn’t have that same sort of feel here. There were a lot of reveals within the book that were cool and surprising, but they were also surrounded by action so it didn’t have time for it to sink in, at least for me.

I have to say, the blow that this was the last book in the series really affected my love for it. I suppose if I had realized that as I was reading, it would have changed much except for my knowledge while I was reading it, and it may have actually taken away more enjoyment from my reading experience because it really didn’t feel like an ending at all. There was so much left to explore and there wasn’t enough time in UNDYING to cover it, or rather, the book could have spent more time with the neat reveals instead of holding them for the end if this was how it was all going to conclude. The more I think about UNDYING, the less excited I feel, sadly. It’s still quite a solid read and very enjoyable, but I just didn’t get that level of excitement or engagement that I was hoping to achieve here.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Sci-fi future. I love seeing how things “may be” in the future and what’s happening on out planet… and others. This series has a great way of making you think about everything and its consequences!
Left Me Wanting More: Space. I just loved the setting of being on another planet in the first book. So much. Being back on Earth here just didn’t have as much of a thrill.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It’s still worth the read but the more I think about it, the more upset I am that this was the ending. The first book was SO GREAT and this felt disappointing.

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BOOKS LIKE UNDYING

             

Archenemies (Renegades #2) – Marissa Meyer

Archenemies (Renegades #2) – Marissa MeyerTitle: Archenemies (Renegades #2) by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: November 6, 2018 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Date Completed: October 20, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2), , Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5), The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles #1.5), Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky (Lunar Chronicles #3.1), Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2), Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3), Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4), Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection), Heartless, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1), Renegades (Renegades #1)

The Renegades Trilogy continues, in this fiercely awaited second installment after the New York Times-bestselling Renegades by Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles.

Time is running out.
Together, they can save the world.
But they each other's worst nightmare.

In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory.

The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City - and the world - as they know it.

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Another extremely enjoyable book from Marissa Meyer! It’s so easy to fall into her worlds and be wholly absorbed, and I really enjoy every second that I spend with her characters. We get even more depth from Nova, Adrian, the Renegades, and even the Anarchists and I really appreciate how each character gets their own personality and highlights. The developments are artfully crafted so character history reveals are perfectly timed (I’m still waiting to see what Phobia is all about and I’m really hoping that’s revealed in the last book!) and how well the characters play off each other, especially the romance in this series. With all of the tension between Nova and Adrian and of course, their secret identities, I actually love how guarded they are and how slowly they’ve come together as a couple. It feels natural and wonderful not to rush them into anything more than what we’ve seen on these pages and I love that slow burn and forbidden romance all wrapped into one!

The action sequences are great too. Marissa Meyer’s books have always felt so cinematic to me and I can really picture exactly what’s going on in each scene. She has a great way of bringing readers right into the setting and blocking out the rest of the world. I’m so easily engaged in every piece and the action scenes are so fast-paced yet quite detailed that’s it’s easy to picture everything as it’s happening!

I do find myself missing the fact that this was originally supposed to be a duology, and I think it could have been done. I feel like the reveal moments for Adrian as The Sentinel and Nova as Nightmare are kind of dragging a little bit and there’s a little toomuch tension and anticipation at this point. I thought they’d be revealed to each other in the first book (back when I thought this was two books and it would have been a good place to leave RENEGADES) and it still continues on in ARCHENEMIES. It feels a bit too drawn out and it could have created other drama, action, and conflict here instead of this all coming out in the last book for what I expect will be quite the explosive conclusion.

I think that’s my only hang-up about this series, is that while I’m enjoying not rushing things, they do seem to be a bit too drawn out. I can’t shake the feeling that this could have been fit into two books, even if they were long ones (I guess even these books in the trilogy are 400+ pages!) and I don’t think I would have felt like I was missing things, but we’ll see how the third book goes and maybe the conclusion will make everything feel like it fits much better once we get all those reveals and action-packed moments!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Superheroes. I love the clash of heroes and villains in this book! It’s especially great to read both sides and see those lines blurred.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot movement. I felt like a few more things could have happened here to move the story forward. I’m always up for reading as much Marissa Meyer as possible but I felt like more could have happened in this book.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This whole series so far is worth the read, for sure. I always enjoy Marissa Meyer’s writing. So far it’s not my favorite of her works but I’ll read her books forever!

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BOOKS LIKE ARCHENEMIES

             

Blog Tour: Wildcard by Marie Lu | Reasons to Read the Series

Welcome to the blog tour for
WILDCARD by Marie Lu!

WILDCARD was one of my favorite reads of 2018 so far and I’m so honored to be on the blog tour for this amazing book! I loved this duology and it was such a great way to close out the series.

On today’s blog tour stop, I’m sharing reasons why I think readers should pick up this amazing set of novels, so if you need any convincing, here are some excellent reasons to read WARCROSS and WILDCARD!

  1. IT’S A TWO BOOK SERIES. I love duologies. It’s so great being able to have more than just one book but it’s not unnecessarily stretched out into three books when it doesn’t need to, and readers aren’t left hanging forever to find out what happens in the rest of the series! WARCROSS set things up beautifully and WILDCARD packed the rest of the punches to deliver some more excitement while still winding things down.
  2. IT’S JAM-PACKED FULL OF EXCITEMENT. Warcross in itself is a game, so each book has action of the plot itself, game scenes, and all of the drama that comes with both!
  3. TWISTS, SAY WHAAAAT! It takes a great author to pull off a great twist and Marie Lu has plenty within these pages. The twists are well-timed and shocking, but not over-the-top and fit right into the feel of the book while still being able to upend the entire plot.
  4. EMIKA IS AMAZING. Main character Emika Chen really brings the book to life! She’s sort of an outsider and misfit, making a living as a bounty hunter and is a self-proclaimed hacker when she ends up entangled within the world of Warcross. She’s confident, fierce, loyal, innovative, clever, adjust all-around amazing. She’s a wonderful character to follow throughout this journey .
  5. MORALLY GREY CHARACTERS ARE THE BEST. The Warcross duet has a few morally grey characters that make for interesting antagonists as well as protagonists. The characters who come to known as villains still have personal, positive sides and some of the protagonists end up making some decisions that put other characters in bad places. Neither side is all good or all bad, and it makes the series even better seeing this attention to each character and how many layers everyone really has.
  6. THE ROMANCE. Without giving anything away, there are also so many layers in the romance as well. It develops just perfectly with the right amount of infatuation, growing to a crush to a mutual attraction to more.
  7. YOU WON’T WANT TO PUT IT DOWN. These books are fun, easy to read, and you won’t want to stop reading! I listened to WARCROSS as an audiobook (which was also a wonderful experience) and read the WILDCARD ARC and I just didn’t want to stop reading either one. They both earned spots in my top reads of the year, respectively.

Have I convinced you to read these books yet? Hopefully just by saying that they were both in my top reads of 2017 and 2018, respectively, will have you interested! They’re such fun reads with some awesome sci-fi technology and so many amazing concepts all around. If you need more info, check out my review for WARCROSS and read more about WILDCARD below!

Blog Tour: Wildcard by Marie Lu | Reasons to Read the SeriesTitle: Wildcard (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu
Publishing Info: September 18, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, ALAAC18, BEA 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: August 12, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Legend (Legend #1), Warcross (Warcross #1), Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2)

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?


ABOUT MARIE LU

Marie Lu is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Young Elites series, as well as the blockbuster bestselling Legend series. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry as an artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing games, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles with her illustrator/author husband, Primo Gallanosa, and their dogs.

BLOG TOUR STOPS

I’m one of the last stops on the WILDCARD blog tour so make sure you stop by all of the other blogs & instagram pages of the other tour hosts!!

WARCROSS

WEEK ONE

September 3 – Read Voraciously – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 4 – Finding Wonderland – Reasons to Start Reading the Series
September 5 – Jo Loves to Read – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 6 – The Blonde Bookworm – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 7 – Velvet Spade Reads – Review + Favorite Quotes

WEEK TWO

September 10 – The Fandom – Character Appreciation Post
September 11 – Librarycutie – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 12 – Mike the Fanboy – Listicle: Read Warcross if you like the following
September 13 – Upon The Pages – Review
September 14 – _livelaughread – Creative Instagram Picture

WILDCARD

WEEK THREE

September 17 – The Life of a BookNerd Addict – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 18 – Hey Atlas – Creative Instagram Picture
September 19 – That’s Normal – Review
September 20 – Reading Forevermore – Creative Instagram Picture
September 21 – Lovely Loveday – Review

WEEK FOUR

September 24 – Chapter_Break – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 25 – Fan-Girl-Tastic – Favorite Quotes
September 26 – Lisa’s Lost in Lit – Creative Instagram Picture
September 27 – The Book Addict’s Guide – Reasons to Start Reading the Series
September 28 – @xenatine – Creative Instagram Picture


Thanks so much for checking out my stop on the blog tour today! Have you read and loved these books? Are they on your TBR?? Happy reading!

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) – Neal Shusterman

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) – Neal ShustermanTitle: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman
Publishing Info: November 22, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 31, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

bookreview1No matter what they say, sometimes you do judge a book by its cover, and that’s part of the reason why it took me so long to pick up SCYTHE. It’s not that it’s a bad cover but the cover just gave me a vibe that made me feel like it might be silly and a little too much for my taste. I guess that feeling wasn’t inaccurate because there was still this levity to the book — wit, cleverness, and a concept that was maybe a little too surreal to believe — but it also wasn’t a silly story.

I really enjoyed SCYTHE a lot more than I thought I would. The concept never really came around to feeling like it would be real or it could happen, so I never felt fully IN the story but I did really enjoy it despite that slight distance. It was an interesting concept that I did enjoy and it had a little feel like Dead Like Me (man, I need to continue that show. I think I only watched a couple episodes). Whether or not you consider the magic element, there was a lot of good character development that brought me into the book and I really connected to the characters!

This book also had a really nice balance of humor and things that really made you think. This was my first Neal Shusterman book and I really enjoyed his writing style. The book was easy to read and still had a great amount of depth to it. It immediately left me wanting to read the next book and continue the series!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique magical concepts. I don’t think I’ve read something like this before! I kind of liked the reaper concept and it was fun to hear about this new magical concept and learn something new.
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. On the flip side, I didn’t connect to the reaper concept as much as I wanted to. There was just something there that felt a little… unrealistic or silly. I know it’s just some concept in my head that I can’t get over, but I never did.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was a fun book with some really great character development. I really enjoyed it and I feel like a lot of others have as well!

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BOOKS LIKE SCYTHE

              

In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) – Alexandra Bracken

In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) – Alexandra BrackenTitle: In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) by Alexandra Bracken
Publishing Info: April 24, 2018 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Amazon, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
Date Completed: April 23, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1), Passenger (Passenger #1), Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2)

Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

bookreview1

Mehhhhh. I just did not enjoy the conclusion to this series at all. I’m so far past my dystopian fascination that I just wasn’t really interested after so much time went by but. I really did want to finish the series but I was worried about all of that going in.

Aside from the genre qualms, I really did feel like this series didn’t really need to be a trilogy. I think it could have done fine at two books, maybe even one depending on editing. Things felt incredibly dragged out in IN THE AFTERLIGHT and there were a lot of things that I thought could have been addressed in NEVER FADE, and things that I really wanted to be addressed the previous book, like more about the cause of the abilities. As far as action and content, I think a lot could have been cut to be a two book series but I guess trilogies were really hot at this point in time.

The thing I feel with a lot of dystopians nowadays is that that everyone feels whiny and everyone feels SO dramatic. I get it — it’s the literal end of the world, but things like that tend to need a bit more comic relief or a little less “dude that I love is my life and soul.” Teenagers are dramatic as well bu sometimes it’s just too much for me.  Ruby took on a lot of this for me and characters like Chubs and Vida were more fabulous and provided some of that relief, but the drama still took the spotlight. Liam was maybe TOO good for my tastes. It felt a little too polarizing for Liam to be GOOD and Cole to be the BAD boy. At least Cole had more going on. The villain became a bit too villainous and everyone was just so black and white when I would have loved more human grey areas, as is natural. I found myself just wanting to be done so I could finally be done and move on. If I hadn’t listened to these as audiobooks, it would have taken me forever or I may have not even finished.

But at last, it’s done and I am happy that I did finish the series. Dystopians have just lost their sparkle and appeal to me. I’ve read so many books since I fell in love and out of love with dystopian that it’s just all so tropey to me. Plus, this was Alexandra Bracken’s debut series and I think her writing was still growing. (Although I didn’t love Passenger either…)

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Kept Me Hooked On: The last of my dystopian loves. I really did LOVE dystopians — hardcore — back in 2011 and 2012. I wanted to inhale them. I liked heading back to THE DARKEST MINDS after all these years.
Left Me Wanting More: Developed characters. I just didn’t feel like anyone had depth! I actually feel like Chubs was the more relatable character. I didn’t connect with Ruby, Liam was too good, and everyone was so black and white.

Addiction Rating
Finish it

I think it’s worth finishing the series to find out why everything happened but I just had a really hard time with it.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE IN THE AFTERLIGHT

              

Sky in the Deep – Adrienne Young

Sky in the Deep – Adrienne YoungTitle: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Publishing Info: April 24, 2018 by Macmillan, Wednesday Books
Source: Borrowed, ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: April 21, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

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There’s no question that SKY IN THE DEEP is one of the most buzzed about books of 2018 in the book community, especially on Instagram! I had so many friends who loved the book before it even released so I borrowed an ARC from my friend Kori so I could read it (and make a candle for it haha!) and see what the buzz was about!

With any popular release, the hype scared me, and I think it got me a little bit. I really did enjoy it but when there’s a lot of hype, I tend to expect a lot of big twists or surprising elements and SKY IN THE DEEP was a little more quiet, despite its ferocity. The book doesn’t really shy away from the more gory and brutal elements of the Viking traditions and battles but there’s also quieter aspect that allows relationships of all sorts to unfold and doesn’t have the book showing all-out action all the time. It wasn’t something I expected but the more I reflect on the book, the more I appreciate it.

I really enjoyed the different feel that SKY IN THE DEEP provided. It has that blend of fantasy and historical fiction that I enjoyed so much in books like THE WINNER’S CURSE. It’s a fantasy world but it doesn’t necessarily focus so much on a magic system. The author gets to create her own clans, traditions, and setting without being stuck in an actual place, historically or geographically. I’m really starting to appreciate settings like these and it was a great thing to read in SKY IN THE DEEP!

I wanted a little bit more from the ending in a couple of different ways but I also wasn’t dissatisfied. I felt like the book ended but still left room for more to come and I’d definitely pick up more! I can totally see why so many people loved it.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Low-magic fantasy. There’s a word for this. Low fantasy? I never know the actual terms aside from high fantasy haha. But I enjoy reading fantasy that isn’t totally dependent on a magical system as a part of the plot!
Left Me Wanting More: Action? There was something about the pacing that I wasn’t expecting. I think I was just looking for a little more of something in the beginning of the book and a lot more developed in the second half, so I didn’t start connecting as much until then.

Addiction Rating
Read it

There’s definitely a reason why SKY IN THE DEEP was so popular this year! It was very well-written and I had a couple of pacing issues but it really was enjoyable and well worth the read.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE SKY IN THE DEEP

              

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) – Alexandra Bracken

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) – Alexandra BrackenTitle: Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) by Alexandra Bracken
Publishing Info: October 15, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Audible, BEA 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
Date Completed: April 18, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1), Passenger (Passenger #1), In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3)

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

bookreview1

After many, many years, I finally re-read THE DARKEST MINDS and then continued on with the rest of the series. I hadn’t loved THE DARKEST MINDS on my re-read as much as I did the first time around and it’s been a long time since I’ve really been interested in dystopian so I had no idea how the rest of the series was going to go for me.

A FIVE QUESTIONS REVIEW

In an attempt to do a quick review style, and not get hung up on a traditional sense, here’s a review in five questions!

WHO? NEVER FADE separated our crew for a bit and you know how much I struggle with that. I enjoyed getting to know more about Ruby and following her story more in this book. We also learn a whole lot more about the Children’s League and their loyalties as well as meeting new characters who play an important part like badass Vida and sweet Jude. And then, of course, there’s Cole who teaches us a whole lot about… well, I guess I won’t get into all of that because of spoilers!

WHAT? The actual concept of the disease played a lot bigger part in this book and I liked how that added to the overall series development. I was glad we got to know more about why the kids started developing abilities but I also wish that we had gotten a bit more in this book as well. We also get to know more about Reds and what happened to them, and if any of them really still exist.

WHERE? A lot of this book takes place with the Children’s League and their territory. There are a lot of mixed feelings about them and their cause and I felt myself going back and forth trying to pick apart the true intentions.

WHEN? There’s a little time after the end of THE DARKEST MINDS and we pick up with Ruby after she’s been working with them for a while.

WHY? This book is clearly a bridge to the finale and it did feel like a middle book. I don’t really like when series separate main characters like this one did so it kind of really stuck that middle-book feel.

This story was okay but I did notice myself tiring of the dystopian factor already, even before book three. I had a hard time wanting to finish the series but it was so close anyway. NEVER FADE wasn’t as appealing as THE DARKEST MINDS and it kind of didn’t go in the direction that I was expecting, but I also should have expected it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Liam. Liam really is one of the best parts of this series. He’s so good and he truly has a good heart which is so refreshing compared to the nice guy who picks fights or turns bad.
Left Me Wanting More: Book One Feel. I missed the chemistry between Ruby and Liam from the first book, which I loved so much!

Addiction Rating
Continue on

The series is worth continuing but this really wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped it would be.

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BOOKS LIKE NEVER FADE