T5W: SFF TBR

Recently, I have been in a mood for reading some science fiction (well, some of these are fantasy but I am more in a mood for science fiction. I think I actually may like sci-fi more than fantasy) books.

T5W Group  where meme originated can be found on the link.

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1. Unplugged

Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World—an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz’s family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.

Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.

But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.

Status: Currently reading but waiting to get from the library. I already sampled the first three chapters.

What I like about Unplugged is that it has a dystopia that I feel is plausible. It has so many allusions to current day issues that black and brown people deal with and main character is latina. Also, this would be a good series to get into because the second one came out recently and the third  one comes out in December.

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2. The Between

When Hilton was just a boy, his grandmother sacrificed her life to save him from drowning. Thirty years later, he begins to suspect that he was never meant to survive that accident, and that dark forces are working to rectify that mistake. When Hilton’s wife, the only elected African-American judge in Dade County, FL, begins to receive racist hate mail, he becomes obsessed with protecting his family. Soon, however, he begins to have horrible nightmares, more intense and disturbing than any he has ever experienced. Are the strange dreams trying to tell him something? His sense of reality begins to slip away as he battles both the psychotic threatening to destroy his family and the even more terrifying enemy stalking his sleep. Chilling and utterly convincing, The Between follows the struggles of a man desperately trying to hold on to the people and life he loves, but may have already lost. The compelling plot holds readers in suspense until the final, profound moment of resolution.

Status: Currently reading – same as Unplugged except I am going to buy this one because it is cheap online.

Horror and fantasy!

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3. On the Edge of Gone

January 29, 2035.

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

Status: Haven’t started yet.

I moved it up my TBR because I think it would be fun to read it for autism awareness month. With the line “When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?” it is a sci-fi I have to read.

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4. Sorcerer to the Crown

Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Status: Read the prologue but have not read further yet.

Black. Victorian. fantasy.

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5. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.

But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.

Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.

Status: Still haven’t started yet.

A lot of sff books are doom and gloom so I like the idea of reading something hopeful. Having a book about exploring species, cultures, and worlds is appealing. I have not  read a book with any of these things since reading The Best of All Possible Worlds last year so I hope it is good.

Netgalley DNFs #1

I requested all of these books from netgalley for a review. It sucks to request a book then be picked just to DNF the book.

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Finding Mighty

Pub: 5/30/17

Along the train lines north of New York City, twelve-year-old neighbors Myla and Peter search for the link between Myla’s necklace and the disappearance of Peter’s brother, Randall. Thrown into a world of parkour, graffiti, and diamond-smuggling, Myla and Peter encounter a band of thugs who are after the same thing as Randall. Can Myla and Peter find Randall before it’s too late, and their shared family secrets threaten to destroy them all? Drawing on urban art forms and local history, Finding Mighty is a mystery that explores the nature of art and the unbreakable bonds of family.

Why DNF?  Overall the bit that I did read was okay but I was not engaged into the story.

Liked: Has an Indian main character, mentions micro-aggressions that happens to Indians in a middle grade novel

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Judas Cypher

Pub: 3/23/17

In a war between man and machine, he must find a way to protect them all…

After a devastating war forced humans to rely on synths for survival, the two have learned to coexist peacefully.

Until now….

When detective Dhata Mays is called in to investigate a homicide, what he uncovers threatens the serenity of this futuristic society. The gruesome murder means only one thing: someone is ready to incite another war. Now, it’s up to Dhata to ensure that the truth stays hidden—to protect both sides of the battle. But can he be unbiased in a black and white world that forces him to take sides?

Why DNF? Feels like average mystery P.I. story with sci-fi added to it (which is good if you are into that type of story), “synthetic racism” which gave me a bad taste of trying to equate racism with not liking synths, all in all it could be summed up with I just am not caught by the story

Liked: Sci-fi bend to a mystery story, the murder and mystery is actually interesting, also the cover

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I’ll Eat When I’m Dead

Pub: 5/2/17

When stylish Hillary Whitney dies alone in a locked, windowless conference room at the offices of high-concept magazine RAGE Fashion Book, her death is initially ruled an unfortunate side effect of the unrelenting pressure to be thin.

But two months later, a cryptic note in her handwriting ends up in the office of the NYPD and the case is reopened, leading Det. Mark Hutton straight into the glamorous life of hardworking RAGE editor Catherine Ono, who insists on joining the investigation. Surrounded by a supporting cast of party girls, Type A narcissists and half-dead socialites, Cat and her colleague Bess Bonner are determined to solve the case and achieve sartorial perfection. But their amateur detective work has disastrous results, and the two ingenues are caught in a web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturizer that changes their lives forever.

Why DNF? The mystery from what I read so far was not grabbing me.

Liked: Cover it is very eye-catching

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Willow Born

Pub: 6/1/17

You’d think waking up fifty years after she died would be the least of Collette’s problems. 

Years ago, witch hunters came to Carolina and devoured the Willows. Sixteen-year-old Collette, a powerful empath, was one of them. A part of a long line of witches that stretches back as far as the slave auctions of Charleston, she was especially gifted.

Decades later, a series of strange kidnappings prompts a member of her secret coven to make a plea for help and Collette is chosen to answer the call.  But things have changed. Angels have come out of the divine closet and everyone is on the lookout for the supernatural.

Snatched from the Void, she has to choose between a normal life and following the warrior path of the Willows, a coven she didn’t know she belonged to. Soon, problems pile sky-high as she struggles to keep the boy who could blow her cover at arm’s length and her sanity as family secrets come to light in the midst of a serial killer.

In the end it all comes down to destiny, death  and the grey places between good and evil. But then again, when you’re Willow Born death can be just the beginning.

WILLOW BORN is a  stand alone Paranormal Fantasy. Fans of Natalie C. Parker’s Beware the Wild and  Zoraida Cordova’s Labyrinth Lost will be delighted with the book’s mix of supernatural drama, romance and Southern fantasy.

Why DNF? Fatphobia (one of side characters is described as weak and fat) I did not read far enough to see if the label put on him is challenged. Of course on the opposite spectrum the love interest is muscular thus brave. The story overall needs to be polished more.

Liked: black love interest, main character is reborn (born? reincarnated? summoned?) knowing her past, I think overall the story is a good idea

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Pub: 3/1/17

1931. Bronzeville. Chicago. The mage, Frank “Half Dead” Johnson, is a marked man. Literally. A drunken decision fueled by tragedy has left him with half a soul, sorcerous powers, and two centuries to work off his debt to Scratch (aka The Devil) himself.
Watch as “Half Dead” attempts to save his own soul, pay his debt, and help as many people as he can along the way. It’s a hard-hitting Hoodoo Noir highball with just a splash of Southern Gothic. Smack-dab in the dark heart of the Windy City. Hold on tight! It’s going to be a bumpy ride down Hard Times Road.

Why DNF? I did not like the story just based on investment sake. I did not feel propelled to finish it.

(images are from goodreads and synopsis are from netgalley)

 

 

Try Chapter Tag: Reading Groove (Mostly Black Women Authored)

I did do Diverseathon but because of reasons as you will see I stopped midway through the readathon.

Diverseathon

These are just the non-comics/picture book books I read.

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Red Queen Dies

+it is very current in certain aspects about the political climate of future (it is set in 2019)

-the mystery is boring sounding, narration/voice is ugh

Overall the story does not make me want to continue it. This sentiment is very much prevalent in everything I read for diverseathon. No

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Ardency

1st poem: this may be too lyrical for me

further on: I don’t know if I like poetry books and upon further reading most of it feels like an inside joke that I don’t get. I’m not super familiar with the Amistad which is what the poems are about. Again, I just am not invested. No

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The Secret of Magic

+more back story into characters than Red Queen Dies (even though as a story Red Queen Dies is more interesting)

This is set during the civil right movement time period so it is kind of dark. The first chapter (spoiler!) ended pretty bad. I’m really at a place that I’m not into just doom and gloom.  I just did feel interested after first chapter. No

I really want to see a psychological thriller with a black woman as the main character from the publishing industry in the future.

I was not enjoying the books I picked up for Diverseathon so I hit a reading slump that I hope that I can get out of it in February.

Non-Diverseathon

I have read these in the last couple of months or so.

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Living Violet

-main character is kinda judgemental (I know many teens are judgemental but I think it is deeper than her being judgemental it is me finding her voice as an issue), average mean love interest

+It is interesting (it has been a while so I do not know what exactly past me thought was interesting)

No

It is basically a black girl main character filling the space of the average girl who is introduced to fantasy world. The problem comes when I already have an issue with the genre of teen paranormal romance girls. I have a problem with the voice of most y.a. characters in general so yeah.

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Bad Feminist

Jumps around in the first essay in a weird way. I think it is because of  the informalness with which she is writing. I want to like it more but it feels like a rehashing of things but not in a fun way.  No

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Randomly decided to read Allegedly even though I was super afraid I would not like it. It kinda reminds me of Fosters which is a good show.

+the main characters voice is way more fun to be around than a lot of others in y.a.

-fatphobia is present in here

I probably will not finish this book knowing me (my relationship with y.a. and fiction in general) but right now Yes

Questions (don’t actually answer/spoil it)

Did she do it? And why?

Did her mom do it? I think her mom left her alone with the baby and she as a nine year old made a mistake she has blocked out. Or her mom is a psychopath who did it but blamed her daughter. I like the second theory because it is devious and can have a dramatic reveal towards the end.

What is the difference between baby jail and juvie?

Is she related to the child that died? How does she know the child who died? I think the child who died is actually not related to her because I sort of read the back which makes it seem like it is just a baby someone left for her mom and her to babysit.

The true winner of this Try A Chapter Tag is Allegedly since it is the only book I half-way liked. So I am going to read that and hopefully finish a non-fiction book sometime this year.

Review: Song of Blood & Stone

 

23783638Synopsis

Enter an alternate 1920’s world of magic and adventure in this gripping, new adult, fantasy romance…

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her magical abilities are feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive – an injured spy who steals her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines nearly cost him his life but he is saved by the healing power of a mysterious young woman. Together they embark on a perilous journey straight into the heart of a centuries-old conflict.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

New Adult. Recommended for readers 17+.

 

The Good

The world and magic system is fascinating. The backstory into how the world came to be what it is interesting too.

Cover

The Bad

I had it reminded to me when watching a Korean drama (Another Oh Hae Young) that I like the chase/ realizing they like each other/ building of the romance more than the actual part when they are in a romantic relationship. Once the couple gets together I lose a bit of interest in the relationship. This book does not build the main couples relationship so it can feel insta-lovey. Not being able to enjoy the part that I like the most in romance made me not enjoy it as much as I could have. There is so much time spent telling you they love each other but not enough spent showing you their love.

I wish there was more world building. Part of me wishing this was  for more fantasy than romance. I wish the characters were more nuanced/dimensional rather than being straight good. There are moments when the characters are stopped from making hard decisions that would make them grey.

The Meh

I can not tell how nuanced it is.

Conclusion

Overall, I enjoyed the world building more than anything. I wish that there was more work built on the relationship and the fantasy elements. It feels like a bunch but nothing really at all at the end.

Try A Chapter Tag| Over Fantasy

I decided to pair books I got for cheap recently with books that are a bit harder to access.

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Moth and Spark 

Prologue+Chapter 1

Liked: dragons big presence in this world, dragon riders, possible people of color (dark skin background character which is actually probably not that amazing because he is in the back ground and feels like a once off who will disappear into the distance to never be seen again. Writing this post it now makes me think the main characters could have been people of color so yeah probably not all that.)

Disliked: I can feel this distance/disconnect from story. Yeah there is dragons, dragon riders, and such but I don’t feel really into the story.

Ghost Bride

Chapter 1

I feel connected to the main character immediately. Even though there are not fantasy elements in your face right away I still like it. I think the focus on family, culture, and getting to know main character sold the story to me.

Moth and Spark vs Ghost Bride

Standalones

Straight fantasy -Magical realism?

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Gameboard of the Gods

Chapter 1

Setting is closest to present day over all the other books I read. Just like Moth and Spark I felt distant from the story.

A Stranger In Olondria

Chapter 1

Ugh, patriarchy (fits story so its cool). It would interesting to see characters with disabilities be main or one of main characters instead of pushed to back (so far).  This story feels very cultural which I like a lot. It was interesting to hear mention of mythology that I don’t read regularly in fantasy.

Gameboard of the Gods vs A Stranger In Olondria

Science fiction-Historical fantasy

Books in series:

3?-2?

Comparing

It did not escape me that the two books I liked started off heavily getting into the characters culture, selves, and family. It made me think while reading these that I like character driven stories.  They did not even get into the fantasy elements which is something I have gone on so many rants about. As long as the other elements are interesting I won’t get bothered or as bothered by it not doing fantasy/sci-fi stuff. Interesting enough Gameboard of the Gods and Moth and Spark went straight sci-fi/fantasy, eh. I guess because they did not do anything different or interesting.

Prediction

I will finish A Stranger In Olondria and The Ghost Bride. Gameboard of the Gods and Moth and Spark I will not end up finishing just because I feel a lack of connection to them. A Stranger In Olondria was the best I think.

304:EAH: A Wonderlandiful World

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Synopsis

At Ever After High, everyone is expected to sign the Storybook of Legends, pledging to follow in their fairytale parent’s footsteps. But when Raven Queen came along, things became fairy, fairy confusing. Now no one’s destiny is certain, not even for the most royal of them all, Apple White.When a mysterious being from Wonderland begins to infect Ever After High with a strange magic, everything goes topsy-turvy. The students transform into animals and objects, palace mice talk, and the beautiful green grounds on campus fade to black-and-white. Lizzie Hearts, Wonderland’s future queen, Cedar Wood, daughter of Pinocchio, and Madeline Hatter, heir to the Mad Hatter’s Hat and Tea Shoppe, seem to be the only ones who haven’t completely lost their heads. It’s up to them to save their best friends forever after from a curse that threatens to give their school-and their lives-a very unhappy ending.

The Good

  • Does anyone not find Apple White annoying? 😉

(Yes, I do like her but find people’s reaction to her justified and funny. I’m ok with her because not only is she being checked on things but also seems to be growing.)

  • Lizzie Hearts point of view  and seeing the difference between how Apple White is being trained to be queen versus Lizzie Hearts.
  • Cedar Wood has a point of view
  • Deals with the trope Madeline plays as a character
  • Breaks the 4th wall with Maddie (which it has done in the past but goes further)

The Bad

The treatment of Cedar Wood in the books bothers me so much. It bothered me so much for this particular book that at a certain point I stopped reading it for a couple of months. At this point I found the time to finish Once Upon A Time: A Story Collection, Next Top Villain, and Kiss and Spell. One of the things that bothered me is Cedar not having any real true friends. She supposedly is friends with Raven Queen but they never hangout. There is a moment in the book when Cedar says she is sad and Raven says something then moves on. Raven does not try to go deeper into why she sad or anything. It bothers me because Cedar was/is the main visibly black/brown character. I guess it is when I started noticing the microaggressions stuff (like throwing an object at Cedar but not having the character apologize) they do towards the brown skin girl characters. Cedar is not the only issue that stopped me from completing this as quickly as I could have.

The story should have been amazing since it did have heavy adventure in it. The problem is that I did not care for the Jabberwocky storyline last books so for it to come back for this one, eh.

This story was not terrible and did have really good writing behind it but I am happy they moved on to the new series which has problems of its own (and some old problems like randomly harming the brown girls in the series, yeah -_-). This review feels like a bummer so I am going to move on.

306: Ever After High: Next Top Villain

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Synopsis

A brand-new series of school stories from the world of Ever After High!
Duchess Swan and Lizzie Hearts are roommates at Ever After High. While their personalities are very different, they bond over not quite fitting in with the other Royals. Lizzie, however, has one thing that Duchess doesn’t: a happily-ever-after at the end of her story.
While Lizzie and the other princesses train for the day when they will rule their kingdoms, Duchess is torn between her role as the perfect, dutiful princess and her rebellious ambition to be a queen. When both girls are selected to attend General Villainy class, Duchess sees an opportunity to be a rebel while following the rules. But can she play a prank on her roomie to ace the class? Find out if Duchess’ desire to change her destiny will make her Ever After High’s Next Top Villain!

The Good

I’ve heard a lot of stuff about Duchess Swann, mostly about how evil/mean she is. I am totally cool with that. I get annoyed with the overuse of girls who have ‘nice” personalities=good. I know that this series is for kids so there is an overemphasis on niceness. Cleo, Toralei, and Nefera are some of the most interesting characters in Monster High. Toralei and the Werecat Twins are really how I got into Monster High. Ever After High does not have that many mean characters. I don’t have something against nice girls but the box that being a nice girl can put girls into. A lot of characters who are nice girls lose their complexity.  Mean girls are allowed to have questionable motives and actions.

  1.  Duchess Swan she is allowed to be not a so nice girl character she is ambiguous. She is not a mean character to me like everyone was saying she was. For the longest time throughout my status updates on goodreads I was like “waiting on Duchess to be this mean chick they seem to think she is”.
  2. Question of good and bad not only with Duchess but all the other characters (especially the adults. I could go into an entire thing about Bad Wolf)
  3. I liked the portrayal and appearance of Daring.
  4. It just was plain fun to read.
  5. It’s fun seeing the different characters point of view about people

This made me want a purely evil character after reading it (which I got with Faybelle in Fairy’s Got Talent).

The Bad

There is a lot of time spent on set up to the General Villainy plans and only maybe 50 pages was spent on when the plans actually happened. I feel that the stories were not epic, it felt more like a couple of webisodes. I’m sadly going to compare this story to the Shannon Hale Ever After High series. I felt those felt more epic and there was more time spent on the action/adventure (well, at least the first book).

Conclusion

Reading this book made me remember the magic of this series that has been waning over the books. It hurts me to say it is completely missing with Truth of Hair. It makes me remember the everydayness that this series had over the Shannon Hale ones. Come back Ever After High to your magic please.