First Lines Friday – 22 October 2021

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“When she was newbuilt and still fragile, and her fresh-woven skin was soft and shiny from creation, Crier’s father told her, “Always check their eyes. That’s how you can tell if a creature is human. It’s in the eyes.”

Do you recognise the book these first lines come from?

Continue reading “First Lines Friday – 22 October 2021”

#TopTenTuesday: Reading Before the Year Ends – The Romance & Fantasy Edition

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Characters I’d Love An Update On (Where are they now that the book is over?)

I’m going rogue this week because I have zero brain power as I type this and I’ve been thinking about the titles on my TBR that I want to read before the year ends. They’re a mix of 2021 releases and backlist titles that I was super pumped to get to but for one reason or another were put off instead 😂 Most of the time it’s the hype that actually cautions me away from the books because I’m too scared that I’ll be disappointed! Does that happen to anyone else or is it just me?

Anyway, these are the titles that I’m really hoping to read before the year ends. 🤞🏽

Continue reading “#TopTenTuesday: Reading Before the Year Ends – The Romance & Fantasy Edition”

Book Review: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Goodreads: Aurora Rising (Aurora Cycle #1)
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 07 May 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Rating:

(5 pandas)

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.

I’m just gonna preface this review by saying that it’s going to be a whole LOT of gushing because friends… I WAS NOT READY. Which is so incredibly silly of me because I know just how much the Illuminae series affected me. I’m aware of the bewitching powers that Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have over my thoughts and emotions. They never fail to make me feel ALL THE FEELS. Was I really expecting this book to be any different? Silly girl. Anyway, you’ve been warned!

If there was any group that I’d wish to be stuck with in outer space facing the hottest of hot messes I’ve ever encountered in my life, Squad 312 would be my number one. I loved this crew! This was an incredibly fun space adventure that was a combination of the Breakfast Club and Guardians of the Galaxy, with the haunting horror reminiscent of The Ruins. It was wildly entertaining and I was here for every minute of it! I laughed my ass off at their antics, was impressed with their insane skills, became sufficiently terrified of all the creepy things and ended up heartbroken and aghast with that ending. I was seriously impressed by how quickly these characters wormed their way into my heart. While it wasn’t as epic as The Illuminae Files, I still loved it!

Tyler Jones: The Alpha. He’s a stickler for the rules and is guided by his father’s legacy. Megawatt dimples that when flashed can make ovaries explode within twenty paces. Bee-bro. Twin.

Scarlett Jones: The Face. The older twin but would do anything to protect her bro. Her uncanny ability to read people makes her an amazing face. Fiery, feisty, with sexy confidence to boot. She will get you in and out of all the sticky situations with her insane diplomacy skills. She’ll take care of you because she has a big heart.

Catherine ‘Cat’ Brannock: The Ace. She’s a bad-ass pilot who’s got snark and attitude for days. Childhood besties with the twins. Definitely not in love with Ty. She’s the character I had the most difficulty with at the start and I didn’t expect my feelings to turn around so quickly, but color me shocked, they did.

Finian ‘Fin’ de Karren de Seel: The Gearhead. An alien with biting sarcasm, dry slightly rude humor, and is into noticing all the hotness around him–both male, female and alien alike. Funniest of the bunch. Want to protect at all costs.

Kaliis ‘Kal’ Gilwraeth: The Tank. Of the alien elf race, Syldrathi. Tall, muscular, gorgeous silver hair and violet eyes, comes off as cold and unfriendly, but gooey on the inside. Can kick your ass faster than you can even blink. Seriously endearing. MY BAE.

Zila Madran: The Brain. Tiny, sociopathic, loves to shoot people, including her teammates, without warning, wearer of odd but very cute sounding earrings.

Aurora ‘Auri’ Jie-Lin O’Malley: The Girl Out of Time. Left earth at the “start” of space exploration only to get lost in cryo in space for over 200 years. Woke up with white hair and powers that turned one eye white. An enigma that could be the catalyst for a dormant billion-year-old war between two ancient, mythical, terrifying species…until now.

The story was told through alternating POVs although mostly through Ty and Auri. We only get to spend a few chapters (total) with each team member’s POV, but I thought they all had well flushed out personalities and distinctive traits that set them apart. Although they all come off as aloof in each others’ chapters, I loved that you see a lot of vulnerability from them in their own chapters. If there’s one character I would’ve liked to know more about it definitely would be Zila. We get a sense of her sociopathic ‘shoot-now-ask-questions-later’ tendencies, mostly through the others, but you can tell she carries a lot of emotional baggage and possibly trauma, and I would’ve liked to get more inside her head. I initially had mixed feelings about other members of the squad but by the end I was crying, rooting, and heartbroken for all of them. Yo, Amie and Jay, if anything else happens to these precious characters in the following books, I will burn them (the books, not the characters). Jokes lol I’d never do that but I’d be so angry I’d want to! Please don’t break my heart even more.

@Jay Kristoff’s website. Artist: Charlie Bowater

I think one of the main qualms people have mentioned about this book is the romance. Even I was a bit surprised that there was so much of it, and that it’d also sometimes creep up at the most inappropriate moments. Another point that people mentioned were the romantic pairings. I will admit that they weren’t the ones I expected from the start, but honestly, I wasn’t mad at them. The pairings grew on me and I think they just seemed odd initially because I didn’t feel chemistry between the characters. So I guess if romance is going to be “a thing” in this book, I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops! If I’m honest though, I don’t think the romance added a crucial element to the story so maybe they could’ve also done without it; but I love me some romance, so I’m just gonna accept what Kaufman & Kristoff dole out! 🤷🏻‍♀️

These two authors continue to surprise me with the incredible world building that they do. It’s kind of set in the same space dimension as Illuminae so everything isn’t completely new. But as more was revealed the virtual jaw in my head would keep dropping as the story became more complex and astounding! I continue to love all the -isms and details of our modern day that they’ve transformed in their story to bring this crazy world of theirs to life. Seriously, I never thought I’d be curious to know what shake n’ heat ration packs of NotPork’n’Apple Casserole and Pie!™️ would taste like. I know authors have to have one hell of an imagination but these two combined are seriously the ultimate! I could go on gushing about this book but TL;DR: just read it. I kinda wish that I didn’t devour AR because now I’m feeling a little adrift and unsure about what to do with myself until the next book comes out (lol). I already miss the squad and I just closed the book. I’m so ready and freaking excited for the next installment in this series!

Also, I am now sufficiently creeped out by succulents and even more so by viney plants?! Like, WHY. I wasn’t expecting to encounter elements that reminded me of The Ruins, which is actually one of the best-worst horror novels I’ve ever read (horrors are not my jam). Why can’t we just leave plants alone?

Have you read Aurora Rising or is it on your TBR?

Book Review: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Goodreads: Sorcery of Thorns
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: 04 June 2019
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

Have you ever experienced the struggle of writing a review because you loved a book so much? That’s happening to me right now. I think Sorcery of Thorns might be one of the best YA fantasies I’ve read in a long time and I loved it so much that all I can think about saying is: ALL THE STARS. READ IT NOW! I honestly don’t think I disliked anything in this book, and as book lovers and readers, I think we can all agree on how rare it is to say something like that. TL;DR: The story, the characters, the world building and magic, and THE BOOKS IN THE BOOK made for an incredibly fun and magical adventure that everyone should read!

Y’all, this story was about libraries and books–but not just any old books–but magical books (grimoires) that have thoughts and feelings and are alive. Books that have been made of the most gruesome of things (eyes, faces, teeth), full of dark and evil. Books that need to be stored in Great Libraries so that they can be protected from the world, but also so that the world can be protected from them. Books that, if damaged, can turn transform into frightening and unstoppable monsters that ravage towns and steal lives. But there was also so much adventure, magic, sorcerers, demons, mystery, murder, plotting, friendship and romance in the story.

Books, too, had hearts, though they were not the same as people’s, and a book’s heart could be broken; she had seen it happen before. Grimoires that refused to open, their voices gone silent, or whose ink faded and bled across the pages like tears.

I was blown away by the worldbuilding and magical system that Rogerson developed in Sorcery. Her writing was spellbinding (yes) and the towns and winding paths of the library floors full of thousands of grimoires, came so much to life that I felt like I was there, surrounded by the intoxicating smells of ink, paper, and aetherial combustion. I loved that not everyone had magic in this world and the ones who did had to give a piece of themselves away for it. All sorcerers are bound to high-born demons from who they draw their powers from. No demon, no magic. The demons were sufficiently creepy and forming a bond with a demon would obviously result in some not-so-good stuff happening (duh). I should note here that there is an element of predictability in the mystery of the story, and it wasn’t surprising at all when you find out who the evil characters are, but that didn’t make me enjoy it any less.

“Ink and parchment flowed through her veins. The magic of the Great Libraries lived in her very bones. They were a part of her, and she a part of them.”

The characters were also just as amazing as the world and magic. Elisabeth was such a wonderful lead character. She was fierce, strong and determined, intelligent, open-minded and compassionate. Having (literally) been raised as an orphan in one of the Great Libraries, she has a strong affinity and connection with grimoires. The love and respect she had for them, and the sense of belonging she felt when surrounded by books was so relatable, and the relationship she had with them felt incredibly special. She wasn’t a perfect character but she was very real. Prior to the events of the book, she had never experienced the ‘outside world’, and didn’t know any different from what she was taught by the people who raised her, and those she looked up to at the library. Was her attitude and prejudice frustrating? Sometimes, yes. But her behaviour was so normal for someone with her background.

“Of course .” A wicked gleam entered his eyes. “But I only turn girls into salamanders on Tuesdays. Luckily for you, it’s a Wednesday, which is the day I drink a goblet of orphan’s blood for supper.”

Then we have Nathaniel and Silas, who were also fantastic characters that brought so much to the story. Nathaniel’s laidback attitude towards basically everything that came his way, even the situations Elisabeth ropes him into, made for some comedic interactions. He might be seen as typically fulfilling the trope of “warm-hearted character acting cold to protect others” but I was all for Nathaniel being that character trope! His sassy streak was strong and it provided some great levity to situations; not to mention how he so casually reveals that he’s queer! Pretty sure I fell in love with Nathaniel too. Plus, his relationship with Silas defies the odds of who they both are, and that made it so much more heartwarming. When it comes to Silas, I don’t know how anybody couldn’t love him by the end of this story! UGH. THAT ENDING. So. Much. Love. For. It!!!

Perhaps the only thing that I didn’t like about this book is the fact that it ended. I’m so glad but at the same time so sad that this was a standalone–there’s relief from not having to wait ages for a sequel, but regret that the story has ended and I have to leave this world behind. I really hope that Rogerson revisits this beautiful world she has created in Sorcery so we can come back for a new story!

Have you read Sorcery of Thorns or is it on your TBR?