Themed Reading: SciFi September

Hey bookworms! As today is the final day of September, I thought I would update you all on how I did with my SciFi September-themed reading.

As some of you may recall from prior posts, I have decided to try ‘themed’ reading months for a year. The goal is to complete 10 books that fall within the given theme for that month. The first month that I tried this was August, where I focused on reading ARCs and blew away my goal by completing 14 books within that theme.

This month? Not so much.

I actually completed only 7 science fiction books this month. However, steering away focusing on the number, I did get a lot of TBR veterans (books that have been on my ‘to be read’ list for a long time) off of my list, and really, that was kind of the whole point behind themed months.

So, in a way, I have still won.

Without further ado, let’s go through, really quickly, the scifi books that I did complete this month:

  • The Perfect Wife¬†by J.P. Delaney is an Adult Techno-Thriller that released in August of 2019. I actually received this book as an ARC from Ballantine Books, so a hearty thank you to them for sending it to me. I really enjoyed this one, only slightly let down by the ending and gave it a 3.5-star rating, rounded up to 4-stars for GoodReads.
  • Red Rising (Red Rising Saga #1)¬†by Pierce Brown is an Adult Dystopian set in space. This book was published in 2014 and I listened to the audiobook. I have had this on my TBR for a long time as many, many people adore this series. While it started out really slow, it built up and actually contained some of my very favorite tropes. I ended up giving it a 4.5-star raging, rounded up to 5-stars for GoodReads.
  • Flawed (Flawed #1)¬†by Cecelia Ahern is a YA Dystopian about a society that values Perfection above all other attributes. Anyone not adhering to strict societal standards is deemed Flawed and branded as such, assigning them to second class citizenry. This story follows a Perfect girl, who through committing a crime of empathy, finds herself being branded as Flawed and seeing her entire world change. This book was published in 2017 and has been on my TBR for that long. I really enjoyed this and gave it 4-stars.
  • Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)¬†by Marissa Meyer is a YA SciFi retelling of Cinderella. I found this wildly creative and loved our cyborg main character, Cinder. This book released in 2012 and I can’t believe it has taken me this long to pick it up. Happy to know I do not need to unhaul the rest of the series. I flew through this book and can’t wait to continue on in the Lunar Chronicle world. I gave this a full 5-stars!
  • Contagion¬†by Erin Bowman is a YA SciFi Horror following a rescue mission to a distant planet and, spoiler, it involves zombies. I had so much fun reading this. It was superbly fast-paced and the horror was legit. This is a 2018 release and I have actually owned a copy of it since it was released. The sequel was released earlier this year, and I of course, have already purchased it. I ended up giving this a 4.5-star rating.
  • Alien: Echo¬†by Mira Grant is a YA SciFi Horror set in the world of the¬†Alien movie franchise. I listened to the audiobook for this and while I did enjoy it, I didn’t find it particularly ground-breaking or memorable. The monsters were well done, to be sure, but overall, it was a little underwhelming. This is a new 2019 release but I have been anticipating it since late-2018. ¬†I ended up giving it a 3.5-star rating.
  • Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)¬†by Sylvain Neuvel is an Adult SciFiction book written in mixed media format following the discovery of a possibly alien giant robot. It was so intriguing full of politics, science and mystery. I absolutely adored it from start to finish and definitely plan to continue on in the series. This released in 2016 and I have had it on my radar for quite a while. So happy to have finally gotten to this as I now consider it a favorite! I gave this, no surprise, a full 5-star rating!

That’s it, folks! All I was able to get to for my SciFi September. I did DNF two books this month. Well, let’s say, reshelved, as I do plan to pick them up again eventually.

The first was Book 2 of the¬†Red Rising Saga, Golden Son. I started listening to the audiobook but due to life circumstances being particularly busy and stressful in September, I found I wasn’t retaining as much of it as I wanted.

The second was Hyperion¬†by Dan Simmons which I picked up to participate in a readalong on Bookstagram called #pilgramagetohyperion. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t that into it and it was super complex. I got to about the 40% point before I turned in the towel on it this morning. Now I am focused on Spooktober. Perhaps I will pick it back up in November.

So, that’s it from me for now. How did your September reading go? Did you get as much completed as you wanted to? What was your favorite book of the month? I want to know! Leave a comment below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading!

 

Review: Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1)Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A truly delightful reading experience. All the SCIFI stars!

When Rose Franklin is 11-years old, she falls into a hole while out riding her new bike. When she is found and rescued, it is discovered that she is laying atop a giant metal hand. Less than 8-hours later, the U.S. Military takes over the scene.

Years later, when Rose is working for the University of Chicago, the opportunity presents itself for her to study that very same hand, along with 4-enormous panels with writing from an unknown language on them. Could the writing perhaps solve the mystery of where the hand came from? Of what it truly is?

Armed with a large grant from the NSA, Rose sets to work. Soon there is a world-wide search for the missing pieces of this ginormous robot.

With action, mystery, political intrigue and entertaining science, this heart-pounding novel kept me glued to the pages from beginning to end, and oh, what an end it was!!! I am so happy that my Sci-Fi September lead me to some new favorites, this one definitely being up there.

I cannot wait to move on with the Themis Files and highly recommend this series to any science fiction fan, particularly those who enjoy a mixed media format!

Bottom line:

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Review: The Fire Keeper (The Storm Runner #2) by J.C. Cervantes

The Fire Keeper (The Storm Runner #2)The Fire Keeper by J.C. Cervantes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Prophecy of Fire was only the beginning.

After the tumultuous events of the first book, The Storm Runner, our young protagonist, Zane Obispo, is living a fairly cushy life on a private island with his closest companions. All should be good from here on out but unfortunately, as life often goes, it’s not.

He discovers that the book he recently wrote, detailing his time with the Mayan Gods, has endangered other Godborns. They are being kidnapped at an alarming rate and being spirited away to the Gods don’t even know where!

Making matters worse, his own father, Hurakan, the Mayan God of wind, storm and fire, is set to be executed for reasons I won’t go into here.

Zane sets out to save them all. A quest is no fun alone however, so he brings along his hellhound, Rosie, a new friend, fellow Godborn, Ren, and an old enemy. As to be expected severe hijinks ensue.

As with the first book, The Fire Keeper keeps up the action-packed adventure we have come to expect from Zane and the crew. I love this group. They are caring, loyal, funny and fearless.

Zane’s Uncle Hondo is one of my favorite characters. I just find his energy so charming but Zane himself is the true hero. He is just the sweetest boy and I am enjoying watching him grow. He has been put through so much but always faces what is in front of him with optimism and spunk!

This is a really great Middle Grade series. I am going to be impatiently waiting for the third book to release in the Fall of 2020. It sounds like we are going to have some sort of training for the Godborns, which y’all know, is one of my all time favorite tropes.

Bring it on!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. As always, I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to more from J.C. Cervantes!

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Review: Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus

Two Can Keep a SecretTwo Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

QUESTION:

Did I just read this book in June?

ANSWER:

Yes.

QUESTION:

Am I heavily considering reading this again in October?

ANSWER:

Yes.

**4.5-stars**

O.M.G.

I don’t think I have ever been that chilled by a final line.
Well played, McManus.

I seriously don’t even feel like I can review this.

Just know, she good and she has hella Autumnal vibes. A great one to pick up this September/October!

Get it on your Spooktober list, y’all.

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Review: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, this book is basically my life now.
Scolding myself for waiting so darn long to pick it up!

This was also my first Marissa Meyer book and I was completely impressed with her fantastic storytelling. The cyberpunk feel of this was exactly what I needed to fully immerse myself in the world.

*Caution: Mild spoilers ahead.

Cinder is a mechanic in the city of New Beijing. She’s also a cyborg, a fact she hides from the whole world, minus her family. Her adoptive family.

She doesn’t recall any of her life prior to the operation that resulted in her cyborg status but has never questioned it too much. What is the point of trying to remember?

When a plague sweeps down on her city, her beloved stepsister Peony becomes infected. She was visiting a market with Cinder at the time the plague broke and Cinder’s wicked Stepmother blames her.

In the most heinous of acts, she donates Cinder to be used for scientific research finding a cure for the disease. Apparently, cyborgs are nothing but property. Add in the fact that no one seems to survive the research process, it is clear her Stepmother never wants to see her again.

Cinder feels alone and betrayed but in a way, she too blames herself for Peony’s illness. Once experimentation begins however, it is revealed that Cinder is immune. Something in her body’s chemistry destroys the plague immediately. How could that be?

Prince Kai shows interest in Cinder from the time he drops his android off at her shop to be repaired. He asks her to the ball but of course she cannot accept. The cutest crush ever ensues and once the Prince’s father, the Emperor, dies, another victim of the plague, they are pushed even further together.

Our villain descends from the moon, the ‘planet’ Luna. She is an extraordinary enemy with a ton of power and equal amounts of ambition. She discovers something about Cinder before Cinder even knows herself and will stop at nothing to take her down.

I adored this. I loved all the delicious scifi elements that paid perfect homage to the original tale. You could definitely tell that this was the story of Cinderella, just bumped far into the future.

I thought the pace was great, I enjoyed Cinder as a character and also loved her relationship with Dr. Erland and Peony. Oh, and of course, her android, who was hilariously sweet. I cannot wait to continue on with this series. Scarlet is calling to me!

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Review: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Undead Girl GangUndead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After the small town of Cross Creek suffers the loss of three of its local girls, apparently to suicide, things begin to get strange.

Mila Flores, a student at Fairmont Academy, was best friends with one of the girls, Riley, and she knows there is no way Riley would have ever been part of a suicide pact.

For one thing, Riley wasn’t even really friends with the other girls, June and Dayton, resident ‘It’ girls. Sure, June dated Riley’s brother for a while but that certainly didn’t make them close enough to develop death day promises.

Mila suspects foul play but no one is listening to her. Feeling abandoned, misunderstood and unheard, she decides to take matters into her own hands to find our who murdered Riley.

Finding a spell in an ancient grimoire that states it will bring the dead back to walk the earth for 7-days, Mila thinks she knows how to get the answers she seeks. She will simply conjure Riley back and ask her what happened to her.

Unfortunately, the spell brings back not just Riley but June and Dayton as well. Now Mila is tied to a trio of snarky teenage zombies with only a week to figure out what happened to them.

Meanwhile, in her regular life, outside of zombie babysitting, Mila is starting to get closer to Riley’s older brother, Xander. Sure, most of their relationship is based on their mutual grief but she’s still not mad about it. She’s had a crush on him forever and it just seems right.

Even though this is a wild story with super humorous and engaging writing, there is also a lot of really good stuff in here with regards to friendship, loss, grief, body positivity, making yourself heard and finding strength within your self.

I am a firm believer in the concept of how powerful it can be to read the right book at the right time and for me, that was the case here. I am going through a lot of stress in my work life currently, so when picking this up, I was just looking for something engaging enough that it would get me out of my head for a while. If it made me laugh or think about deeper topics, even better. This book provided all of those things for me.

It was Heathers, Mean Girls and The Craft all mushed together into a hilarious little ball and I absolutely needed that. This was actually my first Lily Anderson book, although I own two others by her, and I really meshed well with her writing style. Definitely more excited to pick up those other two books now: The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You and Not Now, Not Ever.

Finally, a big thank you to the Dragons & Tea Book Club for FINALLY providing the impetus I needed to pick this one up! This was our September 2019 book and I loved it so much. Keeping this one on my shelves and could definitely picture myself revisiting this story next October. Really fun stuff!

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Review: Flawed (Flawed #1) by Cecelia Ahern

Flawed (Flawed, #1)Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #3 for my Sci-Fi September!!!!

 

Celestine North is a high school girl living a Perfect life with her Perfect family.

In a society that values Perfection in mind, body and spirit, this is of the utmost importance. Because of this, maintaining Perfection is a primary focus of the citizens living within this dystopian society.

Collectively they punish those who they deem as lacking. Such individuals are branded as Flawed and never treated the same within society again, virtually designating them as the lowliest individuals that Perfects are afraid to even associate with.

When Celestine’s neighbor and piano teacher, a woman she feels she knows well, is punished as being Flawed, she is shocked, never having experienced a Flawed person so close to home.

She is also shocked to see the lack of empathy on the faces of her other neighbors as the Flawed woman is forcibly dragged from her home, away from the embraces of her crying children.

This incident causes Celestine to begin questioning everything. With new doubts in her mind, she tries to get back to life as usual but it very difficult. One day on a bus, she commits an act that ultimately gets her branded as Flawed. Her crime, compassion.

She is imprisoned, literally branded on her body and made to wear and arm patch with a big capital F on it, so all of society will know of her disgrace. Think futuristic The Scarlet Letter.

Her rights are stripped and life as she knows it, is over. Her long-time boyfriend, Art Crevan, whose father is the Judge that sentenced her, has disappeared. She is secluded and alone. Even her little brother is afraid of her.

In the midst of her situation, she hears rumblings of a possible underground movement out to overthrow the ruling party. They are pushing for a more equal society, ridding it of the old Perfect or Flawed mentality. The rebels have grabbed onto Celestine’s story and are using her as a sort of figurehead for their movement.

This was truly a delightful surprise. I really enjoyed this! It was like a CW show, and I mean that in the best way, easy and addicting. The pace was fast and information revealed to you just when you needed it to be. I could have used a teeny bit more of world-building but I am hoping more will be revealed in the next book.

I think if you are looking for a futuristic YA Dystopian that is quick and well written, you should definitely check this one out. Good solid drama, intriguing premise and it leaves off in a great spot for the continuation of the story. I definitely plan to pick up the sequel soon!

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BLOG TOUR: New Release, The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox

The Widow of Pale HarborThe Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**


A town gripped by fear.
A woman accused of witchcraft.
Who can save Pale Harbor from itself?


Welcome to Pale Harbor, Maine, 1846, where a young widow, Sophronia Carver, haunts the halls of her mansion by the sea. Her home, Castle Carver, goes unvisited by the locals as they believe Sophronia to be a witch suspected of killing her husband, magazine magnate, Nathaniel Carver.

Shunned and mistreated by those in town, Sophronia shuts herself off from the rest of society. Having inherited her husband’s magazine upon his death, she spends her days reading submissions, drinking tea and taking short walks on the cliffs of her property.

Sophronia’s only company, her loyal domestic staff made up of one lady’s maid, a serving girl and a groundskeeper. Her maid, Helen, is more than just a maid however, she is a trusted companion who takes her task of caring for Sophronia quite seriously.

When a new transcendentalist minister, Gabriel Stone, a widower himself, arrives in the sleepy town, he takes an interest in the case of the secluded woman. After visiting with her, he finds her to be quite charming and quickly becomes smitten.

Soon dark events push the two of them further together and things really begin to take off. Someone is out to get Sophronia, leaving cryptic messages and dead things for her to find.

The clues all relate to different poems and stories by Edgar Allen Poe. When the cryptic messages turn to murder and Sophronia is a suspect, she and Gabriel team up to investigate the crimes on their own.

With equal parts Mystery and Romance, this Historical Fiction novel is steeped in the gothic atmosphere that I love. Set on the rocky coast of Maine, this is a perfect book to pick up during this most wonderful season of the year, AUTUMN.

I really enjoyed Sophronia as a character. She was not dealt an easy hand but took all that was thrown at her with a grace that truly set her apart from those around her. She was sweet and caring and although misunderstood and mistreated by the townsfolk, she never became jaded or vengeful.

Gabriel, as well, was a great. Although a bit mysterious, and perhaps not exactly what he was purporting to be, he was strong and caring. I loved watching him and Sophronia learn to confide in each other and trust one another. They both really needed someone on their side and as a duo, they paired quite nicely.

As the pace is picking up, we also have an old friend of Gabriel’s arrive for a visit, Tom. He was fantastic. He brought a flirty good humor to the story that was much needed at that point as the action was getting dark. Gabriel and Tom had such a strong friendship, it was great to see that on page between two grown men. Very well done indeed.

I also appreciated the complex relationship between Sophronia and Helen. I don’t want to get into this too much as it could be a bit of a spoiler but let’s just say that, in truth, it was not the most healthy of relationship. Dedicated, to be sure, but also quite codependent. Helen was great to read. She is surrounded in mystery and quite creepy. She definitely adds a lot to the story!

Overall, I adored this book. While it did start out a little slow, once it picked up the pace was incredible. I always appreciate a slow burn and this one would certainly fall into that category. I would have enjoyed a bit more atmosphere, particularly surrounding Castle Carver itself, but that is definitely a personal taste issue and no reflection on the actual story.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Graydon House Books, for providing me with an early copy of this book to read and review. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint.

In my opinion, Hester Fox is an absolute blessing and this book helped cement her status as an auto-buy author for me. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!!!

This lovely gothic tale releases tomorrow, Tuesday, September 17, 2019.¬†Don’t miss out, be sure to pick up a copy to add to your Spooktober TBR. You won’t regret it!

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Review: Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown

Red Rising (Red Rising, #1)Red Rising by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is an absolute blessing!!!

I am so thankful that I finally made the choice to pick this one up for my Sci-Fi September. I have heard so much about this series, so many raving reviews, so much love, so much hype…

…but, would it work for me? I am late to the party. Maybe the thrill is gone?

Fortunately, I adored this. The beginning, I’ll admit, I was on the fence but once Darrow meets the Sons of Ares, I was paying attention. It drew me in and never let go from there on out!

This brought back some nostalgia for my OG, The Hunger Games, and I’m cool with that. The best part of a great dystopian are those moments when you think, ‘Oh shit. This could happen someday’.

For me personally, one of the most important aspects of a dystopian story is the world-building. It has to be vast and detailed yet easy to pick up.

I felt the caste system, with designations based on colors, was really well done. Although I couldn’t list for you the role of each of the colors, I do feel I have an understanding of the functioning of the world as a whole.

Picking up this book, I really did not know too much about the plot. I was so pleased that it ended up having two of my favorite tropes ever.

The first being a training and competition element. The fact that this competition happened to involve political and military strategy was the absolute icing on the cake.

The second is a chosen one from the lowest rung of society setting out to overthrow a decadent and corrupt ruling class. I just dig that trope and Darrow is very likable protagonist. In fact, this entire book has plenty of people to cheer for and to hate because we all know, a good villain is VERY important!

I have already picked up the next book in the series, Golden Son, and it just keeps getting better and better. I cannot wait to continue on. This is definitely binge GOLD.

To all of you who have recommended this to me over the years, thank you! You are a genius and a true friend!

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Review: The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

The Perfect WifeThe Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

CAUTION: This review may contain minor spoilers.

When Abbie Cullen mysteriously disappears, her husband, Tim Scott, creator and owner of Scott Robotics, does what any Titan of Tech would do. He creates a sentient robot to replace her. Well, maybe replace her isn’t the correct term, find her?

It is clear from the start that you are in for a unique experience when you open this book. The writing is strong but quirky and it took me a while to get used to it due to the different perspectives.

In particular, you get Abbie’s present timeline perspective told in 2nd person. This seemed a bizarre choice at first but I did get used to it as the narrative progressed. You also get Abbie’s past perspective in the days leading up to her disappearance, as well as an unknown narrator who is an employee at Scott Robotics.

Abbie, as we meet her, is a very likable character. There is a lot of mystery surrounding her. How she came to be and who knows what about her disappearance and apparent regeneration?

A lot of the emotional turmoil of this book comes with Abbie adjusting to her every day life. Reintroducing herself to the world. They have an autistic child, Danny, and his schooling and daily care were discussed in some detail.

As a Sci-Fi fan, I felt this was a very pertinent and cutting edge Techno-Thiller. If you are someone who is interested in the advancement of technology, in particular, the future of AI, you should definitely pick this up.

Part psychological thriller, part cautionary tale, I thought Delaney kept this believable enough to really cause the reader to think about the use of robotics in the home and whether we think that is a good thing of a bad thing.

It also explored topics like data ownership and consent that I think are equally important. Basically, the cobot (companion robot) who knows herself as Abbie, was made by uploading a compilation of the real Abbie’s data, such as social media posts and text messages.

Thus, through these ‘memories’, the cobot is able to develop the characteristics and personality of the original creator. It is a bit more complicated than that but you get the gist. It’s very Stepford Wives.

If it wasn’t for the last three or four chapters, this would have been a solid 4-star read for me. Sadly, I was a little disheartened with the run-up to the conclusion. There were some sharp turns that I would have preferred to go a different way.

Of course this is entirely subjective but I do have to be honest about the fact that it ultimately did affect my overall enjoyment of the story. With this being said, I still do recommend this one!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity and did have a lot of fun with my first, but certainly not my last, J.P. Delaney book!

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