Review: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

To Sleep in a Sea of StarsTo Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Originally, I was planning to give To Sleep in a Sea of Stars 4.5-stars and round up.

After having some time to reflect on my reading experience, however, I can give this nothing but 5-stars. I CANNOT STOP thinking about it.

This novel is quite the accomplishment for Paolini. If I am remembering the Author’s Note correctly, he worked on this project for nine years and it shows; as close to perfection as you can get.

In the beginning of the story, we meet and follow Kira Navarez, a xenobiologist, who discovers an alien relic while on a survey mission to an uninhabited planet.

The relic isn’t as dormant as it first appears and ends up contaminating and binding with Kira. This event has lasting repercussions, leaving her feeling responsible for some negative events that follow.

This is a story of first contact. I wasn’t aware of that going in, although it says it directly in the synopsis, I missed it somehow.

I love first contact stories. It’s actually one of my favorite subgenres of Science Fiction. It is so well done here, you can definitely tell that Paolini is a Sci-Fi fan himself.

This story is so vast, it is hard to give brief plot points that would sum up the entirety of this novel’s scope. There is so much that happens from the first time Kira comes in contact with the alien suit to the stunning conclusion.

Reading this, I became so attached to her and the other characters as well. The crew that Kira travels with, defending the Universe, are the perfect rag-tag group of lovable rebels.

I loved how Paolini incorporated humor and witty banter into this story. It made the characters seem so real; they were reacting how you expect people in real life to react to such crazy and dire circumstances.

I was so engaged throughout my time reading this. It did not feel like a close to 900-page story. I got through it way more quickly than I had anticipated.

I would note this is straight-up, good old-fashioned Science Fiction. If you are thinking this will be more SFF, based on Paolini’s past works, you could be disappointed.

If you do not normally enjoy Science Fiction, you may not like this. If you are a fan of Sci-Fi though, you will eat this up. The delicious science bits are woven throughout. Start-to-finish, the details are incredible.

Also, if you do pick this book up, be sure to read through the Appendices at the end. There’s definitely a lot of interesting supplemental material there.

My favorite being a timeline of events that lead up to the world as we find it at the beginning of the story. It basically fills in the blanks between our current world through Kira’s time. It’s not very long, but I found it to be a thoughtful addition to the story.

The audiobook is fantastic as well, if you think that would be a good option for you. At first, I was thinking, why didn’t they go full cast, as there are quite a few characters. After getting into it, however, I never thought of it again.

The narrator, Jennifer Hale, did an absolutely tremendous job bringing this story to life. She is such talented voice artist and I was shocked to learn that this is actually her first audiobook. Talk about coming out swinging!

I am going to be thinking about this story for a long time to come and would love to read it again someday.

Highly, highly recommend!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Books, for providing me with both an e-book and audiobook copy of this release to read and review.

I had so much fun with this story and hope Paolini continues to write Science Fiction for a long time to come!

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Review: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Winter by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A bittersweet conclusion to a fantastic YA-SciFi series. This is retelling GOLD!

Winter is the fourth, and concluding novel, in Marissa Meyer’s beloved, Lunar Chronicles series.

Coming in at over 800-pages, this hefty book provides the final stand-off between our intrepid heroes, their allies, and the wicked Lunar Queen.

There was a ton of action in this installment, some of it quite brutal, and I enjoyed learning a bit more about each of our main characters.

I can’t believe it is over. As some of you may know, I have a difficult time continuing with series. There was no problem with this one. I was that compelled to pick it up.

I love how Meyer built the world out. Each book, you gain more characters, more knowledge of the world and the stakes are steadily increased.

In this book, our newest character, per the title, is Winter, the Lunar Princess.

She was such a delight. Due to repressing the use of her glamour, her mind is a bit janky. She hallucinates and people in the kingdom think she is bit crazy, but love her nonetheless.

Again with this one, I appreciate so much the connections to the original fairy tales.

As a set of retellings, I think The Lunar Chronicles is top notch work. I would love to read further retellings from Meyer and definitely have boosted Heartless up by TBR.

I’m so happy that I finally took the time to pick this series up! I was enthralled the entire way through.

If you haven’t given this one a shot yet, and are a Sci-Fi fan, you should definitely check it out!

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Review: Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall by Alex Segura

Poe Dameron: Free FallPoe Dameron: Free Fall by Alex Segura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Teenager, Poe Dameron, wants adventure and freedom. On his home planet of Yavin 4, he feels smothered by a father he views as overbearing.

He doesn’t want to take over the family farm, he wants more. Why can’t his father understand that?

His father, Kes Dameron, was a sergeant in the battle against the Galactic Empire. Along with his wife and Poe’s mother, Shara Bey, a renowned Rebel pilot, the two lived the sort of adventurous life Poe dreams of.

His mother taught him how to pilot his own craft and it’s well-known that he is gifted behind the controls; well exceeding his peers.

Since his mother’s tragic death, Poe and his father have had a difficult time connecting and it seems her death has made his father even more protective over him.

Considering Poe is really all Kes has left, it is no surprise he may be holding on a bit too tightly. Poe doesn’t see the reasoning behind it, however. He’s young and just wants to be able to choose his own path.

When an opportunity arises for him to flee Yavin 4, he jumps on it without too much consideration.

His means of escape just so happens to be piloting a ship full of Spice Runners. The Spice Runners of Kijimi, to be exact, one of the deadliest crime syndicates in the galaxy.

The Spice Runners needed a new pilot, after the demise of their own, and Poe just so happens to be in the right place at the right time.

He jumps on his chance and off they go. Of the crew he now finds himself with, Poe bonds quickly with young, Zorii Wynn, a human female, a native of Kijimi and an all-around badass.

They become quite close. It’s no surprise, considering they’re the same age and they continue to rise up the ranks together.

Their relationship has moments of romance, but mostly is built on a mutual respect. Zorii has grown up in the Spice Runners and Poe learns a lot from her regarding their lifestyle and practices.

Ultimately, Zorii is hardcore, she has loyalties that go much deeper than any Poe could ever feel for the criminal organization.

When the two begin to be at odds about what the future holds for them, tough decisions must be made, pushing both of them to their limits.

Y’all, I really enjoyed this. As an origin story for a character I love, I thought this was fantastically presented.

I really felt for Poe. It can be so hard to be a kid who feels like you were made for great things, but you don’t feel supported in pursuing those things.

I love that he had the boldness of character to set out on his own. Even though the way he went about that was reckless, it ultimately made his life what it is.

I think he needed that experience with the Spice Runners to truly understand what he was meant to do; his destiny.

Overall, this is a great addition to the Disney Canon. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to read it.

Finding out the details behind Poe’s early life and his relationship with Zorii, a relationship that shaped them both, it was just so satisfying.

As far as the Canon timeline goes, this novel falls after The Mandalorian and prior to the novel, Bloodline.

If you have watched the new trilogy movies, you are probably familiar with Poe Dameron’s character and if you enjoy him, as I do, you should definitely check this book out. It’s a heck of a good time!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney LucasFilms Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I was so happy to have the opportunity to get my hands on it early and provide my thoughts. Available everywhere in the galaxy, Tuesday, August 4, 2020!!!

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Review: Dark Disciple (Star Wars) by Christie Golden

Dark Disciple: Star WarsDark Disciple: Star Wars by Christie Golden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The only way to bring down the Sith’s most powerful warrior may be to join forces with the dark side.

Dark Disciple is an Adult novel within the Disney Star Wars Canon. To put it in timeline perspective, it is my understanding that this book falls after the novel, Catalyst and just prior to the Revenge of the Sith movie.

Interestingly, or at least for fans, this novel is based on a story arc scripted for The Clone Wars television series that went unproduced after the show was canceled.

My initial attraction to this book, besides the fact that I want to read all the Canon novels, was Asajj Ventress, the infamous former apprentice to Count Dooku.

This book built out her character in such a pleasing way. I love when a antihero gets their time to shine.

As the war rages on in the galaxy, Count Dooku’s tactics become more and more brutal. The Republic cannot stand by while hundreds more innocent lives are lost.

The Jedi Council surmises the best way to defeat Dooku, perhaps the only way, would be to join forces with someone who knows him best.

Asajj Ventress, Count Dooku’s former protege, becomes their focus for the mission.

Ventress, now making ends meet as a bounty hunter, is perfect for the assignment. After Dooku attempted to have her killed, she severed all ties with him and that hatred runs deep.

Quinlan Vos, the Jedi Knight assigned the mission, sets out to find Asajj with the goal of getting her to assist him in assassinating Dooku.

Once the two meet up, their budding relationship grows quickly. I loved the banter between them as they struggled to figure out a power balance.

Ventress ultimately teaches Vos many things, including how to harness the power of the dark side; a line that is most dangerous to cross.

As is to be expected, there was a ton of action in here. I loved the various battle scenes, but also loved the quieter moments between Vos and Ventress.

I certainly don’t need romance in my Star Wars, but for me, it was more about watching Ventress being able to let her guard down and open up to someone.

She has such a tough facade and reputation, and rarely lets that slip, even for a moment. Reading her in the more vulnerable moments, particularly when she told Vos the truth of what happened to her fellow Nightsisters, it gave me all the feels.

Additionally, the deep bond that forms between them was so well written. A forbidden romance if ever there was one.

Ultimately, this story did shred my heart in a hundred million pieces, but I’m willing to forgive Christie Golden because she wrote it with such care and grace.

Overall, I loved this story. Highly recommend to Star Wars fans who enjoy to dabble in the power of the dark side.

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Review: Immunity (Contagion #2) by Erin Bowman

Immunity (Contagion, #2)Immunity by Erin Bowman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD

After narrowly escaping an infectious zombie horde on Achyls, Nova, Thea and Coen find themselves facing a completely different threat altogether.

What they thought was their salvation, may actually end up as their demise.

The three must band together, along with some new allies, to stop the possible destruction of the galaxy.

So, no pressure.

With fewer characters in this sequel, at least to start, I felt like I had a bit more time to get to know them. While that was nice, it did give it a slightly different feel to the first novel.

Don’t get me wrong, there was still a ton of action here, but in my opinion, there was definitely more character examination.

Another difference in feel concerns the atmosphere. As high-stakes as Immunity is, we’re talking possible interstellar catastrophe here, the atmosphere of this installment was completely different.

In the first book, we have the slightly unqualified crew heading out on a SAR-mission to an abandoned mining planet.

It’s remote, cold, dark and dangerous. They have no idea what they are go to find and what they found was terrifying.

Contagion, the first book, grabbed me because of its edge-of-your-seat SciFi-Horror narrative; one of my favorite subgenres within Science Fiction.

While this is still a really good book, I would categorize this as strict SciFi.

So, for me, it lost a bit of that edge over the course of the evolution of the story.

With this being said, the events were wrapped up nicely and I am happy to have another completed duology on my shelves.

Overall, this is a super solid YA Science Fiction duology that I would absolutely recommend to any fan of the genre.

Even though I didn’t love this one quite as much as Contagion, I can definitely appreciate how fully developed this story is.

Well done. I look forward to reading more from Erin Bowman!

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Review: The Earthling’s Brother by Earik Beann

The Earthling's BrotherThe Earthling’s Brother by Earik Beann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It all begins when an attractive naked man stumbles into the hotel where Maria works.

It’s very late at night, and with nothing better to do, she engages him in conversation.

Initially thinking he’s high as a kite, she sets him up with some clothes from the Lost and Found and a place to sleep it off. Her hope is that with time, whatever he has gotten into will wear off.

Unfortunately, when her shift ends, he’s still not making any sense. Maybe he needs food.

She takes him with her to a local diner for breakfast. Deeper into the conversation, she finally realizes this man, who she has christened, Sam, may not be of Earth.

After he heals a local homeless man who has been in a wheelchair for years, unable to walk, and gifted him a toilet made of solid gold, others around them begin to take notice.

It just so happens, Sam’s first miracle is performed directly in front of a police station. Not good.

Their first interactions with the police do not go well.

Maria, an immigrant, who it is clear they do not trust, is unable to get them to listen to her. Sam, well, he quickly gets branded a terrorist and all hell breaks loose.

Sam’s alien brother, Mustafa, who happens to look like a purple octopus, joins Maria and Sam as they flee from federal agents and try to save the world from The Authority, an alien power set on terraforming the planet.

If this plot sounds confusing, I assure you, while you reading it, it is not. It all makes total sense.

Just trying to summarize it is difficult, as it is such a wildly creative story.

My favorite aspect was Mustafa. He was so funny! I love him. Him and Sam definitely brought the humor to the narrative.

My only slight critique is that it felt like the ending was rushed. There was quite a bit of build up and the conclusion happened extremely quickly.

This being said, I did enjoy the content of the actual ending. It was cute, like having a little bow tie it all up.

Beann’s writing is compelling. I find his stories read really fast and they are full of action, humor and heart.

If you are looking for a quick, unique, standalone SciFi read, you should definitely give this book a shot. It’s quite enjoyable!

Thank you so much to the author, Earik Beann, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I appreciate it very much!

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Review: Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

Morning Star (Red Rising Trilogy, #3)Morning Star by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s finally happened.

I just let out a breath I didn’t even realize I was holding!

Morning Star, the third installment of the Red Rising Saga, exceeded all my expectations. My favorite so far!

Pierce Brown is currently battling George R.R. Martin for the title of, ‘Author Trying to Crush My Soul’.

Brown has created a hellishly brutal world. No character is safe. Ever!

Just when you start to let your guard down…

Without giving too much away, as this is the third in the series, the battle against the sovereign continues with The Reaper and his allies trying to disassemble the Color System.

The highlight for me, although there is always a ton of action, is watching the relationship growth among Darrow and his friends.

Particularly Darrow and Sevro, which honestly is one of the best male friendships I have ever read. It gives me life.

At the conclusion to this story, six years has passed since the start of Red Rising, so much has happened. It’s a complicated story and really very impressive.

I am entertained beyond reason and cannot wait to continue, although I will most likely need to take a breather before I start the next book.

Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear that I am low-key obsessed with this series and cannot wait to see what Brown has in store for these characters.

With this story, it could literally be anything!

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Review: Star Wars Queen’s Peril by E.K. Johnston

Queen's Peril (Star Wars)Queen’s Peril by E.K. Johnston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Queen’s Peril, when it releases on June 2, 2020, will be the newest addition to the Disney Star Wars Canon.

The events in this novel take place after the events of Master and Apprentice and just before the film, The Phantom Menace.

In fact, to my surprise, the last quarter of the book runs parallel to The Phantom Menace.

It is not a novelization of the events in the movie, it’s more of an expansion.

With that bit of timeline info out of the way, let’s get into this story, shall we?

At just 14-years old, Padme Naberrie is elected Queen of Naboo. Her parents exposed her early to civic duty and the idea that she could one day be Queen never felt far-fetched to her.

After her election, the Head of Security Forces for Naboo, Quarsh Panaka devises a plan to select special handmaidens for the Queen.

These handmaidens will be a lot more than meets they eye. They will actually serve as body doubles and protection.

Each one, chosen with care by Panaka himself, brings a different skill to the table. Together they make quite a team.

A large portion of the story is learning about the girls and how they contribute to the function of the Queen’s reign.

It was interesting to follow as these girls go from being strangers, to companions and ultimately, to friends.

As Naboo becomes threatened by the Trade Federation, maneuverings take place to secure the Queen and gain help for Naboo.

Once the events begin to align with those of The Phantom Menace, we get more insights into what was going on behind the scenes during Padme’s flight from Naboo.

E.K. Johnston writes with such care and skill within the Star Wars universe.

You can tell that she knows the ins-and-outs of this world, complex as it is, and that she is equally passionate about it as we are as readers.

I loved the subtle feel of the narrative. It’s a character driven story, although the action does pick up towards the end, and I feel like I learned a lot.

Some of the highlights for me were learning about each of the handmaidens, why they were chosen and what their specific skills were.

I also liked the little cameos of beloved characters popping up throughout, including Yoda, Anakin, Qui Gon and Jar Jar Binks.

Senator Palpatine is also explored in greater depth here which I loved.

The duality of his character is so freaking interesting and the way Johnston wrote from his perspective was perfection!

Overall, this book is a joy to read and for Padme fans, an absolute gift!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Lucasfilm Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I had already preordered my copy prior to receiving my ARC and was beyond the moon excited to be able to get my hands on it early!

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Review: The Last Astronaut by David Wellington

The Last AstronautThe Last Astronaut by David Wellington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a large alien object is identified hurtling toward Earth, seemingly under its own propulsion, NASA quickly assembles a team to try to intercept it.

The object, apparently a space ship, dubbed 2I, is unresponsive to all attempts at communication, so the experts figure, they’ll get a little closer. What could go wrong?

Sally Jansen, a former NASA astronaut, who has been living a quiet life since a failed expedition to Mars, that left a fellow astronaut dead, is called upon to lead the mission to investigate 2I.

Jansen is not necessarily eager to answer NASA’s call, but she understands this could be her only hope for salvation, so she agrees to help.

The other members selected for the mission include Parminder Rao, an astrobiologist, Sunny Stevens, an astrophysicist and Windson Hawkins, a military pilot.

Jansen is the only one among them to have old-school astronaut training and experience. She’s the glue holding the hodge-podge team together.

Jansen and her team learn that a private-sector company, KSpace, has already sent a shuttle, the Wanderer, to 2I and beat NASA to the punch. Their team has already boarded the mysterious craft, thus making the official ‘first contact’.

When the NASA team tries to contact the individuals from the Wanderer, however, no one responds. Thus, Jansen and her team board 2I to investigate.

2I is an enormous space craft. A looming hulk of unknown machinery that functions in complete and utter darkness. Their only source of light, that which they bring with them on their suits.

The truth of 2I was NOT AT ALL what I expected. It flipped my idea of what I thought this first contact would be on its head. It is so gruesome and all-encompassing, I thought there is no way any person is getting out of this alive.

Wellington did a fantastic job of creating a constant feeling of tension with this story. You were always waiting for something to pop out of the dark.

It felt terrifying, even when not a lot was happening. There’s something about the vastness, darkness, silence and isolation of being in deep space that legit freaks me the f* out. But when you add in the terror of this alien craft, it really took it to the next level.

I had a lot of fun reading this. It’s a solid Scifi Horror! I definitely recommend for people who enjoy the genre.

Well done!

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Review: Master and Apprentice (Star Wars) by Claudia Gray

Master and Apprentice (Star Wars)Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

In anticipation of Star Wars: The High Republic releasing the first books this Fall, I have been in such a mood to just devour all of the current canon content I can.

I will tell you that reading Master and Apprentice hot on the heels of Dooku: Jedi Lost was so satisfying!!!

This novel follows Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The events of this book fall after the audiobook, Dooku: Jedi Lost, and prior to the film, The Phantom Menace.

Obi-Wan is Qui-Gon’s first Apprentice. Their relationship is examined closely, both Qui-Gon’s fears of failing his Padawan, and Obi-Wan’s frustrations with his Master who often seems unavailable.

After a secret is revealed, their relationship becomes more fractured and it seems, it may actually be coming to an end.

When Rael Averross contacts his old friend, Qui-Gon, to ask for his assistance with a political issue, Master and Apprentice travel together to the royal court of Pijal to see if they can help.

This may be their last mission together, so both men are silently dealing with a lot of emotions.

Even though Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan view their duties to the Jedi Council differently, each is at their heart battling for what they think is right.

There was quite a bit of political maneuverings in this one, as we see a bit more into how the Jedi Council interacts with the various planets, and governments, within the galaxy.

Prophecies were also revealed on multiple occasions. In short, there was a lot going on! Really great content as far as filling in the backstory of, and providing foundation for, the events in The Phantom Menace.

I could probably read this multiple times and still not pick up on everything.

That’s one great thing about the Star Wars Canon. It’s so vast. You can read, watch, review things over and over and over and the story just keeps on growing and expanding.

It’s like a gift that keeps on giving. Overall, super glad I read this. I think Claudia Gray is such a great author for these stories. You can feel her passion for the whole universe coming off the page.

Really well done. I am pumped to continue on with my 2020 Star Wars binge.

As a side note, also a really great time to have a Disney+ subscription.

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