Not All Bad? // ARC Review: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Title: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publication Date: May 7th, 2019
Publisher: Rock The Boat UK
Part of a Series?: Yes, Part 1/3 of the Aurora Cycle
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo ||
Blurb Description: 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 sarcasmA sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmatesA smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulderAn alien warrior with anger management issuesA 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.
Nobody panic.
If you didn’t already know, I AM OBSESSED with The Illuminae Files. It was a truly brilliant series that kept me at the edge of my seat, filled with twists and murderous AI and if you haven’t read it, you should.

This is why, when Amie and Jay announced Aurora Rising and the start of a new series, I WAS OVER THE MOON! The lovely book fairies at HarperCollins India were kind enough to send me an advance copy of the book and I JUMPED.

In retrospect, I probably expected too much from this series because Aurora Rising ended up being a huge let-down.

I feel bad even saying this because I WANTED to enjoy this book more than anything – with the beautiful cover and the premise and THE TRAILER. Not to mention, this was Amie and Jay and AAAH. Here is why I (very sadly) didn’t enjoy this book:

1.       The Characters: One of the BIGGEST areas of intrigue in this book was that these were supposed
to be a rat-rag group of characters that nobody wanted to be around, weren’t really ‘heroes,’ and weren’t really to be trusted and so they were stuck together and given a tiny mission. For some reason, squad 312 just didn’t work. The line on the cover of the ARC says, ‘they aren’t the heroes we deserve,’ but it certainly felt like it anyway. They were all noble and JUST SO TALENTED IN THEIR SPECIFIC FIELDS, if only their interpersonal skills were a little off-course. I actually wanted them to just be a mediocre group of kids pushed together that managed to make something work, but these were ALL STELLAR GOLDEN-BOY/ HERO TYPES with an unneeded flair for the dramatic and nicknames that just sounded awkward and I somehow feel cheated out of what I was promised – an actually different saving the universe story, in terms of the characters.

2.       THE PLOT: This felt very all over the place to me. With The Illuminae Files, there was always some purpose with where the characters were heading, a timeline and some structure, but this book was very faith-based. I don’t think I’ve ever read faith-based sci-fi before, and it all just seemed like a really big risk for something they didn’t know anything about. Which is the point of faith, I know, and I love that the authors tried something new, but it just didn’t work for me personally.

HOWEVER, AURORA RISING WASN’T ALL BAD – IT GOT GOOD AT THE END. Here is what I liked:

1.       THE REVEAL AT THE ENDING: I’m glad this wasn’t really a cliffhanger, but after an entire 500+ page book of feeling adrift with no concrete plot, I really enjoyed how this all came together in the end.

2.       CAT: I didn’t like her much through the book, BUT I BECAME A FAN AT THE END. I loved her last POV in the book and the tragedy and WOW. WITH NO SPOILERS, LET ME JUST SAY THAT THAT WAS SPECTACULAR WRITING AND PLOTTING.


Will I be reading book two? YES! With the hope that it makes up for book oneJ
Amie KaufmanAmie Kaufman is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Illuminae (with Jay Kristoff) and These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, and Their Fractured Light (with Meagan Spooner.) She writes science fiction and fantasy for teens, and her favourite procrastination techniques involve chocolate, baking, sailing, excellent books and TV, plotting and executing overseas travel, and napping. 

She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, their rescue dog, and her considerable library. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

Jay Kristoff
Jay Kristoff is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, THE ILLUMINAE FILES and THE LOTUS WAR. He is the winner of four Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, nominee for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards, named multiple times in the Kirkus and Amazon Best Teen Books list and published in over thirty countries, most of which he has never visited. He is as surprised about all of this as you are. He is 6’7 and has approximately 13030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

He does not believe in happy endings.

What highly anticipated books have let you down recently?
Have you read Aurora Rising? What did you think of it?
 

What does it mean to be a female warrior? // ARC Review: Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

Title: Warrior of the Wild
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publication Date: February 26th, 2019
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Macmillan INTL (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: How do you kill a god?
As her father's chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: To win back her honor, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year—or die trying.
If you knew me last year, you would know that I was OBSESSED with Tricia Levenseller’s debut duology – Daughter of the Pirate King and Daughter of the Siren Queen. They were FUN, fast-paced, FEMINIST pirate stories with a hate-to-love romance and GOOD CHEMISTRY AND CHARACTER TURMOIL AND DEVELOPMENT.

What else can you ask for in a book?

So, despite Warrior of the Wild not sounding AS interesting as the duology, I wanted to give it a try because I LOVE Tricia Levenseller’s writing.

I’m pleased to report that Warrior of the Wild SURPRISED ME. In just a few chapters, I fell in love with Rasmira’s strength and stubbornness, her will to survive and her skill.

MY THOUGHTS:

1.       THIS COVER COULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH BETTER. I know it tried to capture the wildness of the ‘wild,’ but it just looks… unappealing. I really hope that they change the cover during the paperback release because it would REALLY compel more people to pick it up.

2.       I LOVED RASMIRA AND SOREN AND IRIC. I REALLY LIKED their friendship that developed in the wild, their home, how Rasmira came into her own as a leader after she was banished and I LOVED THE ENDING AND THE CHANGE IN THEIR WAY OF LIFE.

3.       I also liked how the three helped each other, fought and forgave so that they could each complete their tasks to be accepted in the village. I LOVED that an LGBTQIA romance was considered normal in Viking times because YES. THIS SHOULD BE NORMALIZED MORE AND MORE.

4.       Despite the fact that the book was set in Viking times, it occasionally lapsed and had modern words surfacing from within. I think there was ‘soap’ (which, honestly, could not have existed then but PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong) and other words I can’t remember, but it annoyed me slightly.

5.       I think my favourite part of the book (and I added a whole extra star just for this) is how Rasmira tacked the definition of what it meant to be ‘female’ and ‘warrior’ that society/ her village/ her parents thrust upon her. Why couldn’t a warrior want to look pretty? Why couldn’t a warrior cry? It was done in a simple manner, but Tricia Levenseller did it well, and I LOVED IT.


Would I recommend this book? YES! Please don’t be taken aback by the cover because this book is SO WORTH THE READ. 4 stars. 
Tricia Levenseller

Initially from a small town in Oregon, Tricia now lives next to the Rocky Mountains with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing and is thrilled that she never has to read a textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, playing OVERWATCH, and watching shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

Have you read any of Tricia Levenseller's books? What did you think of them?
I would love to hear from you!
 

A Strange, Whimsical Book // REVIEW: The Heavens by Sandra Newman

Title: The Heavens
Author: Sandra Newman
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2019
Publisher: Granta Books
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Granta Books (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: New York, 2000. Kate and Ben meet at a party and fall instantly, irrevocably in love. Around them, the city glows. It is the first year without a war anywhere. A woman is president, and an air of camaraderie permeates the streets of Manhattan. Kate falls asleep, knowing she is loved.
London, 1593. Kate wakes as Emilia - the mistress of a nobleman - and finds the plague at her door. Afflicted by premonitions of a burnt and lifeless city, she sets out to save the world. Each decision she makes will change her life with Ben for ever.
A story of love and alternate universes, madness and time travel, The Heavens is a dream bound up in a strange awakening; it is a novel of what we have lost, and what we might yet be able to save. 
 
The first words I heard describing this book belonged to Resh Susan (@thebooksatchel) calling it a ‘literary fairy-tale.’

Combine that with an ABSOLUTELY STUNNING cover and a very interesting synopsis filled with love and time travel, I dove into this book almost as soon as I ripped open the package that contained it.

Looking back on this book I finished over a week ago, I only have one word that also doubles as a feeling to describe it - STRANGE. There were a lot of things I liked and a lot I didn’t like and I’ll go more into it below:

THINGS I LIKED:

1.       THE WRITING: Reading Sandra Newman’s writing in The Heavens was a different experience. She had this unique ability to put words to emotions and experiences that, when you think about it, seem so natural. She also brought out relationships, the experience of new love and the struggle to stay in love and it was a really interesting read.


2.       THE COVER: I know I’ve started saying this a lot, but The Heavens has a truly STUNNING cover. It’s the kind of book you’ll lovingly display on your shelf.

3.       I quite how this contemporary book handled the consequences of time travel, even if the constant changes and Kate’s whining/ guilt got tedious and repetitive at times.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE:

1.       I’m a practical person by nature and I simply couldn’t wrap my head around Kate’s… whimsical nature. I can’t quite describe what she was like without spoiling things in the book but suffice it to say that I did not enjoy her.

2.       Kate was still a minor blip, but the story unfolding in the past with ‘Sad Will’ and the lord Kate/ Amelia had to service so that he could keep his pride was just too much for me. I honestly sped read through the pages that didn’t involve Kate and Ben in present times because it was all too strange. JUST. TOO. STRANGE.

Would I recommend this book? The Heavens could have been better in my mind. However, the writing was just wonderful and if you’re looking for something unique, The Heavens should be your next read. 
Image result for sandra newman author
Sandra Newman is the author of the novels The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, Cake, and The Country of Ice Cream Star, longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and NPR. The Heavens is her latest book.
Have you read The Heavens? What did you think of it?
What other contemporary fiction books have you read that deal with time travel?
Have any of them been good?
I would love to hear from you!

Dark, Twisty Madness // REVIEW: Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Title: Vicious (Villains #1)
Author: V. E. Schwab
Publication Date: September 24th, 2013
Publisher: Titan Books
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1/2 of the Villains series
I Got A Copy Through: Bloomsbury India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. 
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?
I am OBSESSED with dark and twisty characters that make you question your own morality/ principles and V. E. Schwab has written an ENTIRE BOOK filled with them.

Vicious was a villain origin story that transitioned into a villain-against-villain story that was just pure, twisted madness. It was a rollercoaster of a book where I was frantically turning pages to find out what had happened between Eli and Victor ten years ago and what would happen between Eli and Victor in just a few hours.

THINGS I LOVED:

1)      THE STRUCTURE AND PLOTTING: One of the BIG reasons I enjoyed Vicious was the way it was plotted. It flipped from past to present and from Eli to Victor to Serena to Mitch to Sydney, each filling in the blanks of what happened ten years ago and then flashing forward to today. It was the kind of book that kept you on your toes and I REALLY enjoyed it.

2)      I LOVE THE CONCEPT OF BLACK-OUT POETRY, and I love how Victor used it. It was stripping superfluous, long books down to their bare minimum and I loved the truth and pain those words held.

3)      I definitely preferred Victor over Eli, but I wonder if I would think the same was if Vicious introduced me to Eli first. Reading about Eli through Victor’s eyes was probably the most biased opinion I could find but it was still interesting to read through Eli’s eyes later in the book.

4)      I LOVED the Victor-Sydney bond. It oscillated between EO meets EO and a father-daughter/ brother-sister relationship and I WAS LIVING FOR IT.

5)      If there was one thing I would have liked, it’s MORE time before the villainy things began. I feel like I didn’t get to know Eli and Victor nearly enough as friends/ rivals/ pre-med students before I was thrown into a villain beat villain rivalry. Also, for all Angie was described as being brilliant, she had no real contribution to the story and I wish she had.

Would I recommend this book? YES! It’s my favourite Schwab book so far and I can’t WAIT to dive into Vengeful. 
V.E. Schwab
Victoria Schwab (V.E. Schwab) is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say "tom-ah-toes," "like," and "y'all."

She also tells stories including the bestselling A Darker Shade of Magic series, the Villains duology, This Savage Song, This Dark Duet, City of Ghosts and more.
She loves fairy tales, and folklore, and stories that make her wonder if the world is really as it seems. 

Have you read any of V.E.Schwab's books? Have you had a chance to read the Villains series? Tell me what you thoughts of it in the comments below.
I can't wait to hear from you.
 

On Writing The Last Book In A Series - Guest Post by Helen Scheuerer

On Writing The Last Book In A Series…

When Aditi offered me the opportunity to write a guest post on writing the last book in a series, I was relieved. The third and final book in my trilogy, WAR OF MIST was done and finally, I had a space to talk about all the turbulent emotions I was feeling about the conclusion of this wild ride.

I went in blind when I started writing The Oremere Chronicles. I didn’t really understand how big a commitment writing a series was. Completing one book is a big deal, but three…? Every time I placed a finished book on my shelf I was in a bit of a daze, but finishing War of Mist (the third and final book) was even more surreal. In part, I was so glad to be at the end of the road - I’d been with these characters for over three years and I was starting to feel restless (not to mention exhausted). But then, there was another part of me that was sad the journey was ending. I kept having realisations throughout the process like, this is the last time I’ll be writing the first draft of an Oremere book, or this is the last Oremere copyedit I’ll do.

When Aditi and I first floated the idea of this guest post, she used the term “bitter sweet”, and that’s actually a perfect summary. This series has been such a massive part of my life and has offered so many opportunities, but at some point, every author has to learn to move on.

I’ve been asked about writing the final chapter and what it felt like a fair bit lately. It’s something that’s difficult to describe without sounding like a mad person. The last chapter in War of Mist drained me emotionally. I suppose it’s a lot like saying goodbye to friends you’ve known for years, and being proud of who’ve they’ve become and what they’ve achieved. It’s knowing that they’ll be out in the world somewhere, but you probably won’t see them again. Told you I’d sound like a mad person…

One thing I don’t think a lot of people realise is that an author changes drastically over the course of writing any book, not to mention a series. You grow not only as a writer, but as a person. I’m vastly different from who I was back in 2016 when I first started writing Heart of Mist. Over those three years or more, I’ve had numerous jobs, I’ve travelled, moved house three times, lived alone, moved countries and gone full-time as an author. All of those things and everything in between influence an author’s writing and productivity, and change how they feel about their craft and their finished books…

What I’m trying to say, is that writing the last book in a series is a unique experience. It not only makes you reflect on the books you’ve written, but also the time that’s passed over the course of writing and publishing the series. And while The Oremere Chronicles is the first series I’ve written, I imagine the sentiment will be the same, no matter how many I publish down the track.

WAR OF MIST, the epic conclusion to Helen Scheuerer’s The Oremere Chronicles is slated for release July 25. You can add it on Goodreads here

Title: War Of Mist (Dream of Mist #1)
Author: Helen Scheuerer
Publication Date: July 25th 2019
Publisher: Talem Press
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 3/3 of the Oremere Chronicles
Pre-order on: Amazon
Blurb Description: Toxic mist drives all life to the brink of destruction and the conqueror queen, Ines, has her talons in the kings of the realm.
Bleak, having discovered her true heritage, must now scour the lands for the one thing that might save them all. 
But the search is a treacherous one – and it will push her to the very limits of endurance. 
Amidst secrets, lies and the intricacies of battle, Bleak and her companions learn just how far they’ll go for the ones they love. But will it be enough?
As deadly forces grapple for power across the continents, families, friends and allies unite to take one final stand.
Explosive revelations, heart-wrenching betrayals and breathtaking magic soar in the epic conclusion to Helen Scheuerer’s bestselling trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles. 
 
Helen ScheuererHelen Scheuerer is a YA fantasy author from Sydney, Australia. Heart of Mist is the first book in her high fantasy trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles. It explores themes of identity, belonging, loyalty, addiction, loss, and responsibility.

Helen is also the Founding Editor of Writer’s Edit (www.writersedit.com), an online literary magazine and learning platform for emerging writers. It’s now one of the largest writers’ platforms in the world.

Helen’s love of writing and books led her to pursue a Bachelor of Creative Arts, majoring in Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong and a Masters of Publishing at the University of Sydney.

Helen is now a full-time author living by the beach.

Say hi to Helen in the comments below! Did you enjoy her post? Do you have questions for her? Make sure to post them below!

Lush, Magical and Absolutely Perfect // REVIEW: The Kingdom Of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty

Title: The Kingdom of Copper (Daevabad Trilogy #2)
Author: S. A. Chakraborty
Publication Date: January 29th, 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager UK
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 2/3 of the Daevabad Trilogy
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabadand quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.
Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her familyand one misstep will doom her tribe.
Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the maridthe unpredictable water spiritshave gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.
And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad's towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve. 

Before diving into the Daevabad trilogy, if someone asked me what my favourite book was, I’d stare at them AGHAST. HOW COULD I, A READER, PICK JUST ONE FAVOURITE BOOK? It was an impossible task. Ask me today, and I will SHOVE The Daevabad Trilogy in your face.

I’ll say it again, just for clarity: The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper are the best books I’ve ever read. EVER.

*pauses for dramatic effect*

To say that I was DESPERATELY WAITING for The Kingdom of Copper ever since I was in the middle of its prequel, The City of Brass is an understatement. I NEEDED TO READ THIS BOOK. And then, after I actually got it, I was scared of starting because this meant I WOULD HAVE TO WAIT FOR ALMOST A YEAR FOR THE NEXT BOOK. Long story short? The temptation got to be too much, I dove in and now I’m broken.

MY THOUGHTS:


1.       If I had to pick one of the reasons I love this series so much, it would have to be because of Ali and Nahri. Not just their beautifully constructed and developed characters, but the fact that these books are about good intentions and providing a better life to the people in their magical city that they are in that other rulers forget about in an attempt to gain or retain power. I don’t think this adequately covers what The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper hold within their pages but these books are FIERCE in breaking prejudices, in their explanation of centuries-old hatred, politics and family ties and in creating a world so lush, I actually want to live in it. To put it bluntly, this book is real and magical all at the same time and I AM ENTRANCED BY ALL OF IT.

2.       I just want to circle back to Ali and Nahri again. I am in LOVE with them as individual characters – their spirit, their hopes, and their shrewdness. Even within two books, I can see how much they’ve grown and I honestly just want to hug both of them.

3.       I usually read descriptions once in a book. They barely register in my head, but when it came to The Kingdom of Copper, I made sure to read descriptions again and again all so that I could feel like I was a part of this world.

 
4.       THE POLITICS. THE WORLD BUILDING. THE WAR. THE MORALLY GRAY CHARACTERS. THE INTRIGUE.

5.       A special mention to Jamshid, Muntadhir, Hatset and Zaynab who were WONDERFUL secondary characters and I WILL MISS THEM SO MUCH AFTER THE NEXT BOOK.

Would I recommend this book? YES. YES. YES. YES. BUY THESE BOOKS AND DIVE IN. If you love them a fraction as much as I do, let me know and I WILL FANGIRL WITH YOU THANKS.

An absolutely perfect novel filled with politics, magic, family, and characters you’ll love till the end of time. GO GET YOUR HANDS ON IT. 

S.A. Chakraborty
S. A. Chakraborty is a speculative fiction writer from New York City. Her debut, The City of Brass, was the first book in The Daevabad Trilogy and has been short-listed for the Locus, British Fantasy and World Fantasy awards. When not buried in books about Mughal miniatures and Abbasid political intrigue, she enjoys hiking, knitting, and recreating unnecessarily complicated medieval meals for her family. You can find her online at www.sachakraborty.com or on Twitter at @SAChakrabooks where she likes to talk about history, politics, and Islamic art.
HAVE YOU READ The City of Brass or The Kingdom of Copper yet?
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?