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Photo Review – Obsidio (The Illuminae Files_03) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Obsidio (The Illuminae Files _03)

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

SummaryKady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

I enjoyed the finale of Obsidio and I was happy to get the closure I needed for the whole story. I only gave Gemina 3 stars because it was so disappointing in comparison to Illuminae and I don’t think Obsidio was much better, but I gave it an extra star because it was interesting and it did conclude the story and involve the original characters and AIDAN a lot more.

Illuminae was the best book in the trilogy by a long shot, but if this is read as one long story with different POVs, then it’s still an amazing scifi trilogy that is worth reading. I think other people might like Gemina or Obsidio as much as or more than Illuminae, but the horror lover in me just really enjoyed the plot of Illuminae more than the traditional scifi adventure plot of the rest. The storytelling is unique for this entire trilogy and I highly recommend checking this series out and diving into a story that is told in so many ways. It was creative and full of so much adventure, love, action, horror, and mystery.

(2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge for Book Set on a Different Planet)

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Star 4

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Photo Review – Gemina (The Illuminae Files_02) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Summary: Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

I really love Illuminae, so I knew it would be difficult to live up to that, but Gemina was actually disappointing. It was good, but it paled in comparison in so many ways and felt like your run of the mill adventurous sci-fi without the creepy factor that made Illuminae so amazing. The wormhole and alternate universes aspect was cool, but I just felt like this was very second-book syndrome.

The original characters were still present and their story is still relevant, though, so I did enjoy figuring out a little of what happened next.

Reread and Photo Review – Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

SummaryThis morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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2016 Review:

Illuminae was one of kind, an absolutely thrilling story told in a unique way and had a flawless execution.

I’ve heard a lot of praise for the book, but whenever I picked it up in the store and saw the way that it wasn’t a story in the traditional sense, with strange pages and transcripts and emails, I would put it back down. That style of storytelling has never worked well for me and I’ve always seen it as a great idea theoretically, but it sacrifices writing and details and would be better told as a movie if it’s not going to be a true story. It feels like a gimmick and it feels like a gimmick that stands in place of true storytelling.

Illuminae completely blew me away and shattered my preconceived notions. I’m so glad I finally just grabbed it and decided to read it. I went into it feeling very nervous about it, afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up or that it would be dull or hard to read. But as soon as I dove in, it was easy and thrilling.

I cannot gush enough about how amazing the story was. Now that I’m done, I think the weird format was what made the book even better. It didn’t feel like a gimmick. It didn’t feel like the authors used the tactic to avoid writing well. There was incredible writing throughout the book and some poetic and moving sections. It was heart pounding. Terrifying. Absolutely mind blowing.

The book was a brilliant science fiction tale of loss, love, horror, war.. it was everything. Parts of it reminded me of Event Horizon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 28 Days Later, Starship Troopers… it’s rare that a science fiction YA novel really gets it right and Illuminae did it… and truly captured the essence of great science fiction.

It mainly featured Kady Grant, a teenager living on Kerenza who was pretty good wth computers. She broke up with her boyfriend and her planet was attacked by a giant corporation. Refugees were rescued by a scientific research vessel and a military vessel and were on the run from the corporate ship. The military ship did not come out of the rescue unscathed, leading to some problems with the ships being able to make a swift escape. It sounds cool, but it could’ve easily been an eye-roll inducing dystopian space novel and because of the writing and the layers of storytelling, it was so much more.

I did not expect the book to be so terrifying in some moments and I say that as a horror lover. The story was absolutely stunning and executed flawlessly. I can appreciate and savor each and every page.

Illuminae was smart, clever, adventurous, emotional, scary, and so much more. I highly recommend it. Do not let the strange format stop you from reading the book! It was brilliant!

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2018 Thoughts:

I still feel the same way about Illuminae and I was super stoked to read the rest of the series now that I own them all.

I love the combination of horror, sci-fi, adventure, romance, and humor.

Photo Review – Blood for Blood (Wolf by Wolf #2) by Ryan Graudini

Blood for Blood (Wolf by Wolf #2)

By Ryan Graudin

Summary: There would be blood. Blood for blood. Blood to pay. An entire world of it.For the resistance in the Third Reich, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun. Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against Hitler’s army, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.But in the midst of the chaos, Yael’s past and future collide when she comes face to face with a ghost from her past, and a spark with a fellow rider begins to grow into something more. Dark secrets reveal dark truths and one question hangs over them all—how far can you go for the ones you love?

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

Review – Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

Warcross (Warcross #1)

By Marie Lu

SummaryFor the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Source: I received a signed hardcover from an Uppercase subscription

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Review:

Warcross was great!

Side note: If you’re expecting Ready Player One, it’s not the same thing, though similar, and it’s probably not as good because it doesn’t drawn on the nostalgia of the 80’s. I liked Ready Player One for different reasons than I like Warcross. 

Warcross was set in the future with a large virtual game for millions of people. There are glasses that connect people to Warcross and combine the real world with the virtual. Emika was a struggling poor bounty hunter who also knew a good bit of code and frequently hacked into various aspects of Warcross. As her situation became more serious, she made a judgement call that brought her to the attention of millions of people watching the Warcross Opening Ceremony.. and the game’s creator.

She had a new target straight from the game’s creator: find Zero, the hacker messing with security measures.

Warcross was fun and adventurous. I loved Emika’s personality and her desire to do the right thing despite all consequences. She seemed like a truly loyal person. She was a bright and unique person who defied stereotypes and it made her a strong character. I liked Hideo, the tortured and private billionaire and creator. I felt like I wanted to know more about him and was intrigued by the mystery of him. 

My only real issue was with the other characters. I felt like the world building was great along with Emika and her feelings, motivations, surroundings, purpose, job, abilities, etc. Even Hideo, as mysterious as he was, seemed to be fleshed out rather well. The rest of the cast was not nearly as well developed and I wished the book focused more on the members of Emika’s team in the game and their banter. Some of the training was highlighted, but I felt like it was just a small slice and I would’ve preferred a longer book that featured the side characters a bit more. Because of this, when Emika really needed to trust them and needed their help, the fact that they jumped in and helped her seemed kind of weird, as their relationship was a bit strained due to her skipping out after trainings completed. 

Warcross was a diverse book, which added to the world-building because I’d hope a futuristic society would be a bit more open minded. There was a bit of a romance in Warcross, which was surprising and welcome. I did not expect it for some reason. I loved the adventure and Emika’s ability to bounce back, figure things out, and maintain a positive attitude.

I definitely recommend Warcross. I didn’t read a lot of reviews and had no real expectations, so I think that helped. It’s hard to top Ready Player One in the cyberpunk genre, but I didn’t expect Warcross to do that for me, so I’m not upset that it didn’t. I think many negative reviews are simply from those who were super hyped up and expected something else.

Another Side Note: The author does use the “I let out a breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding” a few times. If this is a deal breaker, don’t read it. Other than that, the writing was pretty engaging. 

Star 4

 

Review – Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

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Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1)

By Jim Butcher

SummaryHarry Dresden — Wizard

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or
Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

Source: I received a paperback as a gift for Secret Santa

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Review:

I’ve heard of The Dresden Files, but it never really showed up on my radar as something I might enjoy. When I got the first book from a coworker in my secret santa gift, I looked at the synopsis and realized it was the kind of book that would be perfect for me. I love science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, mysteries, and thrillers and The Dresden Files is a mash up of all of those things in one book. It’s more closely related to an urban fantasy, but Harry Dresden was basically a wizard P.I. so there was definitely the crime/mystery element as well. (I mean, if you were shopping for a book for me without knowing the specific books I’d want, this is honestly the best pick because it’s bound to appeal to me on some level! So genius!)

I loved Storm Front! It was so much fun and I really liked Harry’s POV. I loved the way the book kind of threw me right into this world where wizards were a thing, but like most urban fantasies, it’s not a big deal for the magical part of society to exist, but it’s still something that most people don’t deal with. I feel like Storm Front set the reader up for the rest of the series and wasn’t necessarily the strongest book as a standalone, but yet I also feel that there were some obvious conclusions so that, if I really wanted to, I could stop reading right now and feel like I read a book with a regular story arc. 

I definitely recommend Storm Front and I’m thankful that my gift giver person at work seemed to know me well enough to pick it out for me. It was right up my alley and a good mix of everything I love in my fiction and I don’t know that I would’ve picked it up otherwise. The urban fantasies from male POVs can be hit or miss, but much like the Iron Druid Chronicles, The Dresden Files seems to be a solid book with likable characters and a plot that just keeps grabbing me. I think I’ll definitely pick up the other books in this series!

On a side note, I am a huge fan of table top gaming and I noticed there is a board game for this book. This isn’t something I see a lot of with the fiction I read, despite the games I play and the books I read having many similar themes. Games are usually based on classic D&D or classic literature (like Lovecraft) or cult classic tv shows/movies… and the fact that there is a board game for The Dresden Files makes me hopeful that this is a world with some really solid plot/world building with a ton of fans, which makes me even more eager to read the rest of the series.

Star 4

 

 

Review – Jurassic Park/The Lost World by Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park/The Lost World

By Michael Crichton

SummaryFrom master thriller writer Michael Crichton: Two imaginative masterpieces of speculative science, full of adventure and larger-than-life characters. In Jurassic Park, scientists of today clone dinosaurs of the prehistoric past to serve as attractions in a modern theme park. When a rival biogenetic firm attempts to steal the scientists secret, the stage is set for a nightmare of science and dinosaurs run amok. The Lost World picks up the story six years later, with scientists scrambling to find the jungle island that served as the dinosaur production factory for Jurassic Park. Once again, rivalry and subterfuge combine to create life-threatening dangers for the scientists, who must contend with the rampaging dinosaurs as well as their cutthroat competitors.

This volume contains the full text of both of Michael Crichton’s bestselling novels. Featuring a beautifully stamped bonded leather cover, gilt edging, colorful endpapers, and a satin-ribbon bookmark, this collectible edition is a fine addition to any home library.

Source: I purchased a copy.

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Review:

I’ve grown up watching Jurassic Park and I’ve probably seen the film at least 20 times in my lifetime. When I was a kid, dinosaurs were super popular and at the time, the movie was considered to be pretty decent in terms of being realistic, so I remember watching it in science class on substitute teacher or fun days. Being the bookworm that I am, I’m actually shocked it took me so long to read it!

Jurassic Park was definitely a good novel and I found that I enjoyed it as much as the movie. I think it’s actually better, but there’s something nostalgic about the movie that makes it seem better in my mind. For most people, I’m sure they feel the book is better than the movie. 

I loved getting the various points of views in the book. The movie felt very much like Dr. Grant was the main character and the book wasn’t really like that. Many pivotal scenes and dinosaur knowledge tidbits were in the book from Grant’s POV, but the book followed a lot of the other characters and many of the scenes took place before the famous tour even began, from the investors in the park to the setup behind Nedry stealing embryos. 

As much as I love raptors, I was glad to see the book explore some of other species while still giving me those raptor scenes I know and love. I felt like the book was just more well rounded as a whole and I got to see the full picture. And it was much more obvious to me that the park’s creator was absolutely insane and selfish and completely oblivious to the issues of creating such a park. I think I fell for the smoke and mirrors a bit more in the movie as a kid.

Still, the movie was more.. dramatic and scary. It hit you in the gut a bit more and the book pokes more at your brain and is much more thought provoking, especially in terms of ethics in science. 

Dr. Malcom was equally annoying, though.

I don’t have as much to say about The Lost World with comparisons because I can’t recall the movie very well and have confused it with parts of Jurassic Park III. I remember the T-Rex in California thing and I’m happy to report that the book was not that dumb! I enjoyed The Lost World, but I have to admit that I’m partial to Dr. Grant and can’t really stand Dr. Malcom, so I found the book to be slightly less enjoyable than Jurassic Park, especially having read it directly after it. 

I think The Lost World did a better job of exploring the dinosaurs themselves as so many scientists were weighing in on what they were observing and asking themselves whether observing a thing changes it or if you can be impartial. It was much more of a commentary on science and processes than it was anything else, but I liked that aspect quite a bit. 

Still, Dr. Malcom annoys me and I couldn’t done without his smartypants interruptions on every page because he thinks he knows everything. 

Star 4