Book Review

Book Review: Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Sci-fi / Fantasy
Length: 512 pages
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 5th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Our heroes are back… kind of. From the bestselling co-authors of the Illuminae Files comes the second book in the epic series about a squad of misfits, losers, and discipline cases who just might be the galaxy’s best hope for survival.

First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces.

And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri.

Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well. 

WHAT JUST HAPPENED.

I’m pretty sure I said that out loud multiple times while reading this. But also, I don’t know how to write a full review without shouting spoilers at you, so bear with me. STILL SPOILER FREE. Just…seriously…GO READ THIS SERIES ASAP PLEASE.

Okay okay, this book was glorious and also destroyed me.

I absolutely loved getting to know all of the characters more. I felt that was missing from Aurora Rising and appreciated the depth and back stories that were added to each of the squad. I have a love for each of them in their own ways and I usually have a main character I don’t like…I can’t hate anyone from Squad 312.

I was especially smitten with getting more of Auri and Kal because woo-wee I am low-key [let’s be honest — high key] ObSeSeD with Kal. NOT TO MENTION, his narrator, Steve West, is also a minor obsession. I will listen to any book he reads. The audio books for this series are fantastic with a full cast, sound effects, and just making you feel like you are sitting there truly listening to the characters. I would highly recommend this as an audio book if you haven’t tried (and are curious about them) before!

A many many things happened over the 500 pages. So much that I can’t recount it all, other than saying, it was intensely filled. There was maybe one slow-ish portion for me, but that was it. Everything hit its markers and kept me reading as fast as I could. I loved the character progression and where this story is going.

AH I DON’T WANT TO FORGET TO MENTION. I have a new ship. And I can’t say that ship because it would spoil some things, but if you’ve read it, and know who I’m referring to, lets discuss. Because I love them. Their dynamic and intensity. The banter and forced proximity. Oooooh boy I hope this is going in the direction I’m imaging or book three might sink me.

I honestly can’t tell you how it ends, because I don’t know how it ends. How twisted is that? And hopefully that sentence made you want to pick this series up because it’s faaaabulous.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult sci-fi
  • Language: not very much
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; fade to black scenes, closed door scenes
  • Violence: plenty, and fairly gory/bloody; weapons, explosions, physical, torture, guns, magic

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 870 pages
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Delta
Release Date: December 1st, 1993
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her… and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.

Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her…the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland… and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love.

BEST ONE [YET].

Ahhhhhh.

It’s official.

I’m involved.

Like, REAL involved in Claire and Jamie.

It’s fine. I’m fine. BUT CAN WE JUST GET SOME HAPPY MOMENTS FOR THEM? Goodness, my heart is in my throat every chapter wondering who’s jumping out next with a knife and a gun. Okay okay, I do admit there’s plenty of good moments too, but wow, do they live a life of danger.

I just loved how this story unfolded. I hated waiting for that reunion, but FLIPPIN’ LOVED how it went down. That’s how you reunite lost loves. Claire and Jamie treat each other with such love, respect, and fire. FIRE. I appreciate that there’s nothing held back. They have their conversations out there in the open, and come what may, they continue to love each other body and soul.

Not to mention that Jame purely angered MY soul with his shenanigans. Yes yes, explained away well, doesn’t mean I can’t have my feelings over it. I thought it was a good twist and definitely amped up the story as a whole. Also my sweet babe Fergus, all grown up! He’s one of my favorite side characters. Which makes me think that his ending is going to be make me sob, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen. I’ve got quite a few books to go.

With 870 pages, you’d think I’d have A LOOOOT to say. And I do, but I don’t. It’s one of those big books you sink into. Reading it takes as long as it does, but you’re not even noticing because the story has you wrapped up. That’s one of my favorite things about big sagas. I’m allowed to wholly immerse myself in the world and characters and feel the depth of the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a few love scenes ranging in detail from little to quite a bit
  • Violence: poison, swords, pirate attacks, ship wrecks, physical, murder, knives
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault on a minor; sexual assault; intense depictions of slavery (specifically in the West Indies)

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 743 pages
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: July 1st, 1992
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the author of Outlander… a magnificent epic that once again sweeps us back in time to the drama and passion of 18th-century Scotland…

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones …about a love that transcends the boundaries of time …and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his ….

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart …in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising …and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves.

TALK ABOUT SOUL CRUSHING.

I was warned 100 times over that the ending would make me sob and that it would rip my heart out. I can’t say I sobbed (which I will explain why), but I definitely had plenty of emotions coursing through me with that finale.

Okay, why I didn’t cry. The set-up. I wish organization of the book was a bit different. That was my only complaint for this book and I’m curious how the next novels will continue. By adding in the present time section in the beginning it already gave me an inkling as to what was going to take place over the book. So by the time it happened, the writing was beautiful and made me invested, BUT, I also knew what was coming and with 6 more books [currently, I heard she’s writing a 9th one] there’s clearly more to the story.

Jamie and Claire. Ohhh I’m starting to love their relationship more and more. Since it was incredibly rocky at first I struggled to connect with them. Now that I’ve got nearly 2,000 pages of them together, I’m feeling it. Jamie is bold, brash and incredibly tender-hearted. He smooths my soul and makes me want to throw things at him (I feel you Claire). It’s a great combination that keeps me wanting more. I love Claire’s nature and passion. Still think she’s crazy for choosing to stay in Scotland, but it’s fine. Claire makes her own path and I will follower her gladly.

SO MUCH HAPPENED in this book. Oh wow, I could barely keep up, even with it being a slower read. What I finally started grasping by the end was the understanding of the aristocracy and royalty in France, Scotland, England, etc. I don’t know much about this history and the amount of people that are included can be a wee bit mind-boggling. Now that I have a firmer knowledge I think subsequent books will go much more smoothly.

Truly another fantastical tale. I am smitten with all thing Scottish now.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs; a few detailed love scenes
  • Violence: battles, swords, be-headings, hangings, physical; see trigger warnings
  • Trigger warnings: rape, sexual assault, miscarriage, mentions of abortions (by a side character, not Claire); PTSD for prior sexual assault and rape [There are a lot and I apologize if I missed any]

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Contemporary romance
Length: 293 pages
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 1st, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

LIGHT & HEAVY READING.

I picked this up because the audio is only 6 hours long and I needed something short while I waited for some holds. I’ve been into Kasie West books lately and am slowly working my way through them. This was a cute read, but definitely had some heavier subject matter than I originally thought going in (it will be mentioned in my Trigger Warning section at the bottom!).

I did not love Charlie at first. She lacked empathy and the ability to hold her tongue when it was truly necessary. As her character changed and grew over the book, it just made me want to give her a hug. Charlie had a lot to learn and allowing herself to be open to new situations and trying new things really helped her. I loved seeing that she stayed sporty/more tom-boyish while also finding her more feminine side. You can be both (and whatever combination of the two) you want to be, and I appreciate that this book gave off that impression. Also the impression that you should never feel like you have to change yourself to be with someone. That someone is not for you.

Absolutely loved her brothers. Oh wow, I live for a good family dynamic in the background of the plot. Charlie’s brothers were a bit protective, but real and kind to her. They had her back and were funny to listen to with their ridiculous antics. Braden, the best friend, was cute and a generic good guy, but I still enjoyed his character. I liked the way the romance played out between the two (even if it was a little too fluffy at the end for me).

What was a big surprise for me was the sub-plot about Charlie’s Mom. Charlie copes throughout the book about losing her Mom through a car accident. She continually struggles to find a balance with letting go and holding on to her Mom. The way her mother truly died tore me up. A trigger warning [but I know some consider it a spoiler, so skip this next little bit if you’d like!]: she passed away from suicide. And it brought out a much darker/heavier side to the story I wasn’t quite expecting.

These stories are easy, if not cliche. And that’s okay for me. I know going into them that things will be pretty typical for a contemporary young adult romance. I like the fluff and the light nature of them. I plan to keep working through her books and see if I can find any other gems I love (i.e. P.S. I Like You).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: car wreck; see Trigger section
  • Trigger warnings: car wreck, suicide (mother passes away from purposely crashing her car); domestic abuse (Braden is hit by his Father)

Instagram || Goodreads