Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite YA Fantasy & Sci-Fi

Top Ten Tuesday(1)

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey @ Ginger Reads Lainey. You can check out the group’s Goodreads page for this month’s topics!

This week’s topic is favorite fantasy and science fiction books in collaboration with BooktubeSFF Awards! I decided to do both genres but in only Young Adult. I have read and reviewed all of these books so I’ll attach my review links to the titles if you want to read more of my thoughts on each of these!

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5.) Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

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I’ve said this countless times but it’s so true: this book is a hidden gem! Not only did I find the world building very good but also the fact that it had it’s own plot going on along with four sort of “mini stories” and each is a fairy tale retelling (Mulan, Emma, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella). I loved all of the characters as well and actually grew very attached, I didn’t even mind the romance either!


4.) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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The romance in this one did have some problems but I still really enjoyed it, the characters, and the world building was AMAZING! Also Laini Taylor has THE most gorgeous writing I’ve ever come across, seriously I’d read the woman’s grocery list. Overall the story is just so engaging and I really recommend reading it.


3.) The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

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Let’s see here: actual badass main character, lots of action and plot twists, plenty of “court intrigue” with plotting and revenge, and a romance I could actually ship. Not to mention it’s all in space! If you’re looking for a fast paced space adventure than this is definitely a book I recommend reading, it’s one of my new favorite sci-fi books of all time!


2.) Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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I think you’ve all heard about “Illuminae” but in case you haven’t…..its yet another super fast-paced, action-packed, space opera! Complete with crazy AIs, mutating space viruses, and hella plot twists. Plus there’s that unique formatting that is to die for! If you’re looking for an awesome YA sci-fi book look no further.


1.) Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

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While I do acknowledge that this book is very problematic (as seems to be the case with a lot of Kristoff’s books) I still consider it to be one of my all time favorite fantasy books. It’s got fantastic world building (some of the best I’ve seen) and mythology and great characters that I grew very attached too! Plus there’s a bit of steampunk in it as well, they have chainsaw katanas!

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What are some of your favorite YA fantasy or sci-fi books?

Have you read any of these on my list? What did you think?

Let me know in the comments and feel free to link up your T5W as well!

The Sassy

ARC Review: Exo by Fonda Lee

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review

It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.

When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip . But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one . . .

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**** Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review****

I was on and off with “Exo” a lot because there were many things I enjoyed and a few that I didn’t so I was debating between a 3 star and 3.5 star rating which in the end I decided 3.5 was a good rating since I did actually enjoy myself.

PLOT

“Exo” gets into the action immediately at the start of the book with Donovan and his partner going to capture some rebel humans and Donovan getting kidnapped instead. It really grabs your attention and makes you want to read more, however, that fast pacing does NOT last. The pacing (and my interest) slowed down considerably after Donovan is captured and it all seems really boring and pointless, it took a lot of effort to make it past this point in the plot for me. This actually happened a few times so the pacing overall was very uneven.

I was also left kind of wondering what exactly the main conflict was in this book because as stated in the description Donovan is kidnapped by human revolutionaries but this is actually resolved pretty early in the story. So after that I didn’t really understand what was happening and why. Is there going to be some war between humans and aliens? Aliens versus other aliens? Who knows? I didn’t really like this free floating feeling I had through the plot….

However, I did really like that what conflicts there were in the plot weren’t black or white they were all very much in a grey area. No side is strictly good or evil, they both have their reasons for doing what they do. So I thought that was very interesting and added a lot of complexity to the story.

Also the main reason I rated this book higher than I probably would have is because of the world building, which was absolutely excellent. Fonda Lee does an amazing job of building a very complex world in which humans have been “conquered” by an alien race and now co-exist with them. There’s a caste system, different technologies, and everything from the language to the biology of the aliens is provided. There’s a lot of imaginations and detail put into this world and I very much appreciated it, even though I wanted to learn so much more! Plus there’s no info-dumping!

characters

So we actually get a male POV in this book which I thought was a big plus since it isn’t something we normally see, especially in YA. Just a fun tidbit!

To start off I will say that all of the characters, including, Donovan were pretty flat and reading I felt very distant from them. I didn’t relate and I didn’t really care what happened to any of them because I felt I didn’t actually get to know any of them. That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything about the characters, I did learn quite a bit, I just felt that no one was really developed at all.

Donovan, however, I came to have a certain degree of respect for because he is put through absolute hell in this book but some of the actions he took were stupid and therefore annoying. That’s really all I can say for our main character.

I also found that all of the characters that received any degree of development all had a significant relationship with Donovan, any other secondary characters lacked any development or even “screen time” so to speak. Even the relationships weren’t depicted as being really strong either, they all felt really bland to me such as Donovan and his father and Jet (his BFF).

I especially felt that Donovan’s romantic interest Anya was completely unnecessary because of how underwhelming and underdeveloped it felt. I felt that this was only added for the sake of having some form of romance and I felt like asking “But why?” a lot.

in conclusion

Overall I did like this book even though there were times that I felt very bored and wondered if I would even finish. I think the world building is very unique and I liked the fact that this was alien-scifi because who doesn’t love aliens? I am excited to continue the series and see what happens next even though it hasn’t been confirmed yet that this is a series, with that ending there better be more though!

What I Liked:

  • The world building was amazing, detailed, and imaginative
  • No info-dumping
  • The action parts that were fast paced were awesome
  • No side in the conflict was black or white, everything’s a shade of gray
  • Male POV
  • Aliens!

What I Disliked:

  • Uneven pacing
  • Not much character development
  • Main conflict was confusing and obscure
  • Romance was very underwhelming and unnecessary

RECOMMEND

This is kind of “meh” as far as recommending goes I would say if your a fan of YA science fiction or want to try out a sci-fi book that involves aliens then give this a go! It’s overall a pretty decent read.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: The Diabolic (The Diabolic #1) by S.J. Kincaid

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Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The girl who has grown up by her side and who is as much as sister as a master. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire…

review

I just KNEW I was going to adore this book although at first I was skeptical, “The Diabolic” managed to 100% win me over though with it’s utter perfection (or really it just contained everything I look for in a book and did it awesomely).

I really don’t have to much to complain about and thus will spend this review trying to convince YOU to read this book!

PLOT

Also just one little side note here! This book WAS supposed to just be a standalone and apparently it is now a trilogy which is a little upsetting to me since I thought it was all wrapped up 100% and I’m not sure I’ll like it having more books now since the ending was completely satisfying. I’d also love to hear YOUR thoughts on this too so leave some comments down below!

Now before I start gushing about how amazing this book is I will start with saying this book takes a little patience at the beginning! When I first started reading I was thinking to myself “Wait, I thought I was going to love this book? Why does everyone else love this book? Am I even reading the same book?”. Turns out I just needed to push my way through the beginning of the book to get to all of the awesomeness! So the beginning is a little slow to start and actually a teeny bit boring honestly but I understand that it was needed to set the stage for all of the cool stuff that happens later.

As I said the beginning is a little slow paced but once it gets going it really gets going! The rest of the story is very fast paced and action packed without any dull moments or lulls. And the  plot twists are BRUTAL by which I mean they’re pretty jaw-dropping, there’s conspiracies, politics, mind games, betrayals, and revenge! How could you ever get bored?

One thing I really thought was interesting was the setting and world building for this story. The galaxy (universe? space in general?) is run by an Imperial Court/Senate type of thing with the ruling figurehead being an Emperor. So this had a very Roman feel to it mixed in with the futuristic/space-y atmosphere. How is that NOT awesome?

I also thought that the world building was just minimal enough to keep you interested and not confused especially since this book was SUPPOSEDLY a standalone when I read it. It was just enough and it was perfect, however, now that this is a trilogy I’m sure they can (and should) expand way more on the world building.

characters

Let’s just say the characters are pretty amazing in this story especially the main character and her love interest I thought the development and complexity was spot on.

Nemesis is our main character and she is a badass, vicious, and ruthless…..I loved her. Her sole purpose in life is to protect Sidonia (who is her charge basically) and she will do this at all costs even if it means sacrificing herself. Her personality is very robotic and animalistic she doesn’t exactly have feelings or experiences like humans, however, she does care for Sidonia and Sidonia cares greatly for her as well and insists Nemesis is human too. Thus we see a lot of conflicting emotions inside Nemesis as she develops throughout the story as she tries to deal with her nature and her growing human feelings. SO MUCH COMPLEXITY, IT IS AMAZING!

Then there’s Tyrus. Holy crap I absolutely loved his character so much, I thought only Nemesis was complex and developed but Tyrus is right up there as well. He’s so clever and when I say clever I mean so unbelievably smart and devious with all of the plot-hatching and mind games. He’s just awesome, okay?

The secondary characters were also pretty great, they had JUST enough development to keep them interesting although overall they paled in comparison to Nemesis and Tyrus. Everyone had their own agendas and additions to the story. Plus the villains are so VICIOUS and cold-hearted that you just loved to hate their guts.

romance

Let me describe this with a gif:

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I rarely love YA romances and especially not this much! I adored the romance in this book to little bits and pieces, it had a kind of “forbidden love” feel to it and there were definitely NO tropes or cliches with it either this was a complete slow burn romance. I think that Nemesis and Tyrus fit so well together because they’re both ruthless but also with a strong underlying goodness to them.

Also without naming whos or whats there is a bit of a LGTB romance in here toooooooo!

in conclusion

I very much loved “The Diabolic” it was all kinds of vicious and trope-free and just really unique! There weren’t really a whole lot of things I DIDN’T like about it thus giving it the 5 star rating.

What I Liked:

  • Ruthless, vicious characters
  • A badass main character
  • SO MUCH CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT/COMPLEXITY
  • The romance was so freaking cute and I ship it so hard!
  • The setting and world building were interesting
  • The plot is fast-paced and there’s constant action
  • Space politics and mind games!

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The beginning was hard to get into (the pacing was slow to start)
  • The fact that this went from a standalone to a trilogy even though the ending was perfect for a standalone!

RECOMMEND

Most definitely I recommend giving “The Diabolic” a read! Especially if you’re into YA sci-fi, vicious/badass characters, and you like a little politics in your plots! Also if you like action because there are things constantly happening!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

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Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

review

***** I WILL be using an excessive amount of gifs to properly express my emotions on this book. You’ve been warned!*****

Things I Learned From “The Martian”:

  • I would definitely die on Mars because not only am I pretty lazy but I am also terrible at handling emergency situations and I’m horrible at math.
  • Duct tape literally fixes everything.

Anyways, I have a lot of mixed feelings on this book. On one hand it got way too boring with all the math and science, which is expected because it’s about a guy surviving on Mars. On the other hand, Mark Watney is one of the greatest characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about.

See the dilemma?

Great character, evil math and science.

PLOT

Well as you probably very well know, it’s all about a guy surviving alone on Mars. Totally alone. Therefore he must use science to survive!

How about “No Science!”?

That’s right, I said it. This book is full of boring math and science. Now l completely understand why, Mark Watney HAS to use those to be able to survive on an inhospitable planet alone.

That, however, does not mean I have to enjoy the extensive use of math and science in the writing.

That is my number one complaint about this book, I was so close to DNFing it. Sorry, but reading about a guy calculating how he can grow potatoes using his own shit and how he can use rocket fuel to make water and so on is BORING. There are entire passages full of him calculating this crap.

I ended up skimming through a lot of those parts…….because of math.

But, I digress. Besides the excruciating amount of math I was force fed, the plot is very good. This guy has impossible odds against him, and rooting for him is the best part! And what way to make a math/science book more interesting than to make bad stuff happen to the protagonist constantly? The answer is nothing!

That’s right, Mars is always giving Mark Watney a big “fuck you”. Honestly I was so stressed out while reading this, but in a good way. It’s suspenseful, keeps you on the edge of your seat, and ultimately keeps you reading.

You name something that could possibly go wrong while being stranded on Mars and it probably happened to Mark Watney.

Basically I can sum up the ENTIRE plot with the use of one gif:

One good thing Mark had going for him? Duct tape.

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”

Proof that duct tape can save your life even when you’re stranded on Mars!

Characters: Normally I would discuss a lot of the characters, but honestly who cares about them? Not me. I care about Mark Watney, he’s the only character you need to care about too.

Watney is such a GREAT narrator and protagonist. He never gives up on himself, he’s damn smart, and funny as hell. What’s not to like there? He was what drove the story on, he lightened the mood with humor, and handled every situation that was thrust on him. Also did I mention that he’s a sarcastic little shit?

“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”

See?  Hilarious, or maybe my sense of humor is weird in which case I am 100% okay with that.

 Also there were some NASA people and Mark’s crew in the story too. Meh.

in conclusion

 The book wasn’t really my cup of tea, I don’t particularly enjoy being forced through tedious pages of math and boring science. I did manage to finish the book with moderate enjoyment thanks to Mark Watney’s shining personality.

Would I recommend it? Meh, not really. Unless you really love math and science, then go crazy!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy

Mini Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

 

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description

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

review

Honestly, I think a 2 star rating is being generous. There were multiple times where I thought about DNFing this, I forced myself on though because if there’s something I hate it’s buying a book and not finishing it no matter how terrible. I can tell you right now this is going to be a short, quick review.

“Cinder” is ultimately way too predictable and NOT because everyone already knows the story of Cinderella. There are new elements added obviously to make this re-telling unique, but as mentioned, you can see the “plot twist” coming a mile away. I didn’t really find any of the characters too be all that likeable either, just sort of annoying. I had to truck on through the story and found myself taking repeated breaks and forcing myself to stay awake.

I said to myself, “Come on, Heather. Once you finish it you can actually move onto something worthy of a reader’s time.”

I unfortunately will be reading “Scarlet” since I bought that before actually starting and finishing “Cinder” , I will be hoping that it proves to be a little more interesting then.

Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy