LIST #18 | Books on My Physical TBR, pt. 1 YA SFF

Hey there, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well and staying safe right now when things are as hectic as could be. I’ve been wanting to do different kinds of posts outside of just reviews because I found myself in a bit of a rut. So I figured why not do one about the books on my physical TBR? And here we are, a new mini-series! I differentiate between my physical TBR and general TBR because the former is the TBR for books that I already own, and the latter is just books that I want to get around to reading. I own a number of backlist books, so I figured this would be a fun series so y’all can see books that maybe you haven’t seen in a while (or at all!). Part one is on my YA sci-fi and fantasy collection!

Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone, #1)
Siege and Storm (Shadow and Bone, #2)

Shadow and Bone & Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

  • bought these a few years ago, still haven’t read them
  • ready to hate both Mal and the Darkling, and I can’t wait
  • not ready for the mid-2000s YA fantasy style of writing though, lmao

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)
  • I’ve heard so many great things!
  • I need an anti-hero/morally grey MC again, it’s been a while
  • Kate from YaTitaKate on YouTube also did a drunk review of The Bone Witch which, uh, definitely made me want to read it more now, lol. Maybe next month!
Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire #1)

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

  • the themes…the t h e m e s
  • another that I have to read soon!
  • well, that, and the sequel
Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle, #1)
Eldest (The Inheritance Cycle, #2)
Brisingr (The Inheritance Cycle, #3)

Eragon & Eldest & Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

  • am I ready to roast this hodgepodge of well-known SFF media? Yes. But will I enjoy roasting it? Also yes
  • I actually tried the audiobook sometime last year or the year before, and wow, that was the worst audiobook experience I’ve had in my life. So. Physical book it is
A Living Nightmare (Cirque Du Freak, #1)
The Vampire's Assistant (Cirque Du Freak, #2)
Tunnels of Blood (Cirque Du Freak, #3)

A Living Nightmare & The Vampire’s Assistant & Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan

  • cue the nostalgia: ya know how a bunch of people had Harry Potter and Twilight growing up, which really solidified their love of reading? Well, Cirque du Freak is, essentially, my Harry Potter or Twilight
  • I’m a bit nervous it won’t be as good as I remember it, but to be fair, there has been ten years or more since I first read it
The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

  • got this for my 12th or 13th birthday, but uhhh never actually read it
  • excited to get into it, but I don’t have a clue on what it’s about, lol
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)

The Dream Thieves & Blue Lily, Lily Blue & The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

  • I am ready to be absolutely bodied by the rest of this series and then never touch it again
  • I got them all from my library’s book sale for super cheap, so that’s pretty rad, too!
Tarnished Are the Stars

Tarnished are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

  • my most recent YA SFF buy from a couple months ago
  • bit of an impulse buy because I usually don’t buy new releases, but I couldn’t resist a queer YA sci-fi with that kind of cover

And those are all of the YA SFF books on my physical TBR. Let me know if you liked any of these, or what YA SFF books you own that you haven’t gotten around to yet!

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REVIEW #63 | NOT YOUR VILLAIN by C.B. Lee (Sidekick Squad #2)

Title: Not Your Villain

Author: C.B. Lee

Series or Standalone?: Sidekick Squad #2

Publishing Date: 5 October 2017

Synopsis:

“Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants, and if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most-wanted villain.

“After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges. Everyone is in danger. Between college applications and crushing on his best friend, will Bells have time to take down a corrupt government?

“Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain.”

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • mild violence

Representation:

  • biracial bisexual character
  • Latinx aroace character
  • sapphic character
  • f/f relationship
  • Black trans man main character

⭐⭐⭐⭐
4/5 stars

Can I just say that I think this series is probably the most fun compared to other superhero books I’ve read? It has everything you’d ever want in a superhero series: superpowers, diversity, and teens sticking it to The Man.

Not Your Villain by C.B. Lee picks up before the start of Not Your Sidekick, but it quickly catches up to where it left off at the end. Instead of following Jess, it follows Bells, Emma and Jess’ lovely, hair color changing friend who just so happens to be a superhero turned supervillain. Or at least, that’s what the Heroes’ League of Heroes wants everyone to think. Bells, Emma, Jess, Emma, and Jess’ brother Brendan work together to try and find the Resistance and take down their tyrannical government.

If it were completely up to me, this whole review would be me gushing about Bells. But, since y’all probably want more than that, here we are. Seriously, though, I love Bells’ character, and I’m glad we have an entire book from his perspective. But my goodness, he pines so much. Seriously, Bells, just…tell her how you feel, my dude.

Oh, and Emma?? Our aroace/questioning queen. Seriously, though, I have read only a small number of books that have aro and/or ace characters, and I’m glad that the Sidekick Squad series is part of that list!

I love how Abby’s struggles aren’t shoved under the rug, too. She lost her powers — things that she’s had for years — and she is basically grieving throughout the book, even if it may not be permanent. She is frustrated and angry because she feels useless to her friends, but Jess and the others try their best to make her feel included and not inferior to them. I hope that it’s expanded upon in the next book in the series.

When it comes to the writing, I have similar thoughts when compared to Not Your Sidekick. It’s pretty fast-paced while also spending time on the characters. In general, it’s a wonderful superhero story where teens are trying to take over their corrupt government. Ya know, like ya do on a Saturday night. It can be a bit cliche, but in my opinion, that adds to its charm. Why can’t we have a diverse cast of characters in fun, cliche/trope-y stories? (Answer: no reason, we’re totally getting them, and I love it.)

Overall, I thought Not Your Villain to be a fun read with amazing characters and a quick plot. Can’t wait to get my hands on Not Your Backup!

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REVIEWS #43 and #44 | “Honor Among Thieves” & “Honor Bound” by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

Title: “Honor Among Thieves”

Author: Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Pages (hardcover): 467 pages

Original Publishing Date: 13 February 2018

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead of moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

“Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

“Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • drug use and abuse
  • gore
  • violence
  • blood

Representation in the novel:

  • black girl MC
  • Brazilian girl MC
  • Chinese girl side character

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

I know going into this book that sentient alien ships were a “thing” in science fiction, so I was not sure I was going to like them. But, y’all, I am a full-on Nadim supporter now: I love him with all my heart. And honestly? I love all these characters, too.

Honor Among Thieves is a young adult science fiction novel following Zara Cole, a teenaged girl living in the slums of New Detroiet. After being picked as an Honor, a person who teams up with giant sentient alien ships called Leviathan to travel space, Zara finds herself being whisked away from all she has ever known. She teams up with Beatriz, a Brazilian girl, and Nadim, the young Leviathan they are in charge of navigating. However, as more time goes by, the three realize that the Tour (their journey through space) is actually hiding things from Leviathans and human alike.

Let me just say that I love the characters. Zara is unlikable and does not trust easily. She is irritable and wants to be left alone most of the time. Nadim is the naive Leviathan on his first tour, and he wants to learn everything about humans. Bea is shy and not as confident in her abilities, but she does the best she can. They all grow throughout the novel — Zara learns to trust, Nadim learns not to be so naive, and Bea learns to be more confident in herself — and I loved being witness to it.

Tied to that, the plot kept itself moving. While the beginning was a tad slow for my taste, it did not take long to pick up. Since it has been a month or two since I read this, I cannot remember exactly what has happened, but it had me hooked. A lot of it was character-focused, I believe, which I absolutely love. But it was also fast-paced? Not quire sure how that works, but I will not question it.

And, oof, the narration. I know not everyone likes the perspective of the unlikeable “edgy” protagonists, so I would not suggest this book if you are not a fan of 1st person POV from an unlikable character’s perspective. But if you do? I think you would love it. The reader is inside Zara’s head the whole time, and it is a wonderful experience. On top of that, there are these little “intermission” chapters that are interview transcripts or journal articles/book chapters about certain things within the world. They allow the reader to have greater insight on whatever is going on, which I think is cool.

Overall? I loved Honor Among Thieves, and that is coming from someone who usually does not read science fiction.

Title: “Honor Bound”

Author: Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Pages (hardcover): 467 pages

Original Publishing Date: 19 February 2019

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“Savvy criminal turned skilled Leviathan pilot Zara Cole finds new friends and clashes with bitter enemies in the second book of this action-packed series from New York Times bestselling authors Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre that’s perfect for fans of The 100 and The Fifth Wave.

“Zara Cole was a thief back on Earth, but she’s been recently upgraded to intergalactic fugitive. On the run after a bloody battle in a covert war that she never expected to be fighting, Zara, her co-pilot Beatriz, and their Leviathan ship Nadim barely escaped the carnage with their lives.

“Now Zara and her crew of Honors need a safe haven, far from the creatures who want to annihilate them. But they’ll have to settle for the Sliver: a wild, dangerous warren of alien criminals. The secrets of the Sliver may have the power to turn the tide of the war they left behind—but in the wrong direction.

“Soon Zara will have to make a choice: run from the ultimate evil—or stand and fight.”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • gore
  • violence
  • character death

Representation in the novel:

  • black girl MC
  • Brazilian girl MC
  • Chinese girl side character
  • (the beginnings of a) polyamorous relationship
  • side character uses neopronouns

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

Note: This mini-review may contain small spoilers for Honor Among Thieves. Do not read past this point if you do not want to be spoiled whatsoever.

Here I was thinking, “Honor Bound won’t be better than Honor Among Thieves. Second books in a series usually pale in comparison to the first.” For once, I am so glad that I was wrong.

Honor Bound picks up right after Honor Among Thieves, with Nadim and Typhon, another Leviathan, both injured, along with four other HOnors Zara and Bea met along the way. With the two Leviathan severely injured, the Honors have few options. In the ned, they decide to go to the Sliver (and not the Silver, which I kept reading it as), a distant planet full of rogues, criminals, and thieves. There, they find something even bigger and quickly become sucked into something unexpected.

Again, characters? Absolutely love them. Of course, Zara, Beatriz, and Nadim are still around, but there are also Typhon and his Honors, as well as the two other Honors that lost their Leviathan. It was nice to see everyone’s interactions and, again, to see them develop throughout the novel. They all learn to trust one another (or at least try to), and I especially love seeing the developing trust and relationship between the Leviathans and their Honors. They trust one another explicitly, and I love seeing them all together. There also seems to be the beginnings of a polyamorous relationship between three of the characters near the end of the novel. I will not spoil it and say who, but I totally support it and hope it actually happens.

I still love the narration. Zara is just such a good character to be in the head of, and it was enjoyable to read. The reader sees her debate with herself and others because, at the end of the day, she is trying to do what she thinks is best for Nadim. And for everyone else, too, I suppose. To see that conflict was interesting, thinking about what she was like in the beginning of the first book and how she progressed to where she is now.

The plot itself was…interesting. It does not seem like a lot happens through a good 75% of the novel, but I did not mind. It was still fun to read through. However, it is kinda weird: not a lot happens, it seems like, but a lot did at the same time. I think that this was mostly due to how I read it: I had a 19-hour drive down to Florida last month, and I read it all during the ride back. I felt that this book sets up the next one nicely. However, there was a side plot including characters from Honor Among Thieves that… I am not so sure about. It was mentioned in the first book, but it did not pop back up until the last portion of Honor Bound. I can see where it would lead, and I do not think I would like it. I hope my mind is changed with the third book, though.

I loved this one, and I cannot wait for the next book. Next year cannot come fast enough!

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REVIEW #29 | “Not Your Sidekick” by C.B. Lee (Sidekick Squad #1)

Not Your Sidekick.png

Not Your Sidekick

Title: “Not Your Sidekick”

Author: C.B. Lee

Pages (paperback):

Original Publishing Date: 283 pages

Synopsis (from the back):

“Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • mild violence
  • eugenics
  • racism

Representation in the novel:

  • biracial (Chinese and Vietnamese) bisexual main character
  • trans man side/main character
  • sapphic love interest
  • f/f relationship

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

Continue reading “REVIEW #29 | “Not Your Sidekick” by C.B. Lee (Sidekick Squad #1)”

REVIEW #22 | “Renegades” (Renegades #1)

Renegades.png

Renegades

Title: “Renegades”

Author: Marissa Meyer

Pages (hardcover): 556 pages

Original Publishing Date: 7 November 2017

Synopsis (from the inside flap):

“New from Marissa Meyer, author of the #1 New York Times-bestselling series The Lunar Chronicles, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal.

“The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

“Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • blood
  • character death
  • fire
  • violence
  • gore
  • slight aro-/acemisia

Representation in the novel:

  • disabled character (uses crutches; has an unspecified bone disease)
  • characters of color
  • gay dads

⭐⭐⭐⭐
4/5 stars

Continue reading “REVIEW #22 | “Renegades” (Renegades #1)”

REVIEW #20 | “Ink and Bone” (The Great Library #1)

Ink and Bone.png

Ink and Bone

Title: “Ink and Bone”

Author: Rachel Caine

Pages (hardcover): 355 pages

Original Publishing Date: 7 July 2015

Synopsis (from the inside flap):

“In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time…

“Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly — but the personal ownership of books is forbidden.

“Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from the illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

“When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe knowledge is more valuable than any human life — and soon both heretics and books will burn…”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • suicide
  • blood
  • character death
  • child abuse (brief) (non-graphic)

Representation in the novel:

  • Muslim girl
  • characters of color
  • m/m relationship

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

Continue reading “REVIEW #20 | “Ink and Bone” (The Great Library #1)”