Thursday, November 27, 2014

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

(5/5 stars)

What would you change?

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. 

Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it... at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

Well, this is the last week of Sci-Fi November. I know, I know, I'm extremely sad as well, but what a successful month it was! So much lovely sci-fi things happened and I'm so thankful that I was able to participate yet again. So, to finish the event, I thought I'd end with a book recommendation that I discovered from last year's Sci-Fi Month. 

I was recommended All Our Yesterdays last year by the lovely Rinn, and sadly, it took me a whole year to read it. I want to add that it was totally not my fault that I couldn't find it anywhere! But eventually I found it and ohmygoshyouguysthisbook. 

What I liked: This plot was so completely intricate and convoluted and I have no idea how the author weaved it all together. I bow down to you, Cristin Terrill. I love that there was the two different points of view, one that was so completely in the present and the other that technically was as well, but just as equally in the future. There was such a HUGE difference between Em and Marina which was awesome character development. The emotions the characters faced, that I faced, were raw--I cried and hurt and loved like no other. Wow. The action scenes were intense, and there were times when I found myself holding my breath, waiting for what was going to happen next. It's deliciously action-packed and full of sci-fi goodness. 

What I didn't like: I'm still trying to wrap my mind around how the doctor became so crazy evil. I understand that he's incredibly ambitious and I can see how that would backfire into antagonist land, but so evil as to torture and even, I'm only like 95% convinced on that front. 

Regardless of that, I loved this book, and I'm totally ready to run out and buy myself a copy. And recommend it to every sci-fi fan. With that being said, I hope you all had a wonderful Sci-Fi November and picked up some recommendations on the way. A big thank you to Oh, The Books and Rinn for organizing this great event and making it possible--you guys rock all kinds of awesome! 


P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful readers. Whether you read my words via Tumblr, Twitter, or this blog right here, I am forever grateful for you all. Have a lovely day!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

(4.5/5 stars)

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Happy week 3 of Sci-Fi November!

At this point, I'm kinda obsessed with dystopian fairy-tale retellings. Once upon a time, I wrote a review of Cinder--a book I really enjoyed and was pretty interested in reading the rest of the series. But, why did I wait so long? Man, if I knew the sequel was going to be as awesome as Scarlet was, I wouldn't have put it off for a second!

What I liked: Again with the world-building. I sound like a broken record, especially coming from the Cinder review, but this book has such a fascinating world. It keeps getting bigger with each book, and it answers that super important question: What happened to the other countries during a typical YA dystopia novel? Craziness, that's what happened. I enjoyed the multiple points of view. I feel like it really worked with the story and gave me a more satisfying grasp at everything that was going down. Especially since so much happened, it was easy to keep track of everything based on the characters. Speaking of characters, hello Scarlet. She's an absolute rockstar. She's fiery and independent and all kinds of fierce. She's a really great balance to Cinder's character because they're the same but different. I also kinda sorta love Wolf and Scarlet's weird relationship...

What I didn't like: The story itself is still a bit predictable, but hey, that's what happens in a fairy-tale retelling. I saw certain events (oh, I don't know, things like betrayal or whatever) coming from a mile away, but I got over it fairly quickly.

This is a great Sci-Fi/Dystopian/Adventure series and I definitely recommend it, especially if you like a little bit of Fantasy mixed in every so often. It's a hodgepodge of greatness. And it definitely should be celebrated during a fun event like Sci-Fi November because it has something that I believe anyone will enjoy!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Parallel by Lauren Miller

(I have such a hard time rating this because it was a solid 4/5 stars until the end when it became 2/5 stars)

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.

In honor of Sci-Fi November, I thought I'd start off the month long event by reviewing a book that I discovered thanks to last year's Sci-Fi month. This premise intrigued me so much, and while I was reading it, I was super into it. Like so super into it I finished it in a day and stayed up way too late reading. And, I really liked it...UNTIL THE FREAKING END! I didn't know that I was able to have this kind of reaction to a book: I had tears in my eyes because I was so mad at how it ended, and then proceeded to throw the book down. Hard. 

What I liked: The science and astronomy behind this book was fascinating. I was nerding out in the extreme. The whole sci-fi aspect was handled really well without being cheesy--like something of this subject matter (parallel worlds) could be. The organization of the novel worked out well too, and I had my doubts at the beginning. It flowed and made logical sense. I loved seeing how the little details and decisions in Abby's parallel life affected her actual life--even if it did have me pulling at my hair at some points. It was a coming-of-age story without the normal contemporary coming-of-age scenes. The tropes were still there, but they had a cooler, sci-fi twist to them. 

What I didn't like: Let's start with the smaller things. So, I wasn't a fan of the fact that I didn't care about either love interests until it was too late. To me, it hardly felt like a love story, I was too wrapped up in the Abby-has-no-idea-what's-going-on-in-her-life story. That being said, I was a big fan of Caitlin and Tyler and so I'm a little peeved at how that was handled (no spoilers, just passive aggressiveness). Now, can we talk about the end? Because I refuse to accept it as a legitimate ending. Without giving anything away, all I can just say is that 1) I feel like the whole book was a waste and 2) I'm pretending like it ended a page or two before it actually did. Anger--so much anger. I'm mostly so sad about the ending because it completely changed my view on the book. I almost feel like the author was trying to pull one over her readers, like it was supposed to be this monumental twist that was shocking and wow and stuff, but I wasn't a fan. 


Edit: After having time to stew over this book, and believe me, I spent a lot of time thinking about it, I'm moving the rating up to 3 stars. I kind of get the point the author was trying to make at the end (kind of), but that doesn't change that it twisted my whole perspective of the book with only a couple sentences. I'm stilly annoyed, but whatever.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What are YOUR favorite sci-fi tropes?

In continuing with this great month full of sci-fi deliciousness, I thought I'd start my posts off with a fun little discussion on Sci-Fi tropes.

First things first, what is a trope? A trope is a reoccurring theme, in this case in literature, that has significance. For example, in fiction, one of my favorite tropes is boarding schools. If a book is set at a boarding school, I'm already a little bit obsessed! Everyone has a couple tropes that really work for them, so I figured I would explore some common ones in Science Fiction.

I recently posted a poll on GoodReads asking my followers to vote on their favorite tropes, or they could write one in. Here are the results:

  • Utopias/dystopias
    • Stats: 15 votes/49 total, 30.6% of voters chose this
    • What it means: A world where society is either perfect and ideal or horrible and failing
    • My thoughts: I can't get enough of dystopias, even though it feels like it's a bit overdone these days. I still think the idea is fascinating.
    • Book examples: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • Superpowers
    • Stats: 13 votes/49 total, 26.5% of voters chose this
    • What it means: Characters with special abilities--mind control, invisibility, mutations, etc.
    • My thoughts: I've read some interesting ones, but this trope, to me, has the potential to come off corny sometimes. 
    • Book examples: White Cat by Holly Black, Maximum Ride by James Patterson
  • Time Travel
    • Stats: 8 votes/49 total, 16.3% of voters chose this
    • What it means: travel into the future, travel into the past, time machines, all that jazz
    • My thoughts: Super fun! Very Doctor Who-esque, and something that I sometimes wish we had the capabilities of doing. 
    • Book examples: Tempest by Julie Cross, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
  • Parallel universes
    • Stats: 6 votes/49 total, 12.2% of voters chose this, as did I!
    • What it means: alternate universes where life is different from what we know in ours, sometimes better, sometimes worse
    • My thoughts: I love this idea and I'm desperately searching for more books with this trope
    • Book examples: Parallel by Lauren Miller, Pivot Point by Kasie West
  • Space travel
    • 5 votes/49 total, 10.2% of voters chose this
    • What it means: traveling among the stars to different planets, space ships, Star Trek-y
    • My thoughts: I've read a couple of great books with this trope, and I feel like it can work out very well
    • Book examples: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  • Alien invasion
    • 1 vote/49 total, 2% of voters chose this
    • What it means: aliens have come to earth, most of the time to take over, and humans are constantly interacting with them
    • My thoughts: I'm split on this trope. I like it in some books and then hate it in others, it really depends on how well the author can pull it off
    • Book examples: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, The Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Honorable mention to the write-in: Star Trek-style cultural interactions between different cultures
So these are some of the common tropes in Sci-Fi and my thoughts on them. What do you think? Is your favorite trope missing from the list? If so, I'd love to hear about it!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy Sci-Fi November!

It's back. It's finally back. After waiting a whole year--whew, and what a year it was--Sci-Fi November has officially started! And if you thought last year was full of awesomeness, this year is even bigger. There are a ton of bloggers participating, so many posts and giveaways, it's crazy up in here.

A huge, ginormous, out of this world thanks and love to Oh, the Books and Rinn Reads for hosting it this year. This seriously wouldn't be what it is without all your hard work. Sci-Fi November has built up a reputation and you ladies are the driving force. Thank you.

So, the schedule has been posted and you should definitely check out all the posts that are going on this month. Over here at Books, A Novel Idea, I have some exciting stuff coming up. Here's what our little schedule will look like:

  • Thursday, November 6- What are YOUR favorite Sci-Fi tropes?
    • I'll be discussing the different tropes in science fiction and which ones seem to be the most popular
  • Thursday, November 13- Book review of Parallel  by Lauren Miller
  • Thursday, November 20- Book review of Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  • Thursday, November 27- Book review of All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Feel free to hop in on any of these discussions and get excited for what's ahead. What are you looking forward to most? 

A happy Sci-Fi November to you all!