My Top Science Fiction Reads | 2015

I’m sure this list will change and/or expand as time goes on, but for now these are my favorite science fiction novels. As you can tell, I’m a fan of space opera/hard sci fi, which not everyone enjoys because of the heavy load of science that’s weaved into each situation. I’m going to exclude dystopian novels from this list (I’ll make a list of my dystopian favorites in separate post). Here are my favorite sci fi reads, in no particular order:

  • The Martian by Andy Weir – This was the last science fiction novel I read, and boy did I enjoy the thrill ride that makes up this story. It’s a hard sci fi thriller, so there are a lot of real time science included, which can bog down readers that don’t like reading science-y details that are written out intricately in books. Personally, I love it because I’m like a sponge. My brain just soaks up anything useful. Basically, the main character, Mark Watney ends up being left behind on Mars when a sand storm cuts his crew’s exploration short. He ends up falling behind on the mad dash to the MAV (what shoots them back into space toward the Hermes space ship). He has no way of contacting anyone since the crew packed up all their radios to take back to the ship, not to mention he’s sure his crew believes him dead since he was stabbed by a pole and had to stitch up the minor flesh wound himself. This is basically his story of how he survived on Mars for eighteen months. He does manage to get into contact with NASA down on Earth when he takes one of the rovers on a short excursion to collect Pathfinder to bring back to the Hab in an attempt to get its communication system online. I don’t want to say anything else because I don’t want to drop any big spoilers, but it’s definitely worth picking up. Watney uses a lot of dark humor in his first person narration, which I loved. I laughed out loud multiple times while reading this. I definitely plan on rereading this in the future because it’s just that good.
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – This book is a big batch of nerdy references and pop culture that I love. I also felt like I was transported into a video game whilst reading. It was an immersive reading experience and I will own this book in the future (I had loaned it from my library) because it’s another book that I want to read again. The main character, Wade, is a gunter that’s on a quest to find the most popular game creator’s egg that he hid at the end of a quest of levels and gates to get through in the virtual reality (Oasis) that he created upon his passing. It’s just a bunch of nerds kicking ass to beat out the corporate suits that they’re up against. I loved it. If you’re a nerd and you haven’t read this already, then I don’t even know what you’re doing with your life. Go read it. Now.
  • Avalon by Mindee Arnett – If you love Firefly, then you’ll love this. It’s basically Firefly except with a crew of teenagers instead of adults. That’s really the only way of describing the awesome factor of this book.
  • Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach – Again, if you’re a Firefly fan, then you’ll like this one, too. This is actually the first book in a trilogy (or series), though I’ve only read this first one so far. I intend to read the other books, just haven’t gotten to them yet. But it’s a fast pace thrill ride through space adventures.
  • Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis – This is a time travel / science fiction dualogy that I loved and I’ve been wanting to go back and read them again because it’s just that good. Basically, set into the future, historians can go back in time to study their chosen era of study under a cover identity. They can’t make any huge changes or it’ll mess up the time vortex, which come to find out historians have been making loads of changes (even the small ones) that are affecting the time vortex and it ends up freezes up in the WWII era so that all the historians that were studying in this era at the time suddenly find they can’t get back to their time. It has a lot of action that drives the plot, too. If you like historical fiction / time travel books, then you’ll more than likely enjoy these books.
  • Insignia trilogy by S. J. Kincaid (Insignia, Vortex, Catalyst) – This trilogy has been described as a Hogwarts in space, which I’m going to stick with because it sums up the books quite well. I got the same feeling out of reading this trilogy that the Harry Potter books gave me, which I loved. I’m always looking for fantasy/sci fi worlds that I can immerse myself in as I did with the Harry Potter world when I was younger. That’s really all there is for me to say as a selling point for these books since you really have to read them for yourself.

All right, those are my top science fiction reads. I went ahead and included Ready Player One and the Insignia trilogy in this list because they’re all more sci fi than dystopian, at least in my opinion. Hope you’re able to find your next favorite from this list.

Inside Out Book Tag | 2015

The original Inside Out Book Tag was posted by Kristina Horner on Youtube and you should definitely go look it up because it’s great. Basically, for this tag you were supposed to list a book that made you feel one of each of the five emotions that are showcased in Pixar’s latest motion picture, Inside Out. I absolutely loved this film and can’t possibly resist doing this tag, even if I’m doing it in blog form instead of as a vlog. I’m more of a blogger than a vlogger. And, without further ado, I give you the books that brought up these emotions within me.

JOY

Harry Potter series – I grew up with these books and was reading them as they were released. I also reread these books so many times in my youth that I lost track. I felt like I was transported into the world of Harry Potter each time I opened one of the books and I just loved it, especially in middle school when I was going through a whole host of awkward stages. My favorite book in the series will always be Prisoner of Azkaban because it’s the one that really helped me through middle school, like a security blanket. I have nothing but thoughts of positivity and happiness circling the memories I’ve made because of Harry Potter over the years. I’ve met a countless number of people that I hold up as the best of my friends from the conventions and websites I’ve been a part of because of the Harry Potter fandom.

DISGUST

I had to think about this one for a bit because there are a handful of books that made me feel disgust throughout my years while I was reading them. I read an innumerable amount of Goosebump books by R. L. Stine when I was younger because my elementary school’s library had quite the collection of them available for check-out. Then there was the disgust I felt when Carrie was covered in pig’s blood at prom when I first read Stephen King’s Carrie when I was in high school. I’ve also read a few books more recently that have left me with that feeling of disgust. I decided I’d go with a more recent read, especially since it’s a trilogy, which is the No Safety in Numbers trilogy. Some of the parts in these three books were just too vivid and made me feel disgust, even more than anything else because it seemed so real, like something that could truly happen in real life; people trapped in a mall when a biohazard is released via the central air vent, the order is to lock all the people in this mall to avoid exposing the country/world to this virus (it’s a new super flu bug virus that’s more deadly than any before). The things that some of the characters do to each other just just… yuck. The vividness of the violence had me grimacing whilst reading.

SADNESS

Sadness was definitely my favorite emotion from Inside Out. She was just the best. Basically, she was the reality of what it means to be human in this film and I loved how Pixar built the story around her. It’s hard to list any one book that has made me cry tears of sadness because I’ve been touched by many novels that have left me in tears. I suppose I’ll just list one of my favorites that has made me cry, and that credit goes to The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It’s just written so beautifully and magnificently that I felt for every single character and what they were going through. If you haven’t read this novel, then I honestly don’t know what you’re doing with your life. Go read it. Now. Just read it. There are no more excuses to justify not reading this. The movie is also an excellent adaption, but there’s still something about the novel that didn’t translate fully over to the film.

ANGER

I can only think of Asylum by Madeleine Voux because I was left with so much rage for wasting the time I did reading this novel because the writing was dull and dry. It messed up my reading experience because all I could think while I was reading this was how I could be reading or doing something more important than reading. But I kept giving it the benefit of the doubt because so many people loved it, but it just fell flat for me.

FEAR

The book that brought me fear that I’ve read this year definitely goes to The Harvest Man by Alex Grecian. It made me check all the closets/rooms in my apartment before I could fall asleep, and even then I had a nightmare or two. I definitely recommend reading this during daylight hours and not right before bed. Then again, if you really want to freak yourself out, then by all means read this after the sun sets.

Now, if you haven’t watched Pixar’s Inside Out, then you should. It’s so real and definitely a new favorite. Pixar is just brilliant. Also, I tag you to do this tag. It’s a lot of fun. You know you want to. Go ahead, I dare you.

August TBR | 2015

This is a tentative list of books that I hope to read this month. I say ‘tentative’ because I have no idea how much I’ll read since this month is looking fairly busy.┬áThat said, I still have novels that I want to read and review this month, especially since some of the ARCs I have are being released next month. Here is my August TBR:

  • Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman – I started this already and am enjoying it, though I’ll have to put a pause on it so that I can finish the aforementioned novel. I own this one, so I can afford to backlog it to finish the library books I have checked out.
  • Princess In Love by Meg Cabot – Volume III of the Mia series that I plan on rereading one day this week since it’s a library book.
  • Another Day by David Levithan – eARC I received through netgalley that I plan on reading and reviewing this month. It’s a sort of companion to Levithan’s Every Day.
  • Armada by Ernest Cline – I have to read this by the thirteenth for my IRL book club since this is our pick of the month. I’m looking forward to reading it, though I’m lowering my expectations because it’d be hard to live up to Cline’s debut, Ready Player One, because that novel was just OUTSTANDING.
  • This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee – ARC I received from HarperTeen through a giveaway on goodreads. It’s a steampunkish retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and I’m looking forward to immersing myself into its story.
  • The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling – finish the audiobook this month, seriously.

There you have it. Hopefully I can read all of these books this month, even with a busy schedule.

Book Review: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I truly loved this. It’s about two twins, Noah and Jude, and each of their POVs are written from different points of their lives to show how they drifted apart over the years. By the end, though, time merges and everything rights itself as all the truths come out. They’re also both young artists and a lot of what happens at the beginning between them is out of pure jealousy for the other, but the lies between them stretch bigger by the end to the point where they’re only keeping the lies because they want to protect the other. In the end, they both fess up and it’s like a thousand weights lift, causing the tension that had grown taut between them to evaporate. It also has some LGBTQ elements in it because Noah is gay and he develops a relationship with another boy. I thought Nelson handled Noah’s whole story quite well, really delving into his life, thoughts, feelings, actions. Jude was another character all together because I didn’t quite like her at the beginning; actually I couldn’t stand her. But by the end, I feel like Jude redeemed herself as she saw the error of her actions.

I also really enjoyed the different styles of Noah’s chapters versus Jude’s chapters. Noah’s were the Then and Jude’s was the Now. But the way they were written stylistic according to the character was absolutely brilliant, like a bursting sun. Noah’s chapters were written more abstractly since he’s the painter/sketcher of the pair, and each scene he gave a portrait title that really encompasses how he felt by giving the reader a lasting image in their mind’s eye. Whereas Jude’s chapters were more solid, but the further the story got for her, the more the layers were chiseled away to ultimately reveal what was underneath, and this was done because Jude was the sculptor. She liked building things with her hands, versus Noah who drew/painted whether it was in his mind or on a page/canvas. It was just brilliant and Jandy Nelson is the sun.

I highly recommend this novel if you’re looking for a quick, yet very emotional YA novel with diverse topics. Also, the imaginary and writing style in this novel is just gorgeous and sparkling and rich in colors.

July Wrap-Up | 2015

I read all the books I had on my TBR list plus a few more. I also read several comic books, but since they’re just issues I won’t include them in my wrap up, though I will include the two graphic novels that I read. But I’m actually quite proud of myself for the amount of reading I got done this month, especially considering I starting nannying in the afternoons last week. That said, here are the books I read in July:

  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – I had fun reading this, but I didn’t love it. It was simplistic and filled with story tropes that are often seen in YA contemporary. It also was extremely predictable and filled with cliches. There wasn’t anything about the story line that surprised me because I saw it coming before I reached the scene that it happened in. That said, I haven’t decided if I’m going to read the other two books in this companion trilogy or not. If I do, then I’ll be checking them out of the library like I did with this one. I did still enjoy reading it. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. I’m just somewhat picky about contemporary since I don’t read it much. The romance in this also felt a bit like instanta love.
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Finally got around to reading this and I absolutely loved it. I also read somewhere that Cline got the idea for this from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because he wanted to create the Willy Wonka of video game creators and what it would be like if that video game creator left a contest as his legacy when he died. It also ued the whole egg hunt thing that some games have hidden within them (started in the 80s when a video game creator left his name hidden within the game itself because it was back when video game creators weren’t credited). The contestant who got through all the levels and found the egg would win all of the creator’s fortunes. I literally felt like I had been sucked into a video game whilst reading it. It truly was an immersive experience. I rated it 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend if you have any amount of nerd in you. You won’t be disappointed.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search: Part 1 by Gene Luen Yang – I liked this a lot and rated it 4 out of 5 stars. I’m planning on checking the other parts of The Search out of the library to finish reading all of The Search.
  • The Dalek Project by Justin Richards – Loved this. It was an eleventh doctor adventure and I really enjoyed it. I rated it 5 out of 5 stars.
  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot – This is a reread for me as I decided I wanted to read all the books again before I read Royal Wedding, which came out a couple months ago. I loved this even more than I did the first time around. This is 3 out of 5 stars for me.
  • Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot – Volume II in the Mia series. I rated this one 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine – I loved this so much. It’s basically about how the Great Library controls what you can read, as well as making it impossible to own actual books. People read off of the codex (I suppose like a tablet in a way) the books that the librarians of the Great Library allow them to read. The main character, Jess, is one of the teenagers that gets accepted into librarian training, which takes place in Alexandria, Egypt. These teens in the training are picked down as they’re put through these challenges to test their skills and strengths. There are only six open slots and over thirty people enter the rigorous training program. It truly is a fantastical adventure and I loved it. It gave me the same feeling that the Harry Potter books give me. I gave it 5 out of 5 stars. If you love books, then you’ll enjoy this book, which is the first in a new series titled The Great Library.
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson – I rated this 5 out of 5 stars and absolutely loved it. I’ll post the review I wrote for this on goodreads in a separate post.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir – I loved this so much. It’s hard science fiction, so if you get bogged down reading science-y topics and things in novels then this might not be for you. However, the main character, Mark Watney is such a solid character. He’s hilarious and relatable. I laughed out loud so many times while reading this and it’s definitely a book I already know I’ll want to reread time and time again. The tone that Andy Weir uses whilst writing from Watney, and even in the chapters set on earth between the NASA workers as they discuss what actions to take and how to keep Watney alive as he gets left behind on Mars in the aftermath of a unexpected sand storm that struck as the Ares 3 crew were conducting their research, thus cutting their excursion short. It was filled with dark humor and lightheartedness. I loved everything about this novel.

And there you have it. Those are the books I read last month. I’ll put together a new TBR list and have that posted at some point this week.