Perihelid by S. Alex Martin (Recovery #3)

Genre: Sci-Fi, New Adult
Page #: 334
Publisher: CreateSpace
Published in: 2017

I received this book as an ARC from the author, and I’m so glad that I did. After the massive cliffhanger of the last book, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one and see what happens. Unfortunately, grad school reading and MA thesis writing got in the way, so I wasn’t able to pick it up until just now. When I was finally able to read it, I devoured it.

Official Synopsis

The Fleet is in Ruins.

The Drake vanished in the chaos, and thousands are dead. A rescue crew could be weeks, even months away, and Arman Lance and the Ember’s other survivors must find a way to survive until it does – if help is coming at all.

As efforts are made to determine the cause of the crash, Arman struggles against the relapse of thoughts weighing heavily on his mind, threatening to unravel the purpose he has tried to create for himself since joining the Embassy Program.

In the aftermath, the survivors discover what could be the most important revelation in centuries: the crisis on Belvun may mark the beginning of an even more desperate disaster. It will force Arman to make a choice, one that will determine the course of humanity’s future…

…at the cost of sacrificing his own.

My Review

The character development in this book is phenomenal. Arman has grown so much over the course of this series, and he’s very reflective of that throughout the course of this book. He has a rich inner world and self-reflectiveness that I haven’t seen in sci-fi. It was also really interesting to see how the side characters in the book handled the same crisis and how they interacted with each other when trapped in such close quarters after the tragedy in Resonance.

Sci-fi can sometimes be hard for me to read because I prefer character-driven stories, and often I find that sci-fi sacrifices character in favor of the plot, setting, and technology. That is not the case in this series, and especially so in Perihelid. There is a balance of character, plot, and setting that favors rich character development while still creating a believable other world and crafting a plot with an intense buildup. The last 100 pages or so were so intense, and I love the way that the author tied all the little ends together from the rest of the series in the big reveal. There are certain things, like Glacia’s fate and what happens to Arman at the very end, that I wish were made more clear, but I’m hoping those questions will be answered in Book 4.

I have to say that I also loved the mental illness representation in this series. As someone who has dealt with severe anxiety and depression my whole adult life and for most of my teenage years, I have to say that I can really relate to Arman and the way he thinks. When I started reading this series, I wasn’t necessarily expecting to find such accurate mental illness representation in a sci-fi book, and yet this series delivers that representation in a way I haven’t seen much before, especially in genre fiction. I think we need more stories like this one, where the hero in a sci-fi book grapples with mental illness. Mental illness is not the main focus of the series or of this book, but it’s an inextricable part of Arman’s character. This story shows the truth of mental illness: that it is always a part of us, but it does not define our lives or stop us from doing great things.

Rating: [4/5]

 

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Resonance by S. Alex Martin (Recovery #2)

Genre: Sci-Fi, New Adult
Page #: 543
Publisher: CreateSpace
Published in: 2015

I was so excited to receive an ARC of Resonance from the author. Seriously. This book has been my constant companion over the last several weeks and has been a much-needed reprieve from the mountains of school reading overtaking my desk.

Official Synopsis

Belvun is dying. Droughts, firestorms, and a swelling desert slowly consume the planet. Cities have crumbled. Forests have burned. Five years ago, recovery efforts to reverse the damage failed. They must not fail again.

General Orcher tasks Arman Lance with the development of the galaxy’s most comprehensive planetary database. Arman will travel to Orvad, Undil’s city by the ocean, and then to Daliona, where life thrives and new discoveries await.

On this new journey, Arman will challenge himself in ways he never imagined and make friends he never thought he’d have. And as he learns what it really means to devote his life to the Embassy, he will experience the strength, diversity, and resilience of humankind.

My Review

I really love the way Arman came into his own in this book. Though this transition started in Embassy, I feel he really began to explore and form his own identity in Resonance. His inner world is rich and complex and emotional and so, so, so relatable. Arman’s open struggles with fear, identity, jealousy, and purpose are such a part of the human experience that he really feels like a real person to me.

Basically, the characters and their development are my favorite part of Resonance. I love the relationship in this book. After the slow build in Embassy, the payoff in Resonance was so worth it. The wedding scene (not spoilers; I promise!) and the birthday celebration are particular favorite moments of mine. The new side characters on the team Arman hires are also quite delightful; Rand is my personal favorite of the bunch.

The world-building. Absolutely phenomenal. The reader really gets to see a much larger snapshot of this universe and all the planets, people, technology, and animals in it. The level of detail poured into Daliona made the story so rich. Plus, the recreational activities introduced in Resonance almost rival Hologis. Also! You can explore Daliona for yourself!

And, last but certainly not least, the ending. My word. I’m still reeling. Those last couple of chapters had me on the edge of my seat and I had to will myself to read slower so that I wouldn’t miss anything. I’ve read a lot of books with a lot of cliffhangers, but this was one of the most extreme cliffhangers I have ever encountered and it is so wonderful and frustrating all at once.

Rating: [5/5]

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Embassy by S. Alex Martin (Recovery #1)

Genre: Sci-Fi, New Adult
Page #: 339
Publisher: CreateSpace
Published in: 2014

First of all, let me just say that this book was exactly what I needed to read right now. In school, all I’m reading this semester is early modern drama, lengthy pieces of literary criticism, and dry textbooks about Ireland. It’s honestly exhausting. But Embassy was like a shot of espresso on a Monday morning.

Official Synopsis

Arman Lance was supposed to travel the galaxy with his father, not watch him die. He was supposed to experience the adventures from his father’s stories, not isolate himself from the world. He was going to join the Embassy Program, fly across the galaxy, and find Ladia Purnell, a girl from another planet whom he loved years before.

Clinging to his fading hopes and dreams, Arman joins the Embassy Program to fulfill that last promise. If he can reach Ladia, he’ll never have to worry, never have to feel alone. But it doesn’t take long for his plan to fall apart when he’s confronted by his fellow Embassy recruit, Glacia Haverns, the ever-smiling adrenaline junkie who decides it’s her job to show Arman there’s more to life than chasing a desperate obsession.

My Review

Normally, I have a hard time reading sci-fi books because plot and world-building are elevated at the expense of character development. This was not so in Embassy. The characters were interesting and well-developed. Arman, the narrator, has a rich inner world and he experiences quite a lot of personal growth throughout the novel, which is always something I like.

Also, this book is perfect for anyone who likes slow-burn romances. Seriously, each tantalizing moment in this relationship’s development was perfectly paced. I may have squealed aloud in public on more than one occasion. Like, I never thought cans crumpling would make me so emotional.

Finally, it’s clear that this book was extremely well-researched. I’m not a scientist, but I am interested in physics and space travel enough to know when something isn’t even remotely plausible. There were no moments where bad science pulled me out of the narrative, which is really impressive for a sci-fi book to be able to maintain that kind of suspension of disbelief so well.

I would have liked to see a little more of the universe and more of the different cultures within it. The world-building was good, but I wanted more of it. There are several unanswered questions I have that I’m hoping will be answered later in the series. Which is why I’m super excited to read the sequel, Resonance, which just came out last week.

Rating: [4/5]

Buy Embassy here.

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Buy Resonance here.

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Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5)

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Page #: 400
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Published in: 2016

Official Synopsis

The enchantment continues….

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

My Review

I was all over this book as soon as I found it that it had a wedding epilogue scene. Within this collection of short stories, a few have already been published on their own or released through Meyer’s blog and newsletter. This is their first time in print, accompanied by five completely new stories.

The stories were kind of hit-and-miss for me. There were a few that I really liked a lot, like the wedding epilogue, Kai’s story, and Cress’s story. However, a few others just seemed to drag. I think it might also depend on who your favorite characters are. The stories I didn’t like as much tended to be about the characters that I didn’t like as much.

If you like this series, I would definitely recommend reading this one to get a deeper backstory on all of the characters and to see what they’re all up to after the events of the main series.

Rating: [4/5]

 

Winter by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #4)

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Page #: 827
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Published in: 2015

Official Synopsis

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.

My Review

I was so excited to read this book, and I would say that, overall, it lived up to all of the hype and expectations. As a character, Winter is easily able to join the ranks of Meyer’s other badass heroines. I have to say that I really did not like Jacin. He’s sort of bland and uninteresting. Yes, his protectiveness of Winter is sweet, but there’s really not much else beyond this aspect of his character. Of all of the love interests, he’s definitely my least favorite.

Because I didn’t really care for Jacin as a character, my favorite parts of the book were the ones that centered on the characters from the previous books. There were several scenes with Wolf and Thorne that were especially heartbreaking. The plot really gets going towards the end. The book is incredibly long. likely to give time to all of the different characters. There were definitely times when it dragged, but the end almost made it worth it.

The one thing I really did not care for in this book was the representation of mental illness. Winter is plagued by hallucinations, and no one takes them or her seriously except for herself and Jacin. Most everyone around her treats her like she’s a child. Some people (I’m looking at you, Scarlet) are borderline rude to her about her mental illness, calling her “crazy” and treating her as an inconvenience. Meyer could have handled Winter’s mental illness so much better.

Rating: [4/5]

Fairest by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5)

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Page #: 222
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Published in: 2015

Official Synopsis

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

My Review

Fairest is a bridge book between Cress and Winter by Marissa Meyer. It offers the backstory of series’s villain, the Lunar queen Levana. I was immediately interested because you hardly ever see a book that features a “bad guy” as a main character and I wanted to see what Meyer did with that unique perspective. I was not disappointed.

This book really created some of the most complex characters I’ve ever read about. Levana is truly a villain, but she does not believe she is. She sees herself as the girl who could never be enough for anyone, and that is a theme that is explored in every part of her character development. The way she justifies her actions or sees her own motivations is simply chilling, and many times I had to take a break in order to process a character with the capacity to do the things Levana does. There were parts of this book where I genuinely felt bad for her, even though it didn’t excuse her actions in the slightest. Plus, I really enjoyed the cameos of Cinder, Winter, Kai, and Jacin.

It was kind of disturbing to read about her thought processes behind some of her more deplorable actions. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you’ve read the rest of the Lunar Chronicles, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Plus, the book didn’t really have a plot. It was pretty much all character development, so there were some slow parts.

Rating: [3/5]

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance, Holiday
Page #: 352
Publisher: Speak
Published in: 2012

Official Synopsis

An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today’s bestselling authors – John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle- brings all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

My Review

I really liked this book. I like how all of the stories came together in the end. That had to have taken a lot of work on the authors’ part. Of all the stories, The Jubilee Express was probably my favorite, mostly because I could really relate to the characters.

I would definitely recommend this as an excellent Christmas book and a really good romance story.

Rating: [4/5]

 

Cress by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #3)

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Page #: 552
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Published in: 2014

 

Official Synopsis

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

My Review

This one is my favorite of the series so far. I seriously had trouble putting it down. Also it just occurred to me that I have read all of the main books in the Lunar Chronicles so far on trips: I read Cinder on an academic conference in South Padre Island and Scarlet and Cress while visiting family in San Diego. I guess that means I’ll have to take another vacation in November when Winter comes out 😉

I’m slightly in love with Carswell Thorne. Not to mention Cress, who is an adorable, smart badass. Plus, it was really interesting to me to see the way she dealt with her social anxiety. That was definitely relatable. Plus, once again, all the twists were incredible. And, I no longer have any qualms about Scarlet and Wolf. My concerns were unfounded.

It was kind of funny on the one hand, but in all the parts with Kai, he was rehashing old theories that Cinder et al. had already figured out. He was basically a book behind. It just felt a little repetitive sometimes.

Rating: 5 / 5

 

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #2)

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Page #: 454
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Published in: 2013

Official Synopsis

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.

My Review

I had this book checked out at the library and ended up buying it so I could read it on vacation! And then my 70 year old grandma asked what I was reading and explaining that was a pretty interesting experience. Also all the people on the airplane kept trying to talk to me at all of the most intense parts and it made me want to stab them with a fork okay not really but actually yes really.

I was really worried that Cinder and her story were going to be barely involved and I’d have to wait for forever to get resolution, but I was actually really impressed by the way that the author integrated the stories. The plot twists and the way the author took the fairy tale and made it her own were also really wonderful. I loved all the new characters too.

There may be some light SPOILERS ahead. Scarlet and Wolf’s relationship felt a little bit unhealthy at times. I have a feeling it was just situational and that once their relationship is developed a little more, it’ll be fine. But some of the parts in this book reminded me a little of Edward and Bella in Twilight and how he was always talking about how he really wanted to kill her.

Rating: 5 / 5

 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #1)

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Page #: 390
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Published in: 2012

Official Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

My Review

Okay, I’m going to be really honest here. When I first heard about this book, I thought it sounded stupid. But then I kept seeing it everywhere and book bloggers whose opinions I respect were all gushing over it and so I started rethinking my opinions. And then it went on sale on Amazon, so I thought, why not? and bought it. I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE EXCITED TO BE WRONG IN MY LIFE.

 

Disabled woman of color as the protagonist. That was literally one of the main reasons why I finally decided to pick up the book. Plus, all those plot twists. Seriously, I am kind of amazed at how much plot the author managed to fit into that book and still have it make sense. Lastly, I really liked how the author adapted the fairy tale and yet still managed to subvert expectations and make the characters and story fresh.

Rating: 5 / 5