LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Synopsis: On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.
Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.
But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.
Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.
The Things We Can’t Undo by Gabrielle Reid
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing
Synopsis: There’s no backspace key for life’s decisions.
Samantha and Dylan are in love – everyone knows it. So it’s no big deal when they leave a party for some time out together. But when malicious rumours surface about that night, each feels betrayed by the other.
Will Sam make a decision she can’t take back?
To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Synopsis: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?
February was the month of audiobooks, of sci-fi and gay love. I devoured so many books, I’m surprised at myself. I have a new found love for audiobooks, especially ones with a full cast because oh damn, they are amazing.
Anyway, here’s what I fecking read and listen to in February.
I’m off to a good start by using the word ‘heck’ in my title.
This is my 2018 January wrap up, aka what the heck did I read because I barely remember what I ate for breakfast. I think it was Crunchy Nut. I could be wrong.
January started off amazing with long days reading in bed with a cup of tea and some mood music. The middle picked up with more work, more experimentation with Booktube and Twitter. And the end, well… I’d rather not talk about it.
I read 10 books in January, and lemme quickly chat to you about them.
Thank you so much to Elizabeth for sending me a copy of her novel. However, in no way does it impact my review.
Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Synopsis: When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?
But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.
After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.
I haven’t read a lot of middle grade for a long time. In fact, I haven’t read middle grade since I was in middle grade (or early high school). Picking up Esme’s Wish was a lovely break and I found myself immersed in the magic that Elizabeth Foster has weaved together so wonderfully.
Esme’s Wish is a coming-of-age tale that starts off as a contemporary and wonderfully transitions into an incredible fantasy as Esme searches for her long lost mother in a mystical realm. Filled with mystery, magic and dragons, the world of Esperance is so lush and vividly described, I felt like I’d been transported there myself.
Foster does an amazing job with her characters. She brings to life Esme’s tension with her family, her grief and self-discovery as she journeys along with her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, across various places. She’s also brilliant at crafting real friendships and dialogue – the interactions between the three were very much entertaining – showcasing the ups and downs of being a teenager despite what world you’re from.
Esme’s Wish is the book I wish I had as a teen. Not only is it enchanting, it harnesses the essence of magic, love and friendship. As an excellent high Middle Grade novel, it’ll spark joy in your heart.
Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Synopsis: When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.
For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.
In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race…
If you like Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider and being in outer space, Unearthed is the book for you. Co-written by two fabulous authors, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, Unearthed is their second collaboration and it’s a fantastic introduction to their newest duology.
A scavenger and an academic = best banter ever.
I’m a complete sap for complete opposite characters, hence why I absolutely loved the dynamic between Jules and Mia. Their alternate perspectives showcased how a scavenger and academic can find common ground in the face of insane riddles within an alien temple. I liked how they clashed – Jules is looking to preserve artifacts while Mia wants to steal them for money to save her sister – but they were able to combine their skills to solve the puzzle (even if they were casually insulting each other along the way).
Gaia felt like the perfect planet to try and save the human race.
Between the breather masks, the dried food rations and the remnants of the Undying, the setting of Gaia was brilliant for adventure and exploring an alien race. I loved the mystery behind the Undying, the expanse of the planet as the characters traveled along, and the danger of not only encountering another life form, but other humans looking to strip the planet bare of its resources. Oh, you found a cool temple that has been untouched for thousands of years. Sure, blow it up! I also liked the descriptions of each riddle as Jules and Mia make their way through the temple – they were vivid and I could totally sense the Indy or Lara Croft vibe.
The character development was A+
The book really shows that first impressions aren’t always right, and there is more to a person than their occupation. Mia’s scavenger role from the beginning of the novel is quite ruthless. At first glance, she’s selfish and looking out for herself. But her development is quite incredible as we’re given an insight into why she’s taken such an illegal path to get what she needs. She’s brave, witty and intelligent, fast on her feet when it comes to solving riddles. When paired with Jules in a rather shaky alliance, it was fun to see them help each other out of dangerous situations while being somewhat annoyed with each other.
Then there’s Jules. He’s not what I expected at all. He’s sweet, sensitive and way too smart. He’s also quite sheltered and naive when it comes to the harsh reality of his situation on Gaia. With Mia, he’s forced to overlook his initial thoughts of her (she’s a scavenger, the one group of people who destroy what he wants to protect), and work with her. I enjoyed watching him grow in confidence and trust himself more.
Just a side note, the romance is hella adorable. Their romantic interludes are sweet but swift, adding to the ominous atmosphere of the novel as they are always on the lookout for danger.
Unearthed is a fantastic and thrilling outer space adventure with alien puzzles, breathtaking romance and amazing characters. The ending has me excited for the sequel and I can’t wait for it!
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books
Genre: YA, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.
Ever since high school, I have been fascinated with Jack the Ripper. It only took me picking up Stalking Jack the Ripper to recollect all my musings and theories around the horrendous events. I remember being so adamant that it was a doctor who had to be Ripper, taking on a persona of a madman to hide his cold, calculating profession.
Weaving together historical fact and delicious fiction, Kerri Maniscalco has nailed it with this fictional adaption of the serial killer.
Audrey Rose is a captivating narrator.
As a woman stuck in the bounds of 18th century England, Audrey knows she is unable to pursue what she wishes: a career in forensic science. Instead of fawning over suitable husbands, she’s cutting up cadavers with her uncle’s assistant, Thomas Cresswell. With such witty banter between the two, she is a clever, confident and sassy character that is aware of her chains, and yet goes out to break free from them. There were moments when Audrey’s narration dragged the novel along, but the plot made up for it.
The Victorian setting is captured perfectly.
From dank alleyways, the murky fog and the historical locations of the Ripper murders, Maniscalco does a fantastic job at setting the scene and atmosphere. The underbelly of London is dark, gritty and oh so fascinating. From upper class to the working class, it was easy to navigate the city. It’s worth mentioning that Audrey’s narration is inquisitive and feminist as she travels along the cobblestone streets, considering her gender and her position in society, especially in regards to the Ripper victims being prostitutes. They were not just prostitutes, but mothers, wives and daughters. It was great to see this rather feminist tone in Audrey alongside the Victorian setting.
110% Sherlock and Watson vibes
Thomas Cresswell and Audrey Rose Wadsworth make such a dynamic crime solving duo. Their banter, flirtations and rare serious moments are so gripping I couldn’t put the book down. What I loved about Thomas was he treated Audrey as an equal, not any less intelligent because of her gender.
Stalking Jack the Ripper is a thrilling read with an unexpected heroine. It’s a must-read for all those who love historical fiction, a good mystery and a lot of sexual tension.
When I picked up An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, I was under the assumption this would be another story with a arrogant sandalwood-smelling faerie warrior who is here to sweep our naive protagonist off their feet.
But it’s not.
It’s really not.
I was truly enchanted from the first page to the last.
It has been a while since I have read women’s fiction or anything in the literary fiction genre, but These Violent Delights by Victoria Namkung intrigued me. While the title, from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, was interesting, it was the novel’s exploration of the struggles of women, the pressures of society and how women are treated in the face of adversity that really made me pick this up.
These Violent Delights is a compelling read, packed with information and thorough research on sexual assault victims and trauma. The story is narrated by four women, one being a prominent journalist and the other three are victims of assault by an English high school teacher at Windemere School for Girls. Through these multiple perspectives, the novel offers a greater exploration of sexuality, victimisation and what it means to be a woman in modern day society.