Book Review: Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana

25802922.jpgMirror in the Sky

Aditi Khorana

4.5/5 stars

Release Date: June 21, 2016

Publisher: Razorbill

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

As the world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara’s life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth–and for Tara–will ever be the same again.

Review:

This won’t be a very detailed review, more a recommendation and why this book is so important.

So I’m really sad this has such a low average rating on Goodreads but at the same time I’m not surprised. I think I may have misinterpreted the synopsis or something because when this book became more contemporary than sci-fi (what I was really interested in), I had to set it down/read it in-between other books. The sci-fi aspect is still a very big part of this book but it’s not the focus. If you want to read this because of the sci-fi element and not the contemporary you won’t like it. I’m still going to recommend MIRROR IN THE SKY to everyone because this book is so, so important! Don’t just write it off as “high school angst” – MIRROR IN THE SKY is so invaluable to teen and young adult readers. This is OwnVoices for an Indian MC; the main character is biracial but I’m not sure if that is also OwnVoices.

So many important topics/themes are covered: the pressure placed on teens to get good grades, join a fair amount of clubs/do extracurricular activities, work or support your family, make a decision/career choice that will impact your entire future at a very young age (16/17); peer pressure, bullying, racism, micro-aggressions, tokenism, misogyny. Finding yourself and just fitting in. Khorana creates a very authentic voice in her main character, Tara as well as her friends and family – it never felt like the author was introducing too much to the reader. There were so many things I could relate to, having experienced them when I was a teen and even as a young adult.

Khorana’s writing is incredibly beautiful! As the novel progresses and Tara experiences new things, some good and some bad, the narrator [Tara] talks about these events with such wisdom. They’re the kind of lines you find yourself quoting over and over again because they’re so beautiful and memorable. For fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han.

Important things to consider before reading/recommending (spoilers below):

One of the secondary characters is outed as gay by a friend to her other friends. The scene wasn’t exactly positive (happened during a big fight) so it could be harmful to LGBTQIA readers.

Another secondary character may have had an eating disorder – I use the word “may” because this character denied it but most of her friends agreed?said? she had one.

I haven’t been able to find any reviews that discuss these two things or the rep of either characters.

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25 Books I Must Read Before 2018

mustread2018

If you’re like me you probably have a ton of books on your TBR (almost 1000!). When you add up all the amazing recent releases + the ones coming out later this year and even the backlist titles, it’s way more than you can read in a year. I’ve decided to make a list of 25 books I really, really want to read before 2018. Top priority. It was super hard getting this down to 25, but I want an actual attainable goal here. Most of these are recent releases and backlist titles but there’s a few books that haven’t come out yet – I either have the arc or I’m trying to plan ahead.

I’ve made a shelf on Goodreads and the 50 Book Pledge so you can see my progress. I haven’t decided if, when I cross off a book, I’ll add another one to it or just make a whole new list. I am going to try to read two books on this list before reading one that’s not on it. Click on the titles to add them to your Goodreads TBR shelf.

In no particular order:

  1. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
  2. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  3. Flashfall by Jenny Moyer
  4. Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider
  5. The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie
  6. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
  7. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
  8. The Reader by Traci Chee
  9. Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  11. That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim
  12. The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
  13. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
  14. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
  15. Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron
  16. 27 Hours by Tristina Wright
  17. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  18. Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard
  19. Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
  20. The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
  21. The Broken Ones by Danielle L. Jensen
  22. Riders by Veronica Rossi
  23. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
  24. Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
  25. The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

I’d love to know what your priority reads are? Have you read any of these and if so, what did you think?

March Wrap-Up Post

IMG_3807March was another great reading month! I liked all the books I read and was able to finish a book I started back in 2016 (Beyond the Red). I’d wanted to read at least 8 books, but I’m still happy with 5 – reading the same amount as the previous month is better than less. My favourite March read was a tie between Beyond the Red and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The latter is so good! It didn’t just inspire me to tidy up but I actually made progress. Click on the titles below to read my reviews.

 

Books Read:

Frostblood by Elly Blake

Adulthood Is a Myth (Sarah’s Scribbles #1) by Sarah Andersen

Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Magic Cleaning #1) by Marie Kondo

Sasuke’s Story: Sunrise by Shin Towada

ICYMI:

Top 5 March Releases

Book Review: A Tail of Camelot by Julie Leung

Top 5 April Releases

Today I’m sharing my top 5 April releases! I hope you add these to your TBR, buy/preorder them and request them at your local library. If you’ve read any of these, don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads and other book retailer sites – long, short, positive, negative, it all counts. You can read more about this feature here.


26219455The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie (sequel to The Abyss Surrounds Us)

Flux | April 18, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N

Synopsis: 

Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to the ruthless pirate-queen Santa Elena and set free Bao, the sea monster Reckoner she’d been forced to train. The days as a pirate trainee are long and grueling, but it’s not the physical pain that Cas dreads most. It’s being forced to work with Swift, the pirate girl who broke her heart.

But Cas has even bigger problems when she discovers that Bao is not the only monster swimming free. Other Reckoners illegally sold to pirates have escaped their captors and are taking the NeoPacific by storm, attacking ships at random and ruining the ocean ecosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas might be the only one who can stop them. But how can she take up arms against creatures she used to care for and protect?

Will Cas embrace the murky morals that life as a pirate brings or perish in the dark waters of the NeoPacific?


25314447Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

Putnam’s Children | April 11, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.

Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra – fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before – are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.

Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land – and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.

The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.


30653853The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Balzer + Bray | April 11, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?


30312562Blacksouls (Blackhearts #2) by Nicole Castroman

Simon Pulse | April 11, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Nicole Castroman brings the dangerous pirate ports of the Caribbean to life in this vibrant sequel to Blackhearts—the reimagined origin story of history’s most infamous pirate, Blackbeard.

Edward “Teach” Drummond is setting sail to the Caribbean as first mate on the most celebrated merchant ship in the British fleet—until he rebels against his captain. Mutiny is a capital offense and Teach knows it could cost him his life, but he believes it worth the risk in order to save his crew from the attacking Spanish ships.

Sailing on the same blue waters, Anne barely avoids the Spanish attack, making it safely to Nassau. But lawless criminals, corrupt politics, and dangerous intentions fill the crowded streets of this Caribbean port. Soon, Anne discovers that the man entrusted to keep the peace is quite possibly the most treacherous of them all—and he just happens to hold Teach’s fate in his terrifying hands.

Life and death hang in the balance when Teach and Anne are given a dangerous mission. It’s a mission that will test their love, loyalty and devotion, forcing them down a path neither one could have ever imagined.


26240663Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

Harry N. Abrams

Original Release: March 8, 2016

Paperback Release: April 4, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

I’m cheating a bit with this one because it actually came out in 2016, but the paperback releases this month and I really wanted to feature it.

Synopsis:

Seven students. Seven (deadly) sins. One secret.

Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage, to Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.

Book Review: Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

29282402Beyond the Red

Ava Jae

5/5 stars

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

Review:

BEYOND THE RED by Ava Jae is a thrilling ride from start to finish. With highly advanced aliens, a deadly planet and compelling characters, I was left wanting more. Whether or not you’re a fan of sci-fi, Jae’s writing has the power to engage every type of reader. The world, the characters and the non-stop action are incredible!

This book doesn’t feel like a debut. There are some really great debuts out there but there’s always something about them, something that lets you know it’s a debut. It feels like Jae has spent 10 years polishing her craft and knows her writing inside and out. I’m a huge sci-fi reader so I knew I’d like this, but BEYOND THE RED will also interest readers who don’t usually read or even like sci/fi. The writing reminds me of THE HUNGER GAMES – it just has that ability to captivate the reader. Every reader will find themselves relating to this book in one way or another.

I absolutely loved Eros and Kora. This book is a dual POV and I usually find myself favouring one POV over the other, but that wasn’t the case here. I loved both characters equally as well as their perspectives. I loved these characters, they sometimes annoyed me with their actions, and I was rooting for them to win every step of the way. I’d also like to add, I usually read books with female protagonists over male, their POV just interests me more. However, with Eros I was completely engaged and I was never dying to read Kora’s POV over his.

Oh my goodness, the world-building is incredible. I’m still trying to figure out how Jae does it. We get to see all the different aspects of the Sepharon – from social to political to economic. Their advanced technology was really out of this world. It was also great seeing how an advanced [alien] civilization puts their advanced technology to – mostly – good use (ex. growing crops, eradicating disease, advanced medicine). Jae also delves into things like discrimination and prejudice. This alien world is really fantastic in the way it informs the reader but doesn’t overwhelm.

The action and suspense may have been the best part. I’d get to the last 100 pages and go, “oh no, oh no, oooohhhh nnnnooo!!!!”. I usually read really slow but I was speeding through those pages, trying to get to the end and just hoping my favourite characters would be alright. Jae does not hesitate to destroy the reader’s heart! I have to say, during those last 100 pages I wasn’t sure if there was enough space to wrap things up – it was so suspenseful!

BEYOND THE RED is one of my favourite books of 2017 and I’m seriously dying to read the sequel! Please add this book to your TBR immediately. You could absolutely hate sci-fi and this book would change your mind. If you love sci-fi, BTR will become one of your favourite series. I’m not sure how I’ll survive until Fall 2017 (when the sequel comes out). Also, I’d buy this book for the hardback alone. That cover is gorgeous, but there’s also a map and a glossary/pronunciation guide?!

I read an advance reading copy of this book. This has in no way altered my honest opinion of the book.