Book Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Genres/Descriptors: YA; sci-fi

Why I read it: I read and loved Illuminae (it’s one of my all-time-favorite books), so of course I wanted more from the Illuminae Files.

Who I’d recommend it to: People who loved Illuminae.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million | Book Depository | IndieBound


Description (from goodreads):

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.


Review:

This book. Took me. For-ev-er to get into. I ended up checking out the audio book and reading as I listened, which really helped. I think I’d read about 40 pages in 3 weeks on my own, but then finished 90% of the audio book (I listened at 2x speed, but that was still about 6 hours of listening) in one day. I’m not sure why it was so hard for me, because I absolutely loved Illuminae, but I feel like if I hadn’t gotten the audio book, I would have been trying to read this book all year.

First point, the freaking audio book. Oh my gosh, it is so good! So good! I struggle a lot with audio books, but because I was reading along, I guess that helped my issues (basically, when someone is talking to me, or I’m just listening to something, I “see” the words kinda floating around/scrolling/whatever which is super distracting and hard to follow, but I can usually kind of block it out during conversations if I focus hard enough). The cast is fantastic, and I wish my library had Obsidio so I could listen and read it, too. I was really nervous about listening to any of these books, because they’re so visual, but they made it work. I feel like I wouldn’t have lost out much by just listening, if that was my only option, but having the visual with the cast was freaking awesome and I highly recommend it.

I really, really ended up loving Hanna, Nik, and Ella. At first, I wasn’t sure about Hanna, but she grew on me pretty fast. She was awesome and so freaking strong. I thought Kady went through a lot in Illuminae, and of course she did, but Hanna’s experience was a whole new level of “WTF?!” I also really loved how she was a mix of “could totally kick your ass 100 different ways and you’d like it,” “daddy’s girl/rich girl/princess” and a a healthy dose of artsy. It was an interesting combination, and I don’t feel like I’ve read a thousand incarnations of female characters like her in the past, which was nice. (I also felt like Kady stood out, but I’m trying to limit my comparisons between the two because they’re different, from different books, and I love them both.)

Nik really cracked me up on and off throughout the book, and I liked him a lot. There were a few times I just wanted to hug him, though. I was cheering for him from the beginning because he struck me as the kind of guy who only kinda-sorta pretends to be a bad boy, but is mostly just a soft, caring guy.

His cousin, Ella, was also really fun, and I’m kinda sad there weren’t more parts with her. (Crossing my fingers for more in Obsidio.) She was smart, sneaky, and snarky. And a total badass, it turned out. I can see her and Kady either getting along great and being good friends, or hating each other. And I really want to know what happened to the fish.

I kinda saw the thing with Nik near the end coming earlier in the story, but I wasn’t sure if it would happen. By the time it finally did, I’d almost forgotten about my guess, so it was still almost a surprise, which was fun. Well, not exactly “fun” because the shit was hitting the fan, but it was entertaining, I guess. I also saw the thing with Jackson coming from a mile away, but I’m not going to talk about either of those things in any more depth because ~spoilers~ will definitely happen.

 Going in, I knew this was a companion kind of sequel, with a totally new cast, but it was really nice to get a little update on our friends from Illuminae. I am kind of afraid of how much I realized I’d missed AIDAN, though :/ (AI is honestly probably one of my biggest fears and I have no clue why, but AIDAN scared the crap out of me.) Its presence in this book was both frightening (not as much as in Illuminae, though) and entertaining. I think at one point I snorted chocolate almond milk because of something he said, but I can’t remember the exact line now.

I have to take a moment to completely agree with Ella: poor cow cows 😦 (I shall say no more, because ~spoilers.~)

The things…Whatchamacallits… The slimy space lizard-y, worm-y things that make the drug (“Dust”)… What the actual hell? I am very afraid of Amie & Jay’s brains right now, because those things were terrifying. Even the initial description of them freaked me out. It was interesting having such different enemies to face in this book, though. Humans and space creepy-crawlies. Fun combo, and I definitely read with the lights all on, and freaked the hell out when something slimy feeling slithered across my arm (it was my cat’s tail, most likely damp from dropping it in the water bowl like he does about 10 times a day) while reading one particularly tense scene -_-

And that ending, oh my gods. I cackled. (But honestly, that last line is probably the cheekiest one I’ve ever read, and I loved it.) 

Oookaaay, I need to wrap this up because it could just go on and on as I babble.

Basically, this was almost a 5 star book for me, but because it took me so long to get into it, and so long to become invested in the welfare of the characters, I knocked off a star :/ I’d still call it 4-4.5 stars, though, and I’m super excited about starting Obsidio (which I will have already started, hopefully, by the time this review goes up).

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T5W: SFF Authors On My “Auto-Buy” List

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

April 11: Auto-Buy Scifi and Fantasy Authors – Booktube SFF Awards Babble Crossover Topic! 
— This month’s crossover topic is your auto-buy authors that write SFF.

Ok, I’m stretching this a bit because A) I literally only have like…2? 3? authors on my “auto-buy” list in general, and B) I can’t always afford to buy books (I end up having to wait months or even years sometimes for books a lot of the time) so… We’re cheating a little.

This is my “perfect world” list, in which I have enough money at any time to be able to buy a new book, instead of having to wait for over time and stuff like that. So, these are the authors I’d probably pre-order in that scenario, and would most likely buy anything they published.

In no particular order, except the first two are already authors I just auto-buy ASAP.


V.E./Victoria Schwab– Do I need to explain? (I’m still missing 1…or 2? of her books, but I’m collecting them all, even though I’ve only read the Shades of Magic series so far.)

Leigh Bardugo– I think I still need to pick up the original Grisha short stories, maybe, but otherwise I think I own all of her books now, and I’ll probably continue to buy them.

Jim Butcher– Husband and I both love The Dresden Files, and now we’re on the hunt for his other books. So far we only have a partial collection of TDF, and The Aeronaut’s Windlass, but we’re working on it.

Gail Carriger– Ok, I’ve only read I think the first 2 or 3 of her Parasol Protectorate books, but I loved them. And the covers are ❤ so honestly I would probably buy her books just for those if the price was right. (I actually not have the entire Parasol Protectorate series for my Kindle *inhuman screeching* I’m very excited to get back into the universe.

Moïra Fowley-Doyle– I’m pretty sure she counts for this. I haven’t read Spellbook of the Lost and Found yet, but The Accident Season is a favorite of mine and she landed on my wishful auto-buy list (aka authors I will definitely buy the second I have the money). Husband, wonderful man that he is, actually picked up Spellbook for me last year shortly after it came out, but reading slumps and ARCs got in the way of me actually reading it (soooooon, though).

Laini Taylor– I’ve actually only read two of her books so far (the first two in the DOSAB trilogy), but I have the entire DOSAB trilogy and Strange the Dreamer and I honestly don’t even know what Strange is about because I just heard she was writing a new book and then bought it ASAP after it came out. (I still don’t know anything about the plot.)


I got a bit lazy this week, so no images and links. Insomnia is kind of trying to ruin my life. Fun times 😐

Honestly, this topic was so stressful for me because there are a lot of authors I still haven’t read enough from to know if they could be auto-buy-authors, and then there are the now deceased authors (looking at you in particular, Douglas Adams) whose books I already own all/most/many of (I have to get the Dirk Gently books, dang it, and The Meaning of Liff). Then of course there’s J.R.R. Tolkien. I really want nice editions of LOTR and The Hobbit, and I also want Beowulf, and…Well, everything, really. It just didn’t feel right to include them, because there’s nothing new coming out. (Well, no new creations, I guess I should say.)

Wow I’m getting rambly, so time to wrap this up… If you’re actually reading this, thank you ❤ And I’m sorry 😛


**Edit: I’m not sure if I should laugh or beat my head against a wall omg haha. I just realized I can’t count, apparently. (Actually, I had a plan, but I was so tired when I wrote this that it fell apart.) What I think I intended to do was have Victoria and Leigh as tied for the number one spot, the unquestionable two I will buy books from without even knowing anything about the book. Then the other 4. But oh well, let’s just have 6 instead of 5 this week 😛 **


Do you have any auto-buy SFF authors?

First Lines Fridays: August 25th

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78. Most of the librarians, Carolyn included, had come to think of this road as the Path of Tacos, so-called in honor of a Mexican joint they snuck out to sometimes. 


 

 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

26892110
What it’s about:

A missing God.
A library with the secrets to the universe. 
A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.
 
Carolyn’s not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts.  

After all, she was a normal American herself once.   

That was a long time ago, of course. Before her parents died. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father. 

In the years since then, Carolyn hasn’t had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient customs. They’ve studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.  

Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation. 

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own. 

But Carolyn has accounted for this. 

And Carolyn has a plan. 

The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she’s forgotten to protect the things that make her human.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


I vaguely remember when this came out, and the description hooked me enough to keep it on my radar, but I wasn’t sure enough to buy it right away. A few months ago, the Kindle edition was on sale and I grabbed it after reading a few pages in the sample. I’m still in this never-ending multi-genre slump, so I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to eventually getting to it.


If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it 🙂

First Lines Fridays: July 7th

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


As she woke up in the pod, she remembered three things. First, she was traveling through open space. Second, she was about to start a new job, one she could not screw up. Third, she had bribed a government official into giving her a new identity file. 


 

 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

27213244What it’s about:

Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.

But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.

Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.

(The cover links to goodreads)

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


I can’t remember when or how this landed on my TBR, but I know it’s been on there a while. I finally got a copy recently and I’m really looking forward to getting into it (if this weird book mood ever ends that’s keeping me from sci-fi and fantasy, ugh) because I’ve heard great things about it all over the place. Plus, I’m loving those first lines! Even if this hadn’t been on my radar, if I’d picked it up randomly and read that, I would probably have been hooked.


Have you read it? If you did, what did you think of it?

 

Must Read Mondays: May 15th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.

 

Married With Zombies 7716140(book 1 in the Living With the Dead series) by Jesse Petersen

When I read it: June 2011

Genres: sci-fi? horror? paranormal and/or fantasy? (What are zombie stories classified as, anyway?); romance

Recommended for: If you like things like the movies Zombieland, Dead Snow, Fido, Shaun of the Dead, etc. (think zombies, but with humor), and you don’t mind some romance mixed in, give this series a try.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


What it’s about:

A heartwarming tale of terror in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.

Meet Sarah and David.

Once upon a time they met and fell in love. But now they’re on the verge of divorce and going to couples’ counseling. On a routine trip to their counselor, they notice a few odd things – the lack of cars on the highway, the missing security guard, and the fact that their counselor, Dr. Kelly, is ripping out her previous client’s throat.

Meet the Zombies.

Now, Sarah and David are fighting for survival in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. But, just because there are zombies, doesn’t mean your other problems go away. If the zombies don’t eat their brains, they might just kill each other.


This might have been my first zombie book (if not, it was one of the first), and I loved it.

It’s fairly short (about 250 pages), and I devoured it in about a day, which was impressive back then when I had a much smaller child demanding my attention most of every day. This series definitely helped me become a zombie lover. (I wasn’t afraid of them at any point, I just never watched many movies with zombies or read many books, which was weird considering what a horror movie buff I was/am.)

I still haven’t actually finished this series, but I read the first three and thought they were a ton of fun. Warning, though, there is a lot of strong language if I remember correctly, and maybe some sexy times.

It’s been forever since I read this (my copy disappeared with a friend), but I’m hoping to get a new copy so I can re-read them at some point. They’re just hilarious, light, fun reads, and if I were a beach-goer, something like this would be my beach read.


Have you read this one? If you, too, love zombies, let me know some of your recommendations for books and movies, please!

 

First Lines Fridays: May 12th

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


“The story so far:
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
 


 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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The Restaurant at the the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #2)

8695What it’s about:

Facing annihilation at the hands of the warlike Vogons? Time for a cup of tea! Join the cosmically displaced Arthur Dent and his uncommon comrades in arms in their desperate search for a place to eat, as they hurtle across space powered by pure improbability.

 

 

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


I realized just now that this is two weeks in a row that I’ve used sci-fi books. I’m actually not much of a sci-fi reader, but it’s pretty much all I’ve wanted to read lately.

Normally I wouldn’t use a second book in a series for this, but I’m re-reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy right now and I still think I liked the second book more. I remember thinking it was better when I first read the series a few years ago, and my opinions haven’t changed much. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I thought the first book was good, but now that I’m actually a fan of the series, I like it a lot more than I did the first time around. But, the opening to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is still one of my favorite opening lines (or book quotes, in general) ever, so I had to use it.


Have you read this series? What did you think of it?

First Lines Fridays: May 5th

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


“The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended. Here on the Equator, in the continent which would one day be known as Africa, the battle for existence had reached a new climax of ferocity, and the victor was not yet in sight.” 


 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

29889254 What it’s about:

Written when landing on the moon was still a dream, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a science-fiction classic that has changed the way we look at the stars–and ourselves. On the moon, an enigma is uncovered. So great are the implications that, for the first time, men are sent deep into our solar system. But before they can reach their destination, things begin to go very wrong. From the savannas of Africa at the dawn of mankind to the rings of Saturn at the turn of the 21st century, Arthur C. Clarke takes us on a journey unlike any other. Brilliant, compulsive, and prophetic, and the basis for the immensely influential Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey tackles the enduring theme of man’s–and technology’s–place in the universe and lives on as a landmark achievement in storytelling.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


Confession time: I haven’t even seen the movie. I’m not even sure I knew it was a book until about 10 years ago, but still, I should have either seen or read this by now. I think we might even own the movie *facepalm* On the bright side, I’ve been in the mood for some sci-fi recently, and I just got the kindle edition of this on sale today ($1.99!), so maybe I’ll actually, finally, read it soon. (The edition up there is the Penguin Galaxy edition, and it’s pretty and shiny and I want it.)


If you read the book or saw the movie, did you like it? (And if you’ve done both, was the book better?)