ARC Review: Iron Widow

Title: Iron Widow
Author: 
Xiran Jay Zhao
Genre: 
Young Adult/Sci-Fi
Version: ebook – ARC
Page Count: 
400
Publisher: 
Penguin Teen
Synopsis: GoodReads | StoryGraph
Notable Notables: 
Based in Chinese culture with a Chinese-coded cast; inspired by China’s only female emperor; polyamorous relationship
Recommended Readers: 
Fans of mecha anime and revenge stories
CAWPILE Rating: 7.86
Rating: ★★★★☆

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao is a stand-out, explosive debut that is sure to capture the imaginations and whet the appetites of readers searching for female revenge stories. With sci-fi being a rarer sight in the YA genre, Iron Widow takes a bold approach with its mecha anime-inspired roots along with being steeped in Chinese history.

In Huxia, boys dream of becoming ace pilots of Chrysalises, which are giant, transforming robots powered by syncing up with female concubine-pilots. It doesn’t matter that the girls die of mental strain, only that the mecha aliens beyond the Great Wall are stopped. Wu Zetian volunteers as a concubine-pilot to assassinate the male pilot who killed her older sister, only to emerge from the cockpit unscathed and with her co-pilot dead after overcoming him through their psychic link. Instead of being his One True Match and Iron Princess, Zetian is an Iron Widow, a much-feared and often silenced female pilot who can sacrifice boys instead. To subdue her, she is paired with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial pilot in Huxia, but she is not interested in being cowed. Instead, she plots to use Shimin and their newfound notoriety to survive attempt after attempt against her life until she can discover why the pilot system works as it does and stop more girls from being sacrificed for male dominance.

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ARC Review: Persephone Station

Title: Persephone Station
Author: Stina Leicht
Genre: Adult Sci-Fi
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press
Add To-Read on: GoodReadsStoryGraph
Notable Notables: Characters that are predominately female and non-binary with LGBTQ+ rep
Recommended Readers: Seekers of feminism in space opera
CAWPILE Rating: 3.14
Star Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Thank you, to NetGalley and the publisher, for offering this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

I was taken in by Stina Leicht’s Persephone Station the moment I saw its beautifully artistic cover and was sold when I read what it was being compared to: a blend of Cowboy Bebop and The Mandalorian but with a leading cast of women, non-binary, and queer characters.

Upon reading it, however, my excitement quickly fizzled. By far the coolest thing about the book is its cover, not the representation it delivers. The author seems to have focused so hard on providing good, squeaky-clean diversity and rep that she forgot a key element: making the characters and its plot interesting. There isn’t a hint of the eclectic friction found in the Cowboy Bebop cast, and it’s also sorely missing the heart of The Mandalorian. If I could sum up Persephone Station and its characters in a few words, they would be “safe and boring.”

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march 2020 books

Five-Star Predictions: March 2020 Books

Happy beginning of March, folks! Where I am, the month has arrived with stronger sunlight and a welcoming mid-60 degrees temperature outside. It’s almost time for us to spring forward our clocks (a time I wish us Americans stayed on and never touched) and regain some much-needed daylight hours.

What else do we gain this month? Books. Loads of intriguing books from past-read authors and debut authors alike, featuring diverse leads, fantastical new worlds, and returns to old favorites.

I’ve picked out which ones I think will nab a five-star rating from me (one of which already has), and I hope we can all enjoy them together in the future, whenever our time and wallets allow.

Let’s get into these March 2020 books!

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TTT: Books I Meant to Read in 2019 That I WILL Read in 2020

Back at the start of the year, I created a 2019 Goals shelf on Goodreads. Within that shelf, I threw 69 (heh) books that I intended to read by the end of the year. And then I kept adding books. And adding them. As of this writing, 97 books are in that shelf, many of them I did actually read, yet many more were shoved aside for the shiny and new. Somehow, I was convinced I would still get to them.

You are a fool, Harry Potter, and you will lose… everything.

It’s turn-over-a-new-leaf time. I want to get back to those older books, so for Top Ten Tuesday, here are my top books I meant to read in 2019 that I will make a priority in 2020.

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Book Review: Nyxia Uprising

nyxia uprisingTitle: Nyxia Uprising
Author:
 Scott Reintgen
Genre: Young Adult/Sci-Fi
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 368
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC characters, LGBTQA+ characters, Social class struggles
Recommended Readers: Fans of space adventures and high stakes
Rating: ★★★★★

No, it’s over! Why??? Hats off to Scott Reintgen for delivering not only one of the best sci-fi trilogies in YA but also one of the best trilogies period with the Nyxia Triad. Like the others, Nyxia Uprising does not disappoint, and in fact it might rival the first book as being my favorite. I didn’t think that was going to be possible, but Reintgen did it!

Since this is the final book, I’m not going to be offering a synopsis since it will spoil the others, and I want people to go into this trilogy with fresh, eager eyes like I did. Nyxia Uprising especially contains the right balance of character, action, grit, heart, and heartbreak that begs to be experienced. Part of me wishes I could go back and read it all over from the beginning, not knowing what’s coming, and the best way I can do that is to recommend it to everyone I know.

If you’re looking for a fun space adventure with a diverse cast and thoughtful prose, the Nyxia Triad is it. If you’re looking for a “fuck corporations, pro-middle class” narrative, here you go. If you’re looking for a group of down-trodden kids with their own motives, goals, and dreams who grow in adversity, rivalry, collaboration, and friendship into a found family, look no further. If you love exploring gray morality and trying to make the right and/or strategic choices in the face of survival, you’re welcome.

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Book Review: Middlegame

middlegame
Title:
 Middlegame
Author:
 Seanan McGuire
Genre: Science Fiction/Contemporary
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 528
Publisher: Tor.com
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Unconventional narrative, messy characters, well-written villains
Recommended Readers: Hey, kids, wanna have your minds blown?
Rating: ★★★★★

Middlegame marks the first book from Seanan McGuire that I have ever read, and I fear that I have made a mistake. I fear that Seanan has ruined me for other books, including her own because honestly? Where am I supposed to go from here? There’s nowhere more up to go! This is it. I have reached a pinnacle of storytelling and composition I had no idea I was going to receive or was even looking for to begin with. It’s a masterpiece, a tour de force; it’s everything all the other books want to be like when their authors spend decades honing their craft and feel like attempting the impossible.

Our story follows separated twins Roger and Dodger, and yes, those names are deliberately bad, and yes, they have been deliberately separated, unaware of the other’s existence. This is a regular Parent Trap scenario–if your parents are two evil alchemists, a lab was your womb, and you were created, not to be people, but to embody two parts of an all-powerful, alchemical doctrine that, when united, can give the wielder enough power to control the fabric of the universe—to become a god, in other words.

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July 2019 Book Releases

Hey, everyone! I am soooo late with this, but things have been crazy for me since the July 4th holiday, but I’m still going to post this July book release list because it’s still relevant! Yay!

For this list, you can find books about crows, terrible wizards, and Mayan gods of death, but what book reigns supreme as my most anticipated choice  for July?

thrawn treason
Release Date: July 23 | Goodreads

“If I were to serve the Empire, you would command my allegiance.”

Such was the promise Grand Admiral Thrawn made to Emperor Palpatine at their first meeting. Since then, Thrawn has been one of the Empire’s most effective instruments, pursuing its enemies to the very edges of the known galaxy. But as keen a weapon as Thrawn has become, the Emperor dreams of something far more destructive.

Now, as Thrawn’s TIE defender program is halted in favor of Director Krennic’s secret Death Star project, he realizes that the balance of power in the Empire is measured by more than just military acumen or tactical efficiency. Even the greatest intellect can hardly compete with the power to annihilate entire planets.

As Thrawn works to secure his place in the Imperial hierarchy, his former protégé Eli Vanto returns with a dire warning about Thrawn’s homeworld. Thrawn’s mastery of strategy must guide him through an impossible choice: duty to the Chiss Ascendancy, or fealty to the Empire he has sworn to serve. Even if the right choice means committing treason.

Why I Want to Read This: It’s a Thrawn book! By Timothy Zahn! Thrawn’s allegiance with the Empire pitted against the allegiance with his people! I know I say this about every Thrawn book, but this might be my most horny adventure with my favorite alien strategist to date! I am beyond losing it for whatever Zahn is going to do to me!

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TTT: Unpopular Bookish Opinions

Hi, all! It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, this week’s theme is Unpopular Bookish Opinions, and as it turns out, I do believe I have some of those.

I decided to go more broad with this because as much as I could say that I don’t understand the appeal behind Cassandra Clare’s books or that I think Sarah J. Maas is a hack, there are a lot more interesting things in the book world to tackle.

So let’s talk some real unpopular book opinions.

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Most Anticipated Book Releases – August 2018

Hey all! Back with another anticipated book release round, this time for August 2018. This year is just flying by, it seems, but at least the book releases have kept up.

I’m going to be doing the formatting for these a little differently, at least for now as I try new things out. But enough talking shop, let’s get to the books!

City-of-Ghosts


City of Ghosts
by Victoria Schwab takes the top spot because frankly, I love Schwab and I trust her. After many successful YA and Adult series, she’s now bringing her talents to the Middle Grade genre. I haven’t read any Middle Grade books in a long time, so I’m excited to dive back in and meet Cassidy Blake and her ghost best friend, Jacob (and possibly a cat???) as they investigate Scotland for malevolent spirits who should’ve been sent beyond the Veil instead of being left to haunt her world. Sounds spooky and fun, I’m in! Release date: August 28

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Book Review: Nyxia Unleashed

nyxia unleashed

Title: Nyxia Unleashed
Author:
 Scott Reintgen
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Version: ARC ebook
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC characters, Social class struggles
Recommended Readers: Fans of space adventures and high stakes
Rating: ★★★★★

First of all, thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen. Nyxia was one of my favorite book discoveries for 2017, and now I’m delighted to say that the sequel did not disappoint. In fact, I extol its virtues and the trilogy as a whole to anyone reading this. That’s how much regard and faith I have in it, so please give it a shot if you haven’t already.

Obviously, if you haven’t read Nyxia, don’t continue reading this review because there are spoilers for the first book all up in this.

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