Audiobook Review: The Maze Cutter by James Dashner

Title: The Maze Cutter
Author: James Dashner
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Publication Date: October 4th, 2022
Publisher: Akashic Media Enterprises
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary audiobook to review! All opinions are my own.

“Seventy-three years after the events of The Death Cure, when Thomas and other immunes were sent to an island to survive the Flare-triggered apocalypse, their descendants have thrived. Sadina, Isaac, and Jackie all learned about the unkind history of the Gladers from The Book of Newt and tall tales from Old Man Frypan, but when a rusty old boat shows up one day with a woman bearing dark news of the mainland–everything changes. The group and their islander friends are forced to embark back to civilization where they find Cranks have evolved into a more violent, intelligent version of themselves. The islanders are hunted by the Godhead, the Remnant Nation, and scientists with secret agendas. When they cross paths with an orphan named Minho from the Remnant Nation, the dangers become real and they don’t know who they can trust. The islanders will have to survive long enough to figure out why they are being targeted, who is friend or foe, and what the Godhead has planned for the future of humanity.” (Goodreads)

I didn’t even know there was going to be a whole different series set in the same world but in the future. I remember really enjoying the original and so when I saw this on Netgalley I figured why not!

The book is told from multiple point-of-views. I wouldn’t say that one was more thrilling to read about than the others. At times the point-of-views were kind of bland and it felt like I didn’t get to know the characters that well. I would say that the book is more plot driven than character. I like a bit of both or more character driven.

It was interesting to be back in this world. It felt a bit different but also the same in some ways. The world building was fine but I do feel like I was missing something when it came to the cult and everyone’s plans. I don’t think it was entirely explained well but I am assuming there will be more answers as the series continue. The pacing could definitely be slow at times.

I did like the narration for this book and thought it was well done.

Overall, it was good. I wouldn’t say it was as good as the original but it wasn’t bad.

Arc Review: The Stars Between Us by Cristin Terrill

Title: The Stars Between Us
Author: Cristin Terrill
Genre: YA Sci-fi / Romance
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“There’s always been a mystery to Vika Hale’s life. Ever since she was a child, she’s had an unknown benefactor providing for her and her family, making sure that Vika and her sister received the best education they could. Now, Vika longs for a bigger life than one as a poor barmaid on a struggling planet, but those dreams feel out of reach. Until one day Vika learns that her benefactor was a billionaire magnate who recently died under suspicious circumstances, and Vika has shockingly been included in his will. Invited to live on a glittering neighboring planet, Vika steps into a world she can hardly believe is real.

The only blight on Vika’s lavish new life is the constant presence of Sky Foster, a mysterious young man from Vika’s past who works for her benefactors. She doesn’t like or trust Sky, but when she narrowly escapes an explosion and realizes someone is targeting the will’s heirs, Vika knows Sky is the only one who can help her discover the identity of the bomber before she becomes their next victim. As Vika and Sky delve into the truth of the attacks, they uncover a web of secrets, murder, and an underground rebellion who may hold the answers they’ve been looking for. But Sky isn’t who he seems to be, and Vika may not escape this new life unscathed.” (Goodreads)

There is a lot I wish I could say about this one but sadly it just didn’t click for me. I at least still like the cover!

The book is told in third-person but it mainly follows Vika Hale. I can’t say that I liked her much. She was very bratty and called others out for their infatuation with money but quickly became elitist it seemed when circumstances changed in her favor. I thought she was rude to one character in particular and didn’t really make sense as to why. It’s not like he ever did anything to her to warrant it. The other characters were okay but none felt like they really had any development.

The one good thing about this book is that it is very easy to read and is not bogged down but an extravagant plot in space. There is no info dumping or anything to be aware of. Personally, I needed more from the characters, the plot, and the world-building. It felt too simplistic for my taste and left something to be desired. It also felt very slow in the beginning as well which usually is a turn off for me. I was hoping it would pick up a bit and it does but still not enough for me to love it.

Overall, it was okay. I did need more from it and that’s sadly why I didn’t love it.

Arc Review: Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long

Title: Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves
Author: Meg Long
Genre: YA Sci-fi / Dystopian / Fantasy
Publication Date: January 11th, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“After angering a local gangster, seventeen-year-old Sena Korhosen must flee with his prize fighting wolf, Iska, in tow. A team of scientists offer to pay her way off her frozen planet on one condition: she gets them to the finish line of the planet’s infamous sled race. Though Sena always swore she’d never race after it claimed both her mothers’ lives, it’s now her only option. But the tundra is a treacherous place, and as the race unfolds and their lives are threatened at every turn, Sena starts to question her own abilities. She must discover whether she’s strong enough to survive the wild – whether she and Iska together are strong enough to get them all out alive.” (Goodreads)

I’ve been dying to read this book and although it has unique qualities to it, I still found myself not meshing as well with it as I would have hoped. The cover is still gorgeous though! Probably one of my favorites I have seen for the new year.

The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Sena. She is a thief and takes care of herself as she has no family to fall back on. She isn’t a boring character in the slightest but I still didn’t connect with her either. I think the disconnect started with the slow start of the book and how every chance someone or Sena gets they bring up her dead mothers. I’m all for tragic backgrounds but I don’t want it to become the main character’s whole personality and why practically everyone on the planet hates her. It makes sense as to why found family exists in this book because Sena can’t really be picky.

There are some minor characters that do shine through as well as some that fall through the cracks. A couple were mentioned in the beginning and I thought one in particular would have a decent sized role but to my surprise he got dropped.

When starting this book I also didn’t realize, or maybe forgot, that it would have sci-fi/dystopian aspects to it. Sci-fi is a genre I have a love/hate relationship with. I have read books from the genre I have loved and have read some I hated. I think my issue for this book in particular is that although what was mentioned about genetic engineering and climate was interesting I still felt like I was missing information and would have liked to know how it all got started, more about the corpo commandos, and more about the other planets.

I did like the last half of the book more because it’s truly where the action starts when it comes to the racing. There are quite a few plot twists to go along with it and I only saw one coming so I would say that those are good odds. The icy planet setting is a unique one as I have only read a couple books with a similar one but plots have been very different. I also liked the wolves and would say Iska was my favorite part of the book. You can’t go wrong with animal companionship!

Overall, this was good but still missed the mark for me in some ways.

Audiobook Review: Aurora’s End (The Aurora Cycle #3) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Title: Aurora’s End (The Aurora Cycle #3)
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Publication Date: November 9th, 2021
Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Is this the end?
What happens when you ask a bunch of losers, discipline cases, and misfits to save the galaxy from an ancient evil? The ancient evil wins, of course.
Wait. . . . Not. So. Fast.
When we last saw Squad 312, they working together seamlessly (aka, freaking out) as an intergalactic battle raged and an ancient superweapon threatened to obliterate Earth. Everything went horribly wrong, naturally.
But as it turns out, not all endings are endings, and the te4am has one last chance to rewrite thirs. Maybe two. It’s complicated.
Cue Zila, Fin, and Scarlett (and MAGELLAN!): making friends, making enemies, and making history? Sure, no problem
Cue Tyler, Kal, and Auri: uniting with two of the galaxy’s most hated villains? Um, okay. That, too.
Actually saving the galaxy, though?
Now that will take a miracle.” (Goodreads)

Here’s to another book series that I have finished! But also, boo to this journey actually being over! 😢 Squad 312 has been a great group of friends and I am sad to this found family go.

The book is told from multiple point-of-views just like the first two books. Most of the characters are not together and or have interesting backstories to tell to help give us more information. It’s always nice to get into their heads. I don’t know if I could honestly pick a favorite point-of-view. They were all good! Tyler did have a lot of chapters and he made me laugh quite a bit though so I could be persuaded to pick him, haha. Some of the characters did feel a bit more secondary than they have in the previous books but I did like what we got from them.

I did rate the last book a whole star less than what I rated the first two. I don’t think that the ending to this trilogy was bad and it does actually wrap up nicely, especially after there were so many plot lines from this particular book. Personally, I just think their third book is usually the weakest. In this book there is so much still going on all the way up and past the 50% mark. It felt like the plot focused more on the relationships of the squad members, which don’t get me wrong some parts had me smiling, but it didn’t leave a lot of room for the rest and to me the ending/final arc felt a bit anticlimactic. I also would have really liked more focus on the Ra’haam.

Overall, it was an enjoyable conclusion. I still would recommend this series, especially the audiobooks, because it has great tropes and the characters are very loveable.

Goodreads Monday: The Stars Between Us by Cristin Terrill | 12-20-21

Hello Readers!

Goodreads Monday was hosted and created by Lauren’s Page Turners and has now been taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off.

Title: The Stars Between Us
Author: Cristin Terrill
Genre: Ya Sci-fi
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books

“There’s always been a mystery to Vika Hale’s life. Ever since she was a child, she’s had an unknown benefactor providing for her and her family, making sure that Vika and her sister received the best education they could. Now, Vika longs for a bigger life than one as a poor barmaid on a struggling planet, but those dreams feel out of reach. Until one day Vika learns that her benefactor was a billionaire magnate who recently died under suspicious circumstances, and Vika has shockingly been included in his will. Invited to live on a glittering neighboring planet, Vika steps into a world she can hardly believe is real.

The only blight on Vika’s lavish new life is the constant presence of Sky Foster, a mysterious young man from Vika’s past who works for her benefactors. She doesn’t like or trust Sky, but when she narrowly escapes an explosion and realizes someone is targeting the will’s heirs, Vika knows Sky is the only one who can help her discover the identity of the bomber before she becomes their next victim. As Vika and Sky delve into the truth of the attacks, they uncover a web of secrets, murder, and an underground rebellion who may hold the answers they’ve been looking for. But Sky isn’t who he seems to be, and Vika may not escape this new life unscathed.

In The Stars Between Us, Cristin Terrill sweeps readers away to a Dickensian-inspired world where secrets are currency and love is the most dangerous risk of all.” (Goodreads)

I got an early access email for this one and it sounded so good I couldn’t resist downloading it! In the email they mentioned The Grace Year which definitely had my attention too. I love the cover and I can’t wait to start it!

Does this one sound like something you would read?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

First Lines Friday (11/4/21)

Hello Lovely Readers!

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?

  • 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!
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I’m gonna miss the Draft.
The Hadfield is disintegrating around me. Black arcs of quantum lightning are melting the ship’s hull to slag.”

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The book is….

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This first line comes from the first book in a trilogy! With the last book coming out this month, I wanted to share the first lines! I have read this one and loved it.

Have you read this book? Do you want to read it?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

First Lines Friday (9/17/21)

Hello Lovely Readers!

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?

  • 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!
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She was seventeen, and her life was about to end.”

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The book is….

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Here is an underrated book for your tbr! This is a ya sci-fi duology and its so good! I honestly never see anyone talk about it which is a real shame. You can find my review for book one here.

Have you read this book? Do you want to read it?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Audiobook Review: Nyxia Uprising (The Nyxia Triad #3) by Scott Reintgen

Title: Nyxia Uprising (The Nyxia Triad #3)
Author: Scott Reintgen
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Publication Date: April 16th, 2019
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3 stars

In the highly anticipated Nyxia Triad series finale, Emmett and the Genesis team must join forces with a surprising set of allies if they’re ever to make it home alive.

Desperate to return home to Earth and claim the reward Babel promised, Emmett and the Genesis team join forces with the Imago. Babel’s initial attack left their home city in ruins, but that was just part of the Imago’s plan. They knew one thing Babel didn’t. This world is coming to an end.

Eden’s two moons are on a collision course no one can prevent. After building eight secret launch stations, the Imago hoped to lure Babel down to their doomed planet as they left it behind. A perfect plan until the Genesis team’s escape route was destroyed.

Now the group must split up to survive the hostile terrain and reach another launch station. As both sides struggle for the upper hand, the fight leads inevitably back into space, where Emmett, his crewmates, and their new allies will fight one final battle for control of the Genesis ships. Win this time, and they’ll survive Babel’s twisted game once and for all. As the Imago world falls, this is the last chance to rise.” (Goodreads)

I have finished another series! Only 5 more to go which is pretty impressive.

Since I liked the sequel a bit more than the first I figured that the third would be a bit better to. Honestly, this was my least favorite of the trilogy.

There was one new aspect that I liked which was the multiple point-of-views. Before, we got one or two chapters from someone who worked for Babel. I really liked seeing the situations through another character’s eyes.

Besides that, this fell short with the action. Don’t get me wrong, there is some but it just felt lackluster and the ending was very anti-climatic. At least it wraps up but I’m still left with a lot of questions about the planet they were on and the group of people that lived there. There just wasn’t enough information about them.

Overall, it was a good but I just needed a bit more from it.

Arc Review: Pastel Pink (Zadok #1) by Nikki Minty

Title: Pastel Pink (Zadok #1)
Author: Nikki Minty
Genre: YA Fantasy / Sci-fi
Publication Date: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Self-Published
Rating: 2 stars

Thank you to BooksGoSocial and Netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!





“From one ending comes a new beginning…
Ruby was murdered on Earth eighteen years ago and reincarnated on Zadok as a Pastel Zeek named Harlow. To be born at the bottom of her race’s caste colour system to a middle-class family of Magentas has made Harlow a source of conflict amongst the ruling Purples, and a source of derision from all three colours.
When Harlow is attacked by a fuegor on Zadok, the effects of its slow reacting venom triggers an unforeseen phenomenon, and due to the strong connection she had with her former twin sister Jade, her human spirit is unexpectedly drawn back to Earth.
Now living a double life, she has plunged into a world of intrigue on both planets.

On earth, she watches on in horror as Jade reconnects with Lucas, the man who murdered her and got away with it. And to complicate things further, she’s being pursued by Alex, the ghost of Lucas’ twin. On Zadok, she becomes embroiled with Jax, the son of the Commanding family. He’s determined to bring about change to the colony’s colour system, but it’ll come at a cost.

As Harlow mixes with the political intrigue of the Zeeks, will she become a victim of those trying to rigidly maintain the status quo or will she usher in a revolution?
And will ghost Ruby resist the temptation of the handsome Alex or pursue an impossible relationship that could have dire consequences on both planets?” (Goodreads)

I always like to try indie books because sometimes they really surprise me and I find new authors to enjoy. I was looking forward to this one after seeing it as a “read now” on Netgalley. Plus, the cover is just so pretty! I really like the colors and it’s eye-catching.

For the first 18%, I was enjoying what I was reading. The writing was good and there were different plot points that kept me engaged. Nothing really stood out to me until the colors of the characters skins became more of an issue and different distinctions shot up red flags.

I did run these things by others to make sure I wasn’t jumping to conclusions and others saw the same issues I did. As someone mentioned, this could have not been beta read and since the author is from Australia that may also be a reason. I’m not sure but let’s just get into the discussion.

In the second chapter, we are introduced to Harlow who is a Pastel. In her region of the planet there is a construct for the different colors of skin. The top is Purple, middle is Magenta, and Pastel is at the bottom. Each one has a different job/task based on their color. Pastels are seen as weak and useless. Sometimes they are born blind or lose their sight.

Again nothing occurred to me until a Purple, the commander’s son, started talking about how these people shouldn’t be segregated as right now they are separated by the different colors. He wants to change it while others, his mother included, do not want to. This just seemed oddly similar to our own history in America. Another thing that added to this point is when there is a comic and words in illustrations that say, “No Pastels Allowed.”.

There was also a passage that talked about how the men wear their hair and that they would have dreadlocks or cornrows. She also made sure to mention that Zavier, a Pastel, had a tangled mess instead of the other two hairstyles. Both of those hairstyles are usually linked to the black community. Later on in the book, the author describes a character of being, “…tall powerful physique of a female basketball player from the human world–only curvier, sexier.” Before that she mentioned that this character has muscular thighs. If I remember correctly, this character was a Purple so she was at the top.

On this planet there are also other groups of people living, one being the vallon. They are described as having red skin. A few passages about them did remind me of Native Americans. One of those reasonings being the color of their skin and they are also mentioned as riding horses, raiding colonies, and stealing young pastel girls. They also come from the desert and Harlow described them as being jealous of her colony having all the best resources.

There are other passages that made me feel uneasy about the chosen color system for these characters but I don’t want this review to be too long. I will say that at least there was talk about being one race and wanting unity but it still left a bad taste. I’m just not sure what the intentions behind it all were.

As for the rest of the book, I did like the writing. There is violence in this book and it does start off with it. It’s definitely what kept me interested in reading. The two timelines come from Harlow and her as Ruby’s ghost. There is also two point-of-views. All of this can be overwhelming at times as it doesn’t leave too much room for explaining the world-building better as we are thrown from one place to the next.

When it came to the world-building, I was a bit confused. On the planet that Harlow lives there is modern conveniences like a hospital and café but they also do jobs as hunters and gatherers. They even trade for supplies. They also don’t live in modern homes as their dwelling place is in caverns. I’m not really sure exactly how all of this goes together and I just had a really hard time trying to imagine it all in my head.

Another thing about the world-building is that animals, or monsters as I’m not sure, were never described and neither was some of the different words used by the people. One phrase being, “…the deeper the pigment, the bigger the whingers.” This was used to describe those complaining at the café. This could also be seen as another point to the above when it comes to race.

The only other thing I want to mention is the character of Alex. I liked him at the beginning but by the end I hated him. He was literally giving his brother a free pass when it came to murder and wanting to murder other people because of his childhood. It just wasn’t good.

Overall, this started out strong but quickly took a turn that left me feeling uncomfortable with the color system of this book. Although there were a few interesting plot points, I can’t say that I would recommend this book or that I will be continuing on with this series.

Audiobook Review: Nyxia Unleashed (The Nyxia Triad #2) by Scott Reintgen

Title: Nyxia Unleashed (The Nyxia Triad #2)
Author: Scott Reintgen
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Publication Date: July 17th, 2018
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3.5 stars

Getting to Eden brought Emmett and his crewmates one step closer to their promised fortune. But surviving Eden may be the biggest reward of all.

Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.

Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.

But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?” (Goodreads)

After liking the first book (although not a lot), I decided to continue on to the second as the cliffhanger of the last chapter had me intrigued about the continuation of the plot. As I mentioned previously in my review for the first, there isn’t anything groundbreaking about the plot when it comes to YA Sci-fi. I feel like its very surface level and even though the plot twists can be a bit shocking, everything else still remains quite average.

The sequel begins where the first book leaves off. Emmett is caught between a rock and a hard place due to the last situation he found himself in but he is still holding on to the promises of Babel.

I still haven’t fully connected to any of the characters but do understand the struggles of their family life or even what is to come. There is a lot of danger and they are risking a lot. There is a couple relationships that have formed but honestly, there isn’t much development to them so it’s hard to feel anything for it.

The setting is different as they are no longer on a ship but now they are on the planet. It was interesting to see the interactions between the teens and those born on the planet. There is information shared about the Adamite population here and there but I feel like there could have been more. Since it is also the planet where Babel mines the Nyxia I wish there would have been more information about it too. There has been talk about it’s abilities but not enough to ever fully grasp what it is exactly. It can be dangerous though and does cause an issue for the teen group.

There is always a lot of talk surrounding Babel and what their motives are. It’s not that I don’t care about their hidden agenda but the company just feels like so many others in sci-fi writing. It’s hard to be intrigued by it. I do like that they include a different point-of-view other than Emmett to help explain things a bit more.

Overall, it was good and a tad bit better than the first. It may sound like it’s not my thing but it isn’t bad, haha.