Review: The Starlight Watchmaker by Lauren James

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Wealthy students from across the galaxy come to learn at the prestigious academy where Hugo toils as a watchmaker. But he is one of the lucky ones. Many androids like him are jobless and homeless. Someone like Dorian could never understand their struggle – or so Hugo thinks when the pompous duke comes banging at his door. But when Dorian’s broken time-travel watch leads them to discover a sinister scheme, the pair must reconcile their differences if they are to find the culprit in time.

What an absolutely charming novella. Lauren James is one of my favourite authors and an auto-buy for me. I picked this book up at YALC alongside a free necklace which is very cute (and I’m actually wearing right now)! I remember seeing the cover reveal of this and knowing immediately I wanted it on my shelves, and it didn’t disappoint.

Considering this book is only just over 100 pages, James manages to create a quietly vivid world with a great atmosphere. I honestly marvelled at some of the things she had dreamed up and described in ways I could picture so easily. The Starlight Watchmaker is set on a college campus, but is also in a very futuristic, sci fi world with different planets, androids and species. The college campus setting was recognisable enough and easy enough to picture for me as the reader to be able to comprehend the rest of this wonderful world.

Hugo as a character was brilliant. Lonely and trying to find a place in the world, hiding himself away and not realising how dire his need for friendship was until he meets Dorian. Both characters were cleverly written and I quickly sympathised with them in such a short amount of time.

Overall, this was such an enjoyable read as usual. The only reason I’m knocking off a star is purely because the language was a little young for me and felt very simplistic compared to her other novels. Obviously this is a very personal reason as I’m sure young teens would absolutely adore this!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh

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A century ago, scientists theorised that a habitable planet existed in a nearby solar system. Today, ten astronauts will leave a dying Earth to find it. Four are decorated veterans of the 20th century’s space-race. And six are teenagers, graduates of the exclusive Dalton Academy, who’ve been in training for this mission for most of their lives.
It will take the team 23 years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years spent in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong. 

When I saw this author was going to be at YALC, I was intrigued right away. YA book about space exploration? I am THERE. And I have to say, I haven’t been left disappointed.

Granted, this book was not perfect. But it was so intriguing, enjoyable and had so much depth to it. We follow ten astronauts, 6 of which are young people who have been picked for the long journey to Terra-Two, a brand new habitable planet.

First of all, I adored that this focused on young people. Due to the long journey and need for the astronauts to still be fairly young when they reach Terra-Two, this book also shows them growing up and maturing as the teenagers they are. A 23 year space exploration journey isn’t going to be without it’s problems and sufferings, but throw in 6 teenagers and you have yourself some kind of twisted reality style story. And I loved it.

Seeing the difficulties these teens faced as they dealt with so many struggles on and off the ship was deep, meaningful and hit home for me. And it’s not just the teens, the adults face their own kind of problems too. Each character was deeply troubled in their own way and had suffered their own loss and guilt, and I adored that because it made them real. Of course these astronauts are brave and strong and completely badass, but they have to learn to work with each other no matter their differences.

The setting of space gave these characters a unique backdrop for their rendezvous, and the whole notion of Terra-Two was so interesting to me. Although I couldn’t picture the ship perfectly, I had some idea from the description for the more important scenes.

Unfortunately, I did have a few other small issues with the book that let this review down from 5 to 4 stars. I found the pacing very off. Yes, this book is definitely a slow burner, and in a lot of ways that did work. But I just wish I’d been more driven to pick up this book in the earlier pages, and only found myself fully hooked for the last couple of hundred. I also found that because of the large cast of characters and third person view, some of the more emotional scenes weren’t as gripping as they could have been.

However, these were very small issues in what turned out to be a very enjoyable, somewhat gripping, drama filled novel. It’s a very strong debut, and I’d love to pick up more of Temi Oh’s work in the future.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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T5W: Friends in Sci Fi and Fantasy

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey. You get a new topic every Wednesday, and you list your Top 5 books related to that topic. If you’d like to take part, join the Goodreads group, and add your name to the list of bloggers & booktubers!

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When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he’s the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts, a wizarding school brimming with ghosts and enchantments, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers which could be valuable, dangerous – or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

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Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes
Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

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It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

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It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.
Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…
Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Which friendships do you love in sci-fi or fantasy?

-Beth

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T5W: Underrated Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey. You get a new topic every Wednesday, and you list your Top 5 books related to that topic. If you’d like to take part, join the Goodreads group, and add your name to the list of bloggers & booktubers!

Hi all! So I’m definitely going off-topic with this one as we were meant to be talking about creatures from sci-fi and fantasy books. But that’s a topic I struggle with and we did a similar one late last year, so I’m going to do underrated fantasy and sci-fi instead!

All of these books (aside from the last one, which has just over 20,000), have under 10,000 ratings on Goodreads.

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I loved this book so much when I read it. It’s an underrated dystopia, and is about a cult/religious group. Such a unique concept, and one I loved so much!

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I cannot even tell you how much I adored this book. It blew my mind, and I can’t wait to hopefully re-read it soon as it’s been too long!

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Lauren James is by far my favourite sci-fi author, so she deserves to have 2 books on this list, okay? Okay.

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A romance book that includes time travel? Hell yes. Another one I’m due for a re-read soon.

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Of course this one might not be quite so underrated, it’s Leigh Bardugo for gods sakes, but I had to mention it. If you love fantasy and short stories, this is the book for you. It was one of my favourite reads of 2018!

Which underrated fantasy and sci-fi books do you love?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? 
Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. 
With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Wow, unpopular opinion much. I know there is much love around this series and I’m sorry, but my opinion seems to be the complete opposite of what everyone else thinks. Oops.

Oh my god. I didn’t think it could get any worse, but reading my review of Gemina, I think I actually liked this one even less. The bottom line is, I was just even more confused because there are way too many characters in these books! Let’s just have a quick throwback to me a couple of years ago when Illuminae came out. I was where everyone else was, fangirling over this new book with a completely new style of reading. I honestly think it was just so refreshing to read something so different, but since then, both books that followed just seem like retellings of the same world. I can’t help but feel that success, rather than love made the authors release the other two.

“May we meet again on distant shores.”

And another thing I hate about not only having so many characters, but also the camera surveillance way this story is told? I felt so damn detached. Yeah, this book is emotional and yeah, I loved the poetic parts. But I still don’t give a damn what happened. Sorry for my cold heart and black soul.

Like 80% (at least) of this book was just boring and I couldn’t focus. Only a small number of pages actually made me feel like I was invested or involved in the book at all. But on the other hand, this really small amount of pages…were awesome. I loved them, I felt completely in the world and I felt the emotion. And I guess I do have one popular opinion, because I LOVE AIDAN. Like, I flicked through the whole book looking for those black pages. I loved his parts, and I wanted so much more. If only the book was just AIDAN…

“Some place fine and far from here.”

But that’s where the good stuff ends, and other than that, I was so disappointed. I wanted it to all end so I could read better things. I’m glad I managed to finish this series, but that’s about it.

Well don’t let the fact that I disliked this one put you off – it’s such an unpopular opinion after all!

★★
2 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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