Updated: May 27
Space and Villians - that was the theme for my September and October reading and man, did I read some really great titles.
Please note. Thoughts and reviews are potentially spoilery.
The Lux Series | Jennifer L Armentrout | YA Paranormal
The Lux Series is probably my favorite series from JLA. The lore and concept is so intriguing and attention-grabbing. I didn't know I would ever love alien stories this much. I thoroughly enjoyed the lore and the characters. Even Katy, the female protagonist. is my current favorite out of all of her MCs. I am going ahead and say that this series has a way better plot and is better edited compared to her other series. *cough* FBAA *cough* The premise itself is so very unique & fun.
Obsidian (Book 1) | Immediately, I felt a connection with these characters and I was intrigued with the premise. Obsidian is a powerful start to this whole series. From the tension, the drama, and the villain(s), this was a wonderful read. Katy as an MC is likeable and relatable. Even if the story is a chock-full of overused tropes in YA, JLA uses them remarkably. A part of me wishes JLA would write more sci-fi instead of high fantasy as she is so great at this.
Onyx (Book 2) | Despite being the second book in the series, Onyx didn't suffer from the mid/second book syndrome. It was entertaining from the beginning to end. I didn't like the love triangle route that she decided to pursue and I'm glad it wasn't the main storyline. In Onyx, a new antagonist has entered the game and it was a brilliant addition t the story. I've noticed that JLA loved recycling storylines/character arcs and sometimes tweaks the ending of them. Katy is still my favorite in the series which is saying a lot because MCs are rarely my favorite. Romance-wise I appreciate the relational development between K + D and how they didn't immediately get together after the events of book 1. The banter and tension only got better. I was also heartbroken by Adam's arc but it shows the reality and danger of the story.
Opal (Book 3) | Even better than book 2. In Opal, we get new players, higher stakes, and even more protagonists. It is more action-packed and wider in scope. I love that it isn't mainly centered on Daemon and Katy's stories but on the 'side' characters and their development as well. Dee's arc for one was painful but realistic and I appreciated it. In book 3, we get to met some of the Luxen leaders. Their appearance in the story promises more action, drama, and intrigue. We also get to meet characters outside of the Luxen community and even some of the Arum ones. Opal solidified the Lux series as my favorite out of JLAs series that I've rad. The beginning was great and the ending was even stronger. And that cliff-hanger ruined me.
Origin (Book 4) | This installment was even more wonderfully action-packed than the previous ones. I loved the complexities of the overarching plot. It begs the question of who is the real villain in the story and it was brilliant. The lore of this story just gets better and better. One of the deaths seemed a tad unnecessary and was an unsatisfying end to their character arc. It was also rather convenient that the casualties have been only among the least fan favorite characters. However, it was great to see more of the Luxen and Arum especially the elders. The scope of the story was wider and even more intriguing because of it. I can't get over the ending and the events leading up to it. Every book in this series end on a high note that leaves you anticipating the next one.
Crown of Midnight | Sarah J Maas | YA High Fantasy | The first time I read and finished Crown of Midnight, I ended up having one of the worst reading slumps I've ever had at that point. It took me about 2 months to get out of that hole and start reading for fun again. Life circumstances may have also added to that, but still. 😅 This time around, I thankfully didn't get into a slump. But the story and the ending still left me shattered. Crown of Midnight was a glimpse of what is to come for our faves and the rest of the series. It gives us a snippet as to have vast this world SJ Maas has created and how intricate the overarching plot will be. I'm excited and absolutely terrified to read on, even though I already know how it all ends
Truthwitch | Susan Dennard | YA High Fantasy | This is another re-read. The fourth installment in the series was released a few months ago and @alexalovesbooks and I decided to start at the very beginning and refresh ourselves with the story. I honestly believe this is an underrated series. The world-building is so fascinating and intricate and the characters are multi-dimensional.
The Illuminae Files | Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristof | YA Sci-Fi Dystopia
I am mad, absolutely mad at Kaufman and Kristof. How dare you make me care about an AI? And so immensely?! The Illuminae Files is a compelling unique series that is also visually and aurally brilliant story. Written in an epistolary-like format with stunning, attention-grabbing illustrations, the Illuminae Files was an experience and a half.
Illuminae (Book 1) | Set in a Futuristic Dystopia, Kady and Ezra find themselves on a planet on the verge of being annihilated and forced to evacuate only to be pursued by enemy warships. Little do they know that that’s only the beginning of their problems.
The Illuminae Files was an experience and a half. With the interesting illustrations, witty banter, sweet correspondences, deadly plagues, entertaining dossiers, fascinating world-building, and sassy dialogues, I was immediately obsessed.
The writing itself is beautiful as well and just reels you in. The storytelling/narration by one of the characters was absolutely stunning and is one of my favorite things about this book. My heart was shattered into a billion pieces. There were so many things happening, one after the other, that I was holding my breath through most of it.
At this point, I’ve read the entire series but I think I still love book 1 the most, mainly in thanks to Kady, Ezra, and Aidan. I adore kady. I love that she is a nerd and a brilliant hacker but can also bring someone down if need be. She is funny and smart but doesn’t necessarily want people to know that. Ezra is incredibly sassy and I love him for it. And Aidan? He has my whole heart. I’m slightly annoyed by how beautifully poetic this AI is compared to me. I cried. I laughed. I was blown away.
There we so many good and lovable characters in this story that even the minor ones had wonderfully fleshed-out backgrounds and personalities. James Mcnulty’s character and his ending in particular broke my heart. The humor throughout the book is top-tier or maybe because this is my humor in real life, but I was cackling nonstop at the dynamic between most of these characters.
From the storytelling to the plot, and the diverse characters, Illuminae was an experience and a unique one at that. I just wish I can read it again for the first time.
Gemina (Book 2) | In hindsight, I probably should have taken a break from book 1 instead of jumping immediately into book 2. I missed one particular character and his narration so much that for most of the book, I felt like I was grieving him. I was so spoiled by his storytelling that Gemina was less emotionally impactful for him. However, it was no less brilliant than Illuminae. The twists and turns in this book were brilliant and took my breath away. I wondered how Kaufman and Kristoff were going to follow such a great series starter, but Gemina did not suffer from the second book syndrome.
The overarching plot in this story was genius and brilliantly executed. I was geeking out when it was revealed. Contrary to others’ opinions, I rather enjoyed the antagonists in this book and how we can also see things happening from their perspective. Gemina is more action-packed than book 1. The stakes are higher and we get to see the wider ramifications should they fail their mission. I was blown away by the multiverse concept and how well they executed it. The tandem story telling is both universes gave me chills.
It was also lovely to see beloved characters from the previous book and to see how their stories are developing and how each individual arc adds to the overall story. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Hanna as a main character. We are similar in a lot of ways but I am more emotionally connected with Kady from book 1. I appreciate Hanna’s growth in this one even if it had to happen when **** already hit the fan. She stepped up and became a leader her father would have been proud of.
I adore Nik. He is the bad boy, morally grey character in this book and I’m typically drawn to that. I’m not sure how I felt about how their relationship developed either. On Nik’s part, I understand it, but on Hanna’s end, it seemed premature. The guy she was in love with and was in a long-term relationship with just passed and she immediately jumps into whatever it is she has with Nik. It’s a little difficult to believe.
Overall, Gemina was a wonderful sequel to a brilliant first book.
Obsidio (Book 3) | A great end to a wonderful series. Illuminae is still my favorite from the series, but Obsidio was a strong ending to a brilliant story. I love how far our characters have come and I appreciate their individual and collective growths. I am amazed by how Kaufman and Kristoff crafted very unique yet equally fascinating plots for each of the books in the series.
A Touch of Darkness | Scarlett St Claire | NA Greek Mythology Retelling
A Touch of Darkness is a Hades & Persephone retelling in an urban, more modern day setting. This is where their story begins.
A Touch of Darkness (Book 1) | A Touch of Darkness was not what I expected, but I’m not mad about it. It was a tad bit anticlimactic for my liking, or so I thought. I went into the story expecting more action and, for a lack of better term, more drama, but looking back I appreciate that this story focuses more on Hades and Persephone’s relationship and its development. There were a lot of aspects to Persephone’s story and character that I related to and it was little difficult to read them, but I appreciate her growth
A Touch of Ruin (Book 2) | Much like in book 1, the direction of the story wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t think there was much of a plot. I was hoping for more action and battles. But once I got past that, I now appreciate it for what it is. This series is more character than plot driven. It is more about the psychological workings, social dynamics, and dealing with trauma and its aftermath.
As i’ve previously mentioned, there are some aspects to Persephone’s story that resemble my own and there were other turn of events in the book that made it difficult to read through without crying my eyes out. A Touch of Ruin focuses more on Persephone’s relationship with other people - her friends, her mom, and Hades.
Persephone annoyed me for a good portion but she is slowly growing into who she is as a person and is learning to fight for who she wants to be but at the same time, learning to let go of the things she has no control over and things she shouldn’t have control over. Her relationship with Hades was a push and pull. Hades a was a tad bit frustrating in this book especially with how he treated P like a child and kept things from her in the effort to protect her. However the parallels aren’t lost on me that P did the same with Lexa. We see our characters especially Persephone, deal with pre-existing trauma, her emotionally abusive mother, her budding but complicated relationship with hades, and the assault she experienced in this book.
The build-up has taken so long and I’m itching for us to get to the peak. I just know something big is going to happen and I’m ready for it.
Heir of Fire (Book 3) | Sarah J Maas | YA High Fantasy | Heir of Fire was the hardest for me to read this time around. This was the book wherein Aelin was at her lowest and darkest. At the beginning of it and for most of the story, she was completely lost and at a loss. Up to that point, she had absolutely no will left to live. I’m sure a lot of us have been in a similar place. HoF in my opinion is the coming of age not just for Aelin but for the main trio. They made questionable choice, were immature and infuriating at times, but this was where they began to shed their naivety and slowly grew up.
The world began to expand in this one and I’m grateful for it. Maas introduced us to new concepts and aspects of her world and it was a wild, wonderful ride. I thoroughly enjoyed the lore about the witches and the fae. I don’t know if Heir of Fire is a favorite of mine but I admire and respect Maas’ world-building in this one.
Kingdom of The Cursed (Book 1) | Kerri Maniscalco | NA Paranormal | As with the first book, Kingdom of the Wicked, Maniscalco has a wonderful way with words. I love how she describes simple, ordinary things so beautifully without being too flowery. Her analogies are stunning and she is so hilarious and witty.
Kingdom of the Wicked was an immediate fave when I first read it last year. It’s no surprise that Kingdom of the Curse is also on the top of my list for 2021. The intrigue and mystery are brilliant. I admire and love how she uses everything she puts on paper. Nothing is coincidence. Nothing is wasted. Even the seemingly insignificant passing scenes and things have purpose and meaning. They add something to the plot and makes you exclaim during the reveals that “It was right under our noses!” The hints are sprawled all over the story. Even if I was also to predict some of the plot twists, the execution was done very well. I thoroughly enjoy how she writes intrigue and suspense. If this is how she writes mystery, I am nothing but excited to continue reading her other series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, because I am hooked!
The characters in KOTC are wonderfully layered and multi-dimensional. Maniscalco gives us just enough to keep us coming back. I still have a lot of questions that need answering and I need book 3 ASAP.
Opposition (Book 4) | Jennifer L Armentrout | YA Paranormal | A wonderful conclusion to this epic series. Opposition starts off with the Luxen invasion and from there it was a wild, wonderful ride.
I really like how well she brought all the pieces together and each character arc ended. The Lux series was a phenomenal, consuming journey from beginning to end and is my favorite from JLA. The twists and turns were very well done and the characters had great dynamic. It wasn’t just the main characters either but even the secondary ones were very well written. A lot of the minor characters stole my heart and became instant faves, probably even more than Katy and Daimon. The plot, characters, lore, and editing were superior in this series compared to the others I’ve read from her.
Sometimes the dialogue was a bit too cheesy for my liking but I’ve come to realize that that is just JLA’s writing style. And the fact still stands that JLA’s writing and her stories are so addictive.
Windwitch (Book 2) | Susan Dennard | Ya High Fantasy | Book 2 in the Truthwitch Series. I just truly appreciate the complexity of these characters. They have such unique character arcs and I am in pain just reading about all the things my faves have been through. I don’t think Windwitch is my favorite in the series just because it is an overall sad book for me but I don’t fail to recognize that Dennard is incredible with building up her world and plot. The curveballs she throws at us keeps me on my toes. I don’t know who is who and what is what. The antagonists aren’t who you think it is. There are also a lot of varied social and relational dynamics in this book and they were interesting to read. Windwitch has a good combination of intense and well-written battle scenes and character-driven arcs and character dynamics.
It breaks my heart that at some point in the story Merik believed safi died and that at another point Safi also thought the same of Merik. Dennard is also selling me on the Caden and Safi ship although my heard belongs to Safik, but maybe they’ve outgrown each other at this point.I loved the short but cute family dynamic between Aeduan, Iseult, and Owl, and the unlikely and reluctant partnership between A and how they’re slowly growing attached to each other.
The relationship between Merik and Viv is so complex. They’ve spent most of their lives at odds with each other and despising on another. They are slowly realizing that maybe it was intentional they they were pitted against the other and that maybe they don’t hate the other as they thought. They are slowly coming into their own, realizing their power, authority, and the role they play in this game.
Sighwitch (Book 2.5) | Susan Dennard | YA High Fantasy | An underrated series. I aspire to be even half as good as Dennard when it comes to lore-creation and world-building.
I’ve always been amazed by Dennard’s world-building and Sightwitch did not disappoint. And the fact that this book is a novella only further adds to its brilliance. Sightwitch is written differently than the main books but its approach matches what Dennard was trying to accomplish in this story and she executed it well. In Sightwitch we get to read about Ryber’s story who was originally a side character in the previous main books. Personally,I always found her interesting. I am stunned by how intricate and impressive Dennard’s world-building and character-background creation is. She dove deep into one facet of her world and gave us astoundingly detailed anecdotes filled with beautifully written stories of characters mentioned in previous books.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Ryber’s story. It was both sad and inspiring but I think Dysi is definitely my favorite in this one. I did not have any expectations but it was a wonderful surprise reading her story and the role she played in the days of the Twelve Paladins. We also got to learn about the beginnings of Ryber and Kullen’s relationship, and it is indeed a very cute one.