ARC Review // Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

ARC Review // Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

Thanks to Rock the Boat for sending me an ARC to read and review!

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Dreadnought by April Daniels

Dreadnought is the first book in the Nemesis series by April Daniels. We follow the story of Danielle, a superhero who just happens to be transgender. This is a world where superheroes are a part of everyday life and when Danny is confronted by a dying Dreadnought, one of the world’s best superheroes, it isn’t long until her life is completely changed when with his dying breath, he gives her his powers and changes her from the boy she was born into the girl she has always been. Faced with her new appearance and blossoming superpowers, Danielle is drawn into the world of heroes and villains alongside her fellow class-member/masked vigilante, Sarah/Calamity as they work together to stop Utopia, a super-villain hell bent on controlling the world.

Thank you to Netgalley for sending me this.
Goodreads | Book Depository
Fifteen-year-old Danny will take your heart and then proceed to jump all over it. She broke my heart, she made me smile, she made me feel strong just by how positive she could be even when so many bad things were happening. Her dad is unable to accept her transition, immediately finding ways to ‘fix’ her whilst shouting abuse at her and every slur under the sun so I must point out trigger warnings for transphobia. Her mum stands on the sidelines, too frightened to intervene and even fellow superhero, Graywytch constantly misgenders and dead-names her. The one thing that remains positive is Danny. She takes every situation and tries to make the most out of it, even when she wants to give up, she finds the strength to keep on going and not because she’s a superhero, but because that’s the type of girl she is.
The entire cast of characters are diverse – Danny being trans and a lesbian, one character being an sentient android and Calamity being Latina. This, primarily, is the story of the strength behind women and it is their story and although there is no romance, there is a hell of a lot of female friendships. Although this is a story about superheroes, Danny is still an average teenager. She goes to school, she worries about homework and friendships, all whilst saving the world. She experiences what it is like to be a girl on more than just the inside when she experiences blatant sexism from her ex-best friend who assumed because she now ‘looked’ like a girl, they should probably start dating. However, Danny just spends this book shutting everyone down and I had to stop myself from cheering each time.
If I had one problem, it was that the author tended to info-dump a lot of the ‘science’ parts to the point where I had no idea what was going on and found myself skipping through it, whilst still being able to follow the story. Maybe it is because I’m not the most scientific of people, but for me it just seemed like too much thrown at you all at once. The ending of the book is truly like a movie, the action was fast-paced and had me sitting on the edge of my seat.
The best thing about this book is that I wouldn’t just recommend it to people who are fans of superheroes but also to people interested in the trans community or just want to read a coming-of-age story as I truly believe Danny grows so much throughout the course of this relatively short novel. She faces everything head-on and makes light of every situation with a joke – even to the point of asking for food after an epic battle which is what I would probably do. Her relationship with Calamity and Doctor Impossible was a highlight for me – they are three very difficult people but come together again and again and portraying the strength in female friendships. There are so many questions I have and backstory I’d love so I cannot wait for the next book. Read this book, guys. It is fun, important and revolutionary.
Love, Angharad @

The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

Nemesis is a Diabolic – a humanoid creature created to protect one individual, and destroy anything that threatens them. Nemesis is bonded to Sidonia, daughter of galactic Senator von Impyrian, whom the Emperor considers a threat and a heretic. When the Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court, Nemesis knows this could be a death sentence, and finds only one way to protect her – she must become Sidonia, and visit the court in her place.
Amongst the Grandiloquy, Nemesis discovers the true intentions of the Emperor, as well as of his heir Tyrus, said by all to be a madman. Whilst learning to navigate court intrigue, attempting to hide her true nature, and being away from Sidonia for the first time since their bond was created, Nemesis begins to discover the one thing that she believed Diabolics didn’t have – her humanity. 


When I first started The Diabolic, I described it to my husband as being “like Ancient Rome but in space”. I’m sticking by this description, as simple as it is. This was a very odd mash-up of worlds – the political and court intrigue in the style of the Roman Empire, with Roman titles and Latin-esque names, but in a futuristic world where Earth has become unsustainable, those living planet-side are viewed as commoners, Senators live on their own huge ships and rule over small sections of the galaxy, and the Emperor’s court is made up of numerous spaceships all docked together. Although I’ve read many Roman/Grecian style novels, I’ve never read any Sci-Fi ones, and I did really enjoy this aspect of The Diabolic and the world-building in it. 

In terms of characters, I loved Nemesis. She went through so much character development, and although “unhuman creature finding their humanity” may sound like a bit of a trope or a stereotype, it really wasn’t in this book! Nemesis’s thought processes and inner conflicts with herself, her feelings and her behaviour played out really well. Because of this, despite her supposedly being unhuman and without emotion (which definitely wasn’t true), she was actually a really easy character to relate to. I loved how protective she was over Sidonia, and how Donia always saw her as an equal and saw her humanity, even if everyone else in the Impyrian household and in the Emperor’s court believed her and other Diabolics to be nothing more than servants without feelings. 
There is a romance in this book, but I didn’t think it was a bad one. It wasn’t rushed into and the way that it was built up, it just seemed to make sense, especially with the events going on around the characters, and with the characters own developments and storylines.

A lot of reviews that I’ve read for this book seemed to think that it was too violent. Perhaps it’s my dark British mindset and sense of humour, but I just didn’t agree with this. Yes, it was violent, it was bloody, and it was packed full of nasty plots and backstabbing, but I just didn’t think it was too much? I’ve definitely read more violent books – the ASOIAF series is darker and bloodier than this book by far. Obviously this is just my personal opinion, as it’s others that it’s too violent, but I just wanted to say don’t let the violence put you off! Chances are you’ll be like me and not see it as being too far. 

Although I was happy with how the book ended and I wasn’t expecting the very final plot twist, I didn’t like what happened to lead to the conclusion, if that makes sense. I won’t say anything else about this as it’s a big spoiler! 

Overall, I enjoyed The Diabolic; it would have been almost perfect if the last few chapters had been slightly different and if they’d maybe been a bit less rushed. I think that this book could have easily had another hundred pages or so and benefited from it, and I definitely would have liked to know some more about certain characters, as well as the world it’s set in in general.


A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers


I think I can sum up these two books by saying they just make me happy. I can also easily say that these books won’t be for everyone – there’s not a lot of action or plot, it is about the characters, their relationships and their struggles. The events of this book take place soon after the ending of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and although there are a few references to the previous book, I think this could be read as a standalone. We now follow the stories of Sidra, an AI previously known as Lovelace as she comes to terms living in a synthetic body, with no memories of her previous life. Our second character is Pepper as she tells the story of how she was made and titled Jayne 23, one of many little girls created purely to work in factories across the galaxy. Overall, Becky Chambers delves into the world of AIs and sentient vs non-sentient beings – Sidra/Lovelace being created as an AI and Pepper being raised by them. 

It is a book of character development – Pepper being brought up by ‘Mother’ AIs and then Owl, an AI that saves her life and essentially becomes the most important person in her life – the mother she never had. We follow Pepper from the age of 10 as she escapes her compound prison and out into a world she has never seen before. Not even knowing what a sun or sky is, unable to read and used to only liquid meals, a voice appears from nowhere and becomes her saviour. Owl, an AI, programmed into a near crashed ship takes Jayne 23 under her wing (har har) and the two form a bond that lasts over nine years until they finally leave the desolate planet. This relationship killed me, destroyed me. Owl is the only person Jayne has despite only being a face on a screen. She teaches her everything, looks after her and even temporarily installs herself into a virtual gaming body so she could sit by Jayne. So many of their moments made me want to cry – they essentially save each other.

We also follow the relationship of Pepper and Blue and find out its origin but a new relationship formed between Sidra and Tak, an Aeluon tattoo-artist who essentially helps her come to terms with her new, synthetic body that she feels she doesn’t belong in. Becky Chambers writes these friendships that are so pure and full of understanding that you can’t help but feel happy. It was one of the strongest points in the first book and it has continued in the sequel. We also fall back into this galaxy of many different species, cultures and laws but the one thing remains, this is a book that focuses on the importance of consent, gender pronouns and sexuality. Throughout the story, Tak, being an Aeluon, regularly switches between genders and it is just a normal thing. These primarily sci-fi novels are more informative on important issues than most contemporary books. 

Overall, although I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as the first one, it is still definitely a 5-star read for me. Everything Becky Chambers writes just blows my mind. She writes sci-fi without info-dumping, without epic space battles and yet still manages to construct these worlds and characters with so much depth that you can’t help but become emotionally-attached to them. Pepper, Blue, Sidra, Owl and Tak – people so different and yet bound together by trust and love. I’m not sure what the author has planned next but whatever it is, I’ll be first in line on release day. I want to thank her for allowing me to come back home amongst the pages of her story. 
This book will be released on October 20th

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

“No sapient could sustain happiness all of the time, just as no one could live permanently within anger, or boredom, or grief.”  
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is an adult science-fiction novel that follows the story of a crew aboard the Wayfarer, a ship whose job it is to tunnel through space. This isn’t your average sci-fi novel – it doesn’t consist of twists and turns and epic space battles but focuses more on the crew and their characterisation. This may put some people off but this book was everything and more, in my opinion and has definitely become an all-time favourite of mine.
This book is definitely not plot-driven. It centres more on the characters separately and also as a whole. It is the story of their journey and our journey as we are welcomed into their world. We see their world as Rosemary does, with fresh eyes. We learn with her and eventually, we even feel accepted into the family alongside her.
One of my favourite dynamics in any book is family dynamics and this book had it. You have this crew of very different people, not just their species but their backgrounds, their beliefs, their genders, their sexualities and yet they form this beautiful space family. Rosemary, a Martian woman trying to escape her past. Sissix, an Aandrisk pilot and the only one of her kind on the ship. Ashby, the Captain of the Wayfarer and also a pacifist dealing with his distant love. Ohan, a Sianat pair who can navigate the stars. Dr Chef, a Grum who basically feeds and looks after the crew. Kizzy and Jenks, the ship’s version of mechanics and even Lovey, a sentient AI who runs the ship and dreams of having a human body. Together, they are the space version of misfits but their relationships transcend the planets they travel through.
Gender pronouns are not only important in this world but they are also normalised. A person/species isn’t labelled a gender until they confirm it and some species even identify as both a male and a female during their lifespan. Ohan is referred to as ‘they’ due to being a Sianat pair without question. I was beaming like an idiot! This is a sci-fi book that not only deals with the intergalactic but also with modern-day subjects without preaching. Even racial slurs are touched upon as this world has their own version of them. In one of the very first chapters, a crew member is shut down by the Captain after using a slur.
We find out about the history of every species in this world without info-dumping!! We find out everything from their diets, religions, how they raise children, how family dynamics work even their individual languages. I’ve never known a book to include so much information without it being in big, boring chunks. I was so invested in each species and their differences. Something else I loved is that humans are probably the least common species in this book and they are the ones who are often questioned. This was such an interesting touch to any other book ever, for once humans aren’t at the centre. Overall, in no way do I wish this book could have had more of a plot and that surprises me. Discovering the Wayfarer in this book was kind of like discovering Hogwarts, you just wish it was real and the people were real because it feels like home. I was emotionally connected to the family that lived within its walls and am so desperately excited for the sequel.
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?
Let us know in the comments!

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

(Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book.)

“If there are infinite worlds, how do I find the one that is uniquely, specifically mine?”

My main thought after reading this book is that nothing is real. It creeped me out extremely but not because it’s a horror but because it gives off such a desolate feel, you feel as desperate as the main character, as scared as him, as alone as him. This book made me feel tiny, it made my head explode and I’m still recovering. Yes, it is based around science and therefore there are quite a few scientific monologues but they are short and to the point so even someone with a very average scientific mind, such as myself, found it very easy to follow. 
Dark Matter is a sci-fi novel following Jason Dessen, an ordinary college physics professor. He’s happily married to his wife, Daniela and they have a teenage son, Charlie. Everything is perfectly normal until one night he is kidnapped, drugged and wakes up strapped to a gurney with people smiling down at him – people who call him ‘friend.’ He has no idea where he is or who these people are but in this universe he is a famous scientist who has achieved the impossible. This book deals with the idea of multiple universes – that every choice we make makes a fork in the road, where another version of us exists that made that choice. Our universe is just one of many, we are just one of many. 
In terms of characters, Jason was a real breath of fresh air for me. It’s rare that I read a book with a male protagonist I actually enjoy. I felt his every emotion, I felt his despair – everything felt as real to me as it did to him. His love for his wife and son allows him to find them, even when it should be impossible: they are his driving force. He doesn’t want the world in which he’s a scientific genius, he wants the world where he’s happy with his family. My main problem, and the reason I didn’t give this book the full five stars, is Daniela. Not because I didn’t like her but because there wasn’t enough of her and at one point, I felt as though her character was mistreated to the point Jason makes her sound like a prize in a raffle. I wish she had more of a role other than just to exist in multiple universes for Jason.
The writing was very simple but as a whole, this novel read like a movie. Not surprising seeing as Blake Crouch is a screenwriter. If this was ever put on the big screen, everybody would leave the cinema with exploded brains. It would be amazing. The book was very fast-paced and although the chapters were relatively long, it is addictive enough to speed through. This is the one word I would sum up Dark Matter – addictive. Every time I attempted to put it down, I immediately picked it back up again. Just as you start to think you know what’s happening, you get hit around the face again.  
I have always semi believed in the idea of multiple or parallel universes and this book just made it all the more interesting. In this vast universe, how can we be the only ones? What happens when we make a life-changing choice? How much would our paths have changed? This book does not have a ‘satisfactory’ ending, it is left very open, especially when it comes to some characters. To some, they may want answers, but isn’t that the point of this book? There is no ending, this universe is infinite, nothing is ever tied up into a little bow. I think this is the type of book that couldn’t have ended any differently than it did.
Overall, I truly loved this book. It is like nothing I’ve ever read before and I’d recommend it to anyone, not just the scientifically minded. It will blow your mind, confuse you, excite you and hook you. It will make you question your entire existence so, you know, nothing big.