For the first week of September, I took a week off from work. And if you know me, you know the vacation always means one thing: more time to read! Below you’ll find a list of the books I read over vacation, including one that I disliked. I don’t usually post negative reviews here. I don’t have anything against them, I just prefer to talk about the books I enjoy. But, if I want to cover what I read over this vacation, it’s going to have to include a title that just didn’t work for me.
In addition, this post is actually missing a review! That’s because one of the books I read over vacation was Map of Shadows by JF Penn. This book is part of my reading for Self Published Fantasy month, and I have a post about that going up next week. It felt strange to post an almost identical review for the same book two weeks in a row, so I thought I’d just remove it from this one.
Here we go!
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Science Fiction/Young Adult)- Tyler Jones is a top student at Aurora Academy. He should have his pick of students to form his first squad, but he misses his chance when he decides to rescue a young woman trapped in cryogenic sleep. Left with the dregs, Tyler must find a way to make his team work while they unravel the mystery of the woman he saved. After all, the knowledge and abilities she carries has the power to change the universe.
Aurora Rising is a fast paced, action packed novel, filled with tons of space opera tropes. Unfortunately, as someone who’s been reading/watching sci-fi for decades now, everything ended up feeling a little too familiar for me. Don’t get me wrong, I normally like seeing a new perspective on classic story lines, but these authors didn’t necessarily add anything new and interesting to the genre that I hadn’t already experiencing watching say Star Trek or Firefly and the corresponding movie Serenity. I also found that I just couldn’t connect with the characters.
Aurora Rising was a reminder that while I still enjoy reading young adult books, they’re not written for me, a woman in her 30s. Given the amount of praise that had been heaped on this book, it’s clear the a teenaged/early 20s reader with less experience with the space opera genre would likely enjoy it more, and find the characters more relatable. But for me, Aurora Rising didn’t work and I won’t be reading the sequel.
What Happens at Con by Cathy Yardley (Romance)– Ani is an over stressed grad student looking to blow off some steam at Erotica City Con, which leads her straight into the bed of a mysterious stranger. Unfortunately, once the masks come off, Ani realizes that this “stranger” is actually the misogynistic Abraham, a local game designer that she can’t stand. But there’s no denying the heat that exists between the two of them. Are Ani and Alabaman meant to be a one night stand. or more?
The hate-to-love romance has certainly been done before, but Yardley handles it really well here. I love the journeys that the two characters go through. Abraham must learn to shed his misogynistic ways (inherited from his father, and nurtured in the military), and Ani needs to learn to out smart and stand up to her jerk off adviser. The chemistry between the two characters is really well done, and the ending feels earned. This may be my favorite book in the Fandom Hearts series yet.
First Test and Page by Tamora Pierce– In the spring, I reread Tamora Pierce’s Immortals Quartet. I ended up enjoying the experience so much that I decided it was time to revisit The Protector of the Small series. I ended up reading the first two books (First Test and Page) and a big chunk of the third (Squire) during vacation.
Ten years after Alanna the Lioness disguised herself as a boy to become a lady knight, girls are now allowed to openly train for their shields. The first person to attempt this is Keladry of Mindelan. The Protector of the Small series is all about her journey from first year page to full grown knight and the physical, emotional and societal challenges she must face as Tortall’s first openly female trainee in centuries.
I’m pretty sure I haven’t read Kel’s story in over a decade, but I was nevertheless impressed at how easy it was to get pulled back into her story, which seems more relevant now than ever. Progress is wonderful, but it’s never without backlash. In the years since Alanna has earned her shield and saved Tortall, conspiracy theories have cropped up to explain how she could possibly accomplished such unfeminine things. And it’s this backlash that really sets Kel’s journey apart from Alanna’s, who never had to deal with outright sexism during her training, as everyone believed her to be a boy. Kel’s discipline, and her ability to do what is right and fair impressed me again and again.
I’m so glad I decided to reread this series, and look forward to finishing it.
And those are the books I read over my vacation.