ARC Reviews

Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms & Space edited by Zoraida Córdova

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Arc was given by St. Martin’s Press & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (February 15th 2022)

Maybe we really should reclaim the stars! Friends, if you know me then you know I always get nervous reading anything that’s sci-fi, but oh, this anthology was a pleasant surprise. I always feel like I’m such a hard reviewer on sci-fi reads, but I really enjoyed my time within these pages and have found myself daydreaming about galaxies far, far away.

I’ll be honest, there were so many stories I fell in love with during my time reading. Trying to choose just one feels like an impossible choice. However, I think my two favorites were The First Day of Us by David Bowles and Tame the Wicked Night by Zoraida Cordova. Though there were many other stories in this anthology I deeply loved, these two in particular had me clutching my pearls. Maybe it was the romance or maybe the spark of the characters, but I just really loved these two stories best.

As always for my anthology reviews, I have mini reviews for all the short stories where I talk about my thoughts, feelings, and include content/trigger warnings.

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Reign of Diamonds by Anna-Marie McLemore ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of death, violence, wounds

I won’t lie, I was pretty excited that this was the first story we get to read upon first starting. I’ve really enjoyed Anna-Marie McLemore’s work in the past and seeing their name on the list of authors had me really hyped up about this book. With that being said, this story didn’t disappoint. As always, McLemore writes characters that are so beautifully layered and contain multitudes that you can’t help loving the story, no matter how emotional it gets. I’m not saying I got soft and sappy over these two princesses, but they have my whole heart. And I lowkey wish this story got made into it’s own book.

“There was something heartbreaking at that moment, the two of us staring like that.”

Flecha by Daniel José Older ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of a plague (Silent Cough), grief, loss of a loved one, mentions of genocide

This story had me absolutely sobbing, ugly crying everywhere. Maybe its due to some of the themes within this story or maybe it was due to how vivid the emotions emanated from these pages. Truly, this is one of those stories that stand out to me the most because of the impact it had. I really loved this and I can’t wait to see what other stories this author has written for us, the reader, to discover.

“I’ll become that arrow of Ochosi, launched for divine justice – sacred, razor sharp, unforgiving.”

The First Day of Us by David Bowles ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one, grief

Did I fall madly in love with this story because of a polyamorous relationship? Yes, yes I did and I don’t care who knows it! Truly, I wish there were more short stories, more stories in general, out there that normalize polyamorous relationships. I think this story was so well-done, so beautifully handled, and I loved the way how the feelings between each character manifested. Honestly, I wish this had it’s own book because I loved it so much and I feel that there’s so much more to discover about this world, these characters, and I just have a mighty need to know more about everything that was this short story.

The Tin Man by Lilliam Rivera ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Pandemic, natural disaster, grief, loss of loved ones

This wasn’t a bad short story, but this story hit my emotions so hard that I thought I was going to have to skip it entirely. You follow the perspective of a child, potentially young teenager, who’s not only trying to survive, but is coming to terms with the loss of their family. This story is beautifully written, easily to get emotional over, and a main character you want to see have the happy ending they deserve. The reason why I gave it three stars is just due to the fact that it caused me to go into a sensory overload and after that, it was very hard to maintain a lot of the details.

This Is Our Manifesto by Mark Oshiro ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of incarceration, mentions of death, brief mentions of police brutality

Another story that had me wrapped up in my feelings. Our story follows a character named Ramona coming across a manifesto. In this manifesto, we learn about these planets that holds those who’ve been incarcerated and the horrible treatment they’ve had to endure. This story hit close to home and left me weak in the knees. When I say the world melted away and there was only this story, I say it with my whole chest. Mark Oshiro has such a beautiful talent for taking serious topics that happen in the real world and manifesting it in literature, in such a poetic, emotional piece that leaves you with countless thoughts and feelings. And the way this story ends on a strong note, but also a kiss (yes, a literal kiss) is truly the icing on the cake.

“There is one thing we – the abandoned, the diminished, the harmed, the forgotten – want you to know. We will dismantle them all. And when we do, we are coming home.”

Creatures of Kings by Circe Moskowitz ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, talk of death, mentions of cancer, scene of homocide

This is the first short story in this anthology that had me really questioning how I felt about this story. And I have to admit, I’m a little bias towards stories that involve gods of death, grim reapers, etc… I just really enjoy those type of stories, like a lot. However, I felt a lot of confliction with this story due to the mother in this book. Our story follows an mc who can’t die and whose mother refuses to tell her the truth. I was really curious to see how this story was going to unfold. Honestly, I know why the mother acts the way she does, but I really didn’t like her and her behavior (no matter the circumstance) just painted her as a terrible person/neglectful parent. That aside, I did enjoy the story and I was invested to see how everything would unfold. However, I still have many questions and I’m still asking myself what the hell did I just read.

Eterno by J. C. Cervantes ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, hospitalization, car crash, mentions of terminal illness, manipulation

Much like the story before this one, I was very conflicted on my thoughts of how I felt with this story. Again, this is another story that involves gods of death or grim reapers except this time they’re called eterno and things are anything but peaceful. Also, this short story is told in then and now flashes. Ultimately, I liked the story, but at times it felt like it was a lot of information to keep track of between flashbacks. Like, I was INVESTED in the mc and their romance! And then… it hit a point where my brain dumped all the information, my eyes glazed over, and my brain just goes, “Yup… Nope. Can’t keep up with this.”

White Water, Blue Ocean by Linda-Raquel-Nieves-Pérez ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Dead naming, misgendering

Okay, the concept of this story had me clutching my blanket because it was so good! A curse has been placed upon the Garcia family by an ocean goddess, making them unable to lie without emanating a terrible smell. We follow Gabriel, a non-binary teen returning to their family, who refuses to accept them for who they are. I was completely captivated by the whole element of everyone in this family being unable to lie. What I think I loved most about this story was the subtle bond between Gabriel and their father. It’s not a main focal point of this story, its very subtle, but its there and those moments were very wholesome. And the way Gabriel constantly keeps coming back to the ocean, their love for it radiating through the pages so much. It fills my heart with a lot of warmth.

Leyenda by Romina Garber ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexism

I want to state that I’m not fully sure if this short story has any relation to Lobizona, but there did seem to be hits towards it in some of the parts of this short story and it is set in the same world. So if you haven’t read Lobizona yet then you might want to skip this short story. Let’s talk water witches! Yes, the mc of this story is indeed a water witch. She is a force to be reckoned with and I absolutely adored her. She has no problem standing up for what she believes in, but when she does, there are those who are very displeased with her. I always enjoy the characters that Romina creates and the abilities given to those characters are always fascinating to watch unfold. If I’m being honest, anything Romina writes, I feel invested in. I wish we got the chance to see more of Zaybet and their story especially with the way this story concludes. I’m so invested and I need more!

Color-Coded by Maya Montayne ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Abandonment

I was really interested in premise of this short story. In this world, when women hit puberty, they start to develop a magical abilities. Some ladies develop the power of flight, someone may set things on fire, or even obtain abilities relating to plants or creatures. However, our MC is terrified of this happening to her after having a terrible experience with a loved one. Honestly, I was really excited to see where this story would go. I think the premise of getting magical abilities when you reach maturity/puberty is a really interesting element to loop in. However, I wasn’t in love with this story. It feel like some things were missing and personally, I just didn’t like the MC. The MC spent large portions of this story whining, throwing fits, and due to that, it felt like a lot of excitement I had about the story ended up dying down a lot. And it doesn’t help that the MC’s mindset doesn’t start to change until near the end of this story.

Magical Offerings by Nina Moreno ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Displacement

I was pleasantly surprised and caught off guard by this story. This is story of a girl coming to terms with who she is, what her abilities are, and finding out the place you can call home has been right there all along. Honestly, I was really surprised on how much I enjoyed reading this. The atmosphere as it starts to build to the climax of this story was just chef’s kiss. I think the part I loved the most was watching the MC truly discover who they were and what they were capable of. Seeing the MC come to terms with that and how happy they felt was just one of the best elements of this story.

Rogue Enchantments by Isabel Ibañez ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one, harassment

I’m so hyped to read more from this author! I loved so many elements about this book, the atmosphere, the brief mention of dragons, just so many things I fell in love with in this story. Our story follows an MC who just took over her abuelita’s stall to sell magical brushes and paints. However, since the start of their first day, things seem to be quite amiss from what they originally thought. With sabotage a foot, our MC has to get crafty to seek out the truth and put a stop to all of the harassment. Again, I loved this. It’s a very atmospheric read and I constantly wondered if the MC was going to get the justice they deserve.

Sumaiko Y La Sirena by Vita Ayala ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of slavery, loss of a loved one, hostage situation, manipulation, brief depictions of blood, death, murder

Who doesn’t love a good story about sirens? This story is sure to deliver a love story you won’t forget! This story was so sad, but so beautiful. And this is the first time I’ve seen sirens told in this way. I won’t spoil it for you, but it was really good, enough to make me go, “Damn! The plot thickens!” This stories follows our MC who once was a siren, but has been stranded on land. When one night, after singing to the ocean, another siren reveals themselves. But, after the MC’s father passes away, terrible things will begin to happen. This was such a captivating story. The atmosphere is so good with setting the tone especially in the more climatic scenes. However, I adored the connection between our MC and the siren she becomes close with. I loved the way their friendship built and way it slowly blossomed into something more.

“It is said that on clear nights, two glowing shapes shapes can be seen frolicking in its water, the laughing sound of their joyous song carried for miles on the wind.”

River People by Yamile Saied Méndez ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of parents (in the past), grief

What an atmospheric read! I can’t decide what I enjoyed more; watching the story as a whole unfold or the MC blowing me out of the water. Truly, this was a really good read. We follow an MC who can talk to ghosts and not only ghosts, but can speak with the river god of the Paraná River. This gift comes in handy when one day the river god tells the MC that her older brother is in terrible danger. Thus, our heroic MC does everything she can to save her brother before it becomes too late. This was a really good short story. I was so sad when the story finally ended because I wanted more. This was such an easy story to get caught up in because the pacing starts of slow, but once the pace picks up, you’re just along for the ride and the ride is fantastic!

Moonglow by Sara Faring ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of sex, illness, abortion, abuse, physical violence

Let me just say that this story… this story was a wild ride and I’m still asking myself what the hell I read. I don’t know if I walked away from this story shell-shocked or in the midst of processing everything, but I sure wasn’t expecting the story to unfold that way it did. One of the key elements of this story is it’s told in diary entries which adds a bit of ominous atmosphere and leaves us, the reader, wondering what the next entry will hold. We follow an MC who talks about about her love and the things happening within her household, from the mischievous to the more unfortunate events. I was hooked, hanging off the edge of me seat waiting to know how this story was going to conclude. Though I haven’t read anything by this author before, this honestly has me excited to look into more of their writings.

Killing El Chivo by Claribel A. Orlega ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of loss of parents, brief mentions of starvation, mentions of abandonment, depictions of blood, death

Okay, this should come as no surprise by how much I adored this story. How each word had me hanging by a thread, wondering what was to come next. I love the way Orlega writes; the way she creates worlds and characters always has me excited. Okay, so maybe I was a little bias going into this, but truly, at the core of it, I do enjoy the stories this author writes. We follow an MC who is learning magic to help assist the remaining people of this world stop El Chivo. Many people have already left or have died, but our MC with her sister and aunt have devised a plan on how to put an end to all the tragedy that has been plaguing their homeland. I was fully captivated by this story and maybe it was how quickly the pace picked up, but oh, I couldn’t consume this story fast enough. I think my favorite part had to be the way it concluded. The ending just felt so powerful and after day of finishing this anthology, I still think about this ending relentlessly.

Tame the Wicked Night by Zoraida Córdova ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Minor war themes

Have I maybe, kind of, sort of fallen in love with this story because a mortal falls in love with a fallen goddess? – Yes, yes I have and I have zero regrets about this! I think I just loved everything about this story. From the MC who’s been gifted an ability with plants to the way the relationship blooms, thinking back on reading this story, I don’t have a single complaint. With my whole chest, I adored this story. We follow an MC who refuses to marry and choose to stay true to himself, and so he’s sent into the mountains to tame The Night. The Night is said to be a fierce beasts that takes no prisoners, and anyone who dare enter the mountain never returns. Yet what our MC finds is so much more than what they could have expected. And there’s a goat. A very charming, quirky goat with his own little attitude and little chime ins! I know I’ve said it a lot, but I really loved this short story and this is probably my first piece by this author that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. This has me excited to see what other pieces this author has created.


I gave Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms & Space four stars overall, because out of the possible 85 stars (5 stars being possible for all 17 stories) this anthology accumulated 71 stars (83%)!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun

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When a little alien is sent to observe the humans of Earth, thing slowly begin to take turns in which the little alien never understood before. Instead of humans, the little alien stumble upon many creatures who teach him valuable lessons of life, love, happiness, and even loss.

“we will always be with u. we internalize traits we observe in others as a way to honor and remeber them. we are all living memorials”

When picking this book up, I had no idea I would like this book so much. From the first page to the very last, you’re met with pure innocence learning about some of the greatest things in life; love, happiness, loneliness, and even loss. Every character in this book offers such a unique perspective on the things happening and I doubt that any reader won’t find at least one character they relate to. This is one of those reads that are wholesome, pure, bittersweet, but also something so much more.

However, among all the cuteness and the pureness, I can understand why many readers wouldn’t like this book. This book doesn’t have the greatest spelling in the world. Whether the spelling was intentional or not, this can definitely make reading this book difficult at times. While the spelling didn’t bother me too much, if you’re someone who gets upset and bothered by things being spelled wrong then I doubt you’ll like this book. There’s so much this book offers from the life lessons to relatable characters, but spelling is the reason why I lowered the rating from five stars to a four star.

Overall, this book was truly pure and wholesome. It was like reading about life lessons told from, not only the perspective of a child, but from various characters of different ages. It just has that kind of vibe to it. It’s also an incredibly quick read that has cute, little drawings to help the reader understand what’s happening on that page. I think this little book will be the book many readers will need to make their heart feel warm and fuzzy. Definitely a book worth reading with any younger siblings!

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Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Content/Trigger Warning: War themes, graphic details, mass death, suicide, trauma, PTSD, anxiety

“Miracles are statistical improbabilities. And fate is an illusion humanity uses to comfort itself in the dark. There are no absolutes in life, save death.”

Synopsis:

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Side Note:

Highly recommend the physical book over the audiobook. If you do the audiobook, I highly recommend having the physical book with you while listening to it. I ended up missing this little detail… BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more.” I think not seeing these little details really had an effect on my reading experience. So I am hoping that I’ll get the chance to reread this book in the future with an actual physical copy.


This book took me absolutely forever to finish unlike with my spouse who practically devoured this audiobook. In my defense, we have been buddy reading this since the end of April and we agreed to a three month reading (or listening period, rather) period. Unfortunately, we didn’t plan a through breakdown of this because we both jumped into it immediately.


After so many friends and other fellow readers telling me that I needed to read this book, I finally picked up the audiobook. This was one of two other choices for a buddy read between my spouse and I. This was the one we both mutually agreed on. I had so many friends cheer that I picked this up. My only issue, I’m not a big sci-fi reader and sci-fi is one of my most challenging genres to put myself into. So, I was a little skeptical about reading this book especially since my track record with sci-fi books is like me trying to trudge through quick sand. However, I gave this book a shot with a dash of benefit of the doubt and have some mixed feelings.

Ships:
🌻 HypatiaThe ship Kady is located on
🌻 AlexanderThe ship Ezra is located on
🌻 Copernicus – Third ship in the fleet
🌻 LicolnEnemy battleship

Main Characters:
🌻 Kady GrantTech expert, takes things seriously, protege of her master Byron Zhang, girlfriend to Ezra Mason
🌻 Ezra MasonEasy going, likes to joke around, pilot ident, boyfriend to Kady Grant
🌻 AIDANAlso known as Artificial Intelligence Defense Analytics Network, AI of the Alexander

“The universe owes you nothing, Kady. It has already given you everything, after all. It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you. The only way it will remember you is to do something worth remembrance.”

My Thoughts:

I’m not going to lie, this was a really slow book for me to get into. I probably didn’t start getting into the book till about two and a half quarters, borderline three quarters, through the book before I actually started to become interested in what was happening. The beginning felt really slow and at first didn’t make a lot of sense. It was really hard for me to figure out what was happening. It was especially hard when it felt like so many perspectives were happening all at once in such a quick amount of time. As I stated above, there were parts that I ended up missing because they were images and I ended up listening to this instead of reading an actual physical copy of the book. So I think that played a part in why things maybe didn’t make sense or it felt like I was missing key details.

My only saving grace during the first two and a half quarters of this book was Ezra’s banter, the interactions between Kady and Byron, and the interactions between Ezra and Kady. These were some of the interesting points that would capture my attention and want to know more. I find both of the main characters very interesting and it was wonderful to see how their personalities went hand in hand with each other so well. That slow burn between them so so wonderful. In fact, I found myself really connected with Kady and Ezra’s relationship. I found it very similar to my own relationship between my spouse and myself. When I found that connection, I definitely felt more invested in Ezra and Kady. Not just as a couple, but also as individual characters. Kady is a very intelligent and entertaining character and Ezra is not only witty, but also shows his vulnerability. It was also nice to see a healthy relationship put to the test, but still handled in a healthy way especially during difficult times. They were like each other’s anchor and even though they each faced some hardships, they kept one another grounded. I wish we had more main character couples like Kady and Ezra.

“I am frequently underestimated. I think it’s because I’m short.”

AIDAN, however, is an entirely different story. I have so many mixed feelings about AIDAN. This AI was something I hadn’t expected. Brownie points to both of these talented authors for creating an AI that remind me of the AI, GLaDOS from Portal 2 and the AI, H.A.L. 9000 from A Space Odyssey. Also, plenty of kudos for the both of them making AIDAN have some human characteristics. For making this AI frightening, heartbreaking, caring, so human and real, and reminding me of my one of my favorite characters from Mass Effect, Legion. His point of views are unique and will definitely capture the reader’s attention, but I will admit, there are some parts that I found were giving me creepy vibes and goosebumps.

“If I breathed, I would sigh. I would scream. I would cry.”

And while there were things I really liked, one of the most unforgettable and horrifying things that this audiobook kept making me relive was playing through the Dead Space franchise. There were parts where my skin crawled and my adrenaline felt like it was kicking into over gear. If you have played that game franchise and read this book, then you know what I’m talking about. Some of those climatic scenes on the Alexander had me almost falling out of my seat, with my soul escaping my body due to imagining everything.

I think my biggest struggle was the ending though. Yes, I got a little emotional, shed a few tears, worried for Kady and AIDAN there for a few good minutes, but ultimately semi-liked the ending. I think my struggle with the ending was mostly with the time gap. It felt a little rushed and for me, it was a bit confusing on how we went from one point of time to a year later. It felt rushed or at least left something to be desired in the ending. Other than that, I thought the ending was cute and it encourages the reader to go forward with the next book in the series.

Overall, I think this was a good book especially for my first book by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. As I stated before, I definitely think the physical book would have been a better choice for myself just because it did feel like I was missing a lot of details. However, this book had me debating left and right on how to rate this book and after sitting on my feelings for it for a couple of days, I think I genuinely liked this book. I’m shocked and I’m kind of eager to start looking into reading the next book in the series. Who knew I would end up liking a sci-fi book outside of Star Wars!

“She is catalyst.

She is chaos.

I can see why he loves her.”

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Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Stealing, violence/fighting, death, grief, gambling, anxiety/panic attacks.


I ended up re-reading this with Melanie and Amy for the May pick for the Dragons and Tea Book Club! This was such a wonderful time and such a great experience, to see so many readers come together to share their thoughts on this book!

The Dates & Breakdown:
May 13th – Chapters 1 – 7
May 14th – Chapters 8 – 14
May 15th – Chapters 15 – 22
May 16th – Chapters 23 – 28
May 17th – Chapters 29 – End


“I’d never flown before, and here I was preparing to journey to the stars. What other choice did I have?”

On a dusty, backwater planet called Jinju, thirteen year old fox spirit Min has been dreaming a life in the stars. That dream soon becomes a reality when one day a stranger shows up at her home looking for her older brother Jun. Soon, Min is discovering unkonown family members, avoiding tigers, fighting along side space pirates, impersonating a ghost, and all the while enjoying the adventure of a lifetime! With challenges around every turn, Min feels torn in every possible way. Add an ancient Dragon Pearl into the mix and you got yourself an adventure that deserves to be told. Embark on an intense space adventure with Min and she searches for her missing brother and the lost Dragon Pearl!

Dragon Pearl is filled with magic, a Thousand Dangerous Worlds, dragons, tigers, ghosts and goblins (OH MY!) And of course the fox spirits, but mostly everyone believes they’re non-existent. With a bad reputation of being unreliable tricksters, no one wants them around. Our main character, Min and her family have been suppressing their fox spirit and their abilities (like charm and shape-shifting). Filled with mystery, action, and world building, it’s hard not to get sucked into this space opera.

Creature Factions:
🌻 Dragons – Enormous, uses weather magic, can terraform planets
🌻 Goblins – Ability of invisibility, mostly secret agents, can also summon food with their wands
🌻 Ghosts – Spirits that have unfinished business, most likely haunting someone/something
🌻 Tigers – Large in size, strong, fierce, feared by everyone
🌻 Shamans – Healers, help ghosts crossover
🌻 Humans – Like you and me
🌻 Fox Spirits – Bad reputation, considered myths, extinct, Min and her family

“The lasting prejudice against us annoyed me. Other supernaturals, like dragons and goblins and shamans, could wield their magic openly, and were praised for it.”

Other Factions:
🌻 Dragon Council – Galactic government
🌻 Space Forces – Military, Min’s brother is a part of them
🌻 Mercenaries & Pirates – Factions of all kinds trying to survive by whatever means


Okay, this book had so many wonderful and perfect aspects! First, our main character has a great character development that I wish we got to see a little more in middle grade books. Min is thirteen years old and already laced with lots of responsibility at home. Once she embarks on the journey to track down Jun (her missing brother), she has to make choices and do things she never anticipated doing. The way she goes from being so unsure about things to near the end knowing what she wants and how she’s going to do it was just so impressive. And while this might be frowned upon, I loved the fact that Min was learning and using weapons was also included in this book. While I do frown upon violence with weapons, I loved that the whole “just because you know how to use a weapon doesn’t mean you have to use it” method was put in there. Not to mention the strength of the sibling bond between Min and Jun was incredible. Family is absolutely everything in this book! As someone who has four siblings and is very close to one of them, this was absolutely precious. I couldn’t get over that sibling bond and love. Also, fox spirits can choose their own gender. The author adding this little fact in just made my heart swell with happiness.

Once we get to the part of Min “joining” the Space Forces, there’s so much detail and different things happening. She also meets two insanely fun characters. We’re introduced to Sujin, a goblin, who has a clear obsession of shrimp crackers and it’s absolutely precious! Then we get introduced to Haneul who has been referred to as smelling of the sea. Both of these characters are each unique and both have amazing talents. Both have amazing character developments with a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming! And one of the best elements in this whole section that I wish we got to see more of was Min entering the Engineer’s Trance. This trance happens when an engineer ends up synchronizing their gi with the ship’s where it ends up becoming part of the engineer’s own body. I wish we got more sections like this because I found this so fascinating and I just wanted more!

Other little bits I appreciated were mostly from the end of the book, like the very much Star Wars and Mulan vibes given, the way the mythology is woven throughout this book, the Dragon Pearl having response characteristics (making it seem alive and aware, and not making inanimate), the ghosts sharing their history/story about what happened to them, the planet being made new again, and a few other little bits that I don’t want to spoil for you!

Side note: There’s a moment in this book where the investigator of the Thousand Worlds, Securit Officer Seok, comes back into the picture and this moment about blew my mind. He’s taking Min home and the whole scene feels very Lilo & Stitch, Cobra Bubbles vibes! It’s perfection and I get the biggest smile every time I think of that part!


“Then the pearl hummed as if in approval, its iridescent surface glowing so brightly I was dazzled. Its colors swirled in a maelstrom of glittering blues, greens, and grays lit by starry gleams of silver. I stared at it, enthralled by its beauty.”

For the most part I enjoyed this book. There were only three issues that made it a bit challenging. For starters, the book starts off really slow. Some readers got into this book really quickly, but I’m not usually a big sci-fi reader so this book ended up taking me a little bit to get into. My other struggle was also one of the most detailed sections of the book and that was the Space Forces bit. A lot was happening within this whole section and at times it felt like things weren’t escalating or the section would feel like the details were weighing the multiple chapters down. Lastly, I really didn’t like how obvious the author made the villain. There were specific details that were stated in the book that implied there might have general concern or wanting to protect Cadet Jun, but the outcomes were so different. I loved the twists, but I wasn’t a fan of the obvious villain for this book. It became so predictable once it was made obvious of who the “bad guy” was and it fell a little flat.

Overall, I really liked this book. I was always wondering what was going to happen next and what Min was going to get up to. This is probably the first sci-fi book I read that delivered mystery with a playful side and I could definitely see this book being turned into the series (really hoping for a series!). Even the way this book ended was so beautifully done and there were even parts where I got emotional. Whether you’re a sci-fi reader or not, a middle-grade reader or not, this book is definitely for anyone and everyone. I had such a fun time reading it and once I got sucked in, it was hard for me to physically put it down. I recommend this book for anyone who’s interested in mythology and most definitely sci-fi. Plus, it’s just a really fun read and even better when you read it with friends!

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