book reviews, booktube

Memento: An Illuminae Files Novella

Memento by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff712ccb2aa16a05af938939ae61abe4e0

Rating: XXXXX

Published May 7th by Knopf books for young readers

“Ah. You have empathy for AIDAN.”
“Yes. That’s a good way of putting it.”
“Interesting.”

December, 2574. Forty-three days before the BeiTech attack on Kerenza IV. This is the story of my first friendship. This is the tale of my first murder? Some monsters are born. But I? <ERROR> I was made. 

So Memento is an 82-page Illuminae prequel novella that was a free incentive for preordering Aurora Rising only available in the US. For those in the UK like me, the only way to get a hold of a copy of these without shipping it to a US address was to order it through Good Choice reads in the US who would then ship the book and the Memento to you together. It was a little more expensive because of the shipping etc but it was absolutely worth it and also meant we were some of the first to receive the novella which was nice.

If you were lucky enough to get your hands on one but haven’t read Illuminae yet I would absolutely recommend reading the Illuminae books, or at least the first one before Memento. The Novella doesn’t really spoil much but you’ll get more out of it reading it after the first book. If you’ve read and enjoyed the Illuminae books you will love Memento, after being on the fence for so long about whether or not I would get on with the different kind of format we see in the Illuminae books it’s weird to say I missed it but I did. As soon as I saw the familiar layouts and style it felt like coming home and although I was happy with the ending of the original trilogy it left me wanting more again so a reread of them is defintley in order.

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New characters felt fresh and were easy to become attached to even in such a relatively short span of pages, we see AIDAN and the rest of the Alexander before, during and after the battle of Kerenza from different points of view. Memento follows AIDAN’s journey into what we see in Illuminae and as you can imagine if you’ve read the books it is harrowing and amazing. You can check out a video below with my reactions reading it for the first time and a spoiler-filled description of the plot if you were unable to get a hold of a copy but still want to know what happens.

Memento is not available to buy at this time and was only available through Knopf as a preorder incentive with Aurora Rising as mentioned. There are some rumours however that Rock the Boat is working on a way to get the novella here so fingers crossed as it’s well worth it.

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spoiler free, Tags

Aurora Rising – Squad 312 Book Tag

So last year when the cover was revealed for Aurora Rising I wrote a post discussing the artwork and synopsis we were given as well as creating a book tag for the occasion. Now that I’ve had the chance to read the book itself and as it’s been officially out for a few days now I figured I would update it and give create a single post for it to make it easier to read and take part in. If you read the previous edition you’ll notice that I’ve changed a few of the questions to fit more in line with the characters and some of my answers will have changed as it’s been about six months since I initially posted the first one.

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…

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

Let’s meet the Squad. Awesome artwork by @kiranight_art

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Tyler Jones – The Alpha. Your favourite main character.

I find I’m usually a bigger fan of supporting characters but I pretty much kind of adore Lazlo Strange from the Strange the Dreamer books. He’s a massive book nerd, gets lost in his imagination and creates beautiful dreams. I love that he believes and loves with his whole being. Not to mention that he sounds pretty gorgeous and thanks to Steve West he sounds like a slightly huskier Orlando Bloom circa the Legolas Years.

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Scarlet Jones – The Face. Which character could talk themselves out of anything?

Not only can Loki from Joanne Harris’s Loki books talk himself into a corner he has an uncanny knack of managing to talk his way out as well. I love that he always has a 50/50 chance of making things worse even if he eventually makes it out in the end.

 

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Zila Marden – The Brain. A super smart character who would probably kill you.

Most of them to be honest. I love that we’re beginning to lose that stereotypical ‘nerd’ outlook and more often than not the smartest are the most kick-ass and could almost certainly kill or maim you in multiple ways. I hate to say it but my favourite is A.I.D.A.N from The Illuminae Files, it’s crazy but damn I love that insane murderous A.I.

 

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Finian de Karren de Seel – The Gearhead. Favourite piece of fictional technology.

I mean I didn’t realise artificial gravity from almost any sci-fi book set in space ever, wasn’t already a thing that existed yet so that would be my boring answer. My better answer would probably be M-Bot from Skyward. The smart, sassy, fungi loving Artifical Intelligence inside a ship is fantastic and was my favourite part of Sanderson’s newest series out last year.

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Kallis “Kal” Gilwraeth – The Tank. A book that made you angry. 

The Island by M.A Bennett, I had to stop reading a few times because I was just so damn mad at some of the things Link did and/or got away with. Just thinking about it now is making me mad.

 

 

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Catherine “Cat” Brannock – The Ace. Fictional Crush you’re still not over. 

Okay so there’s a few but I think the oldest one would probably be Damon from The Vampire Diaries books (and later the show) but other front runners would be Jace from the Mortal Instruments, Lucien from the ACOTAR books, Jude AND Cardan from The Folk of the Air books by Holly Black.

 

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Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley – Girl out of Time. If you had to pick just one book or series to read for the rest of your life what would it be? 

I feel like I should pick a really long series to keep it interesting but honestly, it would probably be The Illuminae Files. I am forever re-reading these books. Sometimes I’ll just pick one up on a whim and suddenly I’ve read half the damned thing or quite often I listen to the Gemina Audio Book if I can’t sleep at night.
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I hope you enjoyed the slightly updated Aurora Rising: Squad 312 book tag! I’ll tag a few people via twitter but if you want to take part, tagged by me or not feel free to have a go! I’d really love it if you could link back to this post if you do so and let me know in the comments so I can check out your answers.

book reviews, book talk, spoiler free

Aurora Rising

auroraAurora Rising by Amy Kauffman and Jay Kristoff

Rating: XXXXX

Published: May 7th 2019 by Rock the Boat

“Squad 312. This pack of losers and discapline cases and sociopaths, these misfits that nobody in the whole of Aurora Academy wanted to get paired with.”

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.

Nobody panic.  

So if you’ve been reading my blog at all for the past year you’ll already be very well acquainted with this book and just how beyond excited I’ve been for its release. If you’re new here, welcome! Amie and Jay, the authors of Aurora Rising wrote a series of books called The Illuminae Files which are my favourite series of books, at the end of the last one they teased a new series of books in space with hot space elves. I have been excited ever since. We got a title, we got more details and we got art for each of the Squad members and Aurora herself and I have just been getting more and more excited. This is my most anticipated book release this year and I was lucky enough to get to read one of these gorgeous arc copies!

I went into this book rather unsure of how to feel, the first time I held it and realised I was about to actually read this book that I’d been so excited for I realised I felt some hesitation. I wanted to love it just as much as the books of the Illuminae files series and I was worried that it might end up feeling too samey or that it would be so different I wouldn’t enjoy it, but I’m pleased to report I need not of worried. Aurora Rising absolutely holds its own, being written by Amie and Jay it still has that brilliant banter suffused with action and emotion that we see throughout their own books as well as the ones they’ve worked on together and thus it contains the same essence at its core that the Illuminae Files do while still being its own entity. Much like The Illuminae Files, Aurora Rising is also set in space but that my friends, is where the similarities end and we strap in for a whole different kind of ride.

Aurora Rising is told from seven different POV’s and that may sound like a lot but it’s done spectacularly and is, in my opinion, one of the many reasons it’s so very easy to absolutely fall head over heels in love with Squad 312. Each POV has its own distinct voice and quirks and I am still taken aback at just how easy it is to recognise each of them from that alone as I often have trouble keeping track of who’s who in books with even two or three POV’s on occasion so this was huge for me. The characters themselves are fantastic and not since the Mass Effect games have I felt such an attachment to fictional characters as I have to squad 312, my squad. Each character feels completely unique and detailed, full of habits and flaws,  intriguing backstory and overflowing with their individual personalities so vibrant and rich that honestly, I could talk about them all day.

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Tyler Jones: Alpha – All round golden boy, goodie two shoes, wielder of dimples, squad leader and Captain hotness. Tyler goes through some stuff, as do the rest of the crew but I loved how he changed and moulded with the circumstances as they occurred. A brilliant leader and certainly one I would follow. 

Scarlett Jones: Face – The cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm, Tyler’s slightly more charismatic, sweet talking, red-headed twin sister. Older twin sister don’t you forget!  Scarlett is an absolute queen and really holds the whole team together. She knows when to flash a smile, a simple nod or a kind word which isn’t unusual perhaps for a face, those who are considered the peacemakers and fast talkers of the Aurora Legion but Scarlett really has an innate gift for it. Not to mention she’s sassy, confident and is well aware of how hot she is.

Zila Madran: Brain – A sociopath scientist with a fondness for her disrupter and shooting her bunkmates. Zila is cool, calculating and doesn’t mince her words, she’s no-nonsense, smart as hell and absolutely brilliant. Like Tyler, Zila had a brilliant character arc that you can really see change as time goes on, her particular quirks were especially interesting and I just loved her so much.

Finian de Karren de Seel: Gearhead – A smart ass techwizz with the galaxies biggest chip on his shoulder. Fin is a member of a pale-skinned humanoid species called the Betraskan who have to wear dark contacts above ground to protect their eyes. Fin is fantastic, he’s incredibly funny, witty and clever, he’s bi/pansexual and disabled, needing to wear an exo-suit to help with his mobility which I think was done particularly well in that it was something that was just accepted and no one tried to ‘fix him’ but he also had realistic limits. I would almost certainly die for him.

Kallis Gilwraeth: Tank – Kal is a hot, angsty space elf known as a Syldrathi, some say he has anger management issues but as the team’s tank, responsible for all things fighty this might be a good thing? Right?? Kal is utterly swoon-worthy, managing to be angry and hostile as well as the sweetest bean in the universe. I love him to pieces.

Catherine Brannock: Ace – Cat, also known at the Aurora Legion Academy as Zero, is fast flying, no crap taking, tattooed, hot-headed and absolutely not into Tyler. Cat was a hard character at times, occasionally repetitive and the one I felt least invested in for quite a while which I think may have actually been on purpose, to be honest. She pulls some damn punches throughout the story though that really gave her an extra dimension and really endeared her to me.

Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley: Girl out of time – Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries Aurora feels not only out of her time but out of her depth as well, as one might when you awaken to find everyone you ever knew has almost certainly died over a hundred years ago. I found Aurora one the harder characters to get into, not so much as Cat who I initially didn’t like and although this wasn’t the exact case with Aurora who I did like from the get-go, it just took me a lot longer to click with her like I did all of the others. I think this has more to do with Aurora trying to find herself, which isn’t a bad thing, it just meant it took me a while to find her as well which I think, especially if intentional was an extra fantastic layer to her character.

Everyone changes throughout the story and watching everyone adapt is fantastic, you really get to know someone when you see how they make decisions in tough moments and Aurora Rising is no different despite being a work of fiction. It makes me so happy to see such diversity throughout the Squad too, I loved this book to pieces and I’ll get into the rest of it but my favourite part is definitely these band of misfits.

I briefly want to mention the romance elements to this book, I won’t go into huge detail because of spoilers and this review is getting to already be huge but I wanted to put a mention in any way. Romance isn’t a huge thing in Aurora Rising but it is present, there is a ton of cute flirty language and moments which I love and there are some emotions flying around as there often is in YA novels. There is some tension that I found a little annoying at times but found easy to get over but there is also a whole other kettle of fish going on that I found absolutely fantastic and I’m not always that into the romance side of things. I’ll go into more depth when I hopefully film my spoiler-filled book talk in the next couple of days but I just want to say there are some real, pure good moments that melted even my little cold black heart.

There’s not an enormous amount of world-building here but as it is some large amount of time in the future we do get a bit of an update on what he missed thanks to Aurora needing the information, it coming up in general conversation and some handy info pages before each chapter which all felt super organic and natural instead of an overload of info which I feel can sometimes happen in sci-fi. We didn’t have to go into huge amounts of detail for any of the future tech as most of it such as artificial gravity, mag-boots the uniglass systems the team uses etc are all pretty self-explanatory and make sense at a pretty simple level meaning I don’t need to try and wrap my head around crazy new technology to understand a scene, always a bonus.

I found the plot a little slow going at times but not hugely so although there are moments when there is little to no exact direction which again, I feel is on purpose and fits with the mood of the story at the time but it irked the ‘must have a plan for everything’ part of me, I’m not a great risk taker and certainly not good with leaps of faith but that’s more of a personal issue and no real mark against the plot itself. I liked how it all came together over time and that we had a lot of different aspects throughout, we got space fights, we got a crazy heist, bar fights, creepy beyond belief aliens, an entire space station that is basically a jacked up Mos Eisley, crazy awesome mind powers and so much more. For me, this book has.it.all.

Aurora Rising is a brilliant mish-mash of The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of the Galaxy (as claimed by Jay Kristoff himself) but also has (for me at least) huge Mass Effect undertones which has firmly placed this in my favourite book category.

This book is out for general release May 7th (TOMORROW!) and I honestly cannot recommend it higher. If you’re still not sure  you can check out the first chapter and a clip of the audiobook (with a fantastic cast!) right here now and take the Aurora Legion Academy test here to see which role you would play in your own squad, I’m an Alpha like Tyler which makes sense as I over plan, am a bit of a stickler for rules and am far too bossy for my own good. Let me know which you end up as?

 

 

 

 

 

book reviews, spoiler free

Once and Future

36233085Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Rating: XXXXX

Published: March 26th by Rock the Boat

“So tell me, forty second King Arthur, do you believe your fate is to unite humankind?”

“My fate…” Ari gasped, “…is mine.”

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

So this is the part where I usually quite calmly talk about how I discovered this book (I was stalking the Rock the Boat Twitter feed for news about Aurora Rising arcs) what interested me about and made me want to read it (all of the things) and occasionally how and where I received it from (drooling over it via Twitter, thank you so much to the lovely people at Rock the Boat for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review) but honestly I just want to yell SWORDS, JOUSTING, SPACESHIPS, STRONG QUEER WOMEN, TEENAGE MERLIN, GORGEOUS FLUIDS AND NON BINARIES, MAGIC, ANGST, SEXUAL TENSION AND DID I MENTION THIS IS MOSTLY SET IN SPACE BECAUSE YES.

I’m genuinely not sure where to start with this review because as I suspected this is a book I really want to scream and shout about. The characters are all so unique and different with different strengths and beautifully tragic flaws. On the back of my arc copy one of the things this book is likened to is Mass Effect (my favourite game series) and I can totally get behind that because Ari and her ‘knights’ feel like an amazing, dysfunctional family in much the same way as the crew of the Normandy in that they all have their own goals and most of the time those goals line up but not always and that can make things messy, especially when you know each other but you’re not really sure you know them enough to trust them as much as you should. The differing interactions between the characters here feel just the right kinds of tense and it really gives weight to those moments.

I hate to say it so bluntly but this book is hot. Honestly, there are some fantastic moments that pretty much took my breath away but without being crude or even bordering on erotica. I love that pretty much everyone is a little “thirsty” because honestly they’re all beautiful and fairly confident with their sexualities and there isn’t much of any pussyfooting around these moments apart from one AMAZING almost kiss that blew me away. I’m obviously not saying that everyone needs to be like this in their day to day lives but there is certainly something very liberating and refreshing about how comfortable these kind of moments we see in this book are.

While on the topic of sexuality one of my favourite things about this book is how diverse it is, the main character is pansexual and as someone who is pan themselves I cannot explain how pleased I am and how much it means to me to see this kind of rep as we’re often just lumped into gay/straight/bisexual and it’s exhausting, we’ve been totally spoiled with Ari, she’s such an interesting, complex bad-ass and I’m honestly pretty much in love with her myself. Not only do we have a wide range of sexualities it’s also not made a huge deal out of and it isn’t used as any kind of plot point, they just are because that’s how real life works. This book is chock full of amazing characters that are gay, pan, straight, disabled, fluid, cis, non-binary, black, aromantic, mixed heritage, lanky, muscley and curvy and it really makes me yearn for something like this kind of acceptance for all – just without the evil mega-corporation, please.

I immensely enjoyed that Once and Future is not only a kind of parallel of sorts to the King Arthur tale but it also manages to completely turn it on its head and look at from different perspectives. I know the story of Arthur, Merlin, Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table is something that has been done and done and done again but honestly, you will never find another story like this, it feels so fresh and unique, not just because of the gender twist but the heart of the story just feels so very new.

The plot is an absolute ride, although I do think there are certainly some pacing issues and moments where I found myself thinking, “huh…what…how did we get here? How did this happen? Did I miss something?” as well as feeling like there were a few plot holes here and there but having spoken to Amy and Cori, I’m told there were A LOT of copy edits due to the ARCs needing to be done and sent out so early so I’m really looking forward to having another read through when my finished copy arrives today (if it hasn’t already because I’m writing to you from the not so distant past) because even WITH the small issues I had I loved this book to the stars and back so I can only imagine how I’ll feel about the complete finished product.

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Once and Future absolutely blew my mind, it riled me up, it crushed my heart then it brought me back, shoved a sword in my hand and it told me to go save the world.

Once and Future is out RIGHT NOW and just in case you hadn’t already preordered it or ordered it today then may I just say again…SWORDS, JOUSTING, SPACESHIPS, STRONG QUEER WOMEN, TEENAGE MERLIN, GORGEOUS FLUIDS AND NON BINARIES, MAGIC, ANGST, SEXUAL TENSION AND DID I MENTION THIS IS MOSTLY SET IN SPACE BECAUSE YES.

 

 

 

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Aurora Rising Cover Reveal and Book Tag

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Yesterday we were treated to the cover reveal for the newest book by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman, Aurora Rising! Designed by Debra Bilson and illustrated by the amazing Charlie Bowater the new cover features a girl who I can only assume is Aurora herself adorned with various star constellations on a beautiful purple, black and white space background.  The details, such as Aurora’s freckles and the little ‘beauty spot’ under her right eye are fantastic, not to mention she looks like someone you absolutely do not want to mess with! You can find more details at on Jay’s blog here but below you can find the synopsis, the full cover itself AND a special book tag treat from me!

From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

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.

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In celebration of my most anticipated book coming next year I decided to use the description of the new crew #Squad312 to create a brand new book tag which I hope you’ll enjoy, I’ll tag a few people but if it takes your fancy feel free to give it a go to and let me know so I can check out your answers!

First up, Squad Leader Tyler Jones – Your favourite main character
I’m usually a bigger fan of supporting characters but I hands down kind of adore Lazlo Strange from the Strange the Dreamer books. He’s a massive book nerd, gets lost in his imagination and creates beautiful dreams. Not to mention that he sounds pretty gorgeous and thanks to Steve West he sounds like a slightly huskier Orlando Bloom circa the Legolas Years.

Next, we have the Cocky Diplomat with a black belt in sarcasam – Best sassy quote
“If by fawning, you mean he’s a deer, I have a gun, and it’s hunting season, then I guess you’re right.” I believe this is from Lemons and Liars by Sage Kafsky and it kills me every time.

Now time for the Sociopath Scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates – A character you love that you really probably shouldn’t.
This one was easy. The Darkling from the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. There’s just something about him and I know he’s really REALLY not a good guy but I can’t help it! (A.I.D.A.N gets an honourable mention because I love him but I’m not so sure we’re meant to hate him).

Not forgetting the Smart ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder – Favourite piece of fictional technology.
M-Bot from Skyward by Brandon Sanderson! The smart, sassy, fungi loving Artifical Intelligence inside a ship is fantastic and was my favourite part of Sanderson’s newest book out last month.

Also, an alien warrior with anger management issues – A book that made you mad.
The Island by M.A Bennett, I had to stop reading a few times because I was just so damn mad at some of the things Link did and/or got away with. Just thinking about it now is making me mad.

Annnnd A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, (Tyler) in case you were wondering – Favourite ‘frenemies’ to love couple.
Another easy one, Nik and Hanna from Gemina. I hated Nik’s guts to start with and hoped Hanna gave him a butt kicking but I very quickly found Hanna and myself falling for the tattoo covered, smoking idiot and now they’re one of my all-time favourite ‘ships’ which I did not see coming!

Last but by certainly no means least as her name is LITERALLY in the title Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, she is a girl out of her time and out of her depth – If you could pick just one book or series to read for the rest of your life what would it be?
Is it cliche in a post promoting the new book by the same authors to say The Illuminae Files because if it is then tough. I’ve been trying so hard to resist rereading these books at the moment because I’ve got so much to get through at the moment that I couldn’t justify rereading anything at the moment but when I found I kept picking them up and just reading half of the damn things before realising I was meant to be making the bed or dinner or something I caved and am now listening to all the audiobooks…again.

That’s all folks! I’m going to tag Jay Kristoff himself (you never know!), Georgi from Niffler reads, Jeann from Happy Indulgence Books, Destiny from Howling Libraries, Jenn from Jenniely and Kate from Reading Through Infinity

Aurora Rising is due to release May 2019 so get pre-ordering now and save your receipts (especially if you’re an illuminae fan apparently!) as early next year there will be a Pre-order offer! I personally CANNOT WAIT for this book and I’ve just been screaming at all the pictures of the different ARCs and now the actual cover itself! Can I start a count down to May now??

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