September 2019 TBR

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Hi everyone!

I’m trying to continue posting more of my monthly TBRs because I absolutely love sharing what I’m reading with you guys. I managed to stick to my whole N.E.W.T.s Readathon TBR last month (wrap-up coming soon!) and I want to try to keep up the momentum with my reading. Also, I love hearing what you’ve all been reading this year and if you have any recommendations! As always, my TBR is insanely ambitious for just one month and I’m not pressuring myself to read all of them, but I’m hoping to get through a decent amount.

I’m so eager to read these books and I’m so excited to share them with you so, without further ado, here is my reading list for September!

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Mother Knows Best by Kira Peikoff

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

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Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster by Cary Fagan

As Many Nows as I Can Get by Shana Youngdahl

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

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The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Re-read)

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

What are you guys reading this month? What have been some of your favorite reads so far this year? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

theperfectwifeThe Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 6th, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Pages: 413 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The perfect life. The perfect love. The perfect lie. From the bestselling author of The Girl Before comes a gripping new psychological thriller. . . 

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?

Beware the man who calls you . . . 

THE PERFECT WIFE

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Going in, I definitely expected to like this book, but I did not expect to love it quite as much as I did. I got so wrapped up in the story that I flew through it in two sittings. Unfortunately, given the genre of the book, a spoiler-free review is going to be a challenge. In fact, there is a twist that happens in the first few pages of the novel that completely shocked me and took the story in a delightfully unexpected direction. Now, this twist and not knowing it was coming made this book so exciting that I absolutely do not want to say what it is—going into it blind was fantastic. All this being said, I will try to tell you about this novel as best as I can.

In this story, we follow our main character, Abbie, as she is recovering from an accident that has caused a great loss of memory. As she gathers and puts together the pieces of the life she forgot and the time she has missed, she finds that nothing is as it seems—her past is a blur and her future may not be under her control.

From page one, I was absolutely hooked. This is a unique and fast-paced story with plenty of twists and turns that you will not see coming. The original synopsis I read was actually a lot vaguer than the finalized one, but either way, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting in to. This had everything I love about psychological thriller novels and more—a twist that made my nerdy little heart sing even louder. And more…nerd-ily.

This is not only a gripping and twisty psychological thriller, but it also deals with several thought-provoking and timely topics. It is very informative, particularly on the topic of parenting a child with autism, which Delaney is writing on from personal experience. I have a very basic knowledge of autism and absolutely no knowledge about what the parent of an autistic child goes through and I learned a great deal through this story. It truly opened my eyes to what incredibly strong and beautiful human beings these children and parents are. I loved the depth that these topics added to the novel as a whole.

The characters are fantastically well-crafted and multi-dimensional. Our main character is very easy to connect with and I enjoyed following her. Many characters are quite ambiguous and leave you questioning their true intentions. I feel that Delaney does a wonderful job of bringing them to life and weaving their roles seamlessly into the main plotline.

Interestingly, this novel is written mostly in the second-person perspective. I have never read a story told in this way and, though I was a bit wary at first, I ended up getting into the style pretty easily. And the reasoning behind using this perspective is yet another mystery you will have to solve by picking up this book.

There were portions toward the middle of the novel—slight lulls between moments of action or shocking revelations—that at first I felt slowed things down. And while, admittedly, there were a few things I felt could have been skipped over, these slower moments actually added depth to one of the main themes in the novel. These sections allow the reader to connect further with the protagonist, putting them in her shoes as she attempts to put the pieces of her life back together. These seemingly mundane tasks she goes about that are described in great detail highlight what her life has become—slowly placing one foot in front of the other, occupying her time by focusing on each individual moment, however small.

The only minor issue I had with the plot was with a portion of the ending. It is a very surprising and intense conclusion, and for the most part, I felt things were resolved well. It is not a perfect, happy ending—which I enjoy a lot—and I was still left feeling very satisfied. There is one moment in the final pages that seemed a bit rushed and unplanned though. It is actually a positive note and one that I am quite happy about, but the logistics of it were confusing. It felt like it was squeezed in simply to resolve a plotline without much exposition to help the reader understand how and why it happened. However, the overall ending was great and I will say that this moment has definitely given me even more to think over after finishing the book.

Wow. This story. It was so unexpected in all the best ways and had me completely enthralled. I never wanted it to end and it totally kicked off a mystery/thriller reading binge for me. This was one of those books that had me making both facial and audible reactions while sitting in a room by myself. I also may or may not have talked to myself for half an hour or more trying to sort out all of my thoughts after finishing it. I have been wanting to read J.P. Delaney’s novels for a while now and this was a wonderful start. I very highly recommend giving this novel a try.

4.5 TARDISes

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Review: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

theassassinsapprenticeAssassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: The Farseer Trilogy #1

Date Published: April 1st, 1995

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Pages: 392 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

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This is a spoiler-free review.

I went into this novel with what seemed like absurdly high expectations and it managed to not only meet but exceed all of those expectations. Having heard so many wonderful things about Robin Hobb’s novels, I was certain I would enjoy it, but I never expected to fall so in love with this absolutely beautiful piece of literature. Assassin’s Apprentice captivated me from page one. Literally. One day, I picked it up just to try out a few pages and there was no stopping me after that. I devoured every aspect of this narrative, was enchanted by the magic, enthralled by the political intrigue, and surprised by all the twists and turns. This world and its characters completely ensnared me and I never wanted to leave.

In this novel, we follow Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, and a royal bastard. As a young boy, he is abandoned and sent to live in the royal household where he is written off, shunned by most he comes across. He begins his time here living with the stable master, Burrich, and finding what little companionship he has with the animals he works and lives with. When a magical art, called the Wit, makes itself evident within him, he finds peace, and even love, with the intense link this power allows him to have with his animal friends. Despite the danger of it and the nobility’s distaste for such powers, it is his lifeline in a world that wishes he never existed.

From the day he gets dropped off at the Farseer door, we are witness to many years of Fitz’s struggle to fit in, grow up, and to simply just survive as a reluctantly tolerated member of this royal family. When he one day garners the attention of the king, he is thrust into a life of lessons that befit a child of the Farseer name—and there is something more. Under cover of night, Fitz is being trained to become a powerful, royal assassin. And with strange goings-on at court and the growing underpinnings of corruption among royals, Fitz may just have his work cut out for him.

Robin Hobb’s writing is some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read. She completely captures the high fantasy style of the ‘80s and ‘90s, which I have always thought had such a unique and particularly enchanting quality to it. This is the sort of writing that truly made me into the fantasy lover that I am today, and there was this very poignantly nostalgic feel that wrapped around me until the final page. To say she has a talent for crafting an emotionally vivid and intriguingly complex narrative is an understatement. The way she has woven each and every element seamlessly together to create a multi-layered and unforgettable tale is remarkable.

Now, when I say this novel is complex, I definitely do not mean that it is challenging to follow or understand. Personally, I was blown away by how easily I fell into the many branches of this storyline. There is so much intricate detailed poured into every moment—into every event and setting and relationship. Years go by and new knowledge, twists, and turns fill each page and never once does it become muddled or overwhelming. Hobb writes in such a way that effortlessly carries you over every single page, not allowing you to get lost along the way. So many stories and so many characters and so many twists, yet not one bit of it is left unresolved.

And as if I haven’t been gushing enough already, there is still the topic of the characters. These marvelous, three-dimensional characters that are the driving force of this novel. Fitz is an incredibly strong lead character, someone who is easy to connect and sympathize with. His story is equal parts heart-wrenching and heart-pounding, and it is impossible not to cheer for him all the way. He faces such massive obstacles and stands up to them, persevering in the most unlikely circumstances. Fitz is not one of those flawless heroes—every aspect of his life, every success and failure, is chronicled in these pages. His growth throughout the narrative as he fights to give himself a life is awe-inspiring.

Every single character Robin Hobb creates in this story is multi-dimensional and fully fleshed out. They are all made into a significant element of the overall narrative, contributing in some way, however small, to the unfolding of the plot. I thought Hobb did a brilliant job building each and every one of her characters with care and precision.

Chade and the Fool were two of my absolute favorites. From the second they enter, they are both depicted with a vivid and striking characterization that makes them unforgettable. Another favorite of mine was Verity Farseer. He is truly a gentleman—a compassionate, intelligent, and hard-working man who stands up for what he believes in and puts the welfare of his people above anything else. And, just on a side note, he may also be one of my new book boyfriends.

As I am sure you have already guessed, I adored this novel with all my heart, and it has turned me into a complete Robin Hobb addict. This was such a satisfying read and is one that will continue to stick with me throughout my entire life, both as a reader and as a writer. It is this type of work that inspires me so greatly when it comes to my own personal writing, as fantasy is my genre of choice.

It is rare to find a book that impacts me quite as much as this one did—one that rekindles that initial feeling I had as I discovered my love of reading—and which reminds me why I am so passionate about literature. The next book, Royal Assassin, is sitting in front of me as we speak, and I am so eager to throw myself back into this world. If you have not tried out Robin Hobb’s novels, I highly recommend giving this one a go.

5.0 TARDISes

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Review: In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

inanabsentdreamIn an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Wayward Children #4

Date Published: January 8th, 2019

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 208 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well. 

For anyone . . .

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Just when I think this series cannot possibly get any better, Seanan McGuire does it again. In an Absent Dream is most definitely my favorite installment in the series thus far. Like the other novels in this series, it has taken me months to write a review for it as it is so difficult to find the rights words to do justice to this beautiful piece of literature. This is once again a modern fairytale—a fractured fairytale—that transports the reader into a vividly depicted and enrapturing world. The very exquisite yet bittersweet plot line is filled with a perfect blend of relatable reality and the peculiar, dark, and bizarre elements that make up this unique and captivating series.

This novel is quite reminiscent of the second novel, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, in that it is a prequel following one of the main characters of the series through their door. We follow Katherine Lundy—later a therapist at Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children—beginning when, as a young child, she finds her door. Lundy finds difficulty fitting in and lacks friends in the real world. With books as her only company, she enjoys becoming lost in her imagination, though this comes with the disappointment of knowing any life she could have would never match up. Then, her door appears and she is swept up into the world of the Goblin Market.

The Goblin Market has only three rules: ask for nothing, names have power, and always give fair value. It is a world that revolves around fairness and respect for others. One must always provide fair value for all goods and services or face punishment until all debts are repaid. Here, Lundy discovers herself, what she wants out of life, and a place where she truly fits, something with which she struggles in the real world. However, things are not as straightforward as they seem and she is faced with making a seemingly impossible choice that approaches faster each day.

The world McGuire creates in this novel is easily one of her best. The world she constructs is so rich in detail and she builds it up around the reader. It is as if we could actually step through that door and wander through the Goblin Market. The characters were wonderful—well-constructed and multidimensional—and so easy to fall in love with. Despite the fantastical elements of the plot, McGuire always manages to build characters that are extremely easy to relate to. Lundy is portrayed so well and getting to know her over the course of the book is a unique and enjoyable experience. And Lundy’s relationships with Moon and the Archivist are so beautiful.

As always, the writing is magnificent. I feel that McGuire’s narrative voice and writing style hit the mark particularly well for the type of story she is telling here. It is warm and inviting with a poignant undercurrent of sadness, longing, and even a bit of danger and foreboding. Her words not only convey the tone of the novel, but they also weave an intricate tale that feels seasoned as if it has been passed down through generations. Every emotion is so tangible and it is incredibly easy to connect with the characters—their triumphs, their struggles, everything roots the reader in their lives.

The narrative jumps around quite a bit, with gaps in time that we do not get to see as readers and I was unsure at first how I felt about this. There are intriguing adventures that are only vaguely referenced and part of me longed to experience them. However, this style grew on me quite a lot and I learned to appreciate how this type of progression contributed to the overall message of the story. In this way, the relentless march of time becomes one of the primary themes and it is an absolutely crucial element of the plot.

Refraining from portraying certain major events in Lundy’s life at the Goblin Market further highlights the struggle she goes through and the huge choice that looms over her. She essentially leads a double life, in conflict over her loyalties to her newfound friends and her family—the comforts of home and the excitement and possibility that lies before her behind her door. Getting to see her connection to both environments and the stark contrast between them highlights her inner turmoil.

I am sure it is quite clear by now that I absolutely adored this novel. I still feel that there is so much more to say, but that I have done my best to put my thoughts into words that capture the beauty of this work. McGuire knows all the right ways to anchor her readers in her unique worlds and tell a story that inspires, enchants, and pulls at one’s heartstrings. Each one is even more impactful than the previous. Every novel McGuire writes is truly a piece of art, and this fourth installment once again proves to be an absolute masterpiece. I never want this series to end.

5.0 TARDISes

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Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

beneaththesugarskyBeneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Wayward Children #3

Date Published: January 9th, 2018

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 174 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

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This is a spoiler-free review, but may contain some spoilers for Every Heart a Doorway.

Beneath the Sugar Sky is yet another novel that is pure magic and further cements this series into my all-time favorites list. McGuire presents readers with an exquisitely crafted tale that dabbles in friendship, darkness, and nonsense and takes us on a captivating and powerful journey. Though the worlds are as fantastical as always, the multi-dimensional characters and relatable themes make this story incredibly easy to become absorbed in. McGuire expertly creates something that readers can easily relate to and builds up the world around them so that one is fully immersed in the enchantment of this fractured fairytale.

While this novel does return to the setting of the first, the story is structured in a much different way. We are taken from Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children and travel through a variety of portal worlds that we have only heard of thus far. It is an adventure unlike any other with a beautiful and diverse cast of characters—both old and new. It is a wholly unique tale that combines fantasy with reality and celebrates our differences and the qualities that make us human. And, above all, it is about love, belonging, and the camaraderie that can form between an unlikely group of young heroes.

In this novel, we follow four kids from the School for Wayward Children—Cora, Nadya, Christopher, and Kade—and their unexpected guest, Rini. Every single character in this novel is absolutely brilliant and the friendship that binds them together, even more so. They fully accept each other for who they are and treat each other with equal amounts of respect. McGuire’s characters are always so lovable and I adore every second I get to spend with them. Time and time again, she is able to create fully fleshed out characters very quickly and fluidly, as these stories are quite short.

All of the novels in this series feature a huge amount of diversity and this one, in particular, demonstrates this extremely well. McGuire takes things such as sexuality, race, disabilities, gender identity, and size and folds them into the story. She does not highlight these qualities in a way where they clearly stand out compared to the rest of the plot. Instead, she treats them as pure, natural facts about her characters—it is just a part of who they are and that is all that matters. She does not make a big deal out of it, instead, showing how important it is to see people for who they are. We are all exactly who we were meant to be and nothing that makes us who we are is abnormal or should be a cause for discrimination. We are all equal. That is how she treats her characters and this is one of the many reasons why I love this series.

Through all the magic and nonsense and impossibilities, the humanity radiates from behind it all. It ties us so closely to the characters—the struggles and environments—despite the fantastical nature of the storyline. Adding in issues that run rampant in our society and take a toll on people—particularly younger people—allows readers to relate to each character and the obstacles they face. This also provides insight into the many problems that plague us and how everyone’s story is different. Every moment, this novel reminds us how important it is to be open-minded and, above all, that even though life carries each and everyone one of us through a unique journey, we all share one similarity that links us. We are still human.

The worlds that McGuire creates are utterly enchanting and easy to become a part of. They are so vividly described and I could always form a clear picture in my mind. For the first time, we are taken into multiple worlds, which was absolutely fascinating. In such a short period of time, she meticulously constructs them and seamlessly fits them into the adventure of the characters. These glimpses have left me dying to see more of each character’s individual world and hear their full backstories.

As always, McGuire’s writing is skillful and beautiful. The emotions that she evokes throughout the novel are palpable and her worlds are painstakingly created to the point of absolute solidity. She has the perfect voice for telling these types of narratives that are styled very much like modern fairytales. This voice of hers breathes life into every page, every element of the narrative itself.

The novel is imaginative—sugary sweet as the cover of the book with an undercurrent of sadness and longing. She fills it with adventure and magic while also weaving in the struggles people face in reality. Insecurities, fears, desire for acceptance—these and many more topics can be seen as the base for this story. This is what makes her stories feel so real—like we as readers could simply step through a door and instantly find ourselves exploring these breathtakingly beautiful worlds. They are each built up around us in such a detailed, multi-dimensional way that it is almost impossible for them and the characters to not take up residence in one’s mind. McGuire truly is an artist. If you have not begun this series yet, I highly urge you to give it a try.

5.0 TARDISes

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Mini Review: Pillow Thoughts II by Courtney Peppernell

pillowthoughtsIIPillow Thoughts II by Courtney Peppernell

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Pillow Thoughts #2

Date Published: August 7th, 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 224 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Following the smash success of her best-selling book, Pillow Thoughts, Courtney Peppernell now returns with the follow-up sequel Pillow Thoughts II: Healing the Heart

Peppernell understands that healing is a process, and Pillow Thoughts II eloquently captures the time and experience that one goes through on their journey to peace through restoration. 

A collection of inspirational and comforting poems for anyone who is mending from a broken heart.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I read this a few months ago, as soon as I could get my hands on a copy, and I am still at a loss for words when it comes to describing this work. I’ll start by saying that the message of “healing the heart” rang so true all throughout these pages. It entered my life at the best possible moment—as I have been going through the mending of my own heart—and touched me incredibly deeply. She has a talent for crafting poems that are seemingly unassuming and straightforward, but that are, in actuality, extremely complex, vivid, and multi-dimensional. And the beauty of her writing lights up every line.

Each section of this collection focuses on a different type of healing, and makes for the perfect book to pick up either when in need of overall healing and positivity, or when going through a specific healing process. The range of emotion shown in these poems hits its mark time and time again, and makes this a widely accessible piece. Peppernell’s words seamlessly fill one’s soul with the comfort it is craving, as well as the healing you didn’t even know you were in need of. There is such safety and peace within these pages, a reader’s sanctuary where one can comfortably grieve and find release.

On a brief, more personal note, I discovered Courtney Peppernell’s work about a year ago and she immediately flew to the top of my favorite poets list. The messages, values, and general positivity that she puts out to the world through her words has been exceedingly impactful for me, and I truly admire her—she is an absolutely beautiful person. I want to have the strength to fully acknowledge and express who I am one day, and it is people like Courtney that, without knowing it, give me more courage. She has a way of always inspiring me both in my writing and in accepting and striving to be my true self—and this is a gift that is meaningful beyond words.

And since I honestly cannot rave enough about her work, I very highly encourage you to check out this collection, as well as Courtney’s previous poetry collections. I have reviews on both, if you’re interested! (Pillow Thoughts and The Road Between)

5.0 TARDISes

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Review: Futura by Jordan Phillips

futuraFutura by Jordan Phillips

My Rating: 1.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: January 2nd, 2018

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Pages: 72 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: By the year 2050, Paris is a stark contrast from other large cities, which had long ago morphed into ultramodern metropolises, where every new building was practically a city within a city. Even in France, humans cannot escape the fact that the Invisibles have taken over. Some come in the form of microscopic chips that are embedded practically everywhere, while others are more visible because they power robots. Humans were suddenly underutilized, and they would be forever.

Past futurists had cried that this would be disorienting and depressing, but it turned out to be quite liberating. Human qualities—good and bad—are tolerated because they are authentic, and not artificially created. To err is to be human, and these days, to be human is to be beautiful. 

Futura follows a single American woman named Ruby as she figures out how to thrive in a dramatically different cultural landscape. This utopian novella pushes back on the cynical views many hold today. Instead, author Jordan Phillips has imagined a bright future for the entire human race.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I had a rather complex experience with this particular novella. First of all, the actual e-book edition that I received was very messed up and extremely hard to comprehend—the paragraphs were not at all in order. A few paragraphs would fit together, but all of a sudden, the last sentence would stop in the middle, and the next paragraph would be a completely different part of the story. Then, later on, I would find the continuation of those previously unfinished paragraphs mixed in with an entirely new part of the plot. Understandably, this was quite confusing and very difficult to follow since I had to piece together random parts until I had the whole story.

Keeping that in mind, I will try to summarize and review this novella as well as I can. This story takes place in Paris, starting during the year 2050. Society has completely evolved into a highly futuristic, technology-ruled world where artificial intelligence is in charge of most of the goings on from day to day. With the “Invisibles” running things, humans have become very underutilized—but this might not be an entirely awful thing. Instead of the typical pessimistic view of a future run by computers, this novella paints a picture of a world in which people have ample time to spend their lives doing whatever they love.

Every last aspect of the world and its economy is run so flawlessly that everyone is taken care of whether they are employed or not. And employment is simply a choice, not a necessity. Amid all the modernizations, major technological advances, and the microchips that hide everywhere, smoothly running the world, lies a surprisingly utopic human existence. They have enormous amounts of free time, but never lack something to do. Being human is seen as being utterly beautiful—every human quality is accepted. Against all odds, this future is incredibly bright.

It’s been very tricky getting my thoughts straight about this novella. The one thing that I can say is that Jordan Phillips is definitely a talented writer. She did a wonderful job of building the world, using vivid details to capture just how technology takes the pressure off humans without rendering them pointless—without erasing everything that we need to build a life. This is a unique take on life in the future, seemingly far removed from the many horror stories featuring the elimination of our existence. Every element of the plot showed her creativity and inventiveness, and her writing itself was very easy to understand.

Excluding the incomprehensibility due to the formatting of the actual e-book itself, I’m not sure how I feel about the story as a whole. I enjoyed imagining this vision of the future and thinking about all of Phillips’ genre-bending ideas. However, I was left wondering if this was actually as much of a utopian society as it claims to be.

In a world like this, people are much more trapped—things run smoothly so no one steps outside the boundaries or looks to shake things up. It could be looked at as a comfortable and free existence, but would we really be free if we handed absolutely everything over to systems of artificial intelligence? I’m not sure if this story is intentionally posing that question or if I am just overthinking things.

We do loosely follow various characters throughout this story, particularly an American woman named Ruby. She is a single woman looking for love and feeling a strong urge to have a child. It is hard to connect with Ruby, or any of the other characters for that matter, since we spend such a short time with them, and there really is not much in the way of character development happening. I originally liked Ruby, but by the end she was starting to get on my nerves.

About halfway through, she begins making some absolutely terrible decisions, mainly due to the fact that she is so fixated on having a baby. Many of her friends have children, and she sees this as one of the biggest pieces missing from her life. This is understandable—as I’m sure many people feel that way at some point—but Ruby is way too over-the-top about it.

By the end, Ruby makes what I feel is a completely inexcusable choice. It was a bit hard for me to connect with her in the beginning, but she had definitely lost me completely by the end. Along with this, it just seemed like everyone had an outrageously cynical and unhealthy view of many of the important and uniquely human parts of our existence.

So, overall, I got the message that this utopian society was in fact still in the same vein as many of the post-apocalyptic or negative depictions of the future; it just didn’t feel like that much changed for the better. Comparatively, it is better in some aspects, but it is also wholly stifling and still utterly dependent on technology—much more so than today. Again, I’m not sure if this is the intended view the reader is supposed to have or if it’s just how the story came across to me.

In the end, I think this story was unique and well-written, but it simply fell a bit flat for me. This wasn’t really my cup of tea, but it is a quick read and I definitely still recommend giving it a try.

1.5 TARDISes

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