Tuesday, December 2, 2014

So, I've seen a few others doing early reviews for books pre-release by doing a less formal review and sorta just fangirling over the title prior to publication, which may be months away, depending on when they read the book. Jamie from The Perpetual Page-turner has a Save the Date feature, and Heather over at The Flyleaf Review showcases her pre-release thoughts in a Mark Your Calendars post. I have the same problem. I want to tell the world about some of the awesome books I read pre-publication, but I can't wait until just a few weeks before the release date to shout it from the rooftops. And sometimes there just aren't words for a book, ya know?

My dilemma led me to an awesome idea: Reviews in a GIFfy. I already (sometimes) post my reactions to a book via GIFs on Goodreads. (The one I did for World After was very well received.) But I wanted to make it a thing for those titles that I just can't wait until they appear on the ole reading schedule -- or for the ones that it's really hard to adequately express my feelings -- and I wanted to share my reactions via GIF with all of you. Essentially, these are going to be GIF-only reviews to tide you -- and me! -- over until I can expand on my thoughts in a legitimate review closer to the book's release date...if ever!

This week, I'm using this method to review the second full-length book in Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner's Starbound series. Companion novels are usually easier to review, but this one's a little different, so I thought a pictorial expression of my feels might be in order.

Title: This Shattered World
Author: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound, book #2
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: December 23, 2014
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

First and foremost: You absolutely must read Tarver's free novella. If you were a fan of Tarver in These Broken Stars, you will appreciate his heroism in This Night So Dark. And even if you weren't a fan of his -- but let's be honest, that's not really a possibility, now is it? -- you'll still need to know things and you'll be a lot closer to those discoveries if you read this short story. Also? It's bloody FREE!

Reasons to read: Well, for one, the aforementioned Tarver makes an appearance, as does the lovely Lilac, and they're kind of awww-some. But the new couple is awe-inspiring in their insta-hate and it's kind of fun to watch them chip away at each other's defenses. Also, there's the whole corporate conspiracy-turned-intergallactic planetary disaster waiting to happen. It's as much fun to see unravel as it is to sing about.

The story: So much win here, let me tell ya. Whereas These Broken Stars was pretty heavy on the survival story, This Shattered World focuses on the rebellion instigated by the blight upon Avon, not unlike the one that was developing on the planet Tarver and Lilac spent a good deal of time on. Except in this case, the planet is inhabited and the natives are not happy. As you can probably tell, though, it helps to have read the previous book. It's not necessary, as this is technically a companion story, but it helps all the same.

The characters: Everyone in this book is very opinionated, and their beliefs run deep, meaning it's going to take a lot for them to meet anywhere in the middle. But that also means that some might find them harder to connect to. I liked their take-charge, no nonsense attitudes, and I liked how they meshed -- or clashed, depending on the circumstances.

The villain: There is a somewhat localized villain/non-villain and then there is the ├╝ber villain. Both are likely of the mind that they are making great strides for their people, but then again, so was Hitler.

The romance(s): Flynn and Lee have serious chemistry right from the beginning, but they fight it every step of the way. And I mean every step. But it's worth it in the end. And, of course, Lilac and Tarver are more adorable than ever. I was glad at more than just a little peek at where their lives have taken them since the events of These Broken Stars.

The swoons: I love a good "sworn enemies-turned-lovers" romance. Those. Are. The. Best. Tension runs high in these situations, but so does the passion! (There's also a blush-worthy Tarver and Lilac scene, fyi.)

Everything's coming full circle: Since this is a companion novel and not a true sequel, I didn't expect any second book syndrome from it, but I also didn't expect to get so much more of the political intrigue and corporate espionage that was only hinted at in the first book. It may have been the complete opposite of the first book, but it made for a really engrossing read and led us right back where we needed to be.

The quotability: I was too busy flying through the pages to mark many quotes and passages, but I really dig this one:
    "He doesn't look much older than I am, so even if he enlisted the day he turned sixteen he won't have more than two years of service under his belt. Enough to get cocky -- not enough to know he should wipe that grin off his face. A few weeks on Avon will do that for him. He's chiseled, with a chin so perfect, it makes me want to hit it. The shadow of stubble along his jaw only emphasizes the lines of his face. These guys invariably end up being assholes, but from this distance he's just beautiful. Like he was put together by an artist.
     Guys like this make me want to believe in God."

In summation: Exhilarating. Steamy. A story that felt familiar to it's predecessor but remained wholly unique. I loved each book equally because they were such different pieces of the same story and felt like clues to a bigger mystery that I can't wait to unravel. This sci-fi writing duo is tops with me and I can't wait to see what their next collaborative effort reveals. (May it also include Tarver and Lilac and Lee and Flynn.)

About the Authors:

Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are longtime friends and sometime flatmates who have traveled the world (but not yet the galaxy), covering every continent between them. They are sure outer space is only a matter of time. Meagan, who is also the author of the Skylark trilogy, currently lives in Asheville, NC, while Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia. Although they currently live apart, they are united by their love of space opera, road trips, and second breakfasts.

Visit the These Broken Stars website for the latest news on the series and follow the authors on Twitter at @AmieKaufman and @MeaganSpooner. You may also sign up for their newsletter as well! This Shattered World will be available in North America in December 2014.

Previous posts in this feature:

Of Metal and Wishes
The Kiss of Deception
Between the Spark and the Burn
Blue Lily, Lily Blue


  1. Damn. Okay. Going to look for my copy and starting on this one, stat. I looooove enemies to lovers romantic tropes!

    1. Haha...me, too! So much fun to watch them fight and then turn that fire into something more productive, lol.

  2. I need to read These Broken Stars still but it looks like this one won't disappoint :D

    Eileen @ BookCatPin

    1. Nope, nothing about this series disappoints, except for the fact that the third book isn't out yet. :P

  3. This is me, overcome with jealousy.


    1. Me, too. Already pre-ordered my signed copy of TSW. These books are just too pretty not to own space on my shelves. :)

  4. Awesome review, Jen! I love how you did this. :) My favorite parts were absolutely the ones with Tarver and Lilac - they are so cute together!


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