The Calculating Stars

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The year is 1952 and a meteorite has struck Earth. In the aftermath, the majority of the eastern seaboard of the United States has been destroyed, including the nation’s capitol of Washington D.C. However, the shock of the meteorite was felt around the world and is not threatening an extinction-level event. As a result, a space race to colonize the moon and Mars starts.

Elma York is a mathematician and a former WASP Pilot from the war. Due to her experience, she becomes a human computer for the International Aerospace Coalition (IAC). Her husband, Nathanial York, is the lead engineer in the space race project. Elma is not content just being a computer, she loves flying and wants to get into space and become an astronaut.

Elma paves the way for lady astronauts to be included into the space and colonization programs, but some of her closest friends are denied entry into the program because of the color of their skin. Elma fights for equal opportunities but is met with hostility and question at every turn. But, her determination opens the door for women in space and the expansion of the colonization program. In a beautifully written story by Mary Robinette Kowal, readers become immersed in an alternative version of history and the fallout and rebuilding of society.

This is usually not the kind of book I willingly reach for, but I am glad this book was recommended. In July, I had the honor of meeting one of my favorite authors, Patrick Rothfuss. Someone asked what books he was reading or what he would recommend, and he recommended this book. I was skeptical at first, but I do enjoy pushing my book comfort zone every now and then; especially when I am in reading a slump.

I loved this book! This is my first time reading a book by Mary Robinette Kowal and I think tat the writing was phenomenal and the story makes you question the progression of history. In a time where we are currently dealing with gender and race issues, this story approaches the prejudices head on. While most of the main characters are white, Elma forces a male-dominated field to accept lady astronauts on scientific grounds. However, while there is a victory for women in general, there is not a victory for women of color. The prejudices presented make you question the way society is ran and why so many women and people of color are still held back after a catastrophic event.

I highly recommend this book. It’s not “too outer space driven,” but it is also not a post-apocalyptic world. Instead, the United States, United Nations, and the rest of the world are faced with an alternative version of history. This book is classified as science fiction, but do not let the term scare you. It is grounded in fiction and there are some technical terms. But, you do not need a fundamental understanding of rocket science to enjoy this novel.

Rating: 5/5



Fates by Lanie Bross

“Only love is eternal, remember that.”

Fates is a story about young Corinthe who was sent to Earth as a punishment. She must collect the souls of the departed and return them to the sea so that they can make their way across the galaxy and fulfill their destiny. Corinthe’s final mission is to kill Lucas Kaller to fuilfill her own destiny so that she can return home to Pyralis Terra.

There is some romance, turmoil, and action but nothing that is too exciting. Everything in this book seems to fall short. From the short-lived romance, to the flat characters, and hastily described new worlds. You will likely walk away from this book feeling unimpressed because this is not a memorable story.

The first half of the book is tolerable. There is world building, character building, we want Corinthe to succeed and return home but then the “twist” in this book is a total turn off. Not only can you see it coming long before it’s revealed, but the villain isn’t even a complex one. This book had the making of becoming something beautiful. I was hopeful even. But the “one must live so the other must die” narrative is overdone and this is not a new story.

I did not like this book. The promise of traveling through different worlds was what hooked me initially, but I could not get into this book. This book is a giant cliché. It is the epitome of boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, and then boy and girl have a quarrel and must work together to save the world.

The characters are un-relatable and there seem to be too many competing storylines fighting for attention. You have Corinthe vs. Lukas, Corinthe’s keeper and her ultimate goals, Lukas’s sister fighting for her life, and then Corinthe and Lukas vs. the universe. I felt myself rolling my eyes for the entire second half of this book. I cannot recommend this book and do not care enough about the characters or the storyline to continue this series.

Rating 2/5

June TBR

This month, I am going a little ambitious again and hope to finish four books. When gathering books this month, I realized that they are all space operas. It was entirely accidental, but I am just going to roll with it. I LOVE space operas, they are probably one of my favorite things to read. Here are the four books I hope to finish this month.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Synopsis: “This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. 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.”–Goodreads

I have had this book in my possession for quite some time. I picked it up because I thought it looked interesting, but I put it on my shelf and forgot about it. With the recent hype surrounding the release of the third book in the series, I decided that I need to read this book. Especially is the series is as wonderful and addictive as everyone claims it to be.

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Synopsis: “Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family. Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.”–Barnes & Noble

I have no idea where I got this book from to why I picked it up. Odds are, I found it at my favorite used book store. But, I have been wanting to find a space themed book that I love because everything I have picked up lately has left me more than disappointed.

Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Synopsis: “This thrilling Young Adult novel gives readers a macro view of some of the most important events in the Star Wars universe, from the rise of the Rebellion to the fall of the Empire. Readers will experience these major moments through the eyes of two childhood friends–Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell–who have grown up to become an Imperial officer and a Rebel pilot. Now on opposite sides of the war, will these two star-crossed lovers reunite, or will duty tear them–and the galaxy–apart?”–Amazon

I found this book at Target and bought it on a whim earlier this year. I have read the first few chapters and then this book was left in my car. So far, I like what I have read and I am excited to continue this book.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Synopsis: “Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless Lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.”–

Despite this book being out for a while, I picked up this book to get it signed by Marissa Meyer in November. To this day, Renegades is the only book of her that I have finished and I was left disappointed. I have read maybe a third of Cinder and put it down because I was bored with it. I have heard great things about this series, so I hope it picks up and that I have the motivation to continue with the series.

What are you reading this month?

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