Top Ten Novel Recommendations for Eclipse Watchers

Novels for Eclipse WatchersTop Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is “top ten recommendations for ___.” I chose my top ten recommendations for eclipse watchers.

This theme is inspired by the solar eclipse of August 21st visible in North America. I’ll only see a partial eclipse myself, but I wish all those able to see the total eclipse the best and a reminder to not look directly at the sun without proper eye protection.

Even if you don’t plan to see the eclipse, these might still be good reads for future eclipses or just because you feel like reading them.

Bluejay Feather

Nightfall

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Goodreads summary

Imagine living on a planet with six suns that never experiences Darkness. Imagine never having seen the Stars. Then, one by one your suns start to set, gradually leading you into Darkness for the first time ever. Image the terror of such a Nightfall.

Scientists on the planet Kalgash discover that an eclipse – an event that occurs only every 2049 years – is imminent, and that a society unfamiliar with Darkness will be plunged into madness and chaos. They realize that their civilization will end, for the people of Kalgash have a proven fear of Darkness, but they are unable to predict the insanity and destruction that will accompany the awesome splendor of Nightfall.

Thoughts

I haven’t read this book but love Asimov’s Robot books. Regardless, this is an awesome premise.

 

A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time #14)

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Goodreads summary

*may contain spoilers*

“And it came to pass in those days, as it had come before and would come again, that the Dark lay heavy on the land and weighed down the hearts of men, and the green things failed, and hope died.” From Charal Drianaan te Calamon, The Cycle of the Dragon.

In the Field of Merrilor the rulers of the nations gather to join behind Rand al’Thor, or to stop him from his plan to break the seals on the Dark One’s prison—which may be a sign of his madness, or the last hope of humankind. Egwene, the Amyrlin Seat, leans toward the former.

In Andor, the Trollocs seize Caemlyn.

In the wolf dream, Perrin Aybara battles Slayer.

Approaching Ebou Dar, Mat Cauthon plans to visit his wife Tuon, now Fortuona, Empress of the Seanchan.

All humanity is in peril—and the outcome will be decided in Shayol Ghul itself. The Wheel is turning, and the Age is coming to its end. The Last Battle will determine the fate of the world…

Thoughts

I’ve only read the first three books in this series. However, I’m told there is an eclipse in this one, so on the list it goes.

Defy the Stars (Constellation #1)

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Summary

Noemi will to do anything for her best friend and planet. Even sacrifice her life, but when Noemi discovers an abandoned Earth spacecraft and a chance to end the war between her world and Earth, Noemi’s plans change. Noemi might not need to sacrifice her life to save her planet anymore, but she’s not sure she can make it in time.

Abel, a humanoid robot, was locked in an abandoned spaceship for thirty years. Now, he’s been freed by one of his maker’s enemies. Abel wants nothing more than to find his master and serve his purpose, but a flaw in his programming won’t allow it. Abel has no choice but to do everything his new master says, even if it means helping his enemy.

Thoughts

While this book doesn’t have an eclipse in it, I think it would be a great book to set the tone for watching one. It’s set in space and involves mentions many celestial bodies. Read my review to learn more.

Dawn (Xenogenesis #1)

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Goodreads Summary

Lilith Iyapo has just lost her husband and son when atomic fire consumes Earth—the last stage of the planet’s final war. Hundreds of years later Lilith awakes, deep in the hold of a massive alien spacecraft piloted by the Oankali—who arrived just in time to save humanity from extinction. They have kept Lilith and other survivors asleep for centuries, as they learned whatever they could about Earth. Now it is time for Lilith to lead them back to her home world, but life among the Oankali on the newly resettled planet will be nothing like it was before.

The Oankali survive by genetically merging with primitive civilizations—whether their new hosts like it or not. For the first time since the nuclear holocaust, Earth will be inhabited. Grass will grow, animals will run, and people will learn to survive the planet’s untamed wilderness. But their children will not be human. Not exactly.

Thoughts

This one doesn’t have an eclipse either, but it also seems like a great book to set the tone for the event. I’ll be reading the second book in this series in the time before the eclipse myself.

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past)

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Goodreads Summary

The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

Thoughts

This book was a little slow for my tastes, but I still think it would be a great way to set the tone for the eclipse. This book even (sort of?) involves an eclipse . . . though I’m not sure if what happens qualifies as an eclipse or not.

Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1)

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Summary

Just hours after their recent break-up, exes Kady and Ezra find their home planet in the middle of a war between intergalactic corporations. In the evacuation, the two find themselves on separate space ships.

If they want to survive. Kady, Ezra, and the other refugees need to reach the nearest jump station, through which they can reach a more densely inhabited region of space, before those who invaded their planet catches up with the refugees.

Thoughts

If you’re looking for a book with non-conventional formatting to set the tone for a non-conventional day, this may be the book for you. No eclipses in this one, but plenty of space travel. Read my review to learn more.

The Martian Chronicles

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Goodreads Summary

The strange and wonderful tale of man’s experiences on Mars, filled with intense images and astonishing visions. Now part of the Voyager Classics collection.

The Martian Chronicles tells the story of humanity’s repeated attempts to colonize the red planet. The first men were few. Most succumbed to a disease they called the Great Loneliness when they saw their home planet dwindle to the size of a fist. They felt they had never been born. Those few that survived found no welcome on Mars. The shape-changing Martians thought they were native lunatics and duly locked them up.

But more rockets arrived from Earth, and more, piercing the hallucinations projected by the Martians. People brought their old prejudices with them – and their desires and fantasies, tainted dreams. These were soon inhabited by the strange native beings, with their caged flowers and birds of flame.

Thoughts

Okay, so this one is more anthology than novel, but this could be a plus for people traveling to see the eclipse. I have trouble committing to lengthy books while traveling, so short stories might be the best way to go.

This one also deals with Mars more so than space, but I still think it could be a great way to set the tone. Unfortunately, no eclipses here.

Eclipse (Twilight #3)

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Goodreads Synopsis

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob – knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Thoughts

The book everyone was waiting for, just kidding. I know you guys, but I just couldn’t make this list without including the book with the word eclipse in the title.

Ironically, no eclipses here either.

Red Rising (Red Rising #1)

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Summary

Darrow spends his days on Mars mining the minerals needed to terraform the planet’s surface. He could care less about the fact that he is a member of the lowest “caste,” oppressed by the Society. Darrow is too busy trying to provide for his wife and extended family. Darrow knows the price of rebellion. He attended his father’s execution at five years old.

Darrow’s outlook on rebellion changes when another of Darrow’s loved one is killed by the society. Her dying wish: break the chains. Now Darrow will stop at nothing to make her dream a reality. Even if it means infiltrating the Gold, upper-class, society and pretending to be one of his enemies.

Thoughts

Yet another book set more on Mars than in space. I think the sequels set the tone better, but don’t want to include a sequel on a list where the first book will do. Read my review to learn more.

The Martian

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Summary

Mark Watney was part of an early mission to Mars, but what had been the opportunity of a life time quickly becomes a disaster. Believing Watney died in a Martian sandstorm, the crew has left Watney behind. The next Mars mission isn’t scheduled to arrive for another four years and Watney’s supplies were designed to last 31 days. With no way to contact NASA, Watney must find a way to defy the odds and survive.

Thoughts

This list is getting Mars heavy, but I still felt the need to include this book. Even though it’s planet bound, all the novel’s discussion of space exploration seems a great way to set the tone for the eclipse.

Bluejay Feather

Have you read any of these books? Are you watching the eclipse? What books would you recommend people watching the eclipse read to get them in the mood? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

June and July Wrap-up

Monthly Wrap-up

June and July were productive months. I read eight books and wrote over 40,000 words.

Bluejay Feather

Reading

One of the books I read were middle grade, three were young adult, and four were adult.

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Title

The Shattered Lens (Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians #4)

Short Synopsis

Alcatraz must stop librarian cults from conquering the world.

Thoughts

I liked book four better than book three. I thought the conflict was more interesting, the jokes funnier, and I’m excited to continue the next book.

It’s important to note that there are a lot of people who would find this series more annoying than funny. I’m just not one of them. I think it’s hilarious.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Title

The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #2)

Short Synopsis

Aliens try to conquer Earth. Humans learn about our place in the universe.

Thoughts

I liked this book better than its predecessor. The plot was more cohesive, and a little faster paced, though still slow. This is hard sci-fi at heart. One of the things I love best about this series is the way it’s made me think.

That said, I’m happy with how this book left the story and am not sure I’ll continue.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Title

Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2)

Short Synopsis

Two young shadowhunters must protect the world and loved ones from supernatural forces while sorting out their forbidden romantic feelings.

Thoughts

This book was fun, but I’m tiring of reading books set in this universe. I’ll probably read the series final when it comes out in a couple years, but think I’m done with the future spin-offs.

Of course, if nostalgia strikes, I might change my mind.

Rating

3.5 blue jays

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Title

Defy the Stars (Constellation #1)

Short Synopsis

A teenager fighting for a rebellion teams up with an android to free her planet from Earth’s influence.

Thoughts

Really enjoyed this one. See my full review for more information.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Title

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)

Short Synopsis

August and Kate must protect the people of their city from the monsters that seek to tear it apart while they battle their own inner daemons. For my full thoughts see my duology review.

Thoughts

I liked this book, but at the same time felt something was missing that I couldn’t place.

Rating

3.5 blue jays

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Title

The Handmaid’s Tale

Short Synopsis

A handmaid shares the story of her life as a member of the first generation to live under a sexist dystopian regime.

Thoughts

Based on what everyone said, I expected to be left emotionally drained by this book. I think that these expectations and the fact that I don’t have children are the only reasons I wasn’t affected more. It is, however, still a creepy book.

That said, while I can’t say I liked what took place in this book, it was very well written, thought provoking, and made me want to keep reading. For these reason, it gets a high rating.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Titles

The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time #1 and 2)

Short Synopsis

When a village is attacked, three farm boys must flee to a legendary city to protect themselves and their families.

Thoughts

I liked the second book a lot more than the first. Given the nature of most first books in epic fantasy setting up the rest of the series this isn’t too surprising.

Rating

3/5 for book one and 4.5/5 for book two averaging to a 4/5.

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Writing

Camp NaNo July 2017 Progress bar

I started writing a first draft in June and continued writing it throughout July. This was accomplished through Camp NaNoWriMo. I had a goal of 30,000 words for July but exceeded it and wrote 40,000 words.

Bluejay Feather

What have you been reading? Anyone read any of these books? Anyone participate in Camp NaNoWriMo? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray, 4 Stars

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31423196Title: Defy the Stars (Constellation #1)

Author: Claudia Gray

Published: April 4, 2017

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Synopsis: Noemi will to do anything for her best friend and planet. Even sacrifice her life, but when Noemi discovers an abandoned Earth spacecraft and a chance to end the war between her world and Earth, Noemi’s plans change. Noemi might not need to sacrifice her life to save her planet anymore, but she’s not sure she can make it in time.

Abel, a humanoid robot, was locked in an abandoned spaceship for thirty years. Now, he’s been freed by one of his maker’s enemies. Abel wants nothing more than to find his master and serve his purpose, but a flaw in his programming won’t allow it. Abel has no choice but to do everything his new master says, even if it means helping his enemy.

Bluejay Feather

Review: This is the sort of science fiction novel I love. For whatever reason, I can’t get enough of plot lines where a non-human protagonist has to blend into human society, and along the way learn they have much more in common with humans than they thought.

I adore Abel for this reason, and his personality in general. I love it when authors manage to make readers sympathize with characters that might otherwise come across as things rather than people.

After all, in the end, none of the characters we read about exist in real life. Therefore, I see little reason why we can’t have robot characters come across as just as developed as the human ones. All characters are products of human imagination.

Noemi is a strong character, too. Noemi’s devotion to her planet gave her strong motivation. That said, at times I felt as though Noemi had less personality than the robot.

I think part of this had to do with her character. Noemi’s life has been full of loss, she’s just experienced another tragedy, and believes herself due for another as her planet sends it’s young people on a suicide mission. That seems like enough to make anyone harden to emotions.

Noemi’s seeming less human than her robot companion could also be seen as symbolism, and perhaps allow room for readers to grow stronger attachments to Abel despite his inhuman nature.

Another thing I loved about this book was that it posed philosophical questions. This is an element YA novels often lack, but I love the YA novels where it is present anyway. Many of the adult novels that strive to make readers think can get a little preachy. YA novels that make readers think often avoid this, or at least, the ones I’ve read do.

That said, I would have liked more exploration of the philosophical elements, but since this is YA I’ll take what I can get.

Another element I don’t often see discussed in nonsecular novels is religion. This book touches on religion more than most novels, particularly YA, that I’ve read. Noemi was raised Catholic and her planet’s culture places much value on religion. While it, again, does not come across as preachy, this influences Noemi’s actions throughout the novel.

I’m split on what I thought about the worldbuilding. On one hand, I like that readers were shown so much of it. The protagonists visit just about every habitable world. On the other hand, visiting so many places leads to a lack of depth.

That there were only enough robot models in the future for each one to be assigned a letter of the alphabet also seemed unlikely and of limited vision. Then again, this also seemed a means by which the author simplified her plot to keep it from overwhelming the story.

The author did the same thing with the planets. Each one is defined by a key characteristic. There is a resort planet, a planet for geniuses, and a planet for devoutly religious people. This is a big part of why I say that the worldbuilding lacked depth.

The worldbuilding also reminded me of Star Wars. Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise me seeing as Claudia Gray is also contracted to write Star Wars novels.

I added this one to my TBR because I’d read and enjoyed Gray’s Star Wars novel, Lost Stars. I’m glad I did, because I liked this one even more.

Rating: I keep going back and forth between 4 and 4.5 on this one. If I did quarter ratings I would. There were some things I didn’t like about this book, but there were even more things I loved. It’s one of those books I can’t stop thinking about. That makes me want to rate it higher.

In the end, I settled on 4.

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Do you plan to read Defy the Stars? Have you read it already? What did you think? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!