“Last Impressions (The Marnie Baranuik Files #3)” by A.J. Aalto

3 stars – This book was better than book two in my view. When I first started it, I was so happy to be back in this world. I was like…

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I think what bugged me the most about book two was the love triangle. I like Batten as a character, but not with Marnie or in Marnie’s head. It drove me crazy and made me ragey. Well, Batten is hardly in this. Yay for me! (Unfortunately, it sounds like a romance with him has been set up for the future, which should make for tons of angst between Marnie and Batten, since Marnie has sex sometimes with her vampire Companion, or Revenant, Harry. Ugh. I’m TEAM HARRY all the way, but my guy never wins.)

So… I’m reading along steadily and quite enjoying the first half of this. I’m thinking, wow, I’m so glad I’m liking this one!

Marnie goes back to her hometown to help solve a mystery involving ghosts and a missing person. Of course, things get crazy from that point on. I liked Schenk and Scarrow. Schenk is the male police officer Marnie is partnered with and Scarrow is the ex-priest with a preference for skinny pants who exorcises poltergeists – and flirts with Marnie every chance he gets.

And then, Marnie started to bug me again.

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I just think these books are TOO long. There’s only so much of Marnie’s zany, quirky, foul-mouthed, air-headed shenanigans I can take. By the end, I get annoyed and want to throw my Kindle across the room.

Sometimes she’s SO funny and I love it, but then, it’s just overkill. And the books all start to feel the same. I’m ready for a game-changer, for something crazy to happen to her or Harry or someone. Shock me. Surprise me. It’s just the same formula, and sometimes it works brilliantly. But then, it drags on, and I get bored and annoyed with Marnie’s behavior that never really changes.

I think I can just take Marnie in small doses. Otherwise, I find her to be a bumbling, air-headed bimbo, who happened to score bigtime with inheriting a vampire/revenant from her Aunt (or is it Grandma) that can sex her up (and dang he does that well) and boost her finances and pamper her. I feel like she doesn’t deserve what she has with Harry. She seems to take him for granted. Maybe it’s just me. Probably is. But many times, I just want to say to her:

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Anyhow, my thoughts on this are: it started strong, lagged in the middle, got better (the scene with the farmer dude who kept disappearing to change into outfits – one was in drag- during an interview because he was “testing” Marnie and Schenk to see if he could trust them enough to divulge everything he knew was awesome. I already forgot his name, but it was over the top bizarre and funny). But then, the pacing dragged again, and I never got into it as much and started skimming from about 70% on.

Maybe I should give up on this series. I like it a lot in some respects, but then it pisses me off. Marnie is too annoying (for me) in big doses and I think the books are too long compared to the actual plot and story content.

Review also found at : Goodreads

Original post:

Yay, Netgalley approved me! I’m happy to be back in this world, mainly because of Harry, the sexy vampire (I mean, Revenant). And I picture him as Tom Hardy, which makes it even better!

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“Blightborn (The Heartland Trilogy #2)” by Chuck Wendig

2 stars

I originally DNF’d this at 53% and then decided to try and finish it because I got it from Netgalley and wanted to be able to provide feedback. I am going to keep my original rating. I just didn’t think was as good as the first one. I feel like the same story could have been told in less pages. This felt bloated and I didn’t care about any of the new characters. I did like Balastair. The female characters were annoying and I didn’t really like Cael either. I have the third one so will finish the trilogy. I hope the last one is better than this one.

Original review:

DNF 53%. I really enjoyed the first book, but this one is seriously annoying me. The two main characters, Cael and Gwennie are the most annoying, irritating characters and I wish they were killed off. I like every other character so much more. Why can’t Cael be killed off and Lane be the main male character from here on out?

I hate Gwennie. I love Merelda McAvoy. I totally understand why she left the Heartland. She made a better life for herself and mega-bitch Gwennie had to ruin it for her. She’s so selfish and will take anyone out to find her family. I get that her family is important, but you don’t destroy other innocent people to accomplish your goals, you dumb bitch. I can’t stand her. Kill Cael and Gwennie off and I will continue reading this. If anyone has finished this trilogy and can tell me that things change with these idiotic characters, I will pick this back up and try again.

But I don’t have time for BS like this. I do not want a HEA for Cael and Gwennie. I am not rooting or cheering for them whatsoever. They should go back to the Heartland and eat rats and continue their existence that they thought was peachy keen. Only they wanted to bitch when they were in it, but not when they had opportunities to get out of it. Instead, they attack everyone and anything that offers them a chance because they are suspicious and selfish pigs. God, I hate them both. Ruined it for me. 😦

I’m sorry. But this pisses me off. I can’t even. Also, WAY too much switching between chapters and POVs. Just when a little bit of action happened, it switched, then a few pages later, just when some momentum was building, ANOTHER switch. Seriously. That is frustrating.

Original post:

Yay, I was approved by Netgalley for book 2 in this trilogy! Here is my review for the first book. I really liked it and can’t wait to keep going with this story.

🙂

Also posted at Goodreads

“Redshirts” by John Scalzi

4 stars

When I saw that this book was co-dedicated to Wil Wheaton, I pretty much knew right away that I was going to like it. This is a huge spoof on the type of show Star Trek: The Original Series was. A low budget sci-fi TV show, where the captain and chief officers always miraculously survive attacks and away missions and the no-name extras (in red shirts) always end up dying. A show where science and physics are fudged to make the scene “work” on a regular basis. The kind of TV that’s so bad, it’s kind of good.

This focuses on a small group of people who are transferred to a big-name starship and they figure out things are totally cray-cray and not what they seem. It gets all philosophical and… well, everyone else is using this word in their review, so I guess I will too. It gets all “meta.”

Every time I heard Captain Abernathy and Science Officer Q’eeng speak, all I could hear was William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. There were several times I laughed out loud and I just couldn’t stop reading. Kerensky was great too as the hapless pilot who always gets hurt on every mission, but somehow always survives. He ends up having a significant role. I really liked this.

HOWEVER, the book “ends” really abruptly and then goes into a 3-part “coda,” told by the POV of 3 minor characters. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the book and seems weirdly out of place. It ruined the pacing and was rambling and completely unnecessary, in my view. I ended up skipping most of it. So my review is for the first 225 pages (approximately). I think the whole thing should have ended there and it would have been fine as a short book. The codas felt like padding and weird to me, so I deducted a star for that.

I’m a total Star Trek geek and it does help to have a basic understanding of the series, but it’s not necessary. I’m so glad I finally read this! 🙂

Review also found at Goodreads.

“Magic Shifts” (Kate Daniels #8) by Ilona Andrews

2 stars – Ok, unpopular opinion time. I know it’s blasphemy and all, but this book was just okay to me. I found it a struggle to get through.

A couple months have passed since the last book. Kate and Curran are going through the final process of full separation from the Pack. They now live in a suburban neighborhood with Julie and we see a lot of domesticity in the beginning. I don’t know why, but this is a trope in urban fantasy that really annoys me. However, it’s not like I didn’t know it was coming.

The main plot in this one was a werebison goes missing, Eduardo. To further complicate matters, we find out his girlfriend is the Alpha Bear, Mahon’s, daughter, and he is a long-standing bigot we all know and are aware of. So we get lots of family and romance angst, mixed in with the domesticity at the beginning.

The good thing to me was in the beginning (around 20%), we see that Kate seems to have hit her stride. She knows how to use her powers more, she’s in her prime. Then, she has a stroke and it feels weird. I’m not sure what that was all about, but it felt like it was just a plot device.

I felt like a lot of characters just made a token appearance. The side story of Curran taking over the Guild was okay, I guess. He had to have significance established for the future books.

None of my favorite characters really had a significant role and maybe that was part of it. Saiman has one scene you’d miss if you blinked. The conversation with Roland was nothing more than a huge info-dump, really. I felt like a lot of this book was transitional or info-dumping or just…filler.

There’s a lot of things that are repeated, like how many times have we heard Roland described something like…”if the sun had risen” or something to do with what just looking on him when we has happy with you was like the sun rising or whatnot.

I just didn’t care about Mahon or Eduardo or George or the big bad in this one. The writing is fine and for people who really get into seeing all the appearances of the various characters in the world, it is great. I hope the next one is a little darker and maybe I just like the “bad guys” in this world too much. They are much more intriguing to me.

I will re-read this in the future and probably will like it more. At least, that happened with the previous book, so I’m thinking it could just be my current mood. I just couldn’t get into this one.

Review also found at: Goodreads

“Serafina and the Black Cloak” by Robert Beatty

3 Stars

“I’ve told ya before, and I’ll tell ya again, Sera: our world is filled with many mysteries, things we don’t understand. Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, both dark and bright, and they will ensnare your soul.”

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Serafina is a 12 year old girl who lives in the Vanderbilt mansion, called the Biltmore Estate, with her pa. Well, they don’t exactly live there properly. They secretly live in the basement and no one knows she exists. Her pa is the maintenance man and never really told her about where she came from or who her mother was, until a man in a black cloak comes and children start disappearing.

So this is probably not exactly “Young Adult,” and more geared towards older kids/younger teens, but it’s a solid fantasy tale about an unusual girl who is more than she appears, and who ends up saving the day (of course). I liked Serafina. Even though she didn’t really know anything about herself, she was strong, and still followed her instincts. At first I was annoyed with her dad, but I ended up understanding why he did what he did (and besides, this is for a younger crowd, so you have to kind of not analyze things too much). For example, and I don’t think this a spoiler, but Serafina only wore large man-shirts tied at the waist with an old rope or belt, and for an adult, it’s like, come on, she could have gotten some hand-me-downs no matter how poor they were. But, it makes for a certain charm, and adds to who Serafina is. She cares more about catching rats than what she is wearing, and her pa is too busy fixing machines in the Vanderbilt’s basement.

I could emotionally relate to the idea that some people resonate more with animals and nature than other people, and Serafina meets a kindred spirit who is like her in that respect. This isn’t a complicated book, but it’s cute and well-written for its target audience.

Review also found at Goodreads