The Empress (The Diabolic #2) by S.J. Kincaid

1xcha2

I fangirled like crazy over the first book and was THRILLED to receive an ARC of The Empress! Then I read it. It’s so difficult when you want to love a book and you don’t. I decided not to rate the book because it’s a good book and I think the reason for my disappointment lies with me and not the author’s story.

There is a LOT of politics and focus on religious extremists in this, which makes my mind turn off. It’s not my favorite set up or theme in books AT ALL. So I was not the right audience from the very start. I did not realize this or I would not have requested it from Netgalley.

However, I did and here is my review. (No spoilers.)

This is going to be a tough review to write. I’m sure it’s just me. I didn’t like this, and here is why:

– Nothing much happens until 30% into the book
– Almost the entire book dealt with politics and religious extremists/conservatives
– It was all about court betrayal and intrigue
– There was so much talking and telling and not enough doing and showing
– Yes, you get a LOT more world-building in this book, but it felt tedious (I’m sorry!)
– Ends in a cliffhanger
– I predicted most of what happened
– Drama llama made me angry

I’m sure some things that happened will not be as they appear in the final book. But, I am moving on and won’t be continuing. :((

I am sorry. Thank you for the digital copy to read and review. I am just being honest. I’m sure it’s mainly me and the book will be popular and most others will like it.

Advertisements

Review on Saga Vols 1-4 by Brian K. Vaughan

I finally jumped on the Saga bandwagon after nearly all my friends have read it. I love graphic novels and especially ones with lots of weird stuff. This has sci-fi action, aliens, space opera, along with relationship drama, family arguments, grandma and grandpa showing up in the middle in the two main characters running for their lives with their newborn daughter. There is even an author who writes subversive bodice rippers! Ha! A recipe for success if I ever saw one.

My problem is, I really, REALLY liked the first two volumes and then the next two were just kinda MEH to me. I am not a fan of relationship drama and we get a LOT of that in volume four.

We also have the bad-ass, but one-dimensional ex-fiance (Gwendolyn). There’s not much to her except wanting revenge. A bit of a yawn factor there for me.

One of my favorite characters is the Lying Cat. Lying Cat senses when people are lying and it’s hilarious and often comes up in inopportune times. But, Lying Cat also gives the story heart when he offers comfort to Slave Girl (aka Sophie) at one point. The Will is a mercenary tracker who is his best friend. I like The Will.

The sci-fi aspects are off the charts cool. It’s the angst and drama that feels a bit like filler to me. The story of star-crossed lovers who fell in love even though their peoples have warred and despise each other is one we have all seen at one point or another. I just feel like I need a bit more MEAT by this point. I want more action and less, “Is Marko going to cheat on Alana?”

The robot people are kinda weird and funny too. They have TV heads and the king has a huge flat-screen as a head, which for some reason, I found hilarious.

I’m not giving up though. So far, I think if I averaged my rating for the first four volumes, it’d be sitting at about 3.75 stars?

My reviews for the volumes are below.

Saga Vol. 1 at Goodreads. ★★★★★

Saga Vol. 2 at Goodreads. ★★★★

Saga Vol 3 at Goodreads. ★★★

Saga Vol. 4 at Goodreads. ★★★

Artemis by Andy Weir

34928122

 

This book isn’t released until November and already has about 400 reviews at Goodreads! What do I say that probably hasn’t already been said?

My initial response was that the book felt like:

  1. John Grisham in space. Only no lawyers.
  2. Michael Crichton in space. Only no dinosaurs.
  3. Dan Brown in space. Only no religious conspiracies.

Let’s start with Jazz. She’s Saudi Arabian and lived most of her life on the moon (Artemis). She might have been born there, but I can’t remember. She can’t live or even WALK on Earth anymore without major treatments, exercise, medication, etc. because of the difference in gravity. But she is a moon girl, through and through, and has no intention of being anywhere else.

Jazz is a very interesting character, in that she isn’t very likable, yet you find yourself cheering for her anyway. She is a smuggler and doesn’t do anything too crazy yet she is always on someone’s radar. She is one of those brilliant young women who have family members (in this case, it’s just her dad) always telling her she “has so much potential.” She is fiercely independent, snarky as hell, and does what she wants, when she wants.

This is a story of how she makes a deal thinking this will be “the one” to make her rich and yet of course, EVERYTHING goes wrong, and she has to figure out how to dig her way out of the big poop pile.

I have NOT read The Martian, believe it or not, so have nothing to compare this to except The Egg and Annie’s Day (which I liked both of those very short stories a lot).

I enjoyed this. A good high-tech sci-fi suspense… very science-y in a way readers will be able to comprehend. I don’t think it’s my typical choice in reading material. But I was entertained and I think it’s going to sell tons of books and be very successful.

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital copy to read and review!
Review also found at Goodreads.

 

 

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

3.5 stars

Milo has lived almost 10,000 lives and if he doesn’t achieve an act of “Perfection” pretty soon, he is going to get poofed into nothingness by the universe. I mean, you only get so many tries.

Suzie is his girlfriend (who happens to be Death) of 8,000 years. They have an unconventional relationship and only see each other between his lives. But, it’s pretty epic.

Even though the story focuses on Milo and his many lives, there are actually two other major plots going on:

– Suzie’s evolution from Death to realizing she wants (and can have) more, and
– The story of their relationship (don’t worry, while this has romantic elements, it’s not a kissing book.)

We are shown the types of lives Milo has lived, chapter by chapter. A lot of the book reads like a collection of short stories. We learn about Milo’s lives hundreds of year ago and the ones that take place hundreds of years in the future, some in space and on space ships.

I felt sympathy for Milo because, if reincarnation is true, how awful is it to have to go back over and over without remembering anything in the hopes you stumble upon an act deemed as “perfection” by the universe. Not fair! 😛

The book is a combination of sci-fi and philosophical, humorous fiction. The book has more in common with Douglas Adams and Tom Robbins than Carlos Castenada or Paulo Coelho. (It also kind of reminds me of Patrick deWitt, who wrote the Sisters Brothers and Undermajordomo Minor. The books are nothing alike, but there is something about the writing style…)

The first part of the book was fantastic. It was funny and quirky, poignant, and even melancholy at times. Unfortunately, I felt like the book started to lose steam in the middle and the various lives started to blend together. I felt like the story could have been easily told in fewer pages, since the additional chapters weren’t really revealing anything new and was a continuation of what we had already seen.

However, this was well-written and I really enjoyed the author’s style of writing and humor. Along with the “funneh” and eccentric vibe, there are some good nuggets about philosophy and “dharma.” I am definitely putting this author on my watch list.

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital copy to read and review.

“Cottonwood” by R. Lee Smith

loumhe7

In this story, insectoid aliens crash-landed on Earth. They were settlers, with some doctors, military members, and engineers onboard, going to settle an unpopulated planet. They got to Earth by mistake and humans decide they must be put in camps where they are housed and fed and work in a recycling program.

Sarah is a young woman who gets what she thinks is going to be an awesome job as a caseworker for the aliens to help work toward integration… when the aliens can be moved slowly into society.

When she gets there however, she discovers she has been lied to and the aliens live in squalor, picking through trash, with no showers or toilets, they are fed mystery meat in unlabeled cans, and “disappear” all the time never to be seen again. They have no rights and are prisoners.

Sarah slowly builds a friendship with a father and his son and a couple other members of Cottonwood. There are two mega villains: one runs the camps around the world and the other is his henchman. And that is the premise of Cottonwood.

What an amazing book. This was so much more than a “romance.” The author did such a great job bringing all the characters to life and making you feel deep emotion for everyone! Sarah was fantastic as the protagonist. She was brave and selfless. She helped the “bugs” even though she knew she could get in serious trouble – because it was the right thing to do. She wasn’t “badass” as far as being able to kick butt, but she was definitely badass as an amazing human being.

I especially loved the little boy, T’aki. He was so cute and sweet and his interactions with his dad, Sanford, and Sarah were touching. Sanford wasn’t an “alpha,” but he was strong and a good man. The romance doesn’t even really come in until around 60 or 70%? But the descriptions of the sex were well done, realistic. This isn’t smut and there are no raunchy scenes. It’s not sexy, but it is kind of fascinating and I totally shipped Sarah and Sanford.

There was another supporting character named Samaritan, who is like the Crazy Uncle who don’t want anyone to meet, but when the shit hits the fan, he’s got your back. He was a total asshole, but also pretty freaking incredible when the moment called for it… and then he’d go back to being an asshole again.

The “bugs” in this have a “clicking” type language and they “share breath” as part of intimacy. Their feelers can “taste” the air and smells. The author (again) did a great job explaining the aliens and made them really come alive.

Even though these aliens aren’t preying mantis-looking, I think fans of Vel from Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series would like this. I would call it more sci-fi adventure/drama with romantic elements.

This book made me cry, had me on the edge of my seat at times, smiling, frowning, and I appreciated that all the drama felt organic and not contrived whatsoever.

This is my favorite R. Lee Smith book. I’ve read 3 of hers now and I am hooked.

18382502

Review also found at: Goodreads

Original post:

ERMAGHERD. All the stars! I loved this so much.What a fantastic story. Sci-fi adventure with an amazing love story, awesome supporting characters, villains you want to die a horrible slow painful death, amazing heroine, sweet and kind hero who happens to be an insectoid alien. GAH. All the feels.

This is not really a romance, but it has a slow-build love story at its heart. I think sci-fi and fantasy fans would like this. The writing is easy to get into and it was just paced well and an instant favorite!!

YOU NEED TO READ THIS!

“Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch

Spoiler-free review. This book isn’t even released until August, so I won’t go into too much detail. Besides, it’s best to go into a Blake Crouch book knowing nothing. When you’re finished, you may still know nothing, but you’ll know more of nothing that you started out knowing.

tumblr_m92x4cxxa21qm5muxo1_500

I’m joking. This book isn’t confusing. It’s pretty fascinating, actually, and very different than the Wayward Pines trilogy (which I admit, I did enjoy more than this). This is sci-fi thriller where Pines was more sci-fi dystopian with a strong dose of weirdness. This one doesn’t have that quirky Twin Peaks vibe. But that’s okay! Blake Crouch has become one of my favorite authors. If he writes it, I’ll read it!

You can read the synopsis for a general idea of the plot setup. But this is more than just a sci-fi action thriller. It’s also a love story. I won’t go into that since the book hasn’t been released yet, but I highly recommend checking this one out. It also sort of reminded me of the awesome (but highly underrated) TV show Fringe.

the-berenstein-bears-may-be-proof-of-a-parallel-universe-image-4

I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley and publisher to read and review! THANK YOU!!!

Vicious (Vicious, #1) by V.E. Schwab, aka Victoria Schwab

Vicious (Vicious, #1)Vicious by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yep, all the stars.

This story reminded me a lot of the X-Men and young Magneto’s and Charles Xavier’s friendship turned nemesis relationship. Two young men meet at college and form a deep friendship. They love science and a ground-breaking experiment succeeds and ends up turning them into violent enemies.

Ten years goes by. One went to prison and has escaped (Victor Vale). One spends those years as a sort of vigilante, searching for people who fit the experiment’s perimeters, and assassinating them in some kind of twisted Holy War (Eli Ever).

I don’t want to go into the plot too much because of spoilers. This was such an awesome book that you should just go in knowing as little as possible. If you like sci-fi fantasy, mutants, superheroes, and books where the main characters are, at best, anti-heroes and at worst, villains, this is the book for you. The MCs are not “good” and they break laws and kill. I still found myself liking Victor a lot.

I loved Victor.

Even though Victor’s blond and younger, he reminds me of Michael Fassbender’s Magneto. He also (for some reason) kind of reminds me of Julian McMahon as Doctor Doom in the Fantastic Four. Again, not blond and older than Victor, but I just picture them as Victor. *shrugs*

The supporting characters were really good also. There’s a huge tattooed brilliant hacker named Mitchell, a 12-year-old girl named Sydney, and a humongous dog named Dol. They made up Victor’s “team” of misfits and I loved them!

I hated Eli.

He was so self-righteous and a hypocrite. I hated how obsessed with religion he was, yet he only cared about it when it suited him. Serena was a girlfriend and partner in crime. I hated her too. Hated her. I wanted them both to die. I felt no pity or sympathy for them whatsoever. Eli’s sections in the book were the worst. I hated how he thought he had divine justification for doing the despicable things he did.

”You don’t understand,” gasped Eli. “No one understands.”

“When no one understands, that’s usually a good sign that you’re wrong.”

SPOILERISH:

The author had an interesting take on the whole “mutant ability” theme. When people were somehow brought back to life after being brain-dead, they acquired some type of ability based on what they were thinking as they died. But they also lost a lot of their humanity – stuff like empathy, guilt, fear, and even joy. It’s a darker interpretation, but still cool.

Overall, I loved this book. I loved the characters, the plot, the premise, the execution. The middle might have dragged just a bit when Eli’s sections were introduced, but I even loved hating him. It was a satisfying ending. And now apparently, there will be a second book! YAY!

Review also found at: Goodreads

“Zero World” by Jason M. Hough

5 out of 5 stars! Wow! This ended up being fantastic!
Note: The book actually only takes up about 77% of the Kindle version. There is a novella after that called The Dire Earth that ties into The Darwin Elevator world.

Meet Peter Caswell.

He’s a bad-ass secret agent/super soldier/assassin who works for an elite company called Archon. His handler, Monique, gives him his missions via mind-to-mind communication through a high-tech implant located on his neck. The implant also happens to wipe his memory after jobs, which makes him an incredibly efficient killer since he has no guilt afterward or any emotional complications.

Caswell gets an unusual mission that takes him off-world and thrust into all kinds of intrigue, insurgency, and lots of mindfuckery.

Meet Melni.

She is the agent Caswell meets off-world and they become tangled together in a web of intrigue, insurgency, and lots of mindfuckery.

I really don’t want to say any more because this was such a well-written sci-fi thriller full of surprises it would feel like spoiling the fun to go into the plot any further!

There’s some great world-building and a slowly unfolding, complex story that ends up being just amazing! My inner Star Trek/Star Wars fangirl self was appeased and it’s got a great Mission Impossible/Jason Bourne vibe going on too. It’s even got a dash of steampunk thrown in. I highly recommend if you love sci-fi.

I am definitely going to check out more stuff by this author.

Here’s a nice review by someone I follow named Jason. Check it out.

Review also found at: Goodreads.

“Wayward (Wayward Pines #2) by Blake Crouch

Wayward (Wayward Pines, #2)Wayward by Blake Crouch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A solid second book in the trilogy, although not as good as the first one, in my view. If you didn’t like Pines, this one isn’t going to change that. The story picks up right where we left off, Ethan is now sheriff and everything is still FUBAR. If I say anything else, it’s just going to be a spoiler. You really don’t want to know anything about this series before you start it.

There’s not quite as much going on until halfway through the book, but it’s still an easy book to read, and the creepy mysteriousness is always thrumming below the surface. It does end on a cliffhanger. We find out a lot more about Pilcher. Pam is a crazy bitch. Like, seriously. As if we didn’t already know that from book one, but STILL. *shiver*

I can’t wait to see what happens next. What happens at the end changes everything.

Just read the damn book.

Unless you hated the first one and then you’d probably hate this one too.

Buddy read with the Saucy Wenches group in October. I couldn’t wait, so already started it.

View all my reviews

“Transcendence” by Shay Savage

5 stars!

WARNING: May induce severe ugly crying.

Wow. This book. Talk about a surprise. I was enjoying the story, but not loving it, up until about the 70% mark and then it just suddenly became this incredibly rich and emotional story that caused me to literally sob. I had to stop at 95% and wait to finish it when I could compose myself enough to carry on. This has never happened to me before when reading a book. (Yeah, there are several movies I have privately ugly-cried to – like The Notebook, Les Miserables, when I saw Beaches for the first time…typical stuff like that.)

Some people will try to read this book and be baffled by the 5 star reviews. This is not for everyone. First off, not a lot happens until the book is more than halfway over! This is not going to work for people who need a lot going on in the plot. It’s written in a very simple style and ALL about the slow-evolving romance. The male main character is not an alpha at all. He’s a caveman. He does not have the capacity to learn language or symbols or understand them because his brain is different from modern humans. So there is repetition and not a lot of complexity going on. Ehd is a simple man. He wants a mate. He wants to protect and provide for his mate. And he REALLY wants to “put a baby” inside his mate. All the time.

There are a zillion reviews for this, so I won’t recap or include quotes. The basic premise is that a caveman stumbles upon a strange woman and decides she is his mate. As the reader, we learn that his mate, Beh (he can’t pronounce her real name, Elizabeth), somehow came from another time and is trapped there. As the story unfolds, they fall in love, and have a long, fulfilling life together.

The author did an amazing job in telling this story completely from Ehd’s point of view. Of course, it is not “realistic” because Ehd thinks in a more complex way than a caveman would. But there would be no story if the author didn’t take some artistic liberties. I’ve never read a book like this and it’s very original.

I was not prepared for how emotionally attached I would become to Ehd and Beh. It literally makes me tear up just thinking about it. Even halfway through the book, I did not feel very emotional one way or the other about it, and then it just snuck up on me, and BAM. I was viscerally involved.

Romances are hit and miss with me. Sometimes I loathe them and sometimes I enjoy them. Rarely, do I flat-out LOVE them. This one is now an all-time favorite.

Sometimes it’s nice to read a romance about a male that is not a “mega alpha.” Ehd loved Beh so much. At first, I was like, eh, I need my book men to be more dominant, I’m not sure about this… but it WORKED. Ehd is the male you’d want in real life. Not the snarky sexy controlling asshole that is so common in most romances.

Well, I guess I will wrap it up. If you like sweet romances with a little bit of fantasy thrown in, one that is about the slow relationship build and kind of simple, yet invokes strong emotions, you will no doubt love this. You’ll love it.

^^^ That gif pretty much sums up the theme of this story.

Anyway, highly recommended for romance fans. I’ll shut up now.

Buddy Read with the MacHalo group, starting September 23, 2015. Because caveman romance, duh. For research purposes.