Review: Gemina

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Goodreads Summary:

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

I really enjoyed the first installment of this series, Illuminae, but I am always hesitant when new characters are introduced into a series. I saw Kristoff assured readers that Kady and Ezra from the first book would be very present in this, well no. They were there for about the last 75 pages, as acting characters. As we are dealing with Kady’s dad in this story for a lot of the time though you could say she’s there in spirit.

I didn’t really like Hanna at the start of this. She’s spoiled, obsessed with her handsome boyfriend, and a party girl. Nik was interesting from the start though and I enjoyed his snark, honesty, and relationship with his cousin.

Once the action starts to pick up though we start to see how capable, intelligent, and caring Hanna is. And let me tell you, there are two major plot twists that had me going “WHAT!!” which was so much fun. And the body count, while less than in Illuminae, is still pretty high in this one, but at least we know who our enemy is and why they are there. Our secondary enemy though was a really interesting aspect, and super creepy.

I really enjoyed watching the dynamic between Hanna and Nik, they start the story as a dealer and his customer, become unintentional allies, and then become maybe something more. They are the only hopes to save as many lives as possible, and while helping each other through this impossible task they go through emotional and physical stressors that only the other will understand and provide each other comfort and motivation to keep pressing forward with their goals.

While the romantic relationship between Hanna and Nik isn’t as stable as that of Kady and Ezra, I think it has potential to solidify in the last book. Neither one of them are the shallow stereotypical characters we think them to be at the start of the book, and I never felt that Hanna and her original boyfriend had more of a connection beyond a physical one. The Sci-Fi and action elements of this book though are top notch, it was so much fun and fast paced.

I am very much looking forward to finishing this series, and can’t wait to see how the motley gang gets themselves out of this last mess BiTech stuck them in.

Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.


The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

I am not a James Patterson reader, but I saw a lot of talk of this book, and it sounded like a fun read.

There were definitely some holes in this story, some obviousness in the dynamic between the main character and her love interest, and some overly blatant talk of how Audrey Rose could be both smart and beautiful- a great message, but I didn’t need it repeated to me in exactly those words numerous times. I also didn’t think the period photos really added all that much to the story.

Even with those obviously flaws, I couldn’t put this book down. It was dark and creepy,the MC was a great role model and so much fun, Thomas – the other lab tech – is full of snark, and the story was fast paced and constantly throwing new questions into the mix.

I did have an issue with who our culprit turned out to be. It seemed too out of the blue, and I’m not sure I buy into it beyond the shock factor. The motive that was devised though was utterly creepy and horefying. 

Overall it was a very fun read, a good take on a historical cases, and full of strong smart characters. I certainly plan on continuing the series and hope that the books mature a bit with Maniscalcos continued  writing.

Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . .

I really enjoyed Hodge’s Cruel Beauty, and liked Crimson Bound, so I came into this one expecting only good things. However, this was a hard one to get through.

I found the premise of this very original and I was so excited about it, especially when we find that our two POVs are not that of Romeo and Juliet. Unfortunately, this was boring. All the action is either in the background or over in a flash, leaving us only with brooding, plotting, and stuck in the Cloister with the Sisters of Thorn. I have to say Paris and Romeo were the much more interesting duo. Runajo should have been just as interesting, but I couldn’t find myself able to care about either she or Juliet. Likewise, Paris is pretty pathetic, and Romeo way too flowery for my taste, but at least their bond was something I enjoyed, and once Vai entered their story line instantly picked up. I feel like if these four would have intersected it would have been a more enjoyable read.

The necromancers and undead were supposed to give us much more excitement, tension, and terror than they did. And the city dynamics, and that of the Cloister were way too vague. This just didn’t come together for me. I can’t say if I am going to continue with this duo, we’ll have to see what the review look like.

Review: Like a River Glorious

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Goodreads Synopsis:

After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her handsome best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram.

Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn’t given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he’ll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.

I didn’t end up rereading Walk on Earth a Stranger, and while there were certain things that I wasn’t very clear on, the bulk of the story was refreshed well enough by the first few chapters that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything going into this sequel.

I had a little bit of an issue with how Lee ended up at her uncles camp, it seemed too much like Plot was driving it, but the interest I have in the characters was able to overshadow that well enough. I enjoyed how Lee’s witchy powers adapted in this one, and seeing she and Jeff grow together more. I also really liked the overall family feel and dedication she and her fellow camp members had with each other.

The main argument I have seen about the book is the portrayal of the Native Americans, and how they ‘help the nice white people.” I though the author did a great job addressing one of the darkest aspects of our country’s history. She made Lee face her unconscious prejudices, and acknowledge that her hardships were nothing compared to those of the Native Americans and Chinese Immigrants. She also points out several great books in her acknowledgments that go into deeper study of both groups experience in Gold Rush California.

I felt like the story was pretty resolved at the end of this, so I am interested to see if there really is a third book, and what all is going to happen. I can see how her powers and the statehood could cause a good story, but the main villain seems to be dealt with, and a reappearance of Uncle Hiram wouldn’t feel natural after how this ended.

Talking of Uncle Hiram, the subtlety to his villainy was so well done. He’s obsessed with Lee’s mother, and using her to try and fill that hole. There were so many times where I was terrified that the relationship was going to take on an even darken turn. His obsession is what makes him so scary; not his need to be rich or the fact that he’s a murderer, but his obsession. The subtlety to the darkness of Hiram, on top of the dangers and hardships of the environment, with her strong characters, makes this series a strong one.

Review: Mortal Heart

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has…

It took me a while to get into this. I loved the first book Grave Mercy, the second one, Dark Triumph, was enjoyable enough but ultimately just so-so; so my expectations for this last book were not that high.

Not until about half way through did I really start to like this. I wasn’t thrilled by the impression of insta-love at the beginning, and thought that Annith’s ‘mission’ to escape was more plot driven than character driven. However, once a few things are unearthed that I did not see coming I got on board. I understood more why Annith instantly felt an attraction to her beau, and came to better understand her need to serve outside of the convent.

While Annith’s story grew on me, I loved seeing my favorite, Ismae, and how she and Duval were doing. The reunion of the three girls was fun and I enjoyed seeing how much they had all changed since the first book. It was also nice to see everything with the Duchess finally play out. I was a bit confused as to the timeline in the beginning of this installment, but I eventually got back into the swing of things and it was fun to see how the stories overlapped. I especially liked the little nuances like Sybella’s brother joining the Hunt for redemption.

Overall it was a satisfying ending to the series. The first book will always be my favorite, and I will probably reread it without picking the other two back up, but the closure provided in this last book was well worth reading all three.

Review: The Girl With all The Gifts

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

This was a weird book. But it was a good weird book.

It took me a while to get into this, and I thought about quitting in the beginning there. Come page 100 I was still waiting for myself to get invested. Well I stuck with it and not too many pages later I was finally hooked.

This had a very “The Walking Dead,” feel, and I loved that aspect about it. The creepiness part about all this though is Melanie herself. She’s a zombie kid – that’s not a spoiler – but she’s smart, a genius, and she’s reluctant to other people. That alone makes this story so unique and worth sticking past those slow first 100 pages.

Once Melanie and her strange group of compatriots are making their way across England the story takes on so many new elements. We’re seeing what society has broken down to, how this disease has affected the zombie people and environment as a whole, and we’re watching all of the people making these discoveries.

Overall, this was a dark and creepy tale but it was such a fresh take on the zombie narrative, well worth the read.

 

Review: Crooked Kingdom

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

I wasn’t able to immerse myself in this as much as I would have liked. I was able to get some good binge reading sessions in over the weekend though and that was very enjoyable.

While I think Six of Crows will still be my favorite of these two, this one is definitely going up there as one of my favorite reads of the year. All of the elements that made the first book so amazing are still there: the fantastic characters – whose backstories are still being revealed to us in perfectly placed flashbacks; action, action, and more action; three amazing ships; and the subterfuge of Kaz’s devious mind that I was a little better at discovering this time around but still plenty surprised.

I think one of my favorite elements of these books is that characters say the terrible things that they are going to do to others, and we believe it immediately, then to see they were bluffing and we say to ourselves “of course, because they aren’t really that bad.” Bardugo has created characters that all have dark sides, but we still love them because we believe they are justified in their actions –  if we saw these people on trial I don’t think we would be so forgiving.

This finale has even more twists and turns and dead ends than the first book. I was initially wondering when things were going to get interesting, and then WHAM I played right into Kaz’s plan just like the ‘baddies’ of the book.

I loved seeing all of our characters in their new relationships with one another. The gang is finally a gang. They all care for each other, they look out for one another, and they put their lives at stake for their comrades. This new geling of the gang made it all the harder to see us have to part with one of them towards the end, but I understand why it was done.

There were no happy ending for this gang, but that wouldn’t have fit them would it? They all achieve the personal goals they needed to though. All of them are still working on things. Kaz and Inej are finding out how to let go of the ghosts of their pasts and form an empire of their own. Jesper is facing his gambling problem and his personal fears about his Grisha gifts. Wylan is taking on a job he never thought he’d have, and casting off the shadow of shame his father saddled him with. Nina and Matthias are working towards their goal of creating a better, more tolerable, world.

It was a perfect ending to a perfect duo of books.