Review: Chainbreaker by Tara Sim

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Chainbreaker is the sequel to LGBT+ friendly steampunk Timekeeper.
Timekeeper on Goodreads
Chainbreaker on Goodreads

“I’ll always fight for the promise of an easier tomorrow. Right or wrong, selfish or not, this is what we want. Whatever it takes.”

Clocktowers are mysteriously falling in India, though time is still running. The Mechanics send Danny and Daphne to investigate. (Danny quickly, willingly agrees, even if it does separate him from Colton.) Though young, they have experience – thanks to the traitor Mathias (who Danny really wishes everyone would stop calling a traitor) – with broken towers and stopped time.

First up, I gotta say that I loved the way the story was told. Last book, nearly everything was from Danny’s perspective and, while that was good, this story being told by Danny, Daphne and Colton helped both to flesh out the characters as well as the world.

And, boy, what a world it is. I’ve experienced some second books in series that feel like a setup, a stopgap for the third, and this one doesn’t suffer from that at all. (Well, okay, it does a little, merely because the ending is pretty much a cliffhanger, but it also feels like the ending of one chapter of the story and the beginning of the next. Don’t know how I’ll wait to find out what happens, though.)

Anyway, we get a lot more information on the world – instead of just based in England, a good portion takes place in India, opening up the world physically. (I don’t know much about Indian history, but I will say that Sim seems knowledgeable.) Besides that, there’s a lot more information on clock spirits which helps to flesh out the world that’s been created. I do love the way that both history and fiction blend in this story.

The characters also develop more over the course of the story, growing up a bit (mostly, Danny, though he was already a truly likable, sympathetic characters) as well as us readers getting to learn more about them. (Daphne and Colton, and their parts made me adore them even more.)

I liked the addition of some real racial diversity to this story – even if there was some before though it didn’t seem like it at the time. (A biracial character that easily passes as white.) Taking place in India, we have a lot of Indian characters that play important parts which, I think, was one of the biggest contributing factors to me liking this book just a bit more than the last one.

Well, that and the development to the world. (That I loved so, so much.)

5

 

Content Advisory: Rather clean all around. Brief animal death, some descriptions of violence. In fact, pretty heavy on the general, unexplicit violence. Brief (somewhat poetical) description of death.

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Review: Rory, the Sleeper by A.W. Exley

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Rory, the Slayer is the final book in a trilogy all about strong women and a katana wielding, zombie killing Cinderella. (Do I really need to say more than ‘zombie killing Cinderella? I thought not.)

Rory, the Slayer on Goodreads

Serenity House series on Goodreads

You never know what you can achieve until you take a step and try.

Ella’s finally seeing a light at the end of the Grim War – unfortunately, to get there, she’ll have to defeat the witch deMage once and for all. No big deal, she’s only the witch that put the pieces in motion hundreds of years ago that brought about the war Ella is currently fighting.

The good news is, she’s not alone, because she’s going to need help in this battle.

The way I see it, there’s two major draws to this series. The first is zombies. Considering this is pretty much my first foray into zombie literature, I’m surprised I like it as much as I do. (I did ‘read’ one other zombie book, but didn’t like it.)

The other big draw is this is a Cinderella retelling – with elements of Alice in Wonderland and Sleeping Beauty. That, I think it does wonderfully. Cinderella is probably the best known fairytale and this story does wonderful blending the expected elements of a retelling with the new.

And I love Cinderella retellings that give a little time and sympathy to one or both of the ‘evil’ stepsisters. This story does, really humanizing Charlotte in this book, so that makes me very happy.

Dovetailing on to the retelling aspect is the romance. I don’t think it’s a huge secret that I like romance, but I’d usually rather have it in a romance book and not in my other stories. Well, I expect romance in my retellings. Romance – or, rather, love – is such a huge part of the common Disney versions of fairytales that it would seem odd without it.

And, beyond the totally likable characters, – especially Ella, and I don’t often get to say that about teenage main characters – and the general strangeness of zombies, what this story does wonderfully is the romance. (Yeah, I know, how strange for me to say that.)

But, Ella and Seth are a wonderful couple. They respect each other, fight alongside each other, they’re there for each other and I think this is one of the healthiest romances I’ve ever come across in a young adult book.

To go with the romance is the friendships built here. Ella and Alice are two of the solidest best friends I’ve read in quite a while and Ella’s blooming friendship with Charlotte is a thing of beauty.

The plot, however, impresses me the most – because there actually is one. There’s an investigation about the zombies and an explanation that both make sense.

4

Content Advisory: A brief, non explicit sex scene. Light descriptions of gore and violence. (I’d say this whole series falls on the older end of YA.)

Review: Scoundrel by Zoe Archer

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Scoundrel is the second book in a stand-alone adventure/romance series with heavy treasure hunting vibes about The Blades of the Rose, men and women who protect magical artifacts from those (mostly British imperialists) that would use them to harm people. It is the sequel to Warrior and some characters/plots from that book does make an appearance.

Scoundrel on Goodreads
Warrior on Goodreads

It was then that she realized something. All this time, he had been speaking to her as his equal. Granted, he was a devil of a flirt, but he did not seem to consider her female sex a liability. He talked truthfully, openly, without the polite phrases or evasions so common to the speech of every other man she knew. And when she answered him, it was as if she’d unlatched a little door inside herself and could meet him on the level ground, confident in herself.

Bennett Day is a charmer, libertine and flirt. He has probably bedded his way through most continents. While using his allure to track down a manuscript important to the Blades, he comes across London Harcourt.

Recently widowed, London is the daughter of one of Bennett’s most powerful enemies – a chairman of the Heir’s of Albion, a group determined to see British supremacy rule the day. London, while she is helping her father translate an inscription on ancient ruins, has no idea that he’s not a simple archeologist.

A chance meeting sends Bennett’s and London’s lives careening towards each other, but will a secret kill their romance before it even gets started?

Just let me say, I adore this series. I bought Warrior a couple years ago on a whim, never expecting to like it as much as I did, and then put off reading this book because I was worried it wouldn’t hold up.

I needn’t have worried.

Bennett was introduced briefly in the previous book and I knew from it that I would kind of adore him. He’s charming and always complements women and it seems like he can’t help but flirt with every woman he meets. However, Bennett is also aware of what he is and makes sure that the women he’s with know what he is. He isn’t the sort of man to stick around. (He’s also the sort to use words before fists, but he is quite apt at both, so, yeah.)

At least, until he meets London.

London is … hmm. Honestly, she reminds me quite a bit of Evelyn from The Mummy movies. She’s smart, more book smart than street smart, but she has little experience in the world. She’s lived her entire life under the thumb of a man, (her father, her husband, then her father again) never really making choices for herself. Never being able to make choices for herself.

And that’s the thing that makes me love this series. Okay, I’m also a huge fan of the treasure hunter-esque (almost Indiana Jones) story line and wish I could find more books like this. But, really, what makes me love this book and the series and what made me excited/nervous after the first book is how equal the romance is.

London has been repressed her entire life and part of the reason she falls for Bennett is because he represents freedom. (That and his physique because, hello, lust at first sight. It’s not been long enough.) Often Bennett makes a remark and London can’t help but compare what he said to the things she’s heard from other men, the life he offers – one of her choice – versus what’s she’s lived before.

And, for me, that’s what I love in M/F historical romances and don’t find often enough. (This one takes place in 1875 on the Greek isles, btw.) I love the equality that Bennett offers London, the choices he represents and the fact that he only pushes her once but when he’s called on it, he immediately retreats. And I love watching London grow into her own, from someone that wants adventure desperately but thinks she’ll never get it, to a truly competent woman.

That being said, London’s father and her self-proclaimed suitor make me so angry because they are the sort to think that women are worth less than men, that women have to be protected from the world and themselves and – they’re sexist bigots and very much the sort that if you aren’t just like them (white British straight cis men) then you are less. I had to laugh at most of their scenes because you just know they will get their comeuppance from a woman (or two – the secondary romance was so cute) and a man (or two) that disagrees with their whole belief system.

4

Content Advisory: A few scattered curse words. Consensual sex. Sexist bigots being sexist bigots. (And one of them thinking rape-y thoughts.)

Double Review: Romancing the Inventor & Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger

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These are the first (and, so far, only) two books in the Supernatural Society series of novella’s. Set in a steampunk alternative Victorian England where vampires, werewolves and ghosts are very much real, they feature LGBT+ romances. (Set in Carriger’s ‘Parasolverse’.)

Romancing the Inventor on Goodreads
Romancing the Werewolf on Goodreads

Romancing the Inventor

What one werewolf knew, the whole pack knew.
But they’d kept her secret, and now they were gone.
And vampires were perverted.
Or so she hoped.

Imogene is a little past her prime (long in the tooth, on the shelf, whatever you prefer) and her mother is starting to despair of every marrying her off. Imogene has had plenty of offers, plenty of men that want to marry her for she is uncommonly pretty. However, she is disinterested as she prefers women.

In an effort explore her preference, loose her innocence and figure out what’s wrong with her, she decides to join the vampires. (As, rumor has it, they are perverted.) What she doesn’t expect is to meet the lovely trouser wearing inventor indentured to the vampire hive, Genevieve Lefoux.

I’ll be honest, the major reason I’ve been so excited for this story is because I have adored Genevieve since her first introduction in the story. I adore her, and her romance was a little disappointing because this entire story is told from Imogene’s perspective. So, while we get plenty of moments of Genevieve appreciation, we also don’t get inside her head. (We do get to see her flustered though, and that has made me want to run away with her even more.)

Imogene is a real character. She is an innocent, but her thoughts definitely aren’t and, if she had her way, she wouldn’t be an innocent any more (because a lot of her thought’s are along the lines of ways to loose said innocence). She’s fairly practical and down to earth, but has a distressingly low opinion of herself. She also suffers from being too pretty.

Now, I know a lot of people will say that’s not a real flaw – and I agree that how it is usually done, it isn’t. But here, it is. Because, much like real life stories, bad things happen to Imogene because of her looks. She’s dismissed because someone pretty obviously cannot also be smart and, even worse, men want to take advantage of her because she is so pretty. Because of this, and her generally low station in society, some of the story is a little difficult.

4

Content Advisory: Scenes of physical abuse, mostly from a position of power, most of it sexual. Scenes that could easily be read as attempted rape. Threats of rape. (None of this between the main couple.) Consensual sex. (This is between the main couple. 😉

Romancing the Werewolf

It took a great deal of effort for a werewolf to have style. Getting naked once a month, ripping clothes constantly, and turning into a slavering beast was only the start of the afterlife’s many dandy challenges.

Twenty years ago, newly turned werewolf Alpha Biffy and Beta werewolf Professor Lyall spent a night of passion and comfort in each others arms. However, circumstances intruded and Lyall had to temporarily join another pack in reparation for a decision he made.

Now Lyall, recompense completed, has returned to London, to his pack, to his Alpha – but not everything is smooth sailing. Twenty years is a long time, even for immortals, and Biffy just took charge of the pack upon the previous Alpha’s retirement two months ago. Throw in a pack of werewolves adjusting to both a new Alpha and a new home, children being left on their doorstep and things are just complicated enough for both to wonder if friendship is all they’ll have.

Firstly, Lyall was always one of my favorite characters in this setting, so I was thrilled to see the first tentative get together between him and Biffy in Timeless and even more happy when I heard this book would finally give them some resolution. They are perfect for each other and I adore the way they work together and rely on each other.

Lyall is down-to-earth, calm, practical, a true Beta in ever sense of the word. Biffy is an atypical Alpha. He’s pretty, he likes fashion and was even planning on trying to be turned into a vampire before events transpired. They are very different, but so complementary – especially in that neither is the ‘usual’ rough-and-tumble sort of werewolf.

(Now, I honestly cannot read this book without comparing it to the previous one in the series because I read them back-to-back.)

Where this story wins out over the previous one for me, is three fold. This story has a plot beyond the couple getting together – a plot that we see resolution to and that affords ample opportunity for the typical Carriger insanity that she writes so well. (That was reasons one and two.) (And while Lyall is practical, he’s not as extremely normal as Imogene is, which was somewhat detrimental to Carriger’s writing style.)

The third reason is a case of major personal preference. I usually prefer a romance where we get to witness it through both characters. I like an alternating point of view. I like seeing what each person thinks of the other. (And, in truth, I prefer more than one perspective even if it’s not a romance.) Finally, while I’m not really a fan of the so-called ‘second chance’ romances, this one worked for me because they were never actually a couple before. (More like friends with benefits.)

5

Content Advisory: Briefly referenced past rape and physical abuse. Consensual sex.

While I find both these books (novella’s, but whatever) very nice additions to the ‘verse that Carriger has created, I’m not sure either work as an appropriate jumping on point. If you’re interested in the first published work, check out Soulless and if you’d prefer to read the series chronologically, try Etiquette & Espionage. (The former is more bodice ripper sexy while the latter is YA boarding (spy) school.)

Review: Siege of Shadows by Sarah Raughley

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In this sequel to Fate of Flames, we’re still following kick-butt girls with special powers as they fight monsters. (The author herself compared it to Sailor Moon meets The Avengers meets Pacific Rim and that’s the best description of it I’ve heard.)

Siege of Shadows on Goodreads

Fate of Flames on Goodreads

Sometimes, if I let myself, I could feel it: that unspeakable force linking one to the other. A connection. A bond. Or maybe it was just me. We’d already fought together and bled together. That may not have made us friends, but it made us something.

A team.

This story takes place a few short months after the end of Fate of Flames and we finally see Maia settling into her role as the fire effigy. With the other three girls, they’re finally starting to become a team. But betrayal comes from within their very organization and Phantoms aren’t the only monsters they have to face.

Maia’s right in the middle of it with Natalya (the previous fire effigy) still trying to break though Maia’s mind to control her body, Saul convinced that Marian (one of the other minds trapped in Maia’s – the first fire effigy) is the key to his plots and Maia herself is keeping a secret that could rip the effigies apart: who (maybe) killed Natalya. (Because if she can’t trust her own mind, what can Maia trust?)

For me, the thing this book does very well is the characters. I usually shy away from first person stories because so many times you don’t learn anything about the rest of the cast (and you learn way too much about the main character). It’s like they’re little satellites that revolve around the MC and have nothing else going for them. That’s not this book.

While I like Maia, she isn’t even close to my favorite character. (Maybe fourth, depending on how much problems I’m having with Belle at the moment.) But she’s a likable main character. She’s taken to her role as well as I hoped she would after the struggle for her in the first book, and while she’s not as ‘tough’ as the other effigies, she doesn’t have to be to be strong.

The other effigies are all important character, with their own struggles and histories, and we only get to see part of that here, but it’s so lovely. I adore that the most important relationship that Maia is building isn’t a romance, but the friendship between her teammates. Each of them are unique individuals and, because you have three headstrong girls, their teamwork isn’t always the best.

And, there is a bit of romance here, but Maia is pretty good about focusing on her job to save humanity instead of how cute the boy is. Which is as nice as it is unusual. (And the romance itself isn’t without complications, though I have to admit very strong affection for her love interest. And there’s no triangle to be seen!)

However, the one thing stopping me giving it a higher rating (and I can’t tell you how much I wanted to) is the plot development. While I loved that the first book focused a lot on monster fighting, and I love that this book starts revealing more about the effigies, I have one problem.

At times, the plot starts slipping into a generic dystopian world where it’s up to our teenagers to overthrow the corrupt government. I really did not see the hints of this in the first book, and this is a plot point I don’t think I like. (There has to be some reason I don’t like dystopians and I think this is it.)

That being said, this is a solidly enjoyable book and a series I’m very happy with as a whole.

4

Content Advisory: Uhh… yeah, maybe a few curse words – I’ve heard much worse in PG13 movies – but it’s a surprisingly clean book. There are some description of corpses and decomposition and the … insect effect that has on the human body. Also non-explicit/off-screen torture.

Review: Hexslayer by Jordan L. Hawk

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Hexslayer is a historical urban fantasy M/M romance set in New York near the turn of the twentieth century featuring witches and their familiars, with a mystery running through it. It is the third full length novel in the Hexworld series, though the books can be read out of order. (Though, personally, I wouldn’t recommend it.)

Hexslayer on Goodreads
Hexworld series on Goodreads

But witches didn’t give. They took and they took, nothing more. They dangled a promise of food and safety, of money…in exchange for everything a familiar had to give. Body, soul and magic. The chance to live a life they wanted, instead of trailing behind their witch.

Unbonded familiars are being killed, murdered in what looks like a ritual killing, and Nick, an angry horse shifter, does the one thing he swore he never would: bond to a witch. It’s all in an effort to investigate the killings, but what he doesn’t expect is Jamie, his witch and a genuinely good person.

Nick and Jamie must put away their differences and learn to work together (Nick must learn to trust a witch) if they are to save New York City from a plot to topple it.

I love this series. I’ve always loved stories that deal with people that aren’t quite human and the mistreatment that they can suffer for it. (ESPECIALLY when they come out on top in the end.) People that are more talented than the average and are feared because of that. And that’s what the familiars are.

Besides that, you have the familiar/witch bond – which kind of works like soulmates. You have THE perfect match, and while familiars and witches can bond even if they aren’t a perfect match, the bond is strong and the duo is more powerful if they are a perfect match. (Considering that this is a romance series, there’s no major examples of it, but the bonds can also be simply platonic.) (There’s a nice little mention that asexual and aromantic are things in this setting, too.)

Nick is a very compelling character, because he has so much anger and hatred for the witches. Not all of it is for good reason though, and it’s a lot of fun seeing him come to terms with the fact that not all witches are the villains he’s painted them as.

Jamie is a bit less compelling and doesn’t have as much to overcome in the story. What he does have, though, is a prosthetic leg. (And suffering from PTSD, even if they didn’t have a name for it.) What’s nice about this is how references are made to him having trouble climbing steps and the way people look at him differently than they did before he lost his leg. Jamie is very well adjusted though, and is understanding enough and sweet enough that he balances out Nick wonderfully and they complement each other very well. (And Jamie calling Nick ‘sweetheart’ is just made of win.)

Besides what worked well for this story (that whole enemies-to-lovers thing is such fun if done well and I think this book did a good, if understated, job) I love the world that the author has built up. I know a lot of people would argue that there’s no such genre, but to me this is a historical urban fantasy. I takes place in a city, it has paranormal elements and it is most definitely a historical. (And this is one of my favorite sub-genres.)

What didn’t work so well for me was the mystery. I thought it was obvious who was in on it – even if I didn’t know why – and, at one point, I was practically screaming at one of the characters to not trust this person.

5

Content advisory: Explicit sex. Some cursing. Moderately graphic depictions of death, dead bodies and violence. Talk of phantom pain from an amputated limb.

Diversity featured: LGBT+ characters, racial diversity, (Samoan/Native American) physical disability.

Review: Venturess by Betsy Cornwell

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Venturess is the sequel to the awesome steampunk retelling of Cinderella, Mechanica. (This review will contain some spoilers for the romance outcome from Mechanica.)

Venturess on Goodreads
Mechanica on Goodreads

But I had worked hard since then to mend my heart and remake my understanding of love and family from the simple, binary ideas I’d had before. Fin and I weren’t the starry-eyed couple I’d dreamed of last winter, true; we were simply a unit, together with our Caro. We were three people who loved and needed one another, and it was as easy and as hard as that.

Nicolette got her happily ever after, even if it might not have been what anyone expected. Now she’s a well known, well respected inventor, happy with her family and Jules, her mechanical horse.

But war is brewing and when an attack is made on Prince Fin’s life, Nick, Fin and Caro get thrown right into the middle of it in an effort to save the land of Faerie.

Honestly, the easiest thing to say about this book was that I liked it, but didn’t love it. The biggest reason I was excited for it was the relationship between Nick, Caro and Fin. I don’t know how to describe it and, wonderfully enough, there’s never a name put to it.

It definitely was lovely though, and seeing them work together and love and trust each other was beautiful. Without a doubt it was my favorite thing in the story.

But this book was surprisingly different then the previous. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I was expecting more in the way of slow moving character development and was quite surprised at the amount of death in this book and how truly unpleasant things get.

Nick has continued to grow as a person and, honestly, shows a lot of development that I might not have credited her with. She’s brave and strong, but she also leans on her friends – who, in turn, lean on her. (Once again, love those three together.)

She’s faced with several trials through the story (several twists) that I think she handled wonderfully. Well, for the most part. I don’t think running away from your problems helps anything, but she dealt with them eventually and stayed true to herself.

The twists were…well, the first one was obvious. I wasn’t sure what the explanation would be, but I did see it coming from very early on it the book. I kind of think that it maybe wasn’t supposed to be a surprise because it was followed up with another twist almost immediately. (That one I didn’t see coming.)

Over all, a lot of questions were answered, it was nice to see Faerie, closure was had, and I still wanted to know more of what Nick, Caro and Fin were doing. (Also, I have to say, I adore the Faerie culture. They understand Nick’s relationship in a way that humans won’t and it was so lovely.)

4

Content Advisory: Nothing explicit. Some mentions of torture. Talk of death and animal death. Nightmares. Implied death. Really, all the even vaguely unpleasant things are mostly left up to your imagination – and I have a VERY active imagination so I imagine worse than it probably truly was.

Review: Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan

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Hollow World is a standalone time traveling sci-fi with a utopian-esque world and the hapless modern man that gets thrown into it. (Kind of like a more aware Time Machine. And less depressing.)

Hollow World on Goodreads

Maybe if Pax were a woman he might have offered a hug or something, but Pax wasn’t a woman. The best a man could do for another man was pretend not to see. Only Pax wasn’t a man either.
Ellis was lost.

(Truthfully, Ellis is often lost.)

Ellis Rogers, just diagnosed with a terminal illness and told he has, at best, a year to live, does what any normal, sane, married man in his fifties would: he hops into the time machine he’s been building in his garage. Even knowing it’s going be a one-way trip, he’s hoping for a cure for his illness and sets the device for two hundred years in the future.

When he steps out of the milk-crate-and-minivan-cannibalized time machine, he’s surprised (and a little disappointed) to find himself not in a bustling metropolis of flying cars and gravity defying buildings, but an old-growth forest. Where Detroit used to be. Let’s just say that nothing about the future is quite what Ellis expected.

And the book isn’t quite what I expected. Even knowing the author’s other (fantasy) work, I still half expected a book that was dry and ponderous and, well, privileged. I can’t help it, I am ashamed to say that I expected Ellis to be ‘privileged cis white man 1.0’ – pretty much like the one from the original time machine story. And like Warren. *shudder* Oh, so much like Warren.

Ellis, actually, handles the whole thing – drastically changed earth, massively changed human culture – rather well. He’s a curious sort. He wanted to be an astronaut when he was younger and I can’t help but think that prepared him at least a little. He’s likable because he doesn’t dismiss the world. He doesn’t understand it, he misses his world, but he’s not going to say his world was better. He faces everything with a healthy dose of curiosity and – even if I was yelling at him for one awful decision he made – I liked him because of all that.

The other characters were a mix. Pax is absolutely wonderful, without a doubt my favorite in the book and definitely one of my favorite this year. The others weren’t so likable to me, but there was only one character I truly hated. (The evil, creepy villain, because yes, this story does have a villain that I wanted to kill in the worst way possible.)

I don’t really want to get into the world building because I don’t want to give out spoilers. Let’s just say that it was interesting and very believably handled. I could see the things happen that did, and I could see humanity reacting the way they did. Also, I have to add that the populace still speaks English. It’s a little changed, but I was so thrilled that there wasn’t a translation phase where we were left at sea.

This book takes a look at gender, love and individuality (and religion to an extent) and how much they matter – or don’t – in the grand scheme of being human. I’d tell you more, but, really, this is a book that it’s best to just go along with the ride and not know where it’ll end up.

5

Content Advisory: Some language/curse words. There’s a couple moderately described scenes of violence, a clinical description of a dead body and mentioned off-screen consensual maiming/body modifications. And a truly vile villain. Trust me, they deserve a special advisory all for themselves because I can’t imagine anyone that they won’t insult.

Review: Alice, the Player by A.W. Exley

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Alice, the Player is the sequel to Ella, the Slayer. Although this says book three, it is the direct continuation of Ella’s story. Book two is a side story prequel to the main tale that is not necessary to read second.

Alice, the Player on Goodreads
Ella, the Slayer on Goodreads
My Review of Ella, the Slayer

It wasn’t just the boys who liked to see stuff blow up, and it sounded far better than marking latitudes and longitudes on our maps.

This time around, we zombie-fy Alice in Wonderland. When Ella’s best friend Alice is kidnapped by newly turned queen Elizabeth, Ella travels with Seth to the underground hive to rescue her.

I can’t really comment on the retelling aspect this time, because I have never read Alice in Wonderland. There are a few specific notes that even I recognized, like croquet, and a few more direct references to the story.

There’s also several reveals about the vermin along the way that has Ella wondering if science or magic will explain them.

This series is so much fun. I like the slow revelations concerning the zombies. Even as they’re being killed, they’re being investigated and studied. I don’t usually deal with zombies much in the stuff I read or watch, but I love the way it seems like there’s actually going to be an explanation.

Ella and Seth are concerned as much – if not more – about how the vermin/Turned were created and why as they are will actually killing the individuals. It’s not just a case of ‘well, we have zombies…somehow’ and I really have high hopes for the answers in the finale.

But, for as much as I love that, the characters are what I really adore. Ella is great, she’s no meek, timid Cinderella. She’s tough, a strong fighter, will defend those she loves at any cost and for all that, she’s still very much a person. She gets sad and angry, she worries about romance. She’s a person, a teenage girl that was thrown into something she wasn’t prepared for and made the best of it she could.

It is so great seeing her and Seth work together, because they are true partners in this. Seth trusts her, relies on her, and even seems to appreciate her strength and abilities. She does the same for him, loving him more for the way he stands beside her, lets her do what she’s good at and they both know she can. (Seeing Ella with a flamethrower was priceless!)

This book also deals more with Alice and her boyfriend Frank. I think it was wonderful to see Alice come into her own and, while she’s not really a fighter, she has different strengths that she’s decided to use. I, much like Ella, don’t know if the relationship between Alice and Frank will stand the test it’s been put under, but it is nice to see a beta couple instead of a love triangle.

4

Content Advisory: About the same as the previous one, maybe a bit less. Let’s see, some violence, gore and moderately graphic descriptions of zombies as decomposing bodies. References to the use of flamethrowers in the war and thoughts/conversation on the effects on humans.

Review: Rose Point by M.C.A. Hogarth

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Rose Point is the second in spacefaring (with aliens!) sci-fi series Her Instruments by M.C.A. Hogarth that started with Earthrise. Earthrise eBook is free on Amazon.

Rose Point on Goodreads
Earthrise on Goodreads
Earthrise on Amazon

Reese gave chase because she hadn’t yet pursued a woman in a fluffy gown and that was no doubt a necessary part of her role in this farce.

As the second book in the series, we pick up where the first book ended – with the lovely crew of the Earthrise searching for a trade (as they are a merchant cargo ship) that will help keep them from sliding back into the red. (And a vacation destination wouldn’t go amiss, either.)

This time, the search takes them to a planet that breeds horses. Unfortunately, they are also locked in a civil war and when one of their crew is taken by the rebels, it changes the course of all their lives.

Honestly, I did not see coming the way the story changed. I thought I had a pretty good idea from the first book what type of sci-fi series this would be – but I was wrong. The plot in the first book that seemed a one-off adventure story, actually plays hugely into the big picture.

The plot this time around is tighter, but even a parts of the first book that seemed irrelevant, is important in this book. I highly recommend you start with the first in the series, but I think you’d probably be about to catch up in this book if you didn’t. (Why wouldn’t you though, because the first one is free!)

For me, as well done as the plot is, there’s two things that makes this series wonderful. The first is the world building. The author does a brilliant job of creating alien races. I am so tired of sci-fi books that are basically ‘humans IN SPACE’ and that’s it. In this book would have humans, as well as those that they genetically manipulated. I’m not a geneticist, but I’d say they took animal DNA and crossed it with human, to get, basically, a human/animal hybrid. There are also ‘true aliens’ – those that the humans had no part in the creation of.

The second thing, and this ties in with the first, is the characters. I adore them, but more than that, I love that they are so diverse. There is a seven person crew to the ship, and only one of them is human: Reese, our black lady captain. Everyone else is a non-human. And this fills my need of aliens in my sci-fi so well. And, I do especially love Reese because she’s this tough woman that loves books and has a monthly romance novel subscription.

There is also a blooming romance that is quite delightful to read about – and this is one of the few cases where a relationship doesn’t start out in romance in a series that I am happy to see it headed that way because these two characters bring out the best in each other.

5

Content Advisory: There’s an attempted rape (male on male) where the target was drugged. He plays a part in rescuing himself and it is not forgotten. His being attacked both changes the story as well as causes him to have some PTSD. There is also a bit of violence, blood and injuries that are not graphically described. And someone with the ability to kill people with their mind.