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Invaded - Melissa Landers

This book was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed the first book in this series, “Alienated”, a good bit, but the focus of the first book was definitely more on the romance between Aelyx and Cara rather than any world building or science fiction elements. This second book flips that ratio on its head and focuses far more on the world building on L’eihr and the political issues which would arise from an alliance with an alien race. The relationship between Aelyx and Cara is a mere footnote. Personally, I really liked this change. One of my main frustrations with the first book was the fact that we learn very little about Aelyx’s home planet, their customs, their technology, their government, etc. Many of these questions which arose for me in book one are answered in book two.

I also particularly enjoyed the mystery/conspiracy elements mixed into Cara’s experiences on L’eihr. This, combined with the political and PR issues Aelyx experiences on earth helped to make the plot feel more well rounded and realistic. There are always extremists and opposition to change, and this book showcased that fact nicely.

As for the romance which was present in the first book, it is nowhere to be found. Those who enjoyed the first book solely because of the romance will be sorely disappointed in this second installment. To get your Aelyx/Cara romance fix, try the novella “Until Midnight”, currently free on Amazon. It focuses entirely on their relationship, and it a sweet, short holiday story.

I have really enjoyed this series so far. The author has only signed a book deal for two books, although the ending to this second book is left open to accommodate another sequel. Fingers crossed “Invaded” does well and we are treated to a third and final book soon enough to tie up all the loose ends.

Until Midnight - Melissa Landers

This was a short, sweet Christmas novella. Having just finished the Christmas anthology "My True Love Gave to Me", this felt right at home with that same group of short stories. I read this after completing the second book. I wish I had read it in series order, however, because it fills in the missing pieces of the timeline between the two books very well. It is so short, however, to me it feels like it should really just be the first few chapters in the second book rather than a separate novella.

If you enjoyed the romantic elements from the first book, "Alienated", and you like holiday themed stories you will love this novella. I don’t think it is necessary to have read "Alienated" to appreciate this novella, so if you’re thinking of starting the series but not sure if it is for you, I would start with this to test the waters.

Beware the Wild - Natalie C. Parker

From the cover to the title to the blurb, I was so excited to start reading this book. The tone immediately reminded me of "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea", the creepy, haunting, southern kind of story that sticks with you long after the last page has been turned.

As with "Devil", the sense of place was fantastic. It evoked memories of my visit to the swamps of new Orleans, the heat of the summer, the smell of the murky water. The characters are also very well developed. I particularly liked Lenora May, although I do wish we got a better picture of her origins and her life before The Shine. Candy was another favorite, winning me over with her unyielding stubbornness and fierce personality.

The plot moved along at a good pace and kept me turning pages as fast as I could. Some of the twists were at times a bit predictable, but overall it was a fantastic story. Being snowed in right now, a creepy southern summer story was exactly what I needed.

I would recommend this book to fans of ghost stories, local legends/superstitions, and southern/Creole fiction. If you loved "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea", you’re sure to gobble this up.

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

I had heard all the hype about this book, and we had just gotten the DVD, so I was excited to read the book and jump onto the bandwagon. Unfortunately, because I have read so many similar books in the dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre, I believe I set my expectations rather high and this book simply did not meet them.

The characters were flat, and the reasoning behind the decisions they made was flimsy at best. I felt completed disconnected from every single individual in this book, and because of that I didn’t care one bit what happened to any of them.

The plot and backstory as well as the ultimate reveal felt half-done and, at times, totally illogical. There are so many questions and so many flawed, nonsense conclusions and connections that it makes the entire story unbelievable. I understand this is a fictional dystopian novel, but speculative fiction like this should at least attempt to make the storyline flow well, and the reasoning moving from one conclusion to the next should make a bit of sense.

I found this book to be totally underwhelming. The characters, the plot, the writing, everything was flat and uninteresting to me. There are so many better books to read in this genre, I simply do not understand the fame this series has. I currently own the other books in this series, but I highly doubt I will be reading them, probably will donate to the library. I cannot recommend this book to anyone. If you’re thinking about reading “The Maze Runner”, go pick up “The Hunger Games”, “Divergent”, or “Under the Never Sky” instead. The plot and characters are significantly more engaging, and the overall feel is similar to “The Maze Runner”.

Between the Spark and the Burn - April Genevieve Tucholke

It is no secret that I love, love, loved the first book in this series, "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea". The southern charm and creepy characters immediately won me over. This theme continues in book two, but the southern influence is slightly more understated due to the fact that majority of this book takes place on the road, moving between states as Vi goes hunting for the Redding boys.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the language. Settings are described in a poetic fashion, allowing the reader to feel like they are right there with Vi standing on the sea shore or running through a dark woodland area at night. Little details like the origami animals River gave to Vi before he left, and the way Sunshine and her parents argue in book quotes lend a whimsical feel to the story that you don't often find. The imagery immediately reminded me of "We Were Liars" by E. Lockhart, so if you are a fan of that book you will definitely enjoy this series immensely.

While the first book focused on the sheer terror of what the Redding boys are capable of, this second book focuses on developing the characters and the relationships between them. River and Vi are compelling in book one, but the way the author was able to take that relationship, complicate it, and turn it completely on its head was impressive. All of the characters, from the Redding boys to Vi to Sunshine, are given extra depth and really shine.

The twist at the end of the book, while completely unexpected, did not feel like a cop out to me at all. If anything, it showcased yet again the author's ability to take what appears to be a rather one dimensional character and give them many complex facets, forcing the reader to see them through a completely different light whether they want to or not.

I am so very sad to see this series end, but I was excited to see on Goodreads that April Genevieve Tucholke will be releasing a new book in 2015, and another in 2016. Her characters and prose are absolutely addictive, and I am looking forward to see how she evolves as an author with these new stories and what she has in store for us next.

The Strange Library - Ted Goossen, Haruki Murakami

I love mysterious, weird, allegorical stories like this one. After I read this, I spent days wondering what it all really meant, what each character represented, and reading reviews where others tried to do the same. The Sheep Man in particular was one of my favorite characters, and for some reason reminded me of Mr. Tumnus from the Narnia books.

I was a little underwhelmed, however, with the pictures included in this book and how they integrated into the story. I was expecting something a bit more fantastical, and I think that the author could have done some really fun and interesting things to enhance the reading experience.

As weird as this story was, I have to say that I will most assuredly think of it each and every time I enter a library now, whether I want to or not. If you like strange, allegorical stories you should go pick up a copy of "The Strange Library". It is sure to make you think and leave you wondering long after the last page has turned.

The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (The Parasol Protectorate Book 6) - Gail Carriger

This was a fantastic little novella for those who cannot get enough of Gail Carriger's "Parasol Protectorate" series. While I cannot say that I necessary liked Alessandro the same way that I liked Alexia, he is definitely what I would have expected given the descriptions of him throughout the series. His snooty, rude, anti-supernatural personality matched what I had cooked up in my head perfectly. I loved getting to read a bit more of Floote as well. His signature stoicism in the face of strange, off-the-wall happenings is hilariously clever.  I do wish we could have seen a bit of Professor Lyall and the wolf pack, but maybe Carriger will write an additional novella to fill in some of those details we missed in this first Alessandro story.

Overall it was a real treat to get a brief look into the life of Alexia's father and Floote's servitude to him. This story filled in some additional information about Egypt and their mythology within the context of Carriger's alternate history, while simultaneously generating even more questions that will hopefully be answered in additional books or novellas.

Timeless - Gail Carriger,  Emily Gray

I cannot believe this is the final book in this series! I am so sad to see it end, but it definitely went out with a bang. When they brought up the baby plot earlier in this series, I rolled my eyes and thought good god, this is going to be a bunch of crap, but I have got to say that I actually found the toddler antics endearing, hilarious, and fun. Prudence and her interactions with Lord Akeldama, his drones, the werewolf pack, etc. are nothing less than adorable, and she definitely adds a good bit of excitement to the mix.

I was so impressed with the mystery aspect of this book. The way Carriger is able to pull clues and hints from previous books and a past we didn't even know existed is fantastic. Normally this would be overwhelming, but the way this book carefully crafts all the pieces together eases toward conclusions slowly, allowing the reader to be surprised without feeling like things came totally out of left field. I also loved how each and every character has their own agenda and their own set of goals in this final book. Everyone acts fairly independently, but the plots intermingle and play off of one another, making the story ridiculously enjoyable.

There wasn't a dull moment in this book, and I loved every second of reading it. The endings for all the characters were satisfying, and I liked that many questions are still left unanswered, left to be addressed possibly in Saphronia's "Finishing School" series, Prudence's "Custard Protocol" series, or novellas to be written in the future. Fantastic ending to a fantastic series. I will be waiting on pins and needles now for Prudence's series to begin early next year.

Heartless - Gail Carriger

I have to say, this is probably my least favorite cover of all the books, but it is so nice to FINALLY see a series which does not change cover art halfway through. THANK YOU!! Love, love, love this series, and I am so very glad that the baby plot did not totally derail every other aspect of the plot. The pace was much better than book three, moving along at a nice clip. The action scenes were very well described, and I found myself unable to turn pages fast enough to find out what would happen next.

It was wonderful to get to know more about Lord Maccon, his pack, and his history. For those who have read Carriger's "Finishing School" series, you'll be slightly familiar with Sidheag's part in this story due to events that unfold in that series. It was nice to get the adult, "pack" side of it and fill in the blanks and give more insight. When reading about the plot in the "Finishing School" books, it was honestly a bit confusing for someone who had not read these "Parasol" books first and had a heads-up. Overall this aspect of the plot gave the pack members more dimension and layers, which is always a good thing.

I found myself liking Floote more and more while reading this book. The active but subtle role he has taken in the series is perfect. He's always in the right place at the right time, and his actions and commentary are priceless. Aside from the unexpected love of Floote, my favorite part of this fourth book was the way Carriger is able to take a trusted, "good" character, and turn them into a villain/enemy of sorts. This is done with a subtlety and skill that is impressive.

This is turning out to be one of the best series I have read in a very long time. I am so glad I gave it a chance, and I am excited to dive into the last book in the series, "Timeless".

Blameless - Gail Carriger

Carriger is truly a master of her craft. The continued impressive character development and world-building in this series amazes me to no end. I find myself gobbling up this series as quickly as I possibly can! While the first two books in this series focused on developing the main characters and introducing many secondary characters, this third installment further fleshes out those secondary characters and gives them a life of their own. I loved that Genevieve and Professor Lyall got more spotlight, as they are by far my favorite characters in the series so far.

This book however did have a rather repetitive feel to it, which made it horribly predictable and at times a little frustrating. The plot goes something like: Alexia runs. Alexia is found. Alexia flees. Alexia is found. Alexia flees, etc. etc. The most frustrating part of all of this rigmarole was that there is no concrete explanation as to how these people keep inevitably finding Alexia, or how they are coordinating/handing off "the hunt" to one another.

While the plot was terribly frustrating, I just cannot get enough of the characters, thus the high rating I gave this book. This is my favorite exchange:


Professor Lyall looked modestly proud. "I am considered a bit of an expert on the procreative practices of Ovis orientalis aries."



"Sheep!" Madame Lefoux's voice came over suddenly high, as though she were suppressing an inclination to giggle.

"Yes, as in baaaa." Professor Lyall frowned. Sheep were a serious business, and he failed to see the source of Madame Lefoux's amusement.

"Let me understand this correctly. You are a werewolf with a keen interest in sheep breeding?" A little bit of French accent trickled into Madame Lefoux's speech in her glee.

Professor Lyall continued bravely on, ignoring her flippancy. "I preserve the nonviable embryo in formaldehyde for future study. Lord Maccon has been drinking my samples. When confronted, he admitted to enjoying both the refreshing beverage and the 'crunchy picked snack' as well. I was not pleased."


I am so looking forward to reading more of this series, although I am rather sad that it eventually must come to an end.

Soulless - Gail Carriger, Gail Carriger

After reading Carriger’s “Finishing School” series, I thought I would give the adult series set in the same world a try. I am so happy I did.

One of my favorite aspects of Carriger’s books continues to be her unique and quirky characters. Alexia is spunky and outspoken, unwilling to let societal norms dictate how she should live her life. The supporting characters are also very well developed. I love Lord Akeldama’s flair and his interactions with his drone Biffy.

I liked that the romance between Alexia and Lord Maccon develops over time, and while it is a very large focus of the story, it does not completely derail the entire plot. The mystery component of the story is equally strong, although I do wish the villains were slightly more complex and more frightening.

As with the “Finishing School” series, the world building in Soulless was fantastic. The mythology and science associated with the supernatural members of society is fascinating and thoroughly explained. I enjoyed the way Carriger tied the mythology back to historical events, giving an alternate account filled with paranormal and steampunk goodness.

The number of genres mashed up into this tiny story is impressive, yet nothing felt forced and the plot was never congested with unnecessary details. There truly is something for everyone in this book.

Overall I really enjoyed this, and I am so excited to continue reading the series. I hope the characters and world building continue to be the focus, as they are definitely Carriger’s specialty.

Changeless - Gail Carriger

This was a wonderful second installment in the “Parasol Protectorate” series. Carriger continues to impress with her wonderfully well-developed cast of characters and fantastic world building.

Since I read Carriger’s companion series, “Finishing School” previously, I was so excited to see cameos of some of those characters in this series as well. Genevieve is one of my favorite characters from “Finishing School”, and she is equally lovable in “Parasol Protectorate”. The diversity she brings to the cast is wonderful, without being overly emphasized as oftentimes happens with diverse characters, making her feel like a token.

One of my other absolute favorite characters from “Finishing School” makes her mark on this book as well. Sidheag kicks ass and takes names, and to see her as an adult holding her own as Alpha of a werewolf pack was just awesome. There are so many strong women in Carriger’s books, and each has their own unique flair.

In addition to some wonderful cameos, this second book in the series continues to build more upon the world in which Alexia lives, giving greater insight into supernatural/preternatural powers and history. The plot moved at a much quicker pace in this book than in the previous, which I appreciated. Some of the conclusions and villains revealed at the end were rather predictable, but the huge surprise at the end came out of nowhere, and I loved that many questions are left totally unanswered, leaving the reader to wonder.

Really enjoying this series, and I can only hope the third book continues the trend. I would recommend this series to fans of paranormal, werewolves, vampires, historical fiction, and steampunk.

Suspicion - Alexandra Monir

After reading the blurb, I expected this book to be a thrilling, strange retelling of Rebecca, with a strong focus on romance. This book did not live up to those expectations.

I had a really hard time connecting with the characters, and the chemistry between characters was horrible. There was no spark between Imogen and any of the male leads, just a weird forced-feeling obsession which felt more like a plot device than true attraction. The only characters I really enjoyed at all were Maisie and her mother. Monir did a great job making these characters multidimensional, so you can see the good and bad in both of them.

The plot itself was really pretty okay for the first half of the story. It had a nice mysterious, creepy feel to it as the blurb promised. Unfortunately, this feeling is completely lost in the second half of the story. The creepy mystery is replaced with a paranormal "Princess Diaries", except all the funny, cute anecdotes are missing. Events in this half of the novel feel very choppy and at times completely unrelated. The plot twists in the second half are really unexpected, which was nice, but the story surrounding the twists is so convoluted that it is difficult to appreciate and enjoy these hidden gems. The pace also slows significantly in the second half of the book, only to pick up slightly closer to the end of the story.

Overall, I think the expectations I set for this story were just too high. I went into this book hoping for a creepy thriller retelling of Rebecca, and what I got was a choppy paranormal novel with romance. I would recommend this book to fans of paranormal fiction involving elementals and witches, as well as fans of classic retellings.

Rush - Eve Silver

As someone who isn’t really into video games, particularly first person shooters, I feel like a lot of this book was lost on me. That being said, I think even if I absolutely loved video games I would not have loved this.

The amount of suspension of disbelief this book requires is just too much. The premise is so flimsy. The author does at least try to fill in the gaps and provide some kind of justification for the way things are, but there are still entirely too many holes in the plot to make it believable. This was frustrating for me as a reader because I love getting lost in the story and I just couldn’t do it with this one.

Not only is the plot full of holes, but I never felt like the story was moving toward any real point. The sense of urgency is completely lost. Yeah, there are aliens attacking earth, and the characters worry about it, but the larger focus is on the arguments between Miki and her friends, and the budding romance between Miki and Jackson.

The hot and cold, back and forth crap between Miki and Jackson drove me nuts. They don’t have any connection to begin with, and then to top it all off they alternate between spewing cheesy crap to one another that feels so fake it’s almost painful to read and bickering at one another. It isn’t endearing or cute, and it made me hate both of them.

None of the other characters are developed enough for the reader to feel connected to them. As people died throughout the story, I felt no remorse because I didn’t feel like I really knew a thing about them.

I wish there had been more focus on the world building in this novel, and that the author had paid more mind to ensuring that the reasoning provided for things was believable. Between the lackluster world building and the poorly developed characters, this book was not my thing at all. That being said, I think if you are a reader who adores first person shooter games and aliens, you will love this book.

Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion) - Aimée Carter

Captive was filled with very unexpected plot twists, good pacing, and well-maintained suspense throughout the story. I really liked the turn this second book took, and the additional information we gain about Elsewhere. It really helped to round out the world from a completely different perspective.

Unfortunately, the new people Kitty encounters there are mostly two-dimensional. None of them have memorable personalities or anything in particular to distinguish them from one another. The villains are particularly disappointing, given the bar that was set by the true monsters in the first book. Because of the underwhelming supporting cast, I began to really miss the presence of Celia. She was one of my favorites in the first book but plays no part whatsoever in this second installment.

Now that we have been given a perspective of the two extremes of society (upper and lower), I really hope the final installment gives us some insight into the lives of regular people living within the general population.

Overall this was another rather good, suspenseful YA dystopian novel. The plot twists were by far the best part, the characters being the most disappointing. I'd recommend this book to fans of Divergent and other similar YA dystopians.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue - Maggie Stiefvater

I was looking forward to reading this book so much. I love Maggie and this series was quickly becoming one of my favorites. Unfortunately, the momentum that was built in the first two books just did not carry through to this third book, leaving me underwhelmed and disappointed.

The New villains were not well rounded, developed, or likeable. This was surprising given how amazing the Grey Man and laundry Kavinsky were in The Dream Thieves.

The plot was not easy to follow or well focused, making the book feel like it moved very, very slowly and making it difficult to read. The plot was also a little repetitive, the same points and ‘clues’ discussed and revealed multiple times. There seemed to be a lot of metaphors and implications that I just couldn’t understand.

There was a good bit of character and relationship development, which was nice. I loved the scenes with Gansey and Blue on the phone, and Ronan in this novel is just fantastic. Adam is further developed, but also very frustrating in this third installment. While these old, well-established characters are further developed, the new ones are all but ignored. This is unfortunate because there is a lot of potential.

The ending wasn’t a cliff hanger like in the previous books, but it also didn’t really have any kind of wow factor for me either, which was really disappointing. I’d rather be frustrated that I have to wait another year to resolve a cliff hanger.

This book was not bad by any means, but it is definitely the weakest in the series so far. The plot was hard to follow, slow, and repetitive. The character and relationship development is the highlight of this book. This was just so disappointing to me. I can only hope book four ramps back up the plot and focuses on the hunt while still maintaining and developing the characters.