Fiona Finch and the Pink Valentine by Teagan Riordain Geneviene #bookreview #steampunk

Put your feet up and enjoy a whimsical break with this quick, lighthearted story. There’s some romance, and a lot of silliness. It’s a steampunk/Victorian setting. You might call it a long-short story or a novelette.

This is a tale of an old lost valentine and the shenanigans that ensue when it turns up. Fiona Finch and her brother Steele – along with a helping “wing” from Quellie the duck, work to bring two long ago sweethearts back together. Even though it is a Valentine’s Day story, it does not include sex or passionate romance. It does, however, include a lot of imaginative fun.

I’ve read several books by this author and her creativity never ceases to amaze and delight me.  This tale of a lost valentine from years ago and amusing matchmaking efforts at a masquerade ball is guaranteed to leave you with a smile.  Although a quick read, character development certainly isn’t lacking, and you’ll feel as if you’ve spent time with friends by the end of this whimsical novelette.  And did I mention the pet duck?  An absolute scene-stealer.  If you’re in the mood for a light read with a sweet happily ever after, look no further.

 

 

WWW Wednesdays: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’ve been so excited to get to this last book in the Lifelike trilogy, and it’s looking like it’s eveything I’d hoped it would be.  This YA sci-fi series has taken turns and thrown in surprises I never saw coming.  And Lemon Fresh will steal your heart and every scene she’s in.

Best friends have become enemies. Lovers have become strangers. And deciding whose side you’re on could be the difference between life and death. For Eve and Lemon, discovering the truth about themselves–and each other–was too much for their friendship to take. But with the country on the brink of a new world war–this time between the BioMaas swarm at CityHive and Daedalus’s army at Megopolis, loyalties will be pushed to the brink, unlikely alliances will form and with them, betrayals. But the threat doesn’t stop there, because the lifelikes are determined to access the program that will set every robot free, a task requiring both Eve and Ana, the girl she was created to replace. In the end, violent clashes and heartbreaking choices reveal the true heroes . . . and they may not be who you think they are. 

Take Me With You has low ratings on Goodreads.  From what I could tell, many readers expected this to be a mystery/thriller, but it’s absolutely a sci-fi/thriller, and that’s the category it’s in on Amazon.  For me, it was a gripping, 4-star read that I plowed through in two days.

Eden, Eli, Marwan, and Ilanka barely know each other beyond having a class or two together. But when they are all summoned via messaging app to an empty classroom after school, they find a small cube sitting on a desk. Its sides light up with rules for them:

Do not tell anyone about the device. Never leave the device unattended.
And then, Take me with you . . . or else.

At first they think it’s some kind of prank or a social experiment orchestrated by the school administration. Still, they follow its instructions until the newly-formed group starts to splinter. Nobody has time for these games–their lives are complicated enough. But the device seems increasingly invested in the private details of their lives. And disobeying its rules has scary–even life-threatening–consequences . . .

I didn’t read Wilder Girls by this author, but friends in my book club raved about it.  I’m hoping Burn Our Bodies Down is just as compelling.  The description sure makes me want to know what’s going on in that town.

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Wilder Girls comes a new twisty thriller about a girl whose past has always been a mystery—until she decides to return to her mother’s hometown . . . where history has a tendency to repeat itself.

Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.

But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.

Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?

The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape. 

Hunting November (Killing November #2) by Adriana Mather #bookreview #YA #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Surviving a few weeks at the world’s most lethal boarding school was one thing. But now comes the real test: Can November Adley find her missing father before her enemies find her? Subterfuge is the name of the game in this thrilling sequel to Killing November, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Hang a Witch.

After surviving a crash course in espionage at the mysterious Academy Absconditi, November has only one purpose: finding her missing father. Along with fellow student (and heartthrob) Ash, November follows the clues that her father left, embarking on the deadliest treasure hunt of her life. The first clue is in her hometown, where old friends beckon and unexpected enemies lurk around every corner. The second clue is in Europe, where revelations about her family’s history will plunge her into an international web of deception, lies, and intrigue. The third clue is deep in enemy territory, surrounded by the most skilled assassins and master strategists, and where everyone wants her and her father dead. Can one girl with limited training infiltrate a centuries-old organization that is powerful enough to topple empires? November only knows that she’ll do whatever it takes to save her father . . . or die trying. 

Killing November was one of my best reads last year – high stakes, untrustworthy characters, a school for assassins.  The year waiting for this sequel was a long one.

This book picks up right where the other left off.  November and Ash leave the school in search of her father, who’s left complex clues for her in different locations across the country.  Talk about tense situations – death could literally be waiting for them around every corner, and some of the people they come across would just as soon slit their throats rather than speak to them.

Pacing may leave you breathless, and the action is almost nonstop.  But not everything is serious – some lighter, humorous moments are sprinkled throughout the story along with romantic elements.  Twists and surprises abound, and the big reveal near the end left me gaping.  I absolutely didn’t see it coming.

This series is incredibly addictive with ultra-high stakes, a complex plot, and untrustworthy characters that worm their way into your heart.  I get the feeling this is a duology, but I’d sure love another book.  Highly recommended!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Dinner, #SubjectA36, and #AmWatching

Here in KY, our restaurants opened to limited capacity indoor dining on Friday, and hubby and I had dinner out for the first time in three months!  There were several restrictions in place for everyone’s safety – reservations only, 33% capacity, hand sanitizing stations, disposable menus, and employees wore gloves and masks.  We went to one of our favorite local restaurants and enjoyed an evening of fantastic food (no cooking for me!), a familiar, friendly staff, and an appreciation of a common activity we’d previously taken for granted.  Judging by other parking lots, plenty of folks showed up to support their local eateries.

I had a suprise from my publisher last week – Subject A36 now has an audiobook!  Sarah is also on audio, but I avoid listening to my books.  I can’t imagine anyone will sound like the characters who live in my mind, so I prefer my perceptions untainted, if that makes sense.  But if you’re an avid listener, click HERE for Amazon.

Has anyone watched the new Snowpiercer series?  The original sci-fi/dystopian movie was released in 2013 (you can watch it on Netflix) and was directed by Bong Joon-ho, the Oscar-winning director of Parasite.  Anyhoo, I watched the first episode last week, and I couldn’t look away.  Awesome cast, awesome premise.  If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a brief description.  It’s a must watch for sci-fi fans.

Survivors of Earth’s second Ice Age live out their days on a luxury train that ploughs through snow and ice. The train’s poorest residents, who live in the squalid caboose, plan to improve their lot by taking over the engine room.

Have a great week and stay healthy!

The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee #bookreview #YA #LGBT

In this funny and frothy novella that picks up where the New York Times bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue leaves off, freshly minted couple Monty and Percy fumble through their first time together.

Monty’s epic grand tour may be over, but now that he and Percy are finally a couple, he realizes there is something more nerve-wracking than being chased across Europe: getting together with the person you love.

Will the romantic allure of Santorini make his first time with Percy magical, or will all the anticipation and build-up completely spoil the mood? 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was one of my favorite reads (listens?) last year.  Monty, in all his narcisscistic glory, stole my heart, and Percy is just adorable.  How I’ve missed these boys.  And what a treat it was to read this novella.  The whole situation is awkward, comedic, sweet, and utterly perfect for the tone of their relationship.  I laughed so many times – such a pleasure to read.  This will hold me over  until the release of The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks.

Subject A36 Sale! #YAbooks #scifi #dystopian

If you’re looking for a Memorial Day weekend read, Subject A36 has been marked down!  The ebook is on sale for $4.99 and the paperback is $13.95 on Amazon (B&N still has it at the regular price).  Purchase links below.

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

What reviewers are saying:

“Asher) is a noble character faced with tough decisions.  I was hooked.”

“This novel is packed with non-stop action, and shocking revelation piled upon revelation. The writing is smooth and snappy, scenes plunging like a roller coaster from one into the next.”

“Subject A36 is a story about survival, betrayal, love and friendship!”

Fractured Tide by Leslie Lutz #bookreview #YA #thriller #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

Lost meets Stranger Things in this eerie, immersive YA thriller, thrusting seventeen-year-old Sia into a reality where the waters in front of her and the jungle behind her are as dangerous as the survivors alongside her.

Sia practically grew up in the water scuba diving, and wreck dives are run of the mill. Take the tourists out. Explore the reef. Uncover the secrets locked in the sunken craft. But this time … the dive goes terribly wrong.

Attacked by a mysterious creature, Sia’s boat is sunk, her customers are killed, and she washes up on a deserted island with no sign of rescue in sight. Waiting in the water is a seemingly unstoppable monster that is still hungry. In the jungle just off the beach are dangers best left untested. When Sia reunites with a handful of survivors, she sees it as the first sign of light.

Sia is wrong.

Between the gulf of deadly seawater in front of her and suffocating depth of the jungle behind her, even the island isn’t what it seems.

Haunted by her own mistakes and an inescapable dread, Sia’s best hope for finding answers may rest in the center of the island, at the bottom of a flooded sinkhole that only she has the skills to navigate. But even if the creature lurking in the depths doesn’t swallow her and the other survivors, the secrets of their fractured reality on the island might.

With Lost and Stranger Things being the comp titles (and two of my fav shows) for this book, I was soooo hoping to not be disappointed – and I absolutely wasn’t.  The comps are perfect descriptions.

Creepy, bizarre, mind-bending – all are apt descriptions of the island Sia finds herself stranded on.  Honestly, I’d be afraid to close my eyes at night.  This book held my attention from page one, and I probably could have finished it in one sitting.  Pacing is brisk and tense – I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Characterization is another strong point, from the MC to supporting characters – flawed, layered, and relatable.  I loved that Sia was a diver, and it’s obvious the author did her research on the subject.  I tried diving several years ago, but I was too claustrophobic – so I really felt the tension when Sia was caught up in dangerous underwater situations.

Although completely riveted by this book, I dreaded the ending because I was sure to be disappointed by some weak excuse for what was happening.  But I wasn’t at all, and that made my sci-fi loving heart so happy.

Fractured Tide is a fantastic blend of thriller, sci-fi, and horror and fans of any of those genres are in for a treat.  With such an amazing debut novel, this is an author to watch.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

#Graduation, #AmWatching, and Appreciation

Indulge me a moment while I play the role of proud mom.  My oldest son, while working full time for most of the past two years, earned his master’s degree.  The program was online and wasn’t without its difficulties.  Some of the professors were more responsive and organized than others.  This last one had issues with time management, so the window for receiving thesis feedback and making changes was much smaller than initially stated.  But he finished!  Like millions of people, he was laid off from his job a couple months ago, but has thankfully had some promising interviews over the past few weeks.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Has anyone watched Locke and Key on Netflix?  It’s an adaptation of a series of graphic novels by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.  A Facebook friend mentioned it and the description sounded right up my alley – a family moving to their deceased father’s childhood home in a small coastal town, mysterious goings on and plenty of secrets in said house, and keys with some freaky powers.  It completely captivated me, and I flew through all ten episodes.  The young actors do a fantastic job, and it’s already been renewed for a second season.  Recommend!

Hubby and I watched The Wrong Missy on Netflix over the weekend.  I think Rotten Tomatoes score of 33% was generous.  Not one I’d recommend unless you’ve binged everything else and you’re at the bottom of the barrel for choices.

Shout out to all the healthcare folks and essential workers for everything you do to keep this country going.  We appreciate you!

 

A Boy Named Rabbit (Wake-Robin Ridge #2) by Marcia Meara #bookreview #suspense #supernatural

“Evil’s comin’, boy…comin’ fast. Look for the man with eyes like winter skies, and hair like a crow’s wing. He’s the one you gotta find.”

The remote mountain wilderness of North Carolina swallowed up the ten-year-old boy as he made his way down from the primitive camp where his grandparents had kept him hidden all his life. His dying grandmother, gifted with The Sight, set him on a quest to find the Good People, and though he is filled with fear and wary of civilization, Rabbit is determined to keep his promise to her. When he crosses paths with Sarah and MacKenzie Cole, neither their lives nor his, are ever the same again.

The extraordinary little boy called Rabbit has the power to change the world for everyone he meets, and the resourcefulness to save himself from the one person his grandparents had hoped would never find him. His dangerous and bittersweet journey will touch you in unexpected ways, and once you’ve let Rabbit into your heart, you’ll never forget him.

Is it possible to join a fictional family?  I’d love to join this one and live in the mountains of NC.

Several other readers’ reviews have mentioned how Rabbit stole their heart – I’m no exception.  He’s such a wonderful character – wise beyond his years despite his limited education, empathetic, loving, appreciative, and an excellent judge of character.  He’s an old soul in the body of a 10-year-old boy, and I just wanted to hug him and protect him from the world.

I was so excited to be back with Mac and Sarah, who I got to know in the first book, as well as Rosheen and Handsome.  They’re two of my favorite furry characters, and I adored how quickly Rosheen took to Rabbit and felt so protective of him.

Parts of Rabbit’s story are tragic, but overall, this is a heart-warming, feel-good read with some pretty suspenseful moments and magnificent character development.  I can’t wait to continue the series.

WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Seems like these past couple weeks flew by, and I didn’t get as much reading done as I’d like.  Other than my son being here for a few days, I have no idea where my time has gone.  Considering current circumstances, that makes no sense, right?  Anyhoo – I’m about 15% from finishing The Gilded Ones.  After a bit of a slow start, it’s really taken off, and I have so many questions now!  I’ll definitely be continuing with this series.

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself. 

Last week I finished Surrender Your Sons.  Parts of this are horrific, heart-wrenching and tough to read, but the bonds between these kids are one of the best parts of the novel.

Connor Major’s summer break is turning into a nightmare.

His SAT scores bombed, the old man he delivers meals to died, and when he came out to his religious zealot mother, she had him kidnapped and shipped off to a secluded island. His final destination: Nightlight Ministries, a conversion therapy camp that will be his new home until he “changes.”

But Connor’s troubles are only beginning. At Nightlight, everyone has something to hide from the campers to the “converted” staff and cagey camp director, and it quickly becomes clear that no one is safe. Connor plans to escape and bring the other kidnapped teens with him. But first, he’s exposing the camp’s horrible truths for what they are— and taking this place down. 

I saw Les Miserables in NYC only because I was outvoted.  Other than Phantom of the Opera, I’m not a fan of musicals.  Please refrain from pelting me with rocks and garbage!  But use Six of Crows as a comp title and I don’t need to read any further to know I need the book.  I only hope this novel is worthy of the comparison.

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.

In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.