Category Archives: Reviews

Ghostdrift (The Finder Chronicles 4) by Suzanne Palmer

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Stars: 5 out of 5.

When we last saw Fergus, he had been saved from imminent and very painful death by the Asig, while he in turn saved the known galaxy. But all is not sunshine and roses in this book. Yes, Fergus is alive and even whole, but he is the most wanted man in the humanity settled cosmos, with a hefty price on his head and a lot of powerful enemies. So he has been in hiding. Which means that he has been alone with is cat and no contact with his family and friends. But when one such friend finally comes calling and asks for his help to free another friend from pirates, of course he will say yes.

Suzanne Palmer has a gift for creating likeable characters. I mean, we are dealing with a ship full of pirates here, yet I grew rather fond of all of them in the end. I think this is also due to the fact that Fergus always tries to see good in people, or at least to find ways to coexist with those he has no choice but to interact with due to various circumstances. It also helps that all of the characters are painted in different shades of gray and all have their own needs, wants and motivations. The villains aren’t even just for the sake of being evil, they have their own reasons behind their actions. The good guys aren’t always exactly good either. Everyone is human and bound to make an absolute mess out of things.

I also liked the main mystery of this book – a missing ship, possible rogue active jump points. A solitary planet in the middle of the Gap between two sections of the galaxy. Oh, and new kinds of aliens, who turn out not so evil in the end after all. Oh, and Fergus being his usual “interesting” self. We get more Asig as well, and get introduced to some of the other humans they changed.

I had a lot of fun with this story, and I am looking forward to following Fergus on his future adventures.

PS: I received an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Between Homes (The City Between 5) by W.R. Gingell

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Stars: 5 out of 5.

This was the best book in the series so far, at least in my opinion. Mostly because the ending of the last book brought home that it’s not all fun and games anymore. Pet made a serious choice and must live with the consequences in this book. I’m glad to see that she is sticking to her guns and decides to do what’s right, and to help where she can, even if she doesn’t have the looming presence (and protection) of two fae and a vampire at her back. Well, she has the vampire eventually, but that’s a different story.

I love that Pet continues to accumulate friends and found family around herself. Now she has Morgana and Daniel, and a whole werewolf pack to book, and mysterious kids on the roof of a mysterious house. I think this ability to empathize and make friends with the underdogs is her real magical power, not the fact that she can pull stuff out of Between into human world. She has a keen sense as to who is fundamentally a good person even if they did something stupid or harmful, and who isn’t, and she hasn’t been wrong so far.

The two cases that are investigated in this book are also very interesting. One is a killer that attacks fae and that nobody can see it seems, and the other is the case of a child that the Behindkind took a particular interest to. We learn a bit more about heirlings and harbringers and maybe who Pet really is and why she and her parents lived like they did. Hopefully, this will be explored further in consecutive books. 

I also liked that Pet managed to get her point across to Zero in the end and explain why helping humans mistreated by Behindkind maters to her. And maters enough that she was willing to live her home and the safety that the Troika offered her because staying would have betrayed her moral principles on that matter. 

The Phoenix Illusion (SPI Files 6) by Lisa Shearin

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Stars: 5 out of 5

This book starts with a bang… or with a literal building being dropped almost on top of our characters… and then catching on fire. Wow, that was an intense opening scene, let me tell you! The rest of the book is a fun romp in search of other vanishing buildings and figuring out who the baddies are and what they want. Side note, still not clear on that last part. 

This series continues to shine, and it’s because of the characters. I love Mac and her team. Heck, I even hooked my husband on these books, and he isn’t usually a big fan of urban fantasy. Mac, Ian, Rake, and especially Yasha have made a convert out of him. 

Mac continues to be a sassy, but competent protagonist who reads very human and relatable. Yes, she has powers, since she can see through glamor and cloaking spells, but she isn’t overpowered. She definitely isn’t a one woman army. She knows her strengths and weaknesses and can think on her feet. And kudos for bringing one of the previous book’s baddies down with a bottle of perfume and a handy storage closet. That was hilarious.

My only complaint is that at one point this book almost became a Tam and Rake show, and the other characters, including Mac, were kinda pushed into the background.  And there was very little Ian again, which was very disappointing. Yes, I love Mac and Rake as a couple, and their interactions are always fun to read about. But I also love Mac and Ian, and their partners/siblings relationship. I want to read more of their banter and how they bounce ideas of each other and have each other’s back during tough cases. 

But all in all, still loving this series, and I will definitely finish it. Also thinking about picking up the Raine Benares series afterwards.

The Last Night in Amsterdam by Melanie Atkinson

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Stars: 3 out of 5.

I am honestly amazed at the amount of 5 star reviews for this book. Did I read a different book from everyone else?

I mean, yeah, it starts great if a bit slow, introducing us to the two main narrators and showing us what brought them to Amsterdam before the fateful emergency podcast. Problem is, the rest of the book is like watching a train wreck in Zack Snider slow motion with heavy dose of flashbacks and exposition inserted between all the action. Which, you guessed it, kills any type of tension or momentum of the story. It doesn’t help that the two narrators relate that story after they had already survived the events, so there is really no need to worry about them not making it.

I mean, you have a scene where a guy is literally about to get tackled by zombies, and he is running for the door to a building… but our protagonists realize that if they open that door to save him, all the zombies will get into the building as well, so not only he would be dead, but all of them would as well. Tense moment, right? Life or death stakes, right? Why oh why do we have to read through 4 pages of those characters reminiscing about their guilty feelings and PTSD about that episode WHILE that episode is unfolding? No more tension. And my interest in the story is as dead and mangled as the body of that guy once he is savaged by the zombie horde.

And the whole book is like that. I don’t mind the inner monolog and some explanations of the character’s feelings, or a couple flashbacks here and there, but not when it bogs down the story and kills the flow of it. I ended up skimming the last fifty pages of the book ignoring all of the “feelings” just to see what happened. And it was nothing much.

It’s better written then some zombie books I read, but definitely not a 5 stars or even 4 starts read.

Reborn by Stephanie Ellis

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Stars: 2 out of 5.

While this was a dark and immersive world, I didn’t particularly enjoy it for several reasons. 

Firstly, the pacing was off in this book. There is no sense of urgency or how much time actually elapsed between different events. There is talk that the three brothers need to reach Cernunnos before his resurrection, but exactly how urgent is that? This whole book just reads like a long road trip movie where they just meander around and take their time. 

This would have been fine if I had enjoyed the characters, but I didn’t. Tommy, Fiddler, and Betty are horrible beings. Yes, they act according to their nature and the purpose for which they were created, but that doesn’t make them any less monstrous. Or does it make me less inclined to follow their stories. I don’t care if Betty gets a new heart. I don’t care if the Wheel turns and they are reborn. In fact, I’d rather they just pass into oblivion and not repeat the pain and suffering they seem to joyfully rain onto humankind.

I didn’t particularly like Megan either. I found her mopey and dull. But then again, I haven’t read the first book, so she might have a good reason for being this depressed, but it makes for a very unlikeable character to follow.

But I think my biggest gripe with this story is just how hopeless it is. The monsters win in the end. The Wheel is turning again, the weirdkin are running free to murder and torture and terrorize humankind again, and the only human in the group died without accomplishing anything she wanted. She didn’t free her husband. She didn’t get her revenge. She didn’t even get closure, because her husband’s murderer was resurrected and forgiven despite everything he had done. Talk about a depressing end of the story. 

I know that this ending opens the door for another book in the series, but I have no desire to read it. Yes, the world is fascinating, in a dark and horrifying sort of way, but it lacks even a ray of hope or a character I want to root for, so I think I’m done.

PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Watchers by A.M. Shine

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Stars: 2 out of 5.

How can a horror book be so boring? By being full of overwritten purple prose, that’s how.

The premise was very promising: a mysterious forest where all electronics die. A group of people trapped in a bunker in the middle of it. Haunted and hunted by mysterious Watchers. What’s there not to love. Unfortunately, the execution is more than lacking.

The author doesn’t know how to show, not tell, or that less is more. No, they choose to tell us every little thing the characters are doing or feeling at every given time. ALL the characters, ALL the time…

Well, there is nothing that kills the tension faster than having all the characters reminisce about their pasts or ponder what they are feeling WHILE they are running for their lives through a forest full of monsters. You have to reach the river, find the boat, and escape before the sun sets, or you will be murdered in a horrible way, but yes, by all means, let’s sprinkle this high octane flight with page upon page of useless filler. Tension – gone. Boredom – fully set in.

Every scene in this book that was supposed to be high stakes, heart pounding, and horrifying is diluted to ineffectiveness by constant flashbacks and inner monologs. I got so tired of this that I literally skimmed the last third of the book just to read the major plot points and get to the ending.

You would think that as much as we spend reading the characters’ inner thoughts, I would have grown to care for them? Nope. Not in the slightest. They are all annoying and lack substance. I honestly didn’t care for any of them, so any character deaths that might have happened didn’t have the intended impact.

This book would have benefited from a rewrite that would have cut about 100 pages of purple prose and added better character development.

Redemption Ark (Revelation Space 2) by Alasdair Reynolds

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Stars: 2.5 out of 5.

This is the third book I read by this author, and I’m beginning to see a trend: the worldbuilding is excellent. The ideas are fascinating and thought-provoking. The faraway future of human space exploration and settlement the author paints is definitely worth exploring further. But the characters, oh the characters… the author can’t write engaging characters to save his life.

It was a slight issue for me in the first book of the series, Revelation Space, but the new world was interesting enough to dive into that I overlooked the lack of engaging characters to follow. It was also visible in the prequel Chasm City, but at least that book gave me some answers about other things raised in book 1, so I let is slide. But this problem came to the forefront in this book, because the main storyline is most definitely character driven. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any good characters to latch on to. And by good I mean interesting and realistic, or even engaging. 

I couldn’t care less for Clavain and his identity crisis, mostly because he came off condescending and thinking himself smarter and better than anyone else in the universe… while making some rather stupid assumptions and decisions. I also didn’t like Skade and couldn’t really understand her motivations for being as she is. You would think that it would be better explained, since she is the main villain. But even her story was put aside halfway through, when Clavain and his crew got busy with the big confrontation with the Triumvir. 

Speaking of which, what was that even about? We spent pages upon pages talking about the importance of the weapons, and everyone is fighting for control and possession of said weapons… only to just leave them and run at the end? What was the point of this book exactly then? If they were essential for the fight against the Inhibitors, then why didn’t anyone bother to scoop them up before they turned tail and burned it out of the dying system?

As it stands, the book dragged for me. In fact, it took me the better half of last year and then a couple months in 2024 to finish it, simply because I would start losing interest after 10 pages or so and put the book away. I had to force myself to come back to it every time and finish it. I will still give book 3 a try to see where this story is going, but I hope it will be a much tighter book with at least a couple characters I can latch into.

Four Roads Cross (Craft Sequence 5) by Max Gladstone

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Stars: 5 out of 5.

This book is a direct continuation of Three Parts Dead, book 1 in the Craft Sequence series, since it describes events that happen almost immediately after the ending of that book. So technically, you could skip books 2-4 and just read this one. Why though? All books in this series are excellent, and some of the characters we followed in those books make a brief appearance in this one as well. I would say reading them in order listed is an enjoyment in itself.

As we remember, book 1 ended with Tara helping bring the goddess Seril back to life, only this is far from a happy ending for both Seril and Kos, as well as Alt Coulumb. Seril is weak, her cult is small, and she poses a serious financial and reputational risk to Kos and his church. Now Tara and her friends will have to fight for the future of their city and answer a few important questions about themselves and their beliefs.

This book raises a few very interesting questions. What is better? The cold and clinical approach of the Craft, where everything is a transaction, and there is no room left for such things as sentiment, love, friendship, etc. Or faith that sometimes requires self-sacrifice and acts of kindness without expecting anything in return. Or is there a way to combine both of those approaches and to find a happy medium? 

This battle of identity is most evident in Tara’s arc in this book, because she has to go against everything she’s been thought in the Hidden Schools. It’s by daring to open her heart to faith and friendship that she wins her case and, I think, finds a home she’s secretly been longing for all her life. 

This is also evident in Abelard’s journey in this book, who undergoes a crisis of faith and feels betrayed and used by his god, only to find his own quiet strength in the middle of the chaos. Acceptance is also the theme when it comes to Cat and Raz, who finally face their own demons and emerge victorious from those battles. 

In a way, this book is a catharsis for all the events that started in book 1 of the series, and a beautiful resolution for some of those characters I grew to love so much. I know there are more books in this series, and I will definitely pick up the next one.

The Vagabond King by Jodie Bond

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DNF at 25%.

I’m sorry to say this, but I couldn’t get into this book at all, no matter how much I tried.

The characters aren’t distinct or likable enough, and their motivations are not shown enough to me to care or get invested.

I mean, seriously, what does Savanta want? The author says that she misses her daughter, but we are never shown that. You could have shown us a scene of her sneaking over to her village at night to spy on her family at night, longing to talk to them, but unable to show them the monster she became… or working towards a way of restoring her humanity. I would have been invested in that. As it stands, I couldn’t care less for her.

As for Threon, plot armor is strong with this one. The amount of stupid stuff he does is phenomenal. He should be dead 10 times over. The fact that he isn’t, and doesn’t seem to learn either, doesn’t make him particularly endearing.

Add to that the fact that the world building is sketchy at best, and the story unfolds Ata glacial pace after a very strong opening chapter, and this is not a book I feel like sticking around for.

PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Mirage in the Memory by Simon Tull

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Stars: 3 out of 5.

I like the concept of this book. This is a post-apocalyptic world where some humans have been turned into vampires… then exterminated normal humans. Now the world is ending, the civilization is crumbling, and the immortal vampires linger in sun-shielded cities under the tyrannical rule of a handful of families. 

I was fascinated by the few glimpses we have of this world and I would have loved to learn more. Unfortunately, the author gives us only crumbs of information. Though I understand that this is a prequel, so maybe the events that led to the current state of affairs are explained in the main books.

My issue with this book is that even though the world is fascinating, I simply couldn’t empathize with the protagonist. Yes, he is haunted by the things he has done and the lover he was forced to leave behind, but it felt rather flat for me. I think I would have felt more invested in his plight if the author had introduced me to his relationship with his wife a bit more. Maybe in flashbacks or something. Or if I got to experience the event that made him leave her behind instead of just seeing it mentioned here and there. As it stands, I had no clear feel for their relationship, and no clue why he left her, or why he felt guilty about it. 

I also need to mention that a lot of the choices the protagonist makes in this story are… questionable, to say the least. Not to mention that the ending is a complete downer. I mean, nothing was accomplished. Thibault is still as much of a slave as he ever was, AND he still doesn’t know where his wife is or if she is even still alive. So what was the purpose of all this?

I was honestly more interested in the side characters, like the burned hacker or the android mod builder. Them, I wouldn’t mind reading about. Thibault? Not so much.

PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.