Currently Reading Book Tag

Currently Reading Book Tag

I was browsing Twitter and I came across a link to Caffeinated Fae doing this book tag. It looked interesting and I wanted to do a book tag, so I decided to try this one. You can find her answers here.

How Many Books Do You Usually Read At Once?

Two, at the very most three. Typically, one is in the 600+ pages side while the other is between 250-400. Or I’ll be reading the 600+ pager and two books that are on the shorter side.

How Do You Decided When to Switch Between Multiple Reads?

Given that I read one long book and one medium-length book, most of the time, I read the first half of the shorter book, then switch to the longer book for a while, then finish the shorter book. Then, I read some more of the longer book before starting a new “short” read. Shorter reads take me a few days, the tomes take about two weeks. I know that’s overly complicated and unnecessary, but that’s what works for me.

Do You Ever Switch Bookmarks Partway Through A Book?

No. Not only do I not switch bookmarks, but if I’m making my way through a series, I’ll use the same bookmark for the whole series.

What Time of Day Do You Read the Most?

It depends on the day, but typically in the morning before work or in the late evenings.

How Long Do You Typically Read in One Session?

It varies a lot and depends on the book being read and where I am in the book. There are books I’ve read in a single 4-hour sitting because I get so engrossed and there are times when I’ll read 50 pages or two chapters or whatever, which takes an hour to 90 minutes.

Do You Read Hardcovers With the Dust Jacket Off?

No, the dust jacket stays on.

What Position Do You Mainly Use to Read?

Either sitting on my couch, laying on my couch or in bed. It depends on where I feel like sitting.

Do You Take Your Current Read with You Everywhere You Go?

If it’s an ebook, yes. Otherwise, I tend not to. Then again, with everything going on, I’m not going out a lot.

How Often Do You Update Your Goodreads Reading Progress?

If the book is less than 400 pages, I don’t. I put it on “Currently Reading” and the moved to “Read” when I’m done. For longer books, I update pretty much any time I stop for the day because I like seeing the progress I’ve made and how I’m progressing through the book.

So, those are my answers to the “Currently Reading” Tag. If this tag interests you, consider yourself tagged.

Anxious People

Anxious People

This post contains affiliate linksThis means when you follow a link and make a purchase, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you, the customer.

Anxious People

Anxious People is a 2019 contemporary fiction novel by Fredrik Backman. The novel was originally published in April 2019, in the author’s native language of Swedish, and the English translation was released earlier this month. Anxious People is the author’s eighth fiction novel to be released. It can be purchase here from Amazon or here from Bookshop.org

Following a failed bank robbery, the would-be robber bursts into an apartment’s open house and takes everyone at the viewing hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers realize they have more in common than they think. As police surround the premises and television channels broadcast the hostage situation live, the tension mounts and even deeper secrets are slowly revealed. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people. When the robber disappears into thin air after the hostages are freed, it’s up to two police officers to piece together what happened inside the apartment.

This novel made me laugh at points. It also brought me very close to tears at other points. It had a wonderful cast of quirky, funny and at times, tragic characters, which is impressive, especially since the author was able to balance the characters out so well and give every character, including the unlucky would-be robber, their chance to shine with the story and, with one exception, none of the cast felt like side characters at all. I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamics that developed between the hostages, and even the hostage-taker. My favorite character was Zara, the sarcastic, blunt and intelligent hostage who isn’t even interested in the apartment she’s viewing. Her scenes involved such excellent character-work that, even if I didn’t love her sarcastic personality, which I did, I still would’ve loved. Backman did a phenomenal job writing the appropriate emotions into scenes. Every scene that was meant to be humorous was funny and the more serious, heart-wrenching scenes brought me close to tears. I didn’t think a book this length, being about 350 pages, could make me feel so much, but it did. While this wasn’t the first work by Backman that I’ve read, that honor goes to his novella And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, this book helped me understand why so many people praise his writing style. He does such an amazing job telling this story and playing with your emotions. His writing style is one of the best I’ve ever read and he has a very strong voice as a writer.

The novel unfolds in two timelines. One timeline depicts the events before and during the would-be bank robbery and the hostage situation, while the second involves the police investigation and interviews given by the hostages after the robber has disappeared. I’m not normally a fan of this writing choice, but it’s used here to great effect to both reveal some character traits of each hostage and to tell the story in the best way possible. If the story had been told in a completely linear fashion, some of the bigger twists and turns of the plot would’ve been wasted. While we’re on the subject of plot twists, I’ll also admit that there was absolutely no twist that I “saw coming” while reading this book and I enjoyed how much it took me by surprise. Every thing fit together so well and, while this book touches on a lot of different topics, none of the events feel unneeded. The pacing of this book was perfect, which isn’t surprising, considering how everything else in this book works completely perfectly and in unison.

This is normally the point in my review where I would mention my criticisms of the book. There’s just one problem, I don’t actually have any criticisms of this book. There were things, either plot-related or character-focused, that I was so-so about at the beginning, but by the end, I didn’t see those things as problems because of how well they were utilized in the story. The only thing I didn’t like about this book was one character, who I thought was annoying, but considering the character is meant to be annoying, I can’t consider it a criticism. It would be akin to me complaining that the bad guy in a move does bad guy things.

Anxious People is a fantastic book. Fredrik Backman deserves all of the praise he gets. He does such an amazing job capturing the human spirit and making his readers feel intense emotions. He does a phenomenal job writing about heavy topics with such a deft hand. I never thought I’d read a “perfect book” until this one. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I know I’ve done nothing but rave about this book in this review so far, but I don’t think I’ve done it justice.

Rating: 5 Stars

Follow Me Elsewhere: Facebook \ Twitter \ Goodreads \ Instagram
Buy Me A Coffee?

Why I Won’t Review Your Book

Why I Won’t Review Your Book

I don’t mean to sound overly cocky, but I get a lot of review requests, or at least, more requests than I expected to get when I started this blog. It might sound strange, but I never expected any author to reach out to me, asking for a review.

Unfortunately, I can’t accept every review request for one reason or another. I recently interacted with an author who got incredibly angry, and somewhat hostile, when I declined their request. This led to me flip-flopping about whether or not I had an obligation to accept every request, which then caused me to examine my reasons why I decline requests. That led to me writing this post, expanding on my reasons why I might decline a request. I know, it sounds like a “first world problem”, and it is, but I also don’t want people to believe a decline is malicious.

Your Book Is Not In My Genre

I mostly review science fiction and fantasy. Those are genres that I love and I feel comfortable reviewing. I might review a random literary fiction book or thriller here and there, but I tend to stick to the science fiction and fantasy realms.

Sometimes, I will get requests for a romance novel, or historical fiction, which are genres that I don’t really read and don’t tend to enjoy. I don’t think it’s fair to myself, the author or the book itself for me to try to review a book in a genre I dislike.

I Don’t Have Time At The Moment

Some request I get have a very specific time frame the author wants a review by. These tend to be for books that haven’t been released yet, but not always. In some cases, the window I’m given is very small or ends very soon. I have other commitments, I have other reviews I’ve committed to writing and books to read. If I’m given a time frame that I can’t meet, I try to work with the author to decide on a slightly bigger window (i.e. I can’t have a review ready by next week, but I can finish it by the middle of next month). If the author is unwilling to give me some leeway, I have to decline.

Your Book Discusses Topics I’m Not Comfortable With

There’s a big debate on whether or not author should include trigger warnings in their books, either on a page before the first chapter or towards the back of the book where the acknowledgments or author bio are. Some say doing so might spoil the book, while others believe these warnings are necessary. I’m not going to say one option is better than the other, that’s a choice for the author to make.

However, there are certain subjects I don’t feel comfortable reading about or discussing in a review. The biggest deciding factor for me when I decide to read, or in some cases continue reading, a book is whether I think I’d enjoy it (or am currently enjoying it). There’s certain subjects that I don’t want to read about and I’m not going to force myself to. Authors like getting reviews, but I think most would agree they want reviews from someone who actually enjoyed their work.

I Read Your Book, But I Don’t Want To Be Mean

This might sound unfair, but I tend to be nicer to indie and self-published authors and debut authors than established authors or those working with big presses when I review. There are some fantastic indie authors out there and their books have less potential to reach a large audience than someone publishing through Harper Collins, for instance.

Nearly every review request I’ve gotten has come from an indie or self-published author. Sometimes, I’ll read the book in question, I’ll complete it and I simply didn’t like it. Maybe I’m not the target audience, maybe I just didn’t connect with the writing style. And sometimes, unfortunately, I hate everything about it. It would be kind of a jerk move, then, for me to write a long review discussing all of the things I didn’t like about the book, which the author is trying to get recognition and an audience for.

When I correspond with authors, this is why I tend to tell them that I’ll read their work and then let them know if I’m going to review it. I never promise a positive review, but there’s a difference between saying “here are some things I think could be improved” or “here’s why this book wasn’t a hit for me” and me either lying (which I refuse to do) or roasting the book.

I Read It, But I Don’t Have Much to Say

I don’t know if this one belongs here, but it kind of fits, so I’m including it. Sometimes, I’ll finish a book and I’ll feel completely neutral about it. I liked parts of it, but I don’t feel strongly enough about it to write more than a paragraph about my feelings for it. Writing an in-depth review would feel like pulling teeth. When that happens, I review the book solely on Goodreads and Amazon, hence my “I don’t know if this belongs here” note above. This way the author does get a review for their work, but I don’t have to struggle to write a full review for the book.

Follow Me Elsewhere: GoodreadsBuy Me A Coffee?

Eden’s Return

Eden’s Return

Eden's Return

Eden’s Return is a 2020 science fiction novel by Duncan McGeary. It was published in July of 2020 by Crossroad Press. I was provided with an advanced copy by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The novel takes place on Earth in the far future. Three hundred years prior to the novel’s beginning, a mysterious zone called the Stasis appeared in the Pacific northwest. All humans living in the area suddenly found themselves transported to the outside of the Stasis and nature was allowed to take hold once again. Few people who entered the Stasis ever returned. Three hundred years after the Stasis appeared, the barrier seems to be weakening and a group of soldiers, led by Lieutenant Silas McKinley, is sent to investigate. They discover a young woman named Shani, living in the Stasis with her mother, but their startling discovery is quickly overshadowed by the forces of nature who dislike the intruders, and their mission soon turns to a desperate attempt at escaping the Stasis alive.

While this book has plenty of named characters, there are only two truly worth discussing when talking about characters. The first is Silas, the leader of the group of soldiers. He arrives in the Stasis with a clear mission and he only wants to complete said mission. His motives and determination to follow his orders are expanded upon later, but he begins the novel as a model soldier. Through the trials he undergoes alongside his men, he’s changed and comes to some important conclusions about himself and life outside the Stasis. While his character arc isn’t perfect, where he starts and where he ends do make sense. The second character is Shani. She’s grown up inside the Stasis, having been told there are no humans left outside the area. While it would be easy to make her an annoyingly naive character, or one that’s far too trusting and innocent, she’s not. She’s incredibly intelligent and while she begins the novel unsure of herself and unaware of life outside the Stasis, she doesn’t stay that way for long. She’s curious, but capable and her journey contrasts with Silas’s very well. The other characters are soldiers in Silas’s unit and I don’t have much to say about them. Some are pretty likable, others are written to purposefully anger the reader. None of them are bad characters, but there isn’t much unique about them.

The premise of this book grabbed my interest right away. The idea of a strange area, unable to be inhabited by humans, was interesting enough, but adding in the aspects of soldiers being sent to investigate and the discovery of others thriving in the area only made the story more enticing to me. The author did a very good job of taking this “humans exploring a ‘lost world’ where they don’t belong” idea and adding an interesting twist on it. The way in which the Stasis acts as both a protector of Shani’s and an adversary of Silas and his men makes the story more complex and far more interesting. Additionally, the author did a fantastic job of describing this strange world within the Stasis. It was very easy to visualize the environments being described and the flora and fauna the characters encounter. The more action-oriented scenes are equally well-written and the author makes you feel every ounce of fear and confusion the soldiers feel as they attempt to leave the Stasis. This novel has two points-of-view: Silas’s and Shani’s. While I’m not usually a fan of this writing decision, I do feel like it works for this novel because the two characters have such different backgrounds and the split perspectives give some needed context to certain events in the story and the world-building.

While I enjoyed aspects of this book, there are a number of criticisms that I must share. This book left me with a number of vital, unanswered questions. Based on the first few chapters, I believed this story would delve into the mysteries of what the Stasis was and why it appeared, but those elements aren’t really explained in the story. There are a few other things along the way, which I can’t give too much detail about due to spoilers, that are also not really explained. The ending felt like a bit of a letdown for me. I reached the last page and I wasn’t quite sure what emotion I was supposed to feel. The pacing of this book is a bit all over the place. Based on the description, I was expecting the story to focus on the soldiers’ attempts to escape the Stasis after arriving and realizing they aren’t welcome, but it takes longer than expected for the story to get to that point. Some events that are important to the overall plot are glossed over or rushed through. 

Eden’s Return is an entertaining book. It has an interesting idea at its core and the author did something unique with it, even if it wasn’t what the description suggests. I enjoyed the two main characters and some of the development of the world. At the same time, this book leaves the reader with a lot of unanswered questions which is frustrating, and the ending was a bit of a letdown. The novel is a quick read and has some interesting elements, so I’d recommend it to someone looking for a book they can read without having to get too heavily invested in the story along the way.

Rating: 2.4 Stars

Follow Me Elsewhere: Facebook \ Twitter \ Goodreads \ Instagram\ Buy Me A Coffee?

August Wrap-Up

August Wrap-Up

This post contains affiliate linksThis means when you follow a link and make a purchase, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you, the customer.

books.gif

August has come and gone. I, for one, both can and can’t believe that it’s already September. August wasn’t a bad reading month. I was able to cross a number of books off my TBR and I met my Goodreads goal four months ahead of schedule/ Now, let’s get into the books.

Books I Read and Reviewed

Heart of Fire* by Jessica Roe- 3.3 Stars

The Fifth Doll* by Charlie N. Holmberg- 2.6 Stars

Alexandra Forever 2291: The Strange Matter of the Red Dwarf by D.W. Richards – 4.2 Stars

May Day by Josie Jaffrey – 3.7 Stars

Rise of the Sea Witch* by Stacy Rourke- 4.6 Stars

Books I Read, Only Reviewed on Goodreads

The Great Hunt* by Robert Jordan- 4 Stars (Goodreads review)

The Dragon Reborn* by Robert Jordan- 3.5 Stars (Goodreads review)

The Shadows* by Alex North- 4 Stars (Goodreads review)

Odes to the Multiverse by Tonya R. Moore- 4 Stars (Goodreads review)

Displaced by Dan Hook- 2 Stars (Goodreads review)

A Girl Called Ari* by P.J. Sky- 2 Stars (Goodreads review)

Lying Beneath by Kevin Moran- 3 Stars (Goodreads review)

Killian’s Dead by Josie Jaffrey- 3 Stars (Goodreads review)

The Space Between Worlds* by Micaiah Johnson- 3 Stars (Goodreads review)

Genres Read

Fantasy: 6

Science Fiction: 7

Thriller: 1

Figures

Number of DNFs: 1

Total Books Read: 14

Pages Read: 4,202

Average Rating: 3.35 Stars

What did you read in August? Any recommendations? Did you read any of these books?

Follow Me Elsewhere: Facebook \ Twitter \ Goodreads \ Instagram
Buy Me A Coffee?

Rise of the Sea Witch

Rise of the Sea Witch

This post contains affiliate linksThis means when you follow a link and make a purchase, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you, the customer.

Rise of the Sea Witch (Unfortunate Soul Chronicles, #1)

Rise of the Sea Witch is a 2017 fantasy novel by Stacey Rourke. It was published in June of 2017 by Anchor Group Publishing. The novel is the first entry in the Unfortunate Souls series and it is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, telling the story of how the sea witch Ursela came to be. The novel can be purchased here from Amazon or here from Bookshop.org

The novel follows the sea witch, originally known as Princess Vanessa of Atlantica, as she is raised beside her brother Triton, groomed from birth to rule. While her brother survives training through his carefree attitude and charm, Vanessa strives for King Poseidon’s approval, which pushes her to exceed the limits of magic and combat, eager to prove herself a worthy leader of her people. When war breaks out, sides are chosen and factions pit Vanessa against her brother for the crown. Family secrets are revealed and the strong sibling-bond is strained to its breaking point.

Let’s discuss the characters in this novel. First, we have Vanessa, the daughter of Poseidon, and his older child. She has such an amazing arc in this story, which is what I expected for the main character. She has so much ambition and drive and she seems to be one of the few characters to truly want something. At the same time, she’s insecure, she struggles for her father’s approval and she fails sometimes. She’s such a sympathetic character that, even though we know who she’ll become, the reader still kind of roots for her. Next, we have Triton. He’s shown to be pretty laidback for most of the book, pretty uninterested in ruling. He’s less proactive, but the war changes him and he begins to realize how serious his decisions and his role within Atlantica is. One thing I enjoyed was that he wasn’t painted as a villain here, which he easily could’ve been. Amphrite is Vanessa’s step-mother who has clear ulterior motives and saying anything else would be a spoiler. Poseidon is the ocean’s worst father. He dotes on Triton and seems to barely remember who Vanessa is. There are a slew of other characters, some are antagonistic to Vanessa, others are friendly. A number change their allegiances.

Reviewing a retelling or origin story is a little different from reviewing any other novel, in that the reader already knows how the story ends. The question for this was never if Vanessa becomes Ursela, but rather how well that story is told and how believable it is. I’d say that this is one of the better “villain origin story” novels that I’ve read. Vanessa descent into evil and madness is handled really well and how it is achieved fits with what we know about the Ursela already. The reader is able to sympathize with Vanessa/Ursela and that makes her fall so much more painful and so much more compelling to read.  I also appreciated the fact that the novel explained some familiar things everyone knows from The Little Mermaid such as why Triton hates anything created by humans and how Ursela found Flotsam and Jetsam.

As previously mentioned, I liked the way this novel portrayed Ursela and the backstory it gave her. Naturally, I found the story itself quite intriguing. The plot was phenomenal and I loved the way that scenes from early on in the book fit together with events at the end. I could tell that the author put a lot of thought into crafting this story. The writing itself was excellent. Rourke put so much detail and description into setting different scenes that I could easily picture this underwater world. Her writing really helped bring the world to life and it was easy to get lost in the story. The pacing is pretty good for the most part. Lastly, and most surprisingly, I liked the romance in this one. It was given enough time to develop, it worked great with the story and it left me wanting more. This might be due to the fact that it was a “forbidden lovers” type of romance, with a twist at the end that’s a spoiler, and I like those kinds of romances.

While I enjoyed the novel overall, no work is perfect and there were some things I wish had been done a little different. As the story unfolds, Ursela will sometimes interject and add her own commentary, which I found a bit annoying and unneeded. There are also lines said or moments that happen that were meant to be winks to the reader, referencing moments in The Little Mermaid, that were a little heavy-handed and it felt like the author was going “See? It’s that thing Ursela says later. This is where she got it from”. I didn’t love those, but I could push past them. Lastly, there are some character moments that just didn’t fit with the rest of the story. Characterization will be consistent for the whole story, and then one scene will happen where the person’s actions don’t fit with their established character, and then they’re back to normal. Those moments felt a bit forced to me and took me out of the story.

Rise of the Sea Witch is a stellar novel. Not only is it a great story overall, but it’s an excellent origin story for Ursela. The plot is great, the characterization is wonderful and it turns the sea witch into such a compelling and sympathetic character. While I wasn’t a fan of the asides to the reader and a few other things, they didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book very much. I fully intend on reading the next novel to see what happens. I’d recommend this novel to any Little Mermaid fans and anyone who loves fairy tale retellings.

Rating: 4.6 Stars

Follow Me Elsewhere: Goodreads \Buy Me A Coffee?

10 Bookish Things I Love

10 Bookish Things I Love

Give It To Me Now GIFs | Tenor

I recently wrote a post called 10 Bookish Pet Peeves where I discussed tropes and other things in books that I don’t like. Today, I’d like to talk about the other side of the argument: things I love in books. So, let’s talk about my ten favorite things in books. A lot of these are fantasy tropes, which isn’t surprising since that’s my main genre.

Reluctant Chosen Ones

A lot of people are sick of chosen ones, but I think there’s still some life in that trope. My favorite kind of “Chosen One” is the one who doesn’t want to be the chosen one. And I don’t mean a chosen one who is reluctant for a chapter or two, but ultimately comes around. I’m referring to Chosen Ones who do not want to be the Chosen One, they fight against it, but no matter what they do “the universe” is pushing them to fulfill whatever they were chosen to do. These types of Chosen Ones have the potential for interesting arguments about fate vs. free will.

Uncompromisngly Evil Villains

Some villains see themselves as misunderstood heroes. Others just want to take over the world or wipe out all humanity. I have a special fondness for villains who know they’re doing evil and don’t care that it’s evil. Yes. it creates a very simple “black and white” view of the main conflict, but sometimes a story doesn’t need a nuanced villain.

Well-Written Friendships

Friendships are great. Some books will state that two characters have an amazing and strong friendship, but never show it. I love seeing strong, well-written friendships, especially when the friends in question go through a lot together. Give me more awesome friendships please.

Exploration of Trauma

Fantasy novels tend to have epic wars or difficult journeys and then gloss over what these events might do to someone’s mental health. Now, I’m not asking for an in-depth psychological analysis after every major event, but I like seeing characters being changed by their experiences. If a character just lost a friend or their village was burned to the ground, they aren’t just going to go about their day. Show that, don’t just gloss over it.

Great World-Building

I’m a sucker for world-building. This isn’t surprising since my favorite author is Tolkien and he went nuts for world-building. Yet, not all world-building is created equal. You can tell how much an author cares about their world based on the way the world is shown to the reader and how in-depth it goes. World-building can make or break a story for me, and if an author doesn’t put thought into their world, it shows.

Aborted Love Triangles

No one likes love triangles. They feel overdone at this point and that’s a fair criticism. That’s why I’m pleasantly surprised when, while reading a book, the author sets up a potential love triangle, but then doesn’t use it. Nothing makes me happier than when Character A realizes their potential love interest is actually not interested in them and they decide to move on. Love triangles are unnecessary drama, while moving on is a great character moment.

Prophecies With A Twist

This is somewhat connected to my first item, but I wanted to give it its own section. My enjoyment of prophecies in fiction depend on how well they’re utilized in the story. Sometimes, the prophecy is straight-forward, which is fine but not my favorite. A prophecy that comes true in an unexpected way that’s better. My favorite use of prophecies, however, is when the person set up to fulfill the prophecy isn’t the one who actually does it.

Grey Morality

I know, I said I loved blatantly evil bad guys, but those kinds of characters only work in certain stories. Sauron works in The Lord of the Rings. He wouldn’t fit well into a story like Game of Thrones. Books where things aren’t so black and white, or where there’s more nuance to each side of a confrontation are great for different reasons from those with traditional “evil to be evil” bad guys. However, the morality needs to be truly grey and not situations where a “good guy” does one bad thing or the “bad guy” is shown to have one person they care about or does one good thing.

Space Pirates

I don’t have an explanation for this one. I just like space pirates. They make things fun and it’s an interesting idea to explore in science fiction.

Well-Executed Time Travel

Time-travel is a very cool idea to explore. It’s been decades since the idea was first introduced and there have been dozens of different re-imaginings of how it might work and what it might be able to do. I’m not picky about how time-travel works in a story, but I’m very picky about used or explained because it can be tricky. Even if time-travel isn’t clearly explained, having hard rules and reasons why it can’t always be used is something I like. It shows the idea has been thought through and it’s going to be used simply to fix the plot. It gives events in the story more weight if the protagonist can’t go back in time at any point and kill the bad guy as a baby or warn everyone in advance.

Those are the ten tropes that I love the most. Or at least the ten that I love the most right now. Do you enjoy any of these? Are there some I mentioned that you despise? What are your favorite tropes?

Follow Me Elsewhere: Goodreads \Buy Me A Coffee?

May Day

May Day

May Day (Seekers, #1)

May Day is a 2020 urban fantasy novel by Josie Jaffrey. It was released in July 2020. The novel is the first entry in the The Seekers series, although the author did write a short prequel story titled Killian’s Dead. I was provided with an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

The novel follows vampire detective Jacqueline “Jack” Valentine as she and her team try to solve the murder of a human by a vampire. She’s determined to pin the murder on Killian Drake, a powerful figure in vampire society whom she holds a grudge against. Unfortunately, none of the evidence implicates Drake and instead points to a conspiracy involving the most powerful members of the vampire society. Jack has no access to these figures, but Drake does, and she’s forced to partner up with her worst enemy as she strives to solve the murder and keep anyone else from dying.

I’m going to admit, it’s a little difficult for me to discuss characters in this novel. Jack, as the main character, has a great deal of personality. She’s witty, she’s sarcastic, she doesn’t take crap from anyone and she’s unpredictable at times, which leaves the reader wondering what she might do next. Drake, her archenemy, is a cocky, smarmy figure who always seems to “win” during their confrontations and enjoys watching her reactions to his triumph. My issue is that the vampires Jack works with or encounters don’t have much personality. There’s Boyd, her direct superior, who’s a stickler for rules and does things by the book. Cam is a vampire ball of sunshine who seems a little too naïve to the real world and Naia has a rebellious streak, like Jack’s, but is unwilling to take things past a certain point. Boyd, Naia and Cam don’t really have much depth, but the story is being told from Jack’s perspective and that plays a role in how complex they seem. They aren’t bad characters or badly written, just ones with little development.

This novel did a remarkable job of mixing the urban fantasy elements with the murder mystery and not allowing one subgenre to overshadow the other. Not only was the reader able to see the entire scope of the investigation, but we were also introduced to the vampire society, also known as the Silvers, and how their society was set up and operated. It was very easy for me to get a handle on how creating Silvers worked, what the rules of the society were and the normal questions one would have about vampires living among us. The murder mystery took plenty of twists and turns as well, with a surprising conclusion, and even after the murder was solved, the author left plenty of unanswered questions for future novels to tackle. As mentioned earlier, the hostile relationship between Jack and Killian Drake gets a lot of focus in this book. I enjoyed most of their banter, and the back-and-forth they did, along with how their relationship progressed. The author did an excellent job using the “enemies forced to work together” trope effectively here without making it cliché. The pacing was pretty good for the most part as well.

While I enjoyed the book overall, there are a few criticisms I’d like to express. There are a few noticeable errors in this book, such as the Seeker captain, a minor female character, being addressed as “sir” at one point. The errors didn’t detract from my enjoyment per se, but they did bring me out of the story a little bit. While I liked the way most of Jack’s interactions with Drake went, and how that dynamic progressed, there were times where it felt like it moved too fast. There is a scene with Jack and Drake towards the end of the novel in which something abusive takes place, which I don’t like to begin with, and then an excuse for this behavior is given not long after, which I like even less. Some plot elements felt a little contrived towards the end as well. Lastly, and I wouldn’t consider this a criticism but I don’t have another place where this item would fit, there’s a lot of cursing in this book. I didn’t have a problem with it, but I know some readers are sensitive to that kind of thing.

May Day is overall a pretty good book. The plot and the urban fantasy elements worked wonderfully together and the author left the reader with plenty of questions for Book #2. It gave the reader an interesting and complex mystery to solve while introducing a new world. At the same time, there were some plot contrivances and developments that I wasn’t a big fan of. I’d recommend this novel to anyone looking for a quick urban fantasy read with a little bit of mystery thrown in.

Rating: 3.7 Stars

Follow Me Elsewhere: Goodreads \ Buy Me A Coffee?

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday

Hello everyone! Today is Wednesday, which means it’s time to do the three Ws. For those who don’t know, the three Ws are:What did you recently finish reading? What are you currently reading? What are you reading next?

What I Recently Finished:
May Day (Seekers, #1)
May Day by Josie Jaffrey. This book is a vampire detective novel, which sounded interesting to me. The review for this book will be published on Monday.
What I’m Currently Reading:
Rise of the Sea Witch (Unfortunate Soul Chronicles, #1)
Rise of the Sea Witch by Stacey Rourke. This is an origin story for Ursula from The Little Mermaid. I’ve been really into retellings and origin stories lately and I’m excited to see where this story goes.
The Dragon Reborn: Book Three of 'The Wheel of Time'
The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan. This is the third book in The Wheel of Time. I have about 100 pages left, but I’m hoping to get through it before the end of the month.

What am I reading next:
Eden's Return
Eden’s Return by Duncan McGeary. The premise sounds interesting to me and I thought I should give it a try.
 
What are you guys reading right now? What are you planning on reading next? Let me know in the comments!

Follow Me Elsewhere: GoodreadsBuy Me A Coffee?
Alexandra Forever 2291

Alexandra Forever 2291

Alexandra Forever 2291 — Book One: The Strange Matter of the Red Dwarf

Alexandra Forever 2291: The Strange Matter of the Red Dwarf is a 2020 science fiction novella by D. W. Richards. It is the first book, of eight planned books, in the Alexandra Forever series. I was given an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The story follows Alexandra, a Post Office marshal and living goddess in the 23rd century. When a red-dwarf star system punches through the fabric of space-time, it comes hurtling towards the Milky Way. The already dire situation becomes even more critical when an SOS transmission, from a long-thought lost spacecraft, is intercepted coming from the system’s sole planet. Alexandra is tasked with either retrieving the spacecraft or, at minimum, its top-secret data before the ship is lost forever.

Alexandra is one of the funniest protagonists that I’ve read in a while. This novella has serious moments, there are also fantastic moments that lighten the mood and make the reader laugh. Alexandra might be a goddess, but she reads like a normal person, albeit one who has seen, done and survived a great deal. I found myself laughing at some of the things she said or her reactions to events. I didn’t expect to enjoy her character or connect to her as much as I did. I especially enjoyed her relationship with the priestesses of Evermore, who Alexandra is the protector of. Rather than her being a cold and distant figure to them, she’s close with many of them and treats them as equals. Her mentality overall makes for incredibly interesting character dynamics.

This novella is the first of eight, which combined will tell one big story. As a result, the plot of this book is a smaller plot that fits within the larger, over-arching story being told. I appreciate the author’s decision to do this, as this is a rather short story. It allows the story to unfold at an appropriate pace without causing characterization or world-building to suffer. As the beginning of a contiguous story, it sets the stage for the whole series and gives the reader enough of a taste of what’s to come in the rest of the series. The ending of this novella perfectly sets up the second novella and ends at the perfect moment for the tone the author seems to be trying to convey. I wouldn’t consider this book “hard sci-fi” but I did enjoy the sci-fi elements and they fit into the story very well. The author did an excellent job describing and contextualizing the different planets and societies within the story without making the reader feel bogged down by information dumps. This made it very easy for me to get lost within the story. I enjoyed the twists and turns that happened within the story and how events seem to be coming together nicely. The author has a very strong voice and a clear story in mind.

While I enjoyed the story overall, there are a few criticisms that I had. First, the prelude states that the story is the historical record of prior events. As a result, the priestess documenting these events includes footnotes when necessary. In a note prior to the story’s beginning, the author notes that these footnotes are meant to flesh out the universe. The footnotes were a bit distracting for me and I didn’t personally enjoy some of the asides the priestess made to the reader. This may be because I’m not used to footnotes having the tone that the ones in this novella do. The footnotes are not central to understanding the plot of the novel, however, so I did skip them occasionally. The narrative itself changes from past to present tense, which may be confusing for some people. As with the footnotes, there is a purpose and explanation for this decision, but while reading, the shift did take me out of the story one or two times. Additionally, this book has a habit of name-dropping organizations or individuals without telling the reader who they are or what impression the reader is supposed to have of them. Some of these people or groups will likely play a part in later novellas, but for now, I felt like I was told to be afraid of someone without being told why. Again, some of this is set-up for future releases, I’m sure, but a little more context would’ve been appreciated.

Alexandra Forever 2291: The Strange Matter of the Red Dwarf is a fun, intriguing sci-fi story I’m excited to see where the story goes next and what the author has to offer. I loved the characters, plot and pacing, but a few writing choices I didn’t agree with. I’m definitely going to read the second novella when it’s released and I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, action-packed science fiction book that’s an easy read.

Rating: 4.2 Stars

Follow Me Elsewhere: Goodreads \Buy Me A Coffee?