Kaiju Preservation Society: A Book Review

A big thank you to Tor Books and NetGalley for providing me with this copy to read and review. As always, I will share my full and honest thoughts.

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.

What Tom doesn’t tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm, human-free world. They’re the universe’s largest and most dangerous panda and they’re in trouble.

It’s not just the Kaiju Preservation Society who have found their way to the alternate world. Others have, too. And their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.

Well hello there beautiful people! I finally finished a book that I needed to review. I’m not gonna lie, this one took a minute to read, but that wasn’t because of the book, that was because I am in a reading slump. Bother. On to the book!

This isn’t my first John Scalzi book, having read Old Man’s War a couple of years ago. I liked that one, but I haven’t read any of the other books in the series. This book surprised me, as I didn’t think it would live up to the promise of Old Man’s War.

The characters in this book were great! Our main protagonist, Jamie, is just your average guy. He could be any one of us trying to make our way through the world during the pandemic. And that’s what makes this book so great. Jamie was on his way to a doctorate when he decided to drop out and live his life just like all of his friends, so he’s not a slowpoke in the brains department, but when he arrives at KPS, he’s nothing special. Just a guy.

And this everyman is very well written. He takes his responsibilities seriously, and given the circumstances, he has found himself in, that’s actually a good thing. He has a great sense of humor, a quick wit, but a realistic side to him that I can appreciate.

But Jamie doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into. In fact, none of his doctorate-holding companions do. They’ve all been left in the dark as to what exactly it is the KPS does.

Our side characters’ interactions with Jamie are great. They all have fun together and they have real and genuine friendships that help when the time to be heroes comes.

There is a lot of exposition in this book that comes from those side characters. At the beginning of the story you learn as they do, but later on, they are the ones explaining things. And they explain those things in a way that assumes the audience listening to them is smart. Which is always nice.

I found no issues with the pacing and the writing style kept me engaged the entire time I was reading. Just to give you an example, I was at 35% when I picked up the book today. I finished it once I actually sat down to read it. I actually laughed out loud a couple of times and when I told the Hubs one of the funny things, he laughed too, and he hasn’t even read the book.

One of the things I didn’t like was that I called the villain the second I met them. I hated being right, but, surprisingly, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story. I still wanted to know how everything played out.

I wasn’t expecting it, but I really loved this story. I happily give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Mickey7: A Book Review

A big thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for my copy of Mickey7. As always I will provide an honest review.

Dying isn’t any fun…but at least it’s a living.

Mickey7 is an Expendable: a disposable employee on a human expedition sent to colonize the ice world Niflheim. Whenever there’s a mission that’s too dangerous—even suicidal—the crew turns to Mickey. After one iteration dies, a new body is regenerated with most of his memories intact. After six deaths, Mickey7 understands the terms of his deal…and why it was the only colonial position unfilled when he took it.

On a fairly routine scouting mission, Mickey7 goes missing and is presumed dead. By the time he returns to the colony base, surprisingly helped back by native life, Mickey7’s fate has been sealed. There’s a new clone, Mickey8, reporting for Expendable duties. The idea of duplicate Expendables is universally loathed, and if caught, they will likely be thrown into the recycler for protein.

Mickey7 must keep his double a secret from the rest of the colony. Meanwhile, life on Niflheim is getting worse. The atmosphere is unsuitable for humans, food is in short supply, and terraforming is going poorly. The native species are growing curious about their new neighbors, and that curiosity has Commander Marshall very afraid. Ultimately, the survival of both lifeforms will come down to Mickey7.

That is, if he can just keep from dying for good.

Well hello, beautiful people! Welcome to the start of a new week and the end of the shortest month! Today I bring you a book review. Mickey7 is the story of our titular Mickey because, well, there is also a Mickey8. Mickey7, while out on a mission is wounded and presumed dead, to the point where he is cloned (it’s his job) and Mickey8 takes his place. Small problem, Mickey7 is rescued by one of the locals and arrives back on site. This puts both Mickies in quite the pickle, as only one is allowed to be “alive” at a time.

So when I sat down to review this book, I’ll admit I had a hard time putting my thoughts to paper, as it were. Mickey7 isn’t a bad book, per se, it’s just not a book I felt like finishing if that makes sense. Let’s put it this way, I started reading it on the 12th and managed to make it to 60% of the way through before I gave up on the 26th.

The characters were fine, I just didn’t find anything really loveable about them. Mickey is written as a Mark Watney type (you know, from the Martian), a kind of comedic view into the harsh realities of intergalactic travel and planet habitation. To me, he just kind of fell flat. I just wasn’t as engaged with his journey as I would have liked, and given that his is the one we are supposed to relate to, that’s a problem.

The side characters were okay. One of his friends is written to be a jerk, and he absolutely is. I appreciated that. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to hold my attention.

The complex problem of finding a planet that meets our requirements for life, isn’t actually hospitable, and inhabiting said planet, was just okay. It didn’t thrill me to learn of, let’s call it, escalating tensions with their new neighbors. I wasn’t really invested in that conflict.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if I had tried to push myself, I could have finished this book, but life is too short and there are too many books out there for me to keep reading one I don’t like. 1 star.

The Love Hypothesis: A Book Review

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

Well hello, beautiful people! It’s time for another book review! I finished The Love Hypothesis last night and had to get my thoughts down right away. This story is all about Olive, who impulsively kisses Dr. Adam Carlsen in a sporadic, and misguided, attempt to convince her friend she is over her ex. Of course, the kiss gets around campus, and the unlikely pair agree to fake date in order to achieve both of their goals.

Let’s just get past the elephant in the room, yes, Ali Hazelwood got her start writing fanfiction. Yes, I absolutely love this for her. More importantly, she wrote from her perspective as a woman in STEM. This experience shows in the love and care she put into the science in her story.

Olive is a grad student working her way up to her Ph.D., and she is grinding hard to get what she is striving for. She also happens to be a woman in a male-dominated field. I love how this was not only mentioned but served as a plot point for her. And you can tell her love for science runs deep. It’s not an “I have to do this to become rich and famous” thing, she’s doing what she’s doing because no one has tried it her way yet. I love that!

Adam is just as devoted to science as Olive is, but he needs funding, and part of his has been frozen because he’s a flight risk, hence his arrangement with Olive. He’s antagonistic to his Ph.D. candidates. But for good reason, of course. He’s also got a softer side. And it’s fun to watch that play out.

The side characters, one of which, Anh, is the catalyst for the whole kissing debacle, are not just plot points. They actually have form and depth. I really like Malcolm.

One of the things I really enjoyed in this book was the LBGTQIA+ rep in this book. We have a demisexual character and a bi-sexual character, two very underrepresented groups in the book world. Hopefully, this kind of book will lead to more!

The crux of this book is in how Adam and Olive interact with each other. Their relationship starts out as two people who will be, if nothing else, good friends. It plays very much in that way, at least on Olive’s part. And if this wasn’t very much a romance book, I would have been happy to read about these two friends, that’s how much I enjoyed their dynamic. I guess what I am trying to say is that when the inevitable feelings do happen, it’s built on a firm foundation and I love that for them.

After all is said and done, I really liked this book. I gave it four out of five stars and have already pre-ordered Ali Hazelwood’s next full-length book.

Spoiler Alert: A Book Review

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. The world may know him as Aeneas, star of the biggest show on television, but fanfiction readers call him something else: Book!AeneasWouldNever. Marcus gets out his frustrations with the show through anonymous stories about the internet’s favorite couple, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone discovered his online persona, he’d be finished in Hollywood.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s long-hidden her fanfic and cosplay hobbies from her “real life”—but not anymore. When she dares to post her latest costume creation on Twitter, her plus-size take goes viral. And when Marcus asks her out to spite her internet critics, truth officially becomes stranger than fanfiction.

On their date, Marcus quickly realizes he wants more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. But when he discovers she’s Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to keep from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely canceled?

Well hello, beautiful people! I come to you rather late in the day (sorry!) with a book review. I finished the book yesterday and had to share this with you. Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade is a story about two people who share an OTP (one true pairing) from a TV show called Gods of the Gates and they both write fanfiction about it. There is only one small problem, one of them is an actor on that show and if his secret got out, he would be ruined. But when April posts a cosplay of herself as Lavinia on Twitter and the trolls come for her, Marcus jumps to her defense and asks her on a date.

I love the way this book was written. The writing style was thoughtful and engaging. Olivia Dade herself is a big fan of fanfic, and it shows. There is a lot of love put into the details as the characters talk about common fanfic tropes, tags, and websites. There are also snippets at the end of every chapter that range from bits of Marcus’ roles to short fanfics based on the show. Some of these are pretty funny had had me laughing out loud at their sheer absurdity.

The characters of Marcus and April are full of life and had a pretty normal backstory. Their dynamic was rich and wonderful. I loved the way they played off each other, even as Marcus knew the full scope of their relationship and April didn’t. I was pleased to find that I found something to identify within each character, and, being plus-sized myself, I found it very easy to relate to April.

I was overjoyed to see how the author treated the world of fandom. It was engaging and refreshing to see such a positive take on nerd culture. From the writing to the con to the cosplay, each aspect was treated with love, and, dare I say it, respect. It wasn’t a joke to Olivia Dade like it has been to other authors in the past.

I was very pleased to learn that there is a sequel, of sorts, to this story that I will be picking up post haste. More of Olivia Dade’s writing, please!

I think it’s safe to say that I loved this book. I did end up giving it five stars and it is one of my favorite books of the year so far.

Neon Gods: A Book Review

Well hello, beautiful people! I bring you a review today! If you haven’t guessed by the title, I am going over my thoughts and feelings of Neon Gods by Katee Robert.

Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses. But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade.

With no options left, Persephone flees to the forbidden undercity and makes a devil’s bargain with a man she once believed a myth…a man who awakens her to a world she never knew existed.

Hades has spent his life in the shadows, and he has no intention of stepping into the light. But when he finds that Persephone can offer a little slice of the revenge he’s spent years craving, it’s all the excuse he needs to help her—for a price. Yet every breathless night spent tangled together has given Hades a taste for Persephone, and he’ll go to war with Olympus itself to keep her close…

It seems like everyone is redoing the myth of Hades and Persephone these days. There are a plethora of options out there to choose from. Neon Gods is the second of these retellings I have read. I kind of want to read more, if they are all this well written that is.

Neon Gods is not the kind of book that I usually read. It’s a spicy romance book. Given that it’s my second book of the spicy variety that I have read this month, maybe it is. What I liked about this particular book was the actual plot. See, I like my romance stories to have good plots. This one has a good plot.

Persephone finds herself suddenly and unexpectedly engaged to Zeus, a man who has had three previous wives (or Heras) who have all died. Zeus also happens to be the head of the Thirteen Houses. This all leads Persephone to essantially run for her freedom to the River Styx. When she crosses it, she knows she will be safe from Zeus and the rest of the Thirteen. But who should rescue her but the mysterious, and heretofore thought gone, Hades? Once she is rescued, she and Hades come up with a plan to further thwart Zeus and his machinations. Of course, it involves spicy times. Public spicy times. So trigger warning for that.

I enjoyed how these familiar characters were portrayed. Zeus, often mentioned and rarely seen, proved an ominous presence in our protagonists lives. Persephone’s mother Demeter is painted, not as a doting mother missing her daughter, but as calculating, manipulative, and perfectly willing to set her daughter up to further her quest for power. Hades is gruff, but also kind and caring. Persephone isn’t all that she seems. She paints a picture of ditzy socialite, but is actually very cunning. I found myself liking her alot.

I loved the world building, for all that it’s just a world like ours. I liked how Olympus wasn’t a towering mountain but instead a formidable tower in the heart of a city. The undercity is equally as vibrant, and I loved seeing it through Persephone’s eyes.

If your wanting me to review the spicy stuff, um…it was good? I don’t know. How does one review spicy scenes without it seeming weird. It seems weird.

That being said, I really did enjoy this book. I had a good time reading it and found myself fully immersed in the story. And I may have already bought the sequel. All in all, four stars!

A Letter to Three Witches: A Mini Book Review

A big thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for my copy of A Letter to Three Witches. As always I will provide an honest review.

Nearly a century ago, Gwen Engel’s great-great-grandfather cast a spell with catastrophic side-effects. As a result, the Grand Council of Witches forbade his descendants from practicing witchcraft. The Council even planted anonymous snitches called Watchers in the community to report any errant spellcasting…
 
Yet magic may still be alive and not so well in Zenobia. Gwen and her cousins, Trudy and Milo, receive a letter from Gwen’s adopted sister, Tannith, informing them that she’s bewitched one of their partners and will run away with her at the end of the week. While Gwen frets about whether to trust her scientist boyfriend, currently out of town on a beetle-studying trip, she’s worried that local grad student Jeremy is secretly a Watcher doing his own research.
 
Cousin Trudy is so stressed that she accidentally enchants her cupcakes, creating havoc among her bakery customers—and in her marriage. Perhaps it’s time the family took back control and figured out how to harness their powers. How else can Gwen decide whether her growing feelings for Jeremy are real—or the result of too many of Trudy’s cupcakes?

Hello beautiful people! How are you all doing this fine day? I had a great day yesterday. I went out into the world, for the first time since I was ill, and went to lunch with a friend. To no one’s surprise, we also went book shopping. I managed to only buy three books.

Speaking of books. What to say about this one?

The characters didn’t sit well with me. Especially our main character, Gwen. I just found her tiresome, not a trait you want in your main protagonist. The character interactions were fine, but everyone’s immediate distrust in their partners says a lot about them, and I didn’t enjoy that part.

I was initially intrigued by the synopsis, but when it came time to read about the actual letter, I was a little disappointed. I expected them to have a little more oomph to them, but it felt like the author couldn’t quite find our antagonist’s voice.

I didn’t make it far enough into the book to really speak about the world-building or the pacing, so I won’t.

At the end of the day, I DNF’d it about 25% of the way through the book. 1 star.

Servant Mage-A Book Review

Thank you to NetGalley and Tordotcom for this copy of the Servant Mage by Kate Elliott. As always, I will provide you with an honest review.

They choose their laws to secure their power.

Fellian is a Lamplighter, able to provide illumination through magic. A group of rebel Monarchists free her from indentured servitude and take her on a journey to rescue trapped compatriots from an underground complex of mines.

Along the way they get caught up in a conspiracy to kill the latest royal child and wipe out the Monarchist movement for good.

But Fellian has more than just her Lamplighting skills up her sleeve…

I’m going to start this review off by saying that I have a soft spot for Kate Elliot. The Crown of Stars Series is some great reading if I do say so myself. That being said this book was not my favorite.

Fellian is a servant mage. A sort of indentured servant who is taken from her family and only taught the most basic of magic skills so as to be of use to the person who purchases her for work. When we first meet Fellian, she is engaged in an illegal activity, teaching someone how to read. When she is approached by those who appear to be soldiers, she knows her life will never be the same.

Fellian is swept away on an adventure knowing nothing about what’s happening, as a result, you as a reader know nothing about what’s going on as well. We learn as Fellian learns. And I found myself as frustrated as Fellian was by the little bits and pieces that she was being fed.

The other characters weren’t particularly compelling. This could be partly because of how Fellian sees them, but I feel they might have been more interesting if I felt any of the urgency towards saving them that she did.

I did find the magic system fascinating. It is elemental based, but not the same way we have seen in the past. For example, Fellian is a fire mage, she can create Lamps of light to guide the way, and Water mages can change their appearance. I enjoyed that each mage had a part to play, but I wish the gifts they possessed had been explored a little more.

Part of my issue with this book is because it is a novella. I found the plot to be interesting, but it could have benefited from some more fleshed-out world-building. What we do see of the world is intriguing, but not enough to hold my attention (full disclosure, I had COVID and COVID fog is real, but that wasn’t the full issue) for very long.

The ending was interesting. It was predictable, but not, all at the same time. You knew what was going to happen, but the reasons why were left a mystery until the very end.

After all was said and done, I had to give this book two stars.

The Christmas Bookshop-A Book Review

Well hello, happy people! I bring to you today a festive book review. Hence the stockings hung by the fireplace.

Anyway. I read The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan for book club this month, and it was too cute to not review.

Laid off from her department store job, Carmen has perilously little cash and few options. The prospect of spending Christmas with her perfect sister Sofia, in Sofia’s perfect house with her perfect children and her perfectly ordered yuppie life does not appeal.

Frankly, Sofia doesn’t exactly want her prickly sister Carmen there either. But Sofia has yet another baby on the way, a mother desperate to see her daughters get along, and a client who needs help revitalizing his shabby old bookshop. So Carmen moves in and takes the job.

Thrown rather suddenly into the inner workings of Mr. McCredie’s ancient bookshop on the picturesque streets of historic Edinburgh, Carmen is intrigued despite herself. The store is dusty and disorganized but undeniably charming. Can she breathe some new life into it in time for Christmas shopping? What will happen when a famous and charismatic author takes a sudden interest in the bookshop—and Carmen? And will the Christmas spirit be enough to help heal her fractured family?

Like I said, this book was cute. The premise is what caught my attention initially. I mean, anything involving a bookshop is bound to draw a book hoarder’s attention, right? Right. And it did. And then I read about Mr. McCreadie’s old shop, filled to the brim with dusty old tomes, and realized I was an amateur book hoarder. Also, I want to visit Edinburgh and go to his shop. It sounds like a wonderful place to find beautiful old books, even if it did need some help at first.

The cast of characters is amazing. Jenny Colgan does a wonderful job of painting them into fully fleshed-out humans, which, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting in a holiday romance. I should just read more romances I think, so I stop making erroneous judgments about the genre.

Back to the characters. Carmen and Sofia have a great relationship, in the fact that it’s written well, their actual relationship is terrible. And I really enjoyed watching Carmen try to corrupt Sofia’s children with things like milkshakes and Muppets.

This book does set itself up for a love triangle…kinda, which I do not enjoy, so I won’t go much into our romantic interests. They were both very different and that did redeem that part of the book a little bit. There is also a little bit of the miscommunication trope, which I do enjoy I have discovered.

The plot was, well, cute. Mr. McCredie will lose his shop if he doesn’t turn a profit over Christmas, so Sofia calls in her recently unemployed sister to help him turn it around. The dynamic between Mr. McCredie and Carmen is very sweet. I love the way the two interact with each other while trying to save the shop. The shop, by the way, also happens to be Mr. McCreadie’s home.

Also, randomly, I didn’t know that Thundersnow was a thing. I live in the south and that just doesn’t happen here. Or, at least, it hasn’t happened where I live in my memory.

The pacing was consistent. Nothing felt rushed or forced, even towards the end. And that’s a rarity.

This book kept me entertained and was a lovely, cozy read. I can honestly say I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. When all is said and done, I gave The Christmas Bookshop 4 stars.

Piranesi-A Book Review

Well hello beautiful people! It’s that most chaotic of days where everyone returns to work after the holiday and tries to Cyber Monday shop at the same time. If this is what you endeavor to do today, I wish you luck and happy hunting. May your clicking be fruitful and the deals plentiful.

But I’m not here to talk about Cyber Monday, any more than I have already, I mean. I’m here to talk to you about Piranesi. A book that had been sitting on my TBR for a year just screaming at me to be read. It was my online book club that got me to read it this month, so thanks Literarily Wasted book club!

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls, an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

I must confess I was very excited to read this book. It currently sits at 4.28 stars on Goodreads, so I had high-ish expectations. I have to say, I was a little disappointed.

This is a book that clearly wants to be read. It craves it. And yet, it doesn’t quite fulfill that promise.

Piranesi’s journey to finding himself and answering the mystery of the House was promising. I loved watching as he discovered more in the mysterious journals even as it made him question both himself and The Other.

One of the things I found interesting was the way Piranesi looks at the House with this sort of child like wonder, despite being an adult of some age. Piranesi journals his days in the House so you can see his thoughts and feelings towards the House and the Other. But, the question does come up as to whether or not he is an unreliable narrator. Can you trust Piranesi as a narrator?

I felt that the characters that fill the House, such as the Other, could have been fleshed out a bit more. They all felt like they were missing just a little something.

Another problem is that I wasn’t as entertained as I would like to be by a book. It had moments where it gripped me, don’t get me wrong, but those weren’t as often as I would have liked.

At the end of the day I just didn’t feel like Piranesi lived up to the hype. I gave it three stars.

You Feel It Just Below The Ribs- A Book Review

My copy of You Feel It Just Below the Ribs, by Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson, was provided by NetGalley and Harper Perennial and Paperbacks. In return, I will provide them with an honest review. The publication date is November 16, 2021.

Now that we have the particulars out of the way, you’re probably wondering what I’m thinking about this book. Warning, this is going to be a short review.

To be upfront, I realized something as I was reading this book. See, I wasn’t liking this one and I couldn’t narrow down why. I started to think about it and it hit me. It’s dystopian. Apparently, this is not my genre of storytelling. It does nothing for me.

So, as you can surmise, I didn’t enjoy my reading experience. In fact, I DNF’d it. I will say this though, the writing style was great, the faux memoir concept was fantastic, and I liked the pacing. A big plus in its favor, you couldn’t tell where one author started writing and the other ended, they flowed together so well. I just couldn’t get past the whole dystopian thing, which is a shame.

I know there is an audience out there for this book. And I know people who would enjoy it, but it just wasn’t for me.