Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Audiobook Review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnas

**** This is a sequel and therefore may contain spoilers. If you have not read You, proceed with caution. But seriously, read You. It's amazing. Here's my review.****

Title: Hidden Bodies
Series: You #2
Written by: Caroline Kepnas
Published: February 23, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
(Amazon / Goodreads)

SynopsisJoe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him. 

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: true love. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice...

This book is seriously messed up. I'm totally reeling by the way it ended. It was so freaking crazy. I loved the first book in the series so I had to read the second one and find out what Was going to happen next. And I was not disappointed. Everything I liked about the first book made this book seriously entertaining.

For one this, this is such a fantastic thriller. The author did a great job pulling in moments and loose ends from the first book while still creating a completely new plot lines for this story. It felt like a continuation of the story and yet still completely unique. It's not really a book with a heavy mystery element which I usually prefer but it is a book full of twists and thrills. It had me guessing and on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. There were so many omens throughout the book that had me shocked in the best possible way. It just had me so surprised and when it was all said and done I was left practically speechless.  The plot development is seriously crazy.

But he craziest thing about this book is the characters, especially the main character of Joe. I mean if I didn't know it in the first book I definitely know now that Joe is an absolutely horrible human being. He is a selfish, egomaniacal psychopath who can justify even the most awful behaviors. Yet there is something so compelling about him. You secretly want him to get away with it all even though you know he should get punished. Kepnas does such a great job in making him strangely likable.

A lot of what makes Joe so likable I think is that every character here is super unlikable. He surrounds himself or is surrounded by equally awful people. Albeit none of them are serial killers, but still. They are awful, vapid, annoying, and self-centered. It oddly justifies some of Joe's baser actions because you can almost let him convince you of their terribleness because in the darkest let of your soul, you were kind of thinking it yourself.

That's what this book does, it appeals to the darkest part of your soul. Because seriously, this book is dark. It's brutal and vulgar and dark. I loved that about the first book and I loved the fact that this second one was just as dark. This is a book that is definitely firmly in the adult category. Not that teens or fans of YA read can't read but just be warned that it is on the mature side. It's full of sex and violence and terrible people doing terrible things but I kind of loved that. This series is not for the faint of heart but if you like those kind of books then totally read this one.

All in all I loved it. It's really amazing and I thought it was a fantastic sequel. I once again listened to the audiobook and it was great. No one does morally ambiguous characters like Santino Fontana. He truly embodies the charm of Joe while also capturing his terrible characteristics. He makes him a character that you love to hate.

I'm honestly not ready to see this series go. I don't think there are any plans for a third book but I would seriously love it if there was. There are definitely some possibilities of where this story can go but it ended in a very messed up and very satisfying way.

I give Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnas 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. Definitely get a copy of this book. If you enjoyed the first book you have to get this one. It's just as messed up. And seriously if you like thrillers and books with terrible people doing terrible things you need to read this series. If you like audiobooks I recommend this one.

Have you read Hidden Bodies? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Gifts for the Game of Thrones Fan in On Your List

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1.) The Leather Bound Box Set - Amazon
This is of course twofold. If the person has onbly watched the show and not read the books, obviously they need to read the books. But even if they have read the books, these are so freaking pretty that obviously they need this in their life.

2.) The Illustrated Edition of A Game of Thrones - Amazon
Illustrated Editions are all the rage nowadays, aren't they. I mean I'm not complaining. I love seeing the images with the text. I'm someone who doesn't usually imagine the characters so it's amazing to see the illustrations.

3.)  The World of Ice and Fire - Amazon
I got this as a gift from my Secret Santa a few years ago (thanks Jen!) and I was over the moon. This is cowritten by GRRM and people who run a fan site so it's not really canon but it is totally fan service. It's a history of Westeros with amazing images and a must by for fans.

4.) The Adult Coloring Book - Amazon
I'm not a fan of adult coloring books but I love Game of Thrones and therefore I very much love this coloring book. It's super complicated to color but I still really enjoy it. I think if you know someone who is a fan and likes coloring needs this.

5.) A Feast of Ice and Fire Cookbook - Amazon
If you ever want to have a watch party then probably a cookbook would come in handy. I kind of want to know the recipe for Sansa's favorite lemon cake and I love the fact this is organized by region.

6.) The Pop Up Book - Amazon
This is really cool. I didn't even know it existed until I started looking at Amazon and now I'm obsessed. I love the opening credits and the different locations and setting of the book so it would be amazing to have a pop up book with all of that. Man, pop up books should make a comeback. Are they? I hope so.

7.)  A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms - Amazon
This is a series of stories set before the main series written by GRRM. Originally they were seperate stories but this is a bindup of all of them with illustrations and everything. I think it gives some history and context to the series but either way I want to check it out.

8.) The Ice Dragon - Amazon
This one I have read. It is a children's book that GRRM wrote before ASOIAF was published. He has said that it is not set in Westeros but it's about dragons and still a really cool read for fans of the series. And again it has gorgeous illustrations.

9.) Game of Thrones Board Games 
In the course of looking for the rest of these things on Amazon I found so many Game of Thrones themed board games. Pick your favorite game and I bet they have it. Risk? Got it. Clue? Got it. Monopoly? Got that too. A trivia game? Of course. Even a tabletop game.

10.) Basically Anything With Their Favorite House
Whether they are House Stark (like me), House Lannister, House Targeryan, or a hipster who likes a different house, one thing Game of Thrones fans love is getting stuff with their favorite house crest on it. It's like buying a HP fan something from their Hogwarts House, always a win.

11.) Preorder the Season 6 Blueray or DVD for Them - Amazon
Last year my brother told me he was going to get me the Season 5 DVDs for me but didn't realize they weren't out yet. I told him he should have preordered them. Fans love when you preorder stuff for them, it means they don't have to.

That's all I got. What would you recommend for a fan of Game of Thrones and/or A Song of Ice and Fire. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray

Title: A Million Worlds With You
Series: Firebird #3
Written by: Claudia Gray
Published: November 1, 2016 by HarperTeen
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny. 

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation. 

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again. 

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead. 

In the epic conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites . . . and only one can win.

I was really looking forward to the final book in this series. I was absolutely impressed with the world-building and plot development of this science fiction series. I liked the first book but loved the second and the way it was going. I couldn't wait to find out how it was all going to end especially with the cliffhanger at the end of book two. And while I did enjoy it, it didn't quite satisfy my hopes for the last book in a series.

One thing that I did love in this book was the world. Dimensional travel is something that I have read a fair amount and I definitely think this series does that well. It is the perfect balance between the science elements of the multiverse and the fictional elements of body snatching and traveling across the dimensions. I don't like when books focus more on one element and with this series it does a great job of explaining why and how with the science and not getting bogged down in it. In addition it was really cool exploring all the different worlds. Here we were able to not only go back to some from previous books but also explore even more worlds. They are all so different and yet so similar which makes things very interesting. There was even a really interesting twist with the dimensions that caught me off guard and I really loved. The setting and world of this series is the best part.

The other thing I really liked about this book was the characters. In the three books I have grown attached to each and every one of them. And the interesting thing is while there are really only a handful of characters because they go to different dimensions we get to see them a host of different ways. It was kind of an interesting character study to see how a world and can change a person and not change them at the same time. That element of this series was absolutely fascinating.

I will say, in terms of character development, I wanted a little more. Most of the focus of this book is on Marguerite, one particular version of Marguerite. We spend so much time with her and her struggle to save the people she loves and the universes. But I didn't quite feel the reasoning behind all of it. Some of it made total sense and at other times it just seemed like she was doing it for no particular reasons. This was particularly true towards the end while it was all wrapping up/ Things just changed so quickly I didn't get the sense of why. But I think the character development that most disappointed me was with "Wicked" or who I refer to as "Darkest Timeline Marguerite." I thought she was going to be a much bigger part of this book. And after a few brief chapters in the beginning she just became this indirect force and that made her not as ominous a villain as I was hoping. I think a lot of that comes down to personal preference but I wanted to see more of her villainy. It would have helped ground some of the actions she took.

But I also think some of my criticism of the character development is also reflected in my feelings on the plot development. It was good but in the end it just felt kind of sudden. I thought I had an idea of where this book was going, how it would end but then there came a point where I think all of that ran away from me, from the characters really. When you're dealing with the multiverses and trying to stop someone who is trying to destroy whole dimensions there is naturally going to be a big question of how. At certain points it seemed in impossible, the multiverse is endless after all, And just when I thought they couldn't possible find a solution, they did. And all that was good, it made sense, there were elements from earlier in the book to back it up and then suddenly that plan had to change too. The ending just didn't feel satisfying because it was both sudden and didn't have much resolution. For being the final book in a series I was hoping for more closure and full-circle moments. I didn't get that.

But on the whole, I did enjoy this book it just didn't blow me away like I was hoping. It had a fascinating world, great characters, and an interesting setting but there wasn't enough character development and the conclusion felt a little sudden for me.

I give A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow/Buy. If you enjoyed the first two books in the series definitely pick this one up. And despite the fact that the last book in the series is my least favorite, fans of YA science fiction who haven't read this series should pick it up. If you are looking for a story that does a good job with multiverses, check this out.

Have you read A Million Worlds With You? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Published: February 7, 2016 by St. Martin's Press

Synopsis: Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Why I'm Waiting:

I mean... COME ON! It's a YA Labyrinth retelling. Is it a retelling? I don't know. I don't care. It's a YA Labyrinth. It has the Goblin King. Mysterious and beautiful Goblin King. I am seriously so excited about this book. I am always looking for a unique and interesting YA fantasy and I feel like this would totally fit the bill. It doesn't feel like your typical saving the world epic fantasy.

Not to mention this also seems a little bit like a Hades and Persephone or Beauty and the Beast kind of retelling. I'm not a huge fan of that motif but when it is done well it is a really great romantic trope because it becomes one of those love to hate kind of relationships which I am a fan of. What I'm saying is, I'm interested to see how the romance in this goes.

But more than anything I am excited about the characters. For one thing I couldn't be more excited for this Goblin King. I love odious characters like this and the fact that he is "Lord of Mischief" sounds fantastic. And I'm interested in the sister motif here. That is kind of popular lately but I love that concept so I'm into it. Not to mention that the MC seems like a reluctant hero which I love.

I recently got a copy of this book from the publisher as part of the blog tour and I am so excited to read it. It is one of my most anticipated debuts of 2016.

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on The Last Harvest along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Am Thankful For

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

So when I think of books that I am thankful for it often is for two different reasons. The first is when you read that book that hits such a chord with you that it sticks with you. You know, when you find exactly the right book for the place you are in emotionally. The second book I am thankful for are those books that changed my reading life. Like they opened my eyes to a type of book or format. So here are those books.

1.) Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - Add to Goodreads
I mean obviously I love Harry Potter. I was a teenage in the early 2000's. I grew up with Harry Potter. But I also think that Harry Potter books always seemed to come out when there was a big change in my life like graduating high school, moving away for work. Harry and co. got me through all of that,

2.) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers - Add to Goodreads
When I moved to Pittsburgh and I knew basically no one I read this book about the desire to connect with someone and be understood in a world that you don't feel like you fit in. It seriously hit me fight in the feels and I loved it.

3.) The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff - Add to Goodreads
This is one of my absolute favorite books and I never talk about it. I'm a very anxious person and this book about Zen Buddhism and how it relates to the characters in Winnie the Pooh taught me a lot. It made me understood myself and others in a really great way.

4.) Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson - Add to Goodreads
So I am thankful for Steelheart because it was my first Brandon Sanderson book. I am now a huge fan of his work and include some of his stuff as all-time favorite books. Iam attempting to read through his back catalog and it's all because I loved this book.

5.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Add to Goodreads
So when I think about books that changed what I read there are really a handful of them that I trace my love of YA back to. But I ultimately went with this one because when I read this series I was reading mostly adult books and also not reading very often. This hanged that.

6.) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - Add to Goodreads
This is the book that got me into audiobooks. If you know me, you know that I often rave about certain audiobooks and how much I love the format. That is because of this series which I marathoned on a few very long train trips one holiday season.

7.) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - Add to Goodreads
Until I read Code Name Verity I thought I didn't really enjoy books set during World War II. I assumed they were all the same kind of read and this one was so different that it opened my eyes to the options. And without that I never would have read The Book Thief or Wolf by Wolf.

8.) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - Add to Goodreads
Fangirl is a book that kind of hits on both reasons for me being thankful for a book. I read it at a time where I connected so hard with Cath. I mean I was Cath in college. But it was also a book that made me realize that I don't hate contemporary romances I just need to find the right ones. Plus it was my first Rainbow Rowell book.

9.) The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo - Add to Goodreads
And The Alchemist is another book that fits the bill in a few ways. It was a book that hit me in a hugely emotional way because I read when I was going through a tough place in my life. But it is also the book that made me want to start this blog seven years ago.

10.) A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness - Add to Goodreads
And finally, the book that made me want to go back to blogging three years ago. I may have previously mentioned how much I did not like this book, because I didn't like it. But because of that it made me want to blog again and I haven't looked back since then and for that I am thankful.

There you have it. What books are you thankful for? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review: Changeless by Gail Carriger

Title: Changeless
Parasol Protectorate #2
Written by: Gail Carriger
Published: April 1, 2010 by Orbit
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears; leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria. 

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. So even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it. 

CHANGELESS is the second book of the Parasol Protectorate series: a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

I am totally loving this series. I mean that really is no surprise, I loved this author's YA series and it's set in the same world (which is fantastic). Changeless is a great sequel that expands on the world and plot of the series in an interesting way.

My favorite thing about this series is the characters. Every time I marvel at how amazing the characterizations are in these books and Changeless was no exception. We got to spend more time with some of the fantastic secondary characters from the first book like Ivy, who is so ridiculous and silly in the best possible way. I can't help but laugh at her. We also got to see more of the characters who I know very well from the Finishing School series. Some of my favorites had appearances, some in a big way. I was so excited to see Vieve again. I loved her in the Finishing School books and seeing her as an adult is so amazing.

But the real star here is of course Alexia. I totally adore her. She's totally my kind of woman, sassy and tough with a mouth like a sailor. She's up for any adventure and will attempt to solve any mystery but is far from perfect with those sorts of things. I'm loving getting to know her in this series and seeing her in action. Same goes for Lord Maccon. In Changeless we get to see Lord Maccon in a bit of a vulnerable state as he has to return to Scotland and his former pack (shout out to Sidheag and Captain Niall). I love the two of them separately but together they perfect. The banter, the flirting, the kissing scenes. I'm not usually one for those sorts of things but here I like. But I think a lot of that stems from the fact that I really love both these main characters and want to see them succeed.

The other fantastic thing about this book is the plot development. Once again this was a book that is full of action and adventure. It really is never a dull moment for Alexia. Even something so normal as travelling to Scotland because a fight for her life and it made for a thrilling read. But this is also a book that was full of mystery but a subtle kind of mystery. There are clues to hunt for and a truth to be revealed but it wasn't a totally shocking reveal but little things from earlier in the book impacted things in a big way later, which I enjoy. And I will say that it kind of felt like a totally new series. Many of the plot points and threads from the first book were not really revisited and instead new things that I am assuming will impact later books were brought up. It felt a little like a restart rather than a sequel. But on the whole it was a really great story.

But the thing that did get readdressed and expanded on here was the world of this series. I love the way this series effortlessly combines steampunk and supernatural elements into a historical setting and that's exactly how I felt here. In particular, the steampunk elements were turned way up. There was much more talk about technology and inventions here (hello, Vieve was there) which was really cool. There was also much more to learn about preternaturals and their effects on the supernatural set. I loved learning about what Alexia can do and am excited to learn more as the series develops. There was also even some political elements as Alexia takes on the role of muhjah for Queen Victoria's Shadow Cabinet and some werewolf pack dynamics as she is now alpha female. It all shouldn't work together but it does.

All in all I am absolutely loving this series. It is honestly just solidifying how much I adore Gail Carriger's work. She writes amazing characters, thrilling plots, and fascinating worlds and does it all with charm, wit, and humor. These books are simultaneously lighthearted and complex and I am totally pumped to keep reading.

I give Changeless by Gail Carriger 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! If for some reason you have not finished this series and have only read the first book, let me assure you the second one is amazing. If you are looking for something fun and interesting and you are a fan of either steampunk of supernatural mysteries, check this series out. I'm loving it.

Have you read Changeless? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Book Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Title: Soulless
Parasol Protectorate #1
Written by: Gail Carriger
Published: October 1, 2009 by Orbit
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. 

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire—and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. 

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart? 

SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

I have wanted to read this book for a very long time. It's been on my TBR for years. Like I learned about it when Borders were still around (RIP Borders) and yet it took me this long to read it. But I am so glad I took the time to read it because it was seriously fantastic.

I have previously read Carriger's YA series which, while written later, takes place chronologically before this series. And honestly, it was great to jump back into Gail's writing. It's full of humor, adventure, and mystery.

One of the things I loved this book is how effortlessly it combined so many different things to create a unique and compelling world. First and foremost, this is historical fiction set in the Victorian era. It addresses so many of the themes I love about books of that period especially when it comes to women and their changing place in society. But it also had great supernatural element. This is a world inhabited by vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. Carriger makes all of that seem both ordinary and interesting with complicated history, lore, and rules around the creatures which inhabit high society along with humans. And finally, it's a steampunk world. There wasn't too much of those elements but it added another interesting wrinkle to the book. But on the whole it all work together to create something so fascinating.

The plot too was absolutely fascinating. This is a book full of action and adventure. Our main character is constantly finding herself in some kind of scrape that she has to either fight her way out of or use her intellect. It made for an interesting plot and kept me on the edge of my seat. It also had a ton of mystery. Little things throughout the story all let up to a big reveal at the end which wasn't super surprising but did keep me engaged.

But I think the best part of this book was the characters. Carriger really knows how to write some quirky and fun characters. First we had our main character of Alexia Tarabotti. And I instantly fell in love with Alexia. She was such a fantastic tough female protagonist. She's sassy and spunky in the best possible way. I love that she's not afraid to show how physically tough she can be put at the same time it is her brains and resourcefulness that helps her more often than not. I also love that she has a mouth on her and that it often gets her into as much trouble as t gets her out of. She doesn't totally fit in with the society types but that just made me root for her even more. I honestly loved her.

I also loved the secondary characters. I of course rekindled my love for Lord Akeldama in this book. He was one of my favorites from the Finishing School series and it was fantastic seeing him a lot more here. And there were a few more characters from the Finishing School series that pop up and it was fun seeing them again (I'm sure most people had this in reverse). But I would be remised if I didn't also mention Lord Maccon. I am not one for romantic moments but I loved every second of this relationship. The flirting, the kissing, the scandalous moments. It was all amazing and had me swooning. I think a lot of that had to do with the banter between the characters and also the fact that I really enjoyed Lord Maccon. He's gruff and no nonsense but also really caring and sweet. I am a fan. Big fan of all these characters.

Soulless was an absolutely fantastic read and a great book that effortless combines history, mystery, and fantasy. It's hilarious and full of action, the characters are amazing, and the world is so engaging. I wasn't planning on reading the rest of the series right away but it's so good that I think I'm hooked and need to read it all now.

I give Soulless by Gail Carriger 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! If you are like me and you have been wanting to read this series but haven't taken the time, change that. This book was amazing and I can't wait for more. If you are a fan of steampunk and haven't checked this out or are looking for a good historical fantasy I definitely recommend this series. 

Have you read Soulless? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Crossing Over: Steampunk Supernatural Adventures

Hey all. It's time for this month's Crossing Over post. If you're not familiar with Crossing Over it's a feature that stemmed from my desire to recommend an adult book with crossover appeal based on a YA or sometimes Middle Grade book that are similar. I hate that we pigeonhole books into a specific age range and so I try to combat that. Plus it's basically an if you liked, then try but for crossover books. It runs once a month (usually) here and I pick the books based on the theme of what I'm reading. So this month my focus is twofold, steampunk and science fiction but when thinking about which one I was going to do for this post the obvious choice was steampunk.

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

I really enjoyed this series but if I am being entirely honest, I didn't love the first book. It's a series that gets better as it develops. But by the last book I was totally invested, both emotionally and intellectually in the outcome of the book. And I am still not over that ending!

This is a book the effortlessly combines a bunch of different elements that you wouldn't think would work well together and they do. Not only is it historical fiction with great elements about society and a woman's place in it, but it also has fantastic steampunk elements, and a mysterious plot that revolves around supernatural creatures. That's right, there are zombies in this book.

The best thing about this book however is the characters. It is a book full of interesting and likable characters, starting with the main character. Eleanor Fitt is a young women who has never really felt like she fit in with her society, but she's tough, plucky, and resourceful which makes her a great heroine. There also some fantastic secondary characters in the Spirit-Hunters, and a good love to hate relationship courtesy of one Daniel Sheridan who is pretty swoonworthy. Not to mention some great villains who are pretty odious and characters that walk a very fine line between good and evil, which I always like.

Throughout the series you are taken to different places throughout the world including France and Egypt, all in the name of adventure and mystery. It really is a great series that combines history, mystery, and fantasy really well.

Soulless by Gail Carriger
My Review to Come/ Add to Goodreads

It feels strange to mention a book that I haven't finished in one of these posts (I'm almost done!) but I really couldn't not mention it. I mean it is a really great steampunk story and has a ton of crossover appeal. Plus it does remind me a lot of Something Strange and Deadly so I think people who like one will really enjoy the other.

Soulless is a book the effortlessly combines a bunch of different elements that you wouldn't think would work well together and they do. Not only is it historical fiction with great elements about society and a woman's place in it, but it also has fantastic steampunk elements, and a mysterious plot that revolves around supernatural creatures. That's right, there are vampires and werewolves (amung other things) in this book.

The best thing about this book however is the characters. It is a book full of interesting and likable characters, starting with the main character. Alexia Tarabotti is such a spitfire. She doesn't quite fit in with her society, and that goes deeper than the fact that she preternatural. But she's tough, plucky, and resourceful which makes her a great heroine. There also some fantastic secondary characters. Great friendships in Ivy Hisslepenny and Lord Akeldama (the names in this book, you guys) and a good love to hate relationship courtesy of one Lord Maccon who is pretty swoonworthy (I will always and forever be Team Werewolf). Not to mention some great villains who are pretty odious and characters that walk a very fine line between good and evil, which I always like.

And a cursory scan of the covers for the rest of the series makes me think that I will also be taken to different places throughout the world including France and Egypt, all in the name of adventure and mystery, I hope. But seriously, even though I am not done I am really loving this book. It does a great job in how it combines history, mystery, and fantasy really well.

These are both good examples of books I think can combine genres really well. I'm all about historical fantasies and these take that and add steampunk elements their great. The obvious choice when recommending crossover Gail Carriger books is to recommend her other series like the Finishing School series which is like a lower YA or the Custard Protocol which is YA and I hope to read when I am done with this series. But like I said, I think the Something Strange and Deadly series is really similar.

Both series combine steampunk Victorian settings with supernatural creatures to make books full of adventure and mystery. Both books have spunky female heroines who are trying to navigate their places in society while fighting for or against these supernatural threats. Plus both main characters use a parasol as their weapon of choice. I think if you enjoyed one of these series, you should totally try the other.

Have you read Something Strange and Deadly and/or Soulless? What did you think? What steampunk novels with crossover appeal do you like? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

ARC & Audiobook Review: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

Title: The Diabolic
Written by: S.J. Kincaid
Published: November 1, 2016 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for. 

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe. 

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything. 

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at BEA. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

Oh wow, I had heard great things about this book and yet I still wasn't really prepared at how fantastic it was. This is a seriously thrilling book full of adventure, mystery, and complex characters.

The first thing that struck me about this book is the world. For one thing, this is a book full of political intrigue. It's a society similar to a high fantasy or even dystopian where an elite group of people are in power over they're fighting among one another to keep that power. And like any book with a strong political undercurrent, there is a lot of death and destruction but there is a lot of intrigue and mystery. And seriously, there was so much plotting to this book. It may have rivaled Game of Thrones in that respect, but if it didn't it came damn close. So much scheming. But more in that later.

But in case it's not clear from the synopsis, this is a science fiction book and the world absolutely reflects that. It's full of cyborgs, space ships, and faraway planets. You spend a lot of the book exploring the classic Sci-Fi idea of what it's like when humanity interacts with technology. Throughout the book there's a great undercurrent of science around religion, what is true, and what is best for the people. A lot of that is the basis for the political intrigue too so the two different things worked really well together. But I think in general it had this great Battlestar Gallactica kind of feel in the way it explore humanity and technology which I loved.

Much of the theme of humanity and technology was reflected in the main character of Nemesis who is a Diabolic. She is specifically engineered to protect someone and because of that she's super strong and bred to be violent. But throughout the book you see that there might be more to her and her feelings than initially expected. Nemesis was a really fantastic heroine. From the get go she comes off as a typical strong female protagonist but she is pretty layered in that she is surprisingly vulnerable and caught unaware at times. Her strength isn't necessarily intelligence and  I was rally rooting for her though and Kincaid did a great job in making me connect with her.

But there were so many other great and complex characters here. I think every single one we encountered had some kind of secret and card up their sleeve. It made for a book full of odious people I didn't trust and I seriously loved that. The only one I did actually trust and like was Sidonia. She was a great foil for Nemesis in that she was all intelligence. They had a really great friendship and even though she wasn't in a lot of the book, she made a good impression. Another really great secondary characters though was the love interest, Tyrus. Tyrus in general was really complex and interesting being another really great foil for Nemesis in that he was all about the political maneuvers but had some serious secrets to keep. Plus... guys, I actually really loved this romance. It was complicated, interesting, and added a lot to the plot of the book.

And speaking of the plot, oh man, I cannot say enough how amazingly well-plotted this book was. I already mentioned how this was a world full of scheming and so it should come as no surprise that there were all kinds of crazy surprises and twists. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, there was something new to catch me off guard. There was no way to predict everything here and I spent the last 10% with my jaw on the floor, confused and totally enthralled. Not to mention it all really built to a thrilling conclusion. There was a lot to it and a few reveals throughout the middle kept the action coming. I seriously couldn't put it down. This is a standalone and it works well as a standalone but if I'm being entirely honest, I wish there was more. There was a resolution to the plot but I still want to know what happens next. And that to me is the mark of a great read.

Honestly this was a really fantastic read. I've been in a bit of a book slump but this one totally cured me. It had an amazing world, great characters, and a thrilling plot. If you are like me you have been seeing rave reviews of this book and they are all absolutely warranted. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year. It was amazing.

I give The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid 10 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! Totally buy this book. If you like YA science fiction and are looking for one that has some complex themes about technology and humanity, check it out. Or if you are into political intrigue and crazy twists, oh is this the book for you. Or you're just in the mood for something super thrilling. What I'm saying is, read this book. I'm not all for the comparisons but this was Battlestar Galactica meets Game of Thrones and it was amazing. I would absolutely recommend it.

Have you read The Diabolic? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!