Book Review: The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

Hello everyone! It’s been . . . well, almost three months since my last post. Life has been hectic and unfortunately, the blog had to slide. It’s funny, but I’ve been meaning to start up blogging again for a while now. I was actually a bit worried about what my first post back should be about. Excuses for my absence? Memes to get back into the swing of things? Something to catch people’s attention?

I should really stop worrying so much about things and just write. So here’s a review of the book I just finished.

girl in the clockwork collarTitle: The Girl in the Clockwork Collar

Author: Kady Cross

Series: The Steampunk Chronicles #2

Edition: E-book

Blurb: In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling-or dangerous. Finley Jayne and her “straynge band of mysfits” have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper from the clutches of a devious criminal demanding a trade-the dangerous device Jasper stole from him… for the life of the girl Jasper loves.

One false move from Jasper, and the strange clockwork collar around Mei’s neck tightens and tightens. From the rough streets of lower Manhattan to elegant Fifth Avenue, the motley crew of teens follows Jasper’s elusive trail. And they’re about to discover how far they’ll go for friendship.

More than ever, Finley must rely on powerful English duke Griffin King to balance her dark magic with her good side. Yet Griffin is at war with himself over his secret attraction to Finley… and will risk his life and reputation to save her.

Now, to help those she’s come to care for so deeply, Finley must infiltrate the criminal gang. Only problem is, she might like the dark side a little too much…

I really enjoyed this book. I liked the first one as well (review can be found here), but I have to say, the clockwork collar figured into the story a lot more than the steel corset did.

I like Finley a lot. She’s a tough cookie who will let you know who’s boss. I also really like Emily – she’s adorable, but also completely brilliant. I’m excited to read the third book, since she looks to be pretty prominent.

The change of setting was also nice. Y’all know how much I love New York City, so dropping some great characters in the middle of one of my favorite places is sure to win me over. Put that together with a truly sinister villain and a plot twist that I did not see coming, and you’ve got a pretty good book. Onwards to book #3!

GoodReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Double Review: Splintered and Unhinged by A.G. Howard

I read both of these books so quickly, there was no way to limit myself to just one book per review. Couldn’t do it. Let me just say that I tore through both of these books and now, January can’t come soon enough. Here is my review of Splintered and Unhinged by A.G. Howard.

splintered-unhinged

First off, look at that cover art. JUST LOOK AT IT! IT IS GORGEOUS!!!

Secondly, you should know that there were several things that made me want to love this series right from the beginning – my love for fairytale retellings, and my love for all things Alice in Wonderland. This story takes Wonderland and turns it on its ear a bit. It’s not a whimsical, fun, colorful place. This Wonderland is dark, twisted and treacherous. And awesome.

The story follows Alyssa Gardner, who is the many-times-great-granddaughter of Alice Liddell, the original girl that Lewis Carroll wrote his books about. Alyssa has been teased all her life about this, but the kids at school don’t know the half of it. Alyssa can hear bugs and flowers talking to her. Her mother has been institutionalized because she has gone crazy, living in an imaginary world that everyone thinks is inside her head, a hereditary mental illness that has affected the Liddell family through generations. Alyssa is afraid of going crazy herself, but of course, we find out that none of them have ever be crazy. It’s all true. Wonderland is real. And it’s in trouble.

Enter Morpheus – the caterpillar-turned moth-turned human who visited Alyssa in her dreams as a child and who is now trying to get Alyssa back to Wonderland to help save it. Alyssa has to try and undo some of the things that the original Alice left behind, but everything from the original story is slightly different. We meet all the usual characters – the “White Rabbit” (who is not actually a rabbit), the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and others. The story of the Walrus and the Carpenter takes on a new light as well and, let me tell you, it is nightmare-worthy. In a good way.

And of course, there is also the Red Queen, who is causing nothing but trouble.

Speaking of trouble, Alyssa accidentally brings along someone else when she heads down the rabbit hole – Jeb, the boy who lives next door, who has both been her best friend and secret crush. Naturally, there is a bit of a love triangle between Alyssa, Jeb and Morpheus, but this is a YA book, and we all know how much YA loves a good love triangle.

The thing that makes these books wonderful is the same thing that makes the original novel so much fun – anything can happen. You can’t predict anything when it comes to Wonderland because there are no rules, or at least, none that we can follow. The story twists and turns so many times that it is a constant surprise, which is what made it so hard to put down. Unhinged ended on such a cliffhanger that I need the next book right now. Right now. No really. Right. Now.

Unfortunately, book three, Ensnared, doesn’t come out until January. Boo.

Seriously though, if you like Alice and you love new spins on classic tales, pick up these books. You won’t be sorry.

Book Review: Shadowbound by Dianne Sylvan

Since I don’t plan on reviewing any of the Otherworld books individually until I finish the series, I actually don’t have a huge backlog of reviews to get out. Isn’t that nice? Although when an author completely and totally breaks your heart . . . it might take you a while to be able to talk about it. Here is my review of Shadowbound by Dianne Sylvan.

shadowbound

So much happens in this book, it’s really hard to try and synopsisize it (is that a word? it is now!). That’s one of the things I love about this series in general – Sylvan doesn’t pull any punches. She writes a complex, ever-changing story with great characters and just enough snarky, sarcastic humor that it makes things fun.  I have said it before and I’ll say it again – I really dig her take on vampires. There are so many different vampire books and series out there, some done well, some not so much. To me, this is one of the better ones, if not the best. If vampires really existed, this is totally how they would operate.

Side note, my husband calls these my “hot-girl-with-a-sword” books. It’s not an inappropriate title.

This is book five in the series. It just came out back at the end of March and I have been waiting (un)patiently for it to get here for about a year. The story continues with David and Miranda, the Prime and Queen of the Southern U.S., who are still trying to adjust to the events that happened at the end of book four. Namely, David returning from the dead and becoming one of the Thirdborn, the next . . . evolution I guess? . . . of vampire. They are also examining the connection that is forming between their Pair and the other Pairs that are forming the Circle, an elite group of vamps tasked with serving Persephone. And then there’s also Olivia, the recently chose Prime of the Northeast . . . who is the first ever female prime.

AND . . . there’s also an elf named Nico who is trying to help Deven heal his ancient broken soul.

AND AND . . . there’s a group of humans called the Order of the Morningstar who are trying to take the vampires down, who have found a way to become super strong which involves ritually sacrificing Primes.

Like I said, there’s a lot going on.

There are parts of this book that made me laugh out loud and one particular character death that made my cry like a baby. My favorite character is still probably Deven, the Prime of the Western U.S., and my heart just aches for him. This book told much more of his story than other books previously have done and I’m so glad we’re getting to know him a bit more. I just hope he can survive the events at the end of this book into the next one.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you like vampires, you MUST read this series. Go directly to the bookstore, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.00. Okay, if someone is handing out $200.00, then take it, but THEN get to the bookstore and use that money to buy this series!

Book Review: Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson

I have to be completely honest – it took me a while to get into this book. But once I finally got into it, I couldn’t put it down. Here is my review of Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson.

minutes before sunset

When I say that it took me a while to get into it, I think it was mostly my fault, not the book’s fault. I was busy reading for the podcast and wasn’t focusing as much as I usually do. I started over after reading the first few chapters and I’m really glad I did – there were lots of details that I had just glossed over. Has this ever happened to you?

On to the review. The main character is Eric, a high school senior growing up in a small town. This town is full of secrets though (what small town isn’t?). Eric isn’t entirely human. He’s a shade, one of the Dark. His shade identity, Shoman, has a whole host of special powers and fighting abilities. This is a good thing, since there is a prophesy stating that one of the Dark and one of the Light will come together and battle to the death.  The losing side will loose not only their powers, but their identities as well.

The champion for the Dark is known as the first descendant. Guess who it is! It’s Eric, of course. Eric knows all of the Dark, since his father is one of the Elders and he’s been around them and training with them his entire life. To his surprise, Eric comes upon an unknown shade one night, standing alone by the river. He has no idea who she is, but he’s drawn to her in ways that he doesn’t understand. And of course, she is a key to everything either working out for the best or going horribly wrong.

This book was pretty good, once I could get my head wrapped around it. It’s pretty obvious who the unknown shade is (the second POV character, a girl named Jessica), but watching her discover it for herself is an interesting journey. The only real complaint I had about the book is that each of the shades has two names – one for their human form and one for their shade form (Eric/Shoman, Teresa/Camille, Jonathan/Pierce – just a few examples). Several times, the two names would be used interchangeably in a scene, when one of the names had only been introduced once or twice before. At times it was hard to tell how many people they were actually talking about. Again, that could have just been me not being able to concentrate, but it did get confusing until I finally got most of them straightened out.

I really enjoyed the mythology that Thompson created here, but I’m hoping she goes into even more detail in the next book. I want to know more about the shades and where they come from! I also thought that it was interesting that the Dark were the good guys, while the Light was evil. Definitely the opposite of what we’re used to seeing.

So if you’re in the mood for an urban fantasy story with slight paranormal romance-y leanings, give this a read.

Book Review: Darkling by Yasmine Galenorn

I hope you guys aren’t going to get tired of hearing about Yasmine Galenorn, because I do intend to try and read all of the Otherworld series, and there are (as of right now) sixteen of them. Here’s a review of the third book in the series – Darkling.

Darkling

I was happy to see that this book tells the story of the third of the D’Artigo sisters – Menolly. She is a vampire, which means that, as of yet, we haven’t seen as much of her as we have of the other two sisters. As a vamp, she can’t go out during the day, so when they’ve been off doing things, she’s been down in the basement. Because of this, she has in the past come off as a bit of a flat character. In this book, however, we find out why.

All of the D’Artigo sisters have had the experience of being ostracized due to their half-breed status. Menolly has been separated from them even further because of being a vampire. She can’t spend as much time with her sisters and can’t be there for them all the time. She feels very isolated, but doesn’t want to burden her sisters with that fact, since there isn’t really anything they can do about it.

Menolly puts up a strong front, but her isolation is only part of it. We find out exactly how she became a vampire, and boy oh boy . . . it’s not pretty. At all. She was spying for the OIA on a group of vampires led by a man named Dredge. Unfortunately, Dredge catches her, tortures her in every way possible, then changes her into a vampire so she can go back to her home and attack her sisters. Her sisters, by the way, have no idea how bad the attack was because Menolly shielded them from the truth.

Dredge is up to no good though, creating a bunch of newborn vampires to wreck havoc on the city. He’s also most likely in league with Shadow Wing, the greater demon who is trying to destroy everything. Menolly has to face her fears and try to sever her ties to her vampire sire.

This book is my favorite of the series yet. Menolly is definitely a kick-ass heroine, which I always appreciate, but she has a softer side as well. This book allows you to see that. Another thing that was fun – we get to see Otherworld! Menolly and Camille travel through Otherworld, avoiding the fairy queen’s people, to both find out information and to help Menolly escape from Dredge’s influence for good. I hope we get to spend more time there in later books.

Once I get through with some of the other books I have to review, I will definitely move on to book four in this series. These books are so much fun to read!

Book Review: Changeling by Yasmine Galenorn

Today’s book review is of the second book in the Otherworld series – Changeling by Yasmine Galenorn.

Changeling

To start off with, I am really appreciating the fact that Galenorn is willing to experiment with some tried and true fantasy ideas. It makes her stories really fresh and interesting, not to mention a lot of fun to read. Also – you never know what’s going to happen.

Changeling tells the story of Delilah, the middle of the three D’Artigo sisters. Delilah is a werecat, but doesn’t transform into a big, fearsome beast – she transforms into a tabby. Because of her mixed, half-human half-fae blood, Delilah doesn’t always have control over her transformations, much as Camille didn’t have the best control over her spells. All three sisters are pulled back into the action when they learn about a series of mysterious murders happening in one of the local werepuma tribes.

I will break here and say that I really love that there are lots of different kinds of weres, not just werewolves.

This also brings Zachary Lyonnesse into the picture, a georgeous werepuma who has come to the sisters to help solve the mystery. The sisters, of course, wonder if these attacks have any connection to the demon Shadow Wing, who is still at large and trying to retrieve the seven seals. Delilah is also very much attracted to Zachary, despite her current relationship with Chase, her full-blooded human boyfriend. The fireworks, they are going off. Big time.

And if you’re wondering what the girls will have to fight in this go around – one word: werespiders. Because spiders weren’t creepy enough.

Changeling was another fun read that I enjoyed thoroughly. I love that I’ve found this new series, especially since the story keeps changing and evolving, introducing all kinds of new things into their mythology. The characters are fun, the stakes are high, and I can’t wait to read more.

Book Review: Firstborn by Ryan Attard

A book review for today! I have so many of these to get through over the next few weeks! First one up is Firstborn by Ryan Attard, the first book in the Legacy series.

Firstborn

Thanks to Ky Grabowski at ACE Stellar Publishing for the review copy! 🙂

Firstborn tells the story of Erik Ashendale, a wizard and all-around badass. He spends his time fighting monsters, demons and other such things that go bump in the night. When we first meet him, he has been brought in by the police to fight “lizardmen” who have infested a school. An easy job, except that one of them seems to be magically enhanced and almost too much for him. Luckily, Erik is able to heal quickly. He also carries guns that he can infuse with magic and a magic sword. The next job Erik gets changes things. A young woman is being hunted down by someone or something. It has attacked once, almost killing her. Now Erik needs to prevent them from attacking again. It doesn’t take long for Erik to realize that the girl is a succubus, slowly coming into her powers.

That’s not the only issue that Erik has going on. For starters, he has a demon familiar named Amaymon that takes the form of a cat and issues a constant stream of snarky advice. Who doesn’t love a snarky talking cat? Amaymon is one of the brightest parts of the book, at least for me. He’s really fun. Erik also has to deal with his sister Gil, a warlock who has allied herself with angels. Gil is none too pleased that her brother has promised to protect a succubus. They discover that the person hunting the succubus is the personification of Lust, one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The mastermind behind that? Lilith, the mother of demons and sin.

This was a fun read. Erik is a very self-deprecating anti-hero and, as I said, Amaymon is hilarious. My main complaint with the book is that towards the end, Erik becomes a little bit too powerful. It seemed a little bit too easy. The mythology was interesting, although I would have liked to have just a bit more world-building. Not a huge complaint, that one, but it seems like there could be more detail given regarding warlocks and wizards and demons. Still, it was a good debut that I completely enjoyed. It will be interesting to see what happens next.