Review: The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Burning Shadow (Origin, #2)The Burning Shadow by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WHAT THE…

Holy smokes! The revelations…

I need my head to stop spinning so I can see my screen to type this.

Picking up directly after the events of The Darkest Star, this book delves deeper into Evie Dasher’s past, as she questions blank spots in her memory and where she came from.

Now constantly by each other’s side, Evie and Luc, continue to grow closer and as she finally comes to grips with her feelings for him, he lets his true self shine more and more.

In the midst of investigating her own identity, a greater threat comes seemingly out of nowhere.

A highly infectious virus sweeps across the world, infecting humans, killing many and turning others into Walking Dead type nightmares.

The government blames the Luxen for the disease and discrimination against them flourishes.

After armed men invade her home, Evie is forced to flee all she has ever known and goes into hiding with Luc and a group of like-minded Luxen.

This was an excellent continuation to the Origin series. It did its job as far as a sequel goes by introducing interesting new characters and upping the stakes.

This one definitely made me want to go back and read the original, Lux, series, as I feel like it would help, at this point, for me to know more about the events that brought the Luxen and humans to where they are now.

Considering the third book in this series doesn’t release until October, I think I have just enough time to complete the Lux portion.

If you love teen angst, witty banter, high body counts and shocking revelations, you should definitely consider checking this series out!

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Review: Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott

Dooku: Jedi Lost (Star Wars)Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dooku: Jedi Lost is a phenomenal listening experience for anyone who considers themselves to be a Star Wars fan.

Currently, though not for long, the first piece of the Canon timeline, this quick audiobook essentially tells the origin story for Count Dooku.

Many of us think of Dooku only as the Dark Lord of the Sith, but he was once a powerful Jedi who eventually succumbed to the pull of the dark side.

The narrative is actually set up as following his Sith Apprentice, Asajj Ventress, who yearning to know more about her mysterious master, delves into his past to discover what made him the man he has become.

The timeline then follows him through different formative moments in his life.

I loved getting a glimpse into his past, from being abandoned by his father prior to his acceptance to the Jedi Temple, to his relationships with his sister and Jedi contemporary Sifo-Dyas, to his selection and training by Master Yoda.

There’s no denying Dooku was an extremely motivated and strong-willed young man. The force was strong with him, but I could definitely see his side as to why he became disgruntled with the Jedi Council.

This production is absolutely incredible. The full cast, the sound effects and musical score all contribute to bringing this story to life.

Absolutely recommend!!!

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Review: A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

A Nearly Normal FamilyA Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Apparently, legal thrillers are something I am into now because I f*ing loved this!!

I listened to the audiobook and I feel it was brilliantly cast and narrated. I definitely think that had an influence on my reading experience.

I thought the format was so clever. The three perspectives were presented in three separate chunks as opposed to alternating back and forth.

The story started with ‘The Father’s’ perspective. Adam, a family man and pastor, tells his side of the story. His relationship with his 18- y.o. daughter, who is now being held in police custody accused of a brutal murder.

He fills in a large part of the narrative and you think you have a fairly good handle on the overall story.

Then we get ‘The Daughter’s’ perspective. Well, she would know, wouldn’t she? She was there. The events happened to her.

But as I love, Stella, is a deliciously unreliable narrator, who openly admits to her outstanding ability to lie and manipulate others.

Her perspective fills in some blanks and of course, creates some new ones.

At this point, I was thinking a lot about how two different people can experience the same things and interpret those events completely differently.

It’s fascinating to think about. I love this type of psychological examination of characters.

Lastly, we get ‘The Mother’s’ perspective. Just when you think you have a super firm handle on the events in question, you discover there’s so much more going on.

Stella’s mom, a high powered attorney, knows how the system works and she’ll do anything in her power to protect her little girl.

While I can see how some readers may find this slow or choppy, I had absolutely no complaints about the writing or the format.

I was hooked into this story, start to finish, and loved how much it made me think outside of the reading experience itself.

Overall, a huge fan of this, recommend to anyone who enjoys a legal or crime drama. Would absolutely recommend the audiobook as well!

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Review: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

The CheerleadersThe Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The Sunnybrook High cheerleading squad was disbanded after five of the squad members ended up dead in rapid succession.

Two lost in a car accident, two murdered by an unhinged neighbor and the last, Jenn, wracked with survivor’s guilt, took her own life.

Five years have passed since those terrible tragedies and now people at the school are hoping to organize a memorial for the girls. Monica, Jenn’s little sister, gets asked to participate.

Monica has never believed that Jenn would commit suicide. The idea of a memorial creates great anxiety for her and she begins to sneak around her Step-Dad’s office, a local police officer, looking for answers.

When she comes across Jenn’s old cell phone in his desk, her suspicions only deepen. Why did he hold onto it?

Along with a new friend from her dance team, Monica begins to unravel a web of clues that indicate perhaps the five deaths were no coincidence, but who would go after the cheerleaders?

I listened to the audiobook for this and really enjoyed it. It’s has a classic mystery feel and was fast paced and compelling.

This was actually my first Kara Thomas, but now I am psyched to get to her other work!

Little Monsters, here I come!

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Review: The Princess and the Fangirl (Once Upon a Con #2) by Ashley Poston

The Princess and the Fangirl (Once Upon a Con, #2)The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jessica Stone planned to use the Starfield reboot as a stepping stone to greatness. Unfortunately, she doesn’t feel it’s working out that way.

Afraid of being typecast, she wants to distance herself from it as much as she can, but with the sequel in the works and the fate of her character up in the air, that is becoming a challenge.

Attending the same Con that her costar, Darien, met the love of his life, Elle Wittimer, at the previous year, she begins to feel overwhelmed by the pressure of it all.

Imogen Lovelace is a fangirl attending the Con as well. A fangirl who looks surprisingly like Jessica Stone. When people end up confusing one for the other, a brilliant life swap takes place.

Imogen is hoping to save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being wiped out of the Starfield universe forever. Certainly, Jessica, who played Amara on screen would agree?

We follow the two girls as they swap lives and learn the valuable lesson of, the grass is not always greener on the other side of that damn fence.

I was so happy to return to ExcelsiCon and the whole fan vibe surrounding it. For me, this one wasn’t quite as enjoyable as Geekerella.

I legit swooned over that for a week!

While I did still like this a lot, Ashley Poston’s writing is just so fun, I think it suffered a bit because I don’t really know the story of The Prince and the Pauper.

Obviously, this is not the book’s fault, it is mine.

One of the things I loved so much about Geekerella was all the little details connected to the original Cinderella story. To me, these were like finding little Easter eggs throughout. I loved it!

I still had a lot of fun with this book, don’t get me wrong, just not as much.

I am really looking forward to Book 3, a Beauty and the Beast retelling! Heck, I know that story like I wrote it myself.

To the stars, Ashley Poston!

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Review: Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Rules for VanishingRules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A haunted wood, a mysterious road that appears and disappears, the legend of a missing girl; these were the things that first attracted me to this story.

I got so much more than that, parts I am still trying to wrap my brain around.

Told through interviews, written statements and found footage, this story tells the tale of Sara, whose sister, Becca, went missing a year prior.

The mixed media pieces together her quest to find her sister and the people who go along with her.

This book reminded me a lot of Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl, mixed with the Jim Henson’s The Labyrinth.

I did listen to the audiobook for this and unfortunately, I think that had an effect on my overall enjoyment.

Honestly, the audio was a little hard to track all of the characters and keep them all straight.

That paired with the dreamlike quality of all that occurs on the road, I felt confused for the majority of the middle portion of the book.

I think if I had read the physical copy it would have been easier to follow along with the character dialogue of the found footage and interviews.

Overall, I think this is a solid YA Horror novel with a very dark and spooky premise. It definitely solidified my belief that you must always beware of hitchhikers on the road.

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Review: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)All Systems Red by Martha Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A hearty thumbs up to my new relationship with Martha Wells!

This novella was such a delightful surprise. Bringing all the humor I love in my scifi, I definitely plan to continue on with the rest of The Murderbot Diaries.

In All Systems Red we meet our protagonist, who calls itself Murderbot, a sentient Security unit, as it accompanies a group of scientists on an exploratory mission of a uninhabited planet.

When they discover another group of explorers are on the planet but are unable to reach them on comm channels, they go to investigate.

Spurred on by corruption, hijinks and battles ensue, with Murderbot and the crew trying to flee unharmed.

I loved that this was told from the perspective of Murderbot. It was great to follow its thought processes at it navigated its complicated relationships with the humans.

I am so ready to continue on with Murderbot’s story in the next book, where I believe we learn more about its backstory.

Super compelling, highly readable and a must for any scifi fan!

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Review: The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott

The Missing YearsThe Missing Years by Lexie Elliott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

A delightful tale of suspense with surprising twists!

After Ailsa Calder’s mother dies, she inherits the Manse in the Scottish Highlands in which she grew up. Well, half of it anyway.

Upon going to settle the estate, she is told that the other half is owned by her father, a man missing for the last 27-years.

The real kicker, although Ailsa wants nothing more than to sell the property, having no desire to leave her posh London-life behind, she can’t.

In order to do so, she will have to have him legally declared dead. A bureaucratic nightmare perfect for the bereaved.

While she handles that whole mess, she relocates to the Manse, along with her half-sister, Carrie, who she really has no relationship with.

It doesn’t take long after arriving at the remote location before it becomes clear to Ailsa that someone doesn’t want her there.

When intruders show up in the night and the house begins to rebel against her, Ailsa feels like she is coming unhinged. She tries to keep it together and bond with her sister but so much is going wrong, she is literally at wits end.

Tie in an interesting group of side characters and a looming sense of dread and you have yourself a taut little suspense novel!

There is a constant back and forth of, is it supernatural, is it not, that I absolutely loved. I went into this without the highest of expectations and I have to say, I was most pleasantly surprised.

I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did a wonderful job making me feel like I was included in the action.

The pacing was fantastic and it kept me wanting more the entire way through.

This was my first Lexie Elliott but definitely will not be my last!

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Review: Geekerella (Once Upon a Con #1) by Ashley Poston

Geekerella (Once Upon a Con, #1)Geekerella by Ashley Poston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say?

I am a geek and I loved this book.

My last completed book of 2019.
What a great reading year.

During the course of my holiday 2019 travels, I found myself alone in the car, A LOT. I wanted a little romance to keep me alert during my drive.

Not for me exactly but on audio. I had been putting this book off forever, for unknown and totally irrelevant reasons, and on a whim decided to download it.

The stars had blessed me on that day, as I found so much more in this story than romance. It touched my nerdy soul.

I felt filled to capacity with acceptance and understanding whilst listening to this modern-day Cinderella retelling. At its heart, a story about embracing your passions and never apologizing for who you are or what you love.

Our protagonist, Elle Wittimer, is a teen living with her Step-Mother and two Step-Sisters in South Carolina, and yes, you guessed it, the Steps are wicked!

Elle tries to stay out of their way at home. She spends her summer days working in a food truck called the Magic Pumpkin and her nights blogging about her favorite fandom.

Starfield, a classic scifi show that she has loved her whole life is her drug of choice. It’s the one thing that makes her still feel connected to her deceased parents, both huge fans.

When it is announced that Starfield is soon to get a movie reboot, Elle can’t wait to see who they cast. As any superfan though, she’s worried they are going to ruin it.

Do reboots or adaptations ever truly do justice for our loves?

After teen heartthrob, Darien Freeman, is announced to be playing the pivotal Federation Prince Carmindor, Elle knows it is going to suck.

What would he possibly know about Starfield? All he knows are abs workouts and alarmingly charming smiles, right?

Fueled by anger, she takes to the web and blogs what a travesty it is.

Darien Freeman is a fan however. Being cast as Carmindor has been a life-long dream for him but he’s been cast to play a role, not just in the movie but in life. Bubble-headed playboy is his image and he is forced to stick with him.

Written off by the Starfield fandom as a faker of the highest order, Darien finds himself frustrated and misunderstood. But what can he possibly do about it? He’s trapped.

Under the same stars, Elle is trapped as well. Her Steps are downright cruel to her but she has no means of retaliation or true escape. She feels powerless against them.

To promote the new movie, the Starfield execs plan a cosplay contest to be held at ExcelsiCon; the very same Con created by Elle’s late father. She can’t believe her luck and sees the grand prize, tickets to L.A., as her means of escape.

Darien is not pleased when he discovers he will be forced to attend the Con. He used to love attending Cons but to have to go and not be able to proclaim his love as a true fan feels stifling.

Reaching out to a phone number listed as info for ExcelsiCon he ends up getting in touch with Elle but neither knows who the other is. Thus begins their relationship, via texts, and their means of finding escape through one another.

From the very first chapter, I fell for Elle and her story, hook, line and sinker. The homage to the original tale of Cinderella, while bringing it fully into the 21st-century, was beautifully crafted. I loved all the little details and connections throughout the book.

As the synopsis states, this is also a love letter to nerd culture and for many of us, that means a lot. To feel that we aren’t alone and there are legions of people out there just like us, who love the same things and accept us and don’t call us weird. It feels good.

Overall, I was really damn impressed with this and hope to be picking up the next, Once Upon a Con installment soon!

Thank you, Ashley Poston, for writing this. It was absolutely wonderful!

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Review: Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown

Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy, #2)Golden Son by Pierce Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am wrecked.

Picking up approximately 2-years after Red Rising left off, we continue to follow our intrepid hero, Darrow au Anadromedus, The Reaper, as he forges secret warfare against the heartless rulers of society.

Full of the same action-packed, pulse-pounding battle scenes as the first book, this one adds on to the level of political intrigue and plotting.

It left my head spinning. In a good way!

My favorite part of this continues to be the world-building. Brown has created a dark, dystopian world with all of the brutality of ancient Rome but in space. As we all know, everything is better…

Additionally, the characters are compelling and well-fleshed out. Darrow is particularly riveting. I love his evolution as a character and have truly felt for him as he grapples with impossible decisions that ultimately end up haunting him.

It’s hard to lead a revolution. Particularly when you have to keep it hidden. A proverbial snake in the grass, who can he trust with his secrets?

His pain and joy are visceral. I felt every moment. Relationships are continuing to develop and as always, there is a healthy dose of back-stabbing and betrayals mixed in for good measure.

I am really looking forward to moving on with this story. My plan is to continue with the audiobooks. The narrator is Darrow to me. They couldn’t have selected a better choice! So well done.

If you haven’t picked up this genre-bending series yet, I cannot recommend it highly enough!

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