Review: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson

The Apocalypse of Elena MendozaThe Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elena Mendoza is a miracle, literally.

The product of parthenogenesis, a virgin birth, Elena’ life has been quirky indeed.

As you can imagine, this anomaly made the headlines, making Elena low-key famous.

She does her best to just live her life, ignoring the chatter around her, but it hasn’t always been easy.

Elena has never really fit in and although she has some close relationships, she’s far from one of the popular kids.

When the girl she has been crushing on, Freddie, comes close to losing her life, right in front of Elena’s eyes, she discovers she has the ability to heal. A power she never realized she had.

However, the power comes at a price.

Every time she heals, a random number of people disappear, sucked up by a bright light; raptured, if you will.

Through Elena’s own musings, as well as her conversations with certain inanimate objects, we begin to slowly understand the reality of her situation.

Somehow, she needs to save the world. The future of humanity rests on her young shoulders, or does it?

This was so good. Wildly creative and although the content may seem over the top, there are some incredibly important topics to be found within these pages.

Examining complex relationships, as well as the power of free will and identity, this will definitely stick with me.

There’s no doubt, if you are looking for a queer story to make you think about life and the choices we make, Shaun David Hutchinson is a good way to go.

This was completely unique and stole my heart in an oddly compelling way!

I’m so happy my random number generator selected this book for me to read off of my enormous TBR list.

Who knows how long it would have actually taken me to get to it otherwise!? I really enjoyed my time reading this.

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Review: Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

Morning Star (Red Rising Trilogy, #3)Morning Star by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s finally happened.

I just let out a breath I didn’t even realize I was holding!

Morning Star, the third installment of the Red Rising Saga, exceeded all my expectations. My favorite so far!

Pierce Brown is currently battling George R.R. Martin for the title of, ‘Author Trying to Crush My Soul’.

Brown has created a hellishly brutal world. No character is safe. Ever!

Just when you start to let your guard down…

Without giving too much away, as this is the third in the series, the battle against the sovereign continues with The Reaper and his allies trying to disassemble the Color System.

The highlight for me, although there is always a ton of action, is watching the relationship growth among Darrow and his friends.

Particularly Darrow and Sevro, which honestly is one of the best male friendships I have ever read. It gives me life.

At the conclusion to this story, six years has passed since the start of Red Rising, so much has happened. It’s a complicated story and really very impressive.

I am entertained beyond reason and cannot wait to continue, although I will most likely need to take a breather before I start the next book.

Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear that I am low-key obsessed with this series and cannot wait to see what Brown has in store for these characters.

With this story, it could literally be anything!

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Review: All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

All Your Twisted SecretsAll Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Arriving at a purported scholarship dinner, Amber Prescott, and her classmates, quickly discover something isn’t right.

The teens seem to be the only people in the building and after the door to the banquet room closes, they’re locked in.

Once the purpose of them being trapped is revealed, they realize they have an important decision to make.

They have to choose one of them to die. If they don’t, they’ll all die.

Alternating between the present timeline and the months leading up to the night of the action, this story pieces together the relationship dynamics of all the characters.

Amber is our narrator. She is a musical prodigy, whose main goal is to go to USC for musical composition. The other characters include Queen Bee, Sasha, Amber’s ex-BFF, Priya, Amber’s boyfriend, Robbie, bad boy, Scott, and childhood entrepreneur, Diego.

The characters were fairly stereotypical, but generally I don’t mind that and I didn’t really mind it here.

While the set-up was compelling, I was hoping for a bit more of a mystery. This seemed like a dramatic YA Contemporary to me, with a teensy-tiny bit of suspense sprinkled over the top.

While some of the interactions between the teens was interesting, it just wasn’t what I was looking for going in.

Overall, it was entertaining, though I wouldn’t say particularly memorable. If you are looking for a quick, dramatic story though, it’s absolutely worth reading, just expect more drama than suspense.

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Review: The Hunger by Alma Katsu

The HungerThe Hunger by Alma Katsu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Reimagining the true life events of the infamous Donner Party, Alma Katsu brings mega atmosphere to this Historical Horror novel.

I must say, the atmosphere was my favorite part of this story. The circumstances the wagon train found themselves in were dangerous and you could feel that.

It was like watching a movie that is dark for a large portion of the time. It leaves you squinting, trying to figure out what is coming next.

After a series of unfortunate events, rations become depleted, the weather is getting progressively worse and tempers flare.

Looking for someone to blame, whispers begin to circulate that a witch may be among them.

Tamsen Donner is used to being blamed and misunderstood. It certainly doesn’t stop her from going about her business; she’s a pro at ignoring others opinions.

Going into this, you know this party is doomed, but what will the ending bring?

I thought this was interesting, if a little slow. I wasn’t blown away by anything, but it was a solid book. I am happy to have crossed it off my TBR list.

I seriously do not have much more to say about it, I wish it di. It was good. I could have done with a bit more of the supernatural elements, but it was fine.

My biggest take away, regardless of what was lurking in the mountains, the biggest threats came from within the traveling party itself. Proving once again, man is the most dangerous monster of all.

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Review: The Last Astronaut by David Wellington

The Last AstronautThe Last Astronaut by David Wellington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a large alien object is identified hurtling toward Earth, seemingly under its own propulsion, NASA quickly assembles a team to try to intercept it.

The object, apparently a space ship, dubbed 2I, is unresponsive to all attempts at communication, so the experts figure, they’ll get a little closer. What could go wrong?

Sally Jansen, a former NASA astronaut, who has been living a quiet life since a failed expedition to Mars, that left a fellow astronaut dead, is called upon to lead the mission to investigate 2I.

Jansen is not necessarily eager to answer NASA’s call, but she understands this could be her only hope for salvation, so she agrees to help.

The other members selected for the mission include Parminder Rao, an astrobiologist, Sunny Stevens, an astrophysicist and Windson Hawkins, a military pilot.

Jansen is the only one among them to have old-school astronaut training and experience. She’s the glue holding the hodge-podge team together.

Jansen and her team learn that a private-sector company, KSpace, has already sent a shuttle, the Wanderer, to 2I and beat NASA to the punch. Their team has already boarded the mysterious craft, thus making the official ‘first contact’.

When the NASA team tries to contact the individuals from the Wanderer, however, no one responds. Thus, Jansen and her team board 2I to investigate.

2I is an enormous space craft. A looming hulk of unknown machinery that functions in complete and utter darkness. Their only source of light, that which they bring with them on their suits.

The truth of 2I was NOT AT ALL what I expected. It flipped my idea of what I thought this first contact would be on its head. It is so gruesome and all-encompassing, I thought there is no way any person is getting out of this alive.

Wellington did a fantastic job of creating a constant feeling of tension with this story. You were always waiting for something to pop out of the dark.

It felt terrifying, even when not a lot was happening. There’s something about the vastness, darkness, silence and isolation of being in deep space that legit freaks me the f* out. But when you add in the terror of this alien craft, it really took it to the next level.

I had a lot of fun reading this. It’s a solid Scifi Horror! I definitely recommend for people who enjoy the genre.

Well done!

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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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