Review: Summer on the Island by Brenda Novak

Author: Brenda Novak
Publisher: Mira Books
Released: April 5, 2022
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

If you’re looking for the perfect beach read this summer, may I recommend Summer on the Island by Brenda Novak. While the title is a bit on the nose, I promise you that it truly is the perfect fit for your vacation reading.

Following her father’s death, Marlow decides to travel to a small island in Florida. Alongside her two friends, Aida and Claire, she hopes to find the reset button on her life. Or at least a new perspective.

Unfortunately, this time will offer insight – just not the type she was looking for. Her father’s will reveals a drastic secret that will change the way she remembers him. While navigating all these changes thrown her way, she finds one more surprise in her life. Hopefully, this will be the good turn she needs.

“Love isn’t words, man. Love is… love is doing the hard stuff.”

This book was everything I needed when I picked it up. It was emotional, fascinating, reflective, and, most importantly – as far away from winter as I could get. Therefore, I found myself highly enjoying Summer on the Island.

Summer on the Island tells the story of three women who have their own reasons for needing a bit of an escape. I feel like that alone is enough for most readers to relate to. However, Brenda Novak takes the plot further, giving us so many reasons to connect with the characters and their journeys.

It is the quintessential women’s fiction read, as far as I’m concerned. I know my opinion will probably change with the next book that hits me so hard in the feels. But at the moment, Summer on the Island is the first book that will come to mind when asked about women’s fiction.

Thanks to Mira Books and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks | Quirky Cat’s Comics | The Book Review Crew | Monkeys Fighting Robots | Storygraph | Bookhype | Bookstagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Reedsy

Posted in Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Story Saturday: The Bookstore Sisters by Alice Hoffman

Author: Alice Hoffman
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
Released: November 1, 2022
Received: Own

4 kitties

Fans of Alice Hoffman probably rejoiced when her latest work was announced, a short story revolving around a bookstore and two sisters, The Bookstore Sisters. I finally finished reading it this week and am so glad I did.

The story follows Isabel Gibson, a sister who has gotten exceptionally talented at forgetting things – especially the darker moments of her past that would otherwise haunt her. She walked away from the family bookstore, her small little town, and her sister. Only, she’s now being pulled back to the place she left behind, and with it, all these memories come flooding back.

Wow! This was such a beautiful and emotional read. It’s incredible how much Hoffman could fit into a mere thirty-six-page short story. I walked away feeling like I had read an entire novel, as it was easy to surmise much of what was left unsaid here.

Posted in Short stories, Short Story Saturdays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Wayward by Chuck Wendig

Series: Wanderers #2
Author: Chuck Wendig
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Released: November 15, 2022
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

Book Summary:

Five years ago, the world changed. Some people fell victim to what appeared to be a sleepwalking sickness. Others followed the walkers in hopes of protecting loved ones from the world they could no longer see.

As it turns out, this was a sign that the world as we know it was ending. Now, the survivors are trying to rebuild society, but it will require careful work. This will prove challenging, as there is still quite a lot of cruelty in the world.

My Review:

Wow. Chuck Wendig sure has a way with words, doesn’t he? I’ll be honest; I never expected a sequel to Wanderers, though now I question why. Wayward felt inevitable – a follow-up that we’ve all been waiting for.

As one might imagine, this is quite a heavy read. Both literally and figuratively. The book is MASSIVE, yet I can’t think of a single section I would have cut out, given a chance. Much of the story feels painfully relevant, so I can see why people have latched onto this series so strongly.

As with the first novel, Wayward is made up of several perspectives. This helps to give us a better view of the world. It also reminds us of the diversity among people – even a limited number of survivors. I liked that little implication.

Highlights:

  • Science Fiction + Horror
  • Post Apocalyptic
  • Dystopian
  • Rebuilding Society

Thanks to Del Rey Books and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks | Quirky Cat’s Comics | The Book Review Crew | Monkeys Fighting Robots | Storygraph | Bookhype | Bookstagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Reedsy

Posted in Dystopian, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Newdawn Roamers by Dominique Luchart

Series: The Newdawn Saga #0
Author: Dominique Luchart
Publisher: Windom Publishing
Released: February 13, 2020
Received: Reedsy

4 kitties

Newdawn Roamers is the prequel novel to Dominique Luchart’s Newdawn Saga. I’ve never read the series, but I thought the prequel would make a good starting point for this series. If you enjoy science fiction and space travel, consider giving this one a read.

Despite what people might want you to think, time travel isn’t a perfect science. Tesh somehow ends up strained in the wrong timeline, but this mistake might just be the sort of liberation Tesh didn’t know they needed.

Going back to the past might be precisely what is necessary to fix the future. Alter the past, change the future, right?

“It would then shift to long periods of dryness where fires and earthquakes also plagued our world, ravaging entire areas.”

Newdawn Roamers is the perfect read for those that like futuristic worlds, time travel, expansive concepts, and a touch of romance. In other words, this book has a lot for readers to enjoy, and it makes the best of it!

I have always been a big fan of plots that send people back in time, giving them a chance to right future wrongs. They always raise fascinating points and questions. Newdawn Roamers is no exception, as it successfully made me stop and think on more than one occasion.

Most of Newdawn Roamers is told through the first-person point of view, as I’m sure the description made clear. It works pretty well for this storytelling format, especially as things get more complex.

Did I mention that there’s a romantic subplot? I love it when my science fiction or fantasy comes with a bit of romance! This one happens to be a bit of a love triangle, which I’m sure people will either hate to love or love to hate. Either way, they’re emotionally invested!

Long story short, Newdawn Roamers was a fun and intelligent read. I enjoyed the time I spent with it and will look forward to the rest of the series.

Thanks to Windom Publishing and #Reedsy for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks | Quirky Cat’s Comics | The Book Review Crew | Monkeys Fighting Robots | Storygraph | Bookhype | Bookstagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Reedsy

Posted in indie, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Serpent in Heaven by Charlaine Harris

Series: Gunnie Rose #4
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press
Released: November 15, 2022
Received: NetGalley

Book Summary:

Felicia is the half-sister of the famous (or infamous) Gunnie Rose. Yet that isn’t the only thing that makes Felicia stand out. She’s a distant relative of the Tsar, Alexie. Given his hemophilia, she is kept nearby should he need her blood, in a very literal sense.

On the bright side, this means Felicia has been granted opportunities she’s never had before, such as attending boarding school and learning about the magic within her bones. Ironically, when danger comes calling, it is not due to her connection to the Tsar.

My Review:

First, can I just say that I love it when a series has multiple perspectives? The first three novels in the Gunnie Rose series were based on, well, Gunnie Rose. If we’re lucky, this means two more novels will follow Felicia.

The Serpent in Heaven is the first of Felicia’s stories, and she is a different leading character. She’s accepted her connection to the Tsar, for one. For another, she has magic – though she is understandably hesitant at first.

I enjoyed the change of perspective and setting for The Serpent in Heaven. It was a refreshing change of pace while still getting to see more of this alternate history world. I’ll admit that it took me a couple of chapters to get into the swing of things, but I was hooked once I did. Seriously, this book bounced around in my head for days after I put it down. I love it when that happens.

Highlights:

  • Dystopia
  • Alternative History
  • Historical Fantasy
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Series with multiple POV

Trigger Warnings:

  • Death
  • Illness
  • Animal Death

Thanks to Gallery/Saga Press and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks | Quirky Cat’s Comics | The Book Review Crew | Monkeys Fighting Robots | Storygraph | Bookhype | Bookstagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Reedsy

Posted in Fantasy, Historical Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Crown of Shadows by Keri Arthur

Series: Relic Hunters
Author: Keri Arthur
Publisher: Indie
Released: February 22, 2022
Received: Own

4 kitties

Man, I love it when one of my favorite authors starts a new series! Keri Arthur’s latest series, Relic Hunters, kicks off here in Crown of Shadows. If you love pixies, fantasy worlds, intrigue, magical politics, and more than a little bit of danger, then you’re going to love this book.

Bethany Aodhan lost her mother six months ago. Literally – she doesn’t know where her mother went. She’s trying to keep things together, including her family’s tavern. This would be challenging enough before adding her brother’s work threat.

Said brother hunts treasures, professionally, that is. It’s this work that gets him attacked and his best friend killed. And all that mess is about to fall directly in Bethany’s lap. Her gifts, family history, and connections have put her squarely in the middle of this mess.

“Which was one of the reasons I usually wore my knives when working.”

Eee! I can’t believe it’s already time for a new Keri Arthur series! I’ve loved her past couple of series, so you can imagine my excitement at this news. Crown of Shadows is the first in the Relic Hunters series, and I already have SO many questions.

This was a solid start to the series, naturally. There’s a lot of foundational work laid down here, which sometimes messed with the pacing. I do not doubt that it will all pay off in the end, though, so I’m not even remotely worried.

There are a lot of characters to get to know right off the bat, starting with Bethany and moving out to her friends, family, dalliances, and, I guess, coworkers? Not to mention enemies and the like, of course. I enjoyed this twist of pixies, their magic, and their history. Actually, so far, I’m enjoying everything I’ve seen in this world, including the magical system. I can’t wait to see more.

The story was fast-paced, with many high stakes keeping Bethany and her allies on their toes at all times. Throw in a romantic subplot (maybe romance is the wrong term to use here – but it’s undoubtedly lust at first sight if nothing else), and it’s pretty apparent how Bethany will be spending her time in the foreseeable future.

As with all of Keri Arthur’s novels, the pacing was fast, the plot tense, and the danger high. All of which have left me looking forward to the next installment in the series (Sword of Darkness). Please let it be soon (I just checked – October 25th! That’s not too bad!).

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks | Quirky Cat’s Comics | The Book Review Crew | Monkeys Fighting Robots | Storygraph | Bookhype | Bookstagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Reedsy

Posted in Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Review: Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

Author: Travis Baldree
Publisher: Cryptid Press
Released: February 22, 2022
Received: NetGalley

4 1/2 kitties

Book Summary:

Viv is an orc barbarian needing a bit of a career change. She’s tired of being paid to raise hell – and her blade. She’s looking for something new…something different. And she knows exactly what it is she wants to do – open up a coffee shop!

Given Viv’s history, it should be no surprise that this venture will not be as easy as she would like. Friends and enemies don’t just disappear with a career change; even the city itself may create a few complications. But that won’t stop Viv from chasing her cafe dreams; she might need some help to get it done.

“it was like drinking the feeling of being peaceful. Being peaceful in your mind. Well, not if you have too much, then it’s something else.”

My Review:

I have been hearing about Legends & Lattes nonstop for months! So I finally sat down to read, and let me tell you – it is worth the hype. Every positive thing you’ve heard about this book is probably right. It is such a cozy and fun fantasy novel to dive into. If you’ve been in need of a relaxing read but don’t want to deviate from fantasy, I have good news for you.

In my mind, I just kept thinking to myself; this is what would happen if a D&D group decided to fantasize about running a coffee shop. It has charm, chaos, and brilliant characters. And those vibes! It’s perfection!

This is the perfect book to read if you have just finished a heavy novel, as it is an ideal palette cleanser. I wish I could go back in time and read it for the first time all over again! I would have been more careful to place it between two of my darker reads, you know, to balance out my emotions.

Highlights:

  • Cozy fantasy
  • LGBT/Lesbian
  • High Fantasy

Trigger Warnings:

  • Stalking
  • Fatmisia

Thanks to Cryptid Press and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks | Quirky Cat’s Comics | The Book Review Crew | Monkeys Fighting Robots | Storygraph | Bookhype | Bookstagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Reedsy

Posted in Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Author: Blake Crouch
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Released: July 7, 2022
Received: Own (BOTM)
Warnings: Pandemic-like situation

3 1/2 kitties

I have a confession. I’ve had Blake Crouch’s Recursion sitting on my shelf for years now, and I still haven’t gotten around to it. But when Upgrade was released, I couldn’t resist picking it up! Unlike Recursion, I got around to Upgrade pretty quickly.

Logan Ramsay is part of a controversial team. Some people love the work they do, while others will fight to their dying breath to stop them. Logan is part of a team of people who track down scientists that study and alter genomes.

The irony of Logan’s career isn’t lost on him when Logan finds his own body hacked by the very science he’s sworn to stop. Now Logan is on the run, and his newly hacked body and mind have provided him with a unique yet powerful opportunity.

“You can’t kill humanity to save humanity. Human beings are not a means to an end.”

Hrm. If I had only one sentence to describe Upgrade, I would say that it makes you think. It’s a creative novel that tackles modern science, morals, and ethics, all in one fell swoop. And let us not forget the thriller elements, which add much to the aesthetic of this story.

There were times when Upgrade reminded me a lot of Gattica, with the whole debate (read: ban) on genetic modification. Granted, both stories deviate strongly from the public’s opinion on the matter, but it kept popping into my mind.

Logan is a tortured character, to say the least. His backstory essentially forced him into a position where he hunts scientists, and boy, does he feel conflicted about that fact! I appreciated the brutal honesty of his position, and that was all before the plot kicked off.

Once the main event occurred, I found myself uncertain of how to feel. Logan changes a lot throughout this novel, for good or for ill. It opens the door to plenty of debates, which I appreciate. However, it also felt…rushed?

It was fun seeing a sci-fi/thriller take on modern issues and concerns. I always love it when an author can portray these concerns in a mature way. It makes me want to go back and read Recursion (I swear, I’m planning on it!).

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks | Quirky Cat’s Comics | The Book Review Crew | Monkeys Fighting Robots | Storygraph | Bookhype | Bookstagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Reedsy

Posted in BOTM, Thriller | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Cast in Eternity by Michelle Sagara

Series: Chronicles of Elantra #17
Author: Michelle Sagara
Publisher: MIRA
Released: November 29, 2022
Received: Own

4 1/2 kitties

Book Summary:

There are many tasks that Corporal Kaylin Neya hates about being a Hawk. Most of those tasks involve paperwork – or running the front desk. Yet when her partner is busy, those are the tasks she’s forced to handle.

Kaylin’s tendency for finding trouble shines through once again, turning desk duty into a potentially lethal new case full of ghosts, absent buildings, and Barrani history. In other words – all sorts of trouble.

My Review:

Holy cow, seventeen books in and still going strong! I’m always looking forward to this series because I know it’ll deliver complex magical stories (often with a side of inter-species politics). Also, I adore the trouble Kaylin gets herself into.

As with the rest of this series, Kaylin’s latest adventure is shockingly complex – especially when we consider the fact that it occurs over the time span of a mere week. Helps you understand how the series has run so long, yeah?

This is probably one of my favorite additions. Well, following Cast in Wisdom. The new characters introduced have a lot of personality and add even more charm to the series. This may come as a shock, given how extensive the cast already is. My only regret is that we’re officially at the point where not every character can have their moment. For example, many pre-existing characters don’t even make an appearance in this novel (sorry in advance if this includes one of your favorites).

Delving into the ghost lore of Elantra is long overdue. It’s not something I realized was missing – until it was right in front of me. I can’t wait to see what adventure is waiting for us on the horizon! Any theories?

Highlights:

  • High fantasy
  • Sentient buildings
  • Dragons
  • Magic words
  • Complex magical situations
  • Part of a long-running series
  • Stream of consciousness POV

Trigger Warnings:

  • Ghost children

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks | Quirky Cat’s Comics | The Book Review Crew | Monkeys Fighting Robots | Storygraph | Bookhype | Bookstagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Reedsy

Posted in Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

Series: Winter’s Orbit #2
Author: Everina Maxwell
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: November 1, 2022
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Conscription, loss of autonomy

Book Summary:

Tennalhin Halkana can read minds but only surface thoughts. In society, that makes him a bit of a black sheep – something he’s learned to embrace. He’s been out in the world, doing his best to avoid his family and the consequences of his actions. Right up until they hit him with the weight of a train, now, he’s been forcefully conscripted and faces a forced sync with an architect.

Surit Yeni is the architect in question. While readers like Tennalhin can read minds, architects can influence them. As the son of a traitor general, Surit has worked hard to improve his reputation. As such, he knows every rule and follows them to the T. So it’ll come as quite a surprise when he finds a way to bend those rules to protect Tennalhin.

“Society isn’t something you can just snap your fingers and change.”

My Review:

Oh wow. I loved Winter’s Orbit and have been looking forward to Ocean’s Echo. It did not disappoint! For those wondering, while Ocean’s Echo is a sequel, there is no requirement to read Winter’s Orbit first (though you should read it, you know, for fun).

There is SO MUCH going on in this tale. We have conscription, readers, architects, politics, aliens, and I know I’m forgetting to list about half a dozen things. It’s a complicated foundation for what turns out to be one hell of an emotional roller coaster. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The two perspectives of this tale (Tennalhin and Surit) are so perfect. They’re vastly different from one another, but you know what they say, opposites attract. Honestly, I’m not sure I can say that I had a favorite POV – they complement each other perfectly.

Read Ocean’s Echo if you’re looking for a complex political science fiction novel with aliens and romantic elements. It will not disappoint.

Highlights:

  • LGBT
  • M/M Romance
  • Space Opera
  • Psychic-enhanced space travel
  • Sequel
  • Multiple POV

Trigger Warnings:

  • Drug use
  • Loss of Autonomy via mind control
  • Conscription

Thanks to Tor Books and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks | Quirky Cat’s Comics | The Book Review Crew | Monkeys Fighting Robots | Storygraph | Bookhype | Bookstagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Reedsy

Posted in Science Fiction, Tor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment