Review: The Helm of Midnight by Marina J. Losetter

Author: Marina J. Losetter
Series: The Five Penalties #1
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: April 13th, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

The Helm of Midnight is Marina J. Losetter’s newest novel and the start of a new series: The Five Penalties. Dramatic name, no?

There once was an infamous killer – Louis Charbon. He was a brutal serial killer, one that the city thought they were free of. His death should have stopped the killings, after all. Only, Charbon was able to infuse his killing intent into his death mask, and now he is once again tearing the city apart.

That’s where Krona Hirvath comes into play. She was a Regulator assigned to protect the mask (and other valuable items). She may have failed that task, but she will get that mask back. She’ll stop this killer and save the lives of as many future victims as possible.

“His will to kill might very well be ingrained in his echo.”

The Helm of Midnight is a legendary story. The world is so full of imagination and fantastical elements; it’s impossible to look away from it. In fact, I think it took at least three days to get this novel even slightly out of my head once I finished reading it. It simply lodged in my brain and refused to move out.

When I imagine epic fantasies – I picture something like The Helm of Midnight. Okay, that wasn’t exactly the case before I knew of this novel. But it does touch on all of the elements I’d expect in an epic, and it is certainly what I will picture from now on.

“The Rules of the Valley are as harsh as they are pure. The gods sacrificed much for humanity, and require us to sacrifice for each other in return. Beware the Five Penalties.”

The world-building is one of the main things that immediately sucked me into the narrative. It was fascinating and shockingly complex. It took me some time to fully understand it all, but once I did, I was hooked.

Krona’s story is an intense one, with lots of little details and side stories that helped to flesh out the world even further. I found myself falling in love with many of the secondary characters introduced, and because of that, I am honestly really looking forward to seeing what will happen next. And I have good news on that front; the next novel has already been named – The Cage of Dark Hours. Better yet, it has a release date (April 26th, 2022)!

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

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Review: Dustborn by Erin Bowman

Author: Erin Bowman
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Released: April 20th, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

Dustborn is the perfect novel for fans of Mad Max and Gunslinger Girl – and that was more than enough to catch my attention and get me reading.

Delta was born and raised in Dead River. It’s all she has ever known. Well, that and one other thing. Her whole life, she has been told that she needs to hide her back. You see, there’s a map branded onto her back. Yes, really.

Supposedly that map leads to a paradise, or at least, that is the dream that Delta holds onto. In reality, it is a place known as Verdant, and the time is coming for Delta to head that way. However, her journey will be tough, and she’ll have to be cautious about who she trusts. Always cautious. Always on the lookout.

“Rotten place. Rotten weather. Rotten land.

We need to move.

We can’t move.

Like always, there’s no good answer.”

Dustborn is a fun and epic read. It features a badass heroine, a dramatic world, and countless threats. What isn’t there to love about this thrilling tale? If you’re looking for an imaginative book to pick up, try this one.

What blew me away (no pun intended) more than anything is the world-building. Erin Bowman really knows how to create a compel ling world. Then again, I think my imagination might have brought a little bit into this mix. Everything about this book, from the cover to the narrative, gives off a dystopian/Mad Max-esque vibe. I know my expectations probably colored the story at least a little bit, but honestly? I’m okay with that.

While I’m talking about honestly, I should mention that it did take me a little bit of time to get into Delta’s story. Don’t get me wrong, I was enjoying it, but I think it wasn’t until about halfway through that I found myself invested in what was going to happen next. So if you’re struggling, try hitting that point before you put it down.

Actually, now that I stop and think about it…I think that Dustborn really reminded me of Wool in many ways. No wonder I found myself enjoying it so much. There are a lot of different elements between the two, but they still hit on similar notes. So if you read Wool, give this one a go (and if you haven’t read Wool, you should!).

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

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Review: Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory by Martha Wells

Author: Martha Wells
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #4.5
Publisher: Tor
Released: May 5, 2020
Received: Own

4 kitties

Oh my goodness! More Murderbot! How did I miss the release of this short story?!?

Home is the first story story set in the world of Murderbot Diaries that isn’t from Murderbot’s perspective. Instead, it is from the perspective of Dr. Mensah – one of Murderbot’s primary/favorite humans.

This short story is set sometime following the events of Exit Strategy, where Murderbot had to kind of go above and beyond in order to get Dr. Mensah safely out of the hands of GrayCris Corporation.

“There is no way to honestly answer that question without being insulting.”

Yes! Can I have more of this please? Not only do I really enjoy the way Dr. Mensah thinks (I love her subtle snark), but it was really fascinating seeing Murderbot/SecUnit from the perspective of a human.

It was kind of refreshing, but also (dare I say it?) endearing. Yes, SecUnit, the jerk that they are, is actually kind of endearing. Maybe that’s because I couldn’t see what they were thinking? No, that’s probably not it, considering how much I’ve loved Murderbot even before this point.

While this short story is exactly that – short, I really did enjoy it. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more from Mensah’s perspective (duh), but I’m also not going to complain. I will happily take any Murderbot story that I can get.

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Review: A Woman’s Garden by Tanya Anderson

A Woman’s Garden: Grow Beautiful Plants and Make Useful Things
Author: Tanya Anderson
Publisher: Cool Springs Press
Released: May 4th, 2021
Received: Edelweiss

4 kitties

I’ve been following Lovely Greens on Facebook for a few years now…so you can imagine how thrilled I was to see that Tanya Anderson had written a book! A Woman’s Garden: Grow Beautiful Plants and Make Useful Things is everything that it promises – and more.

This is the perfect book for gardeners and foodies alike. If you love gardening and the concept of clean food, well, I was going to say that you’ll love this book – but realistically, you’d also love Lovely Greens, so I just want to tack that on.

I think what I enjoyed the most about this book, personally, was the ability to see several different gardens and their designs. I’m currently in the planning phase for my own garden, so this was extremely helpful.

Thanks to Cool Springs Press and #Edelweiss for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Review: Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells

Author: Martha Wells
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #6
Publisher: Tor.com
Released: April 27th, 2021
Received: NetGalley

Yes! More Murderbot! I have to admit that The Murderbot Dairies has easily become one of my favorite series. Don’t believe me? I’ve been listening to the audiobooks (on loop) for the past few weeks Who would have thought that Murderbot could help me with my anxiety?.

Fugitive Telemetry is the sixth novella in this amazing series written by Martha Wells. And if you haven’t read/heard of this series before now, you really need to check it out. It features a sarcastic SecUnit (think part bot/part human guard) and all of the graphic trouble they have to get their humans out of.

The unthinkable has happened. A dead body has been found on Preservation Station. Okay, that’s really only unthinkable for the humans on the station – Murderbot expected violence to happen at some point.

The station is woefully unequipped to deal with a murder investigation, so Murderbot is forced to join in and help solve the case. Yes, that does mean they have to interact with humans. No, they’re not exactly thrilled about it.

“No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall, for fuck’s sake.”

I’m going to be upfront here: I read Fugitive Telemetry, sat there for a minute, and then immediately picked it back up and read it again. I love it that much. This is a fantastic addition to The Murderbot Diaries, and it made me want more (I know, I’m so greedy).

This novella has everything that fans (myself included) have come to expect: murder, combat, sarcastic SecUnits, concerned humans, the works. Throw in the fact that Murderbot has to work with humans (as opposed to merely protecting them), and it really adds a lot to the narrative.

I’d like to think it’s also helping Murderbot grow, both as a person and a character. I’m starting to see how life on Preservation Station could work for them. At least, I really hope that it would work out the way I think it is.

“Hey, I don’t want me either, but I’m stuck with me.”


What really got me (on top of all the other details I loved) had to be the bot interactions in this novella. Finally! A chance to see what a free bot looks like on Preservation Station (I’m not counting Murderbot, because I don’t think it would either). This was not only really interesting, but it set up for the conclusion of the novella. I’m certain that that is the reason why the ending gave me chills. It was brilliantly done.

Once again, I am blown away by Martha Wells’ writing. I love the world and characters that she has created here, and I sincerely cannot wait to see what comes next. Yes, I know that will be a little ways off. I can deal.

On a related note, I’m currently working my way through the audiobook series (again), and I think once I’m done with Network Effect, I’m going to be happily purchasing Fugitive Telemetry to give that a go. If you’re a fan of the series and haven’t checked out the audiobooks, you totally should. The narrator (Kevin R. Free) does an amazing job bringing Murderbot’s voice to life.

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

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Review: Defekt by Nino Cipri

Author: Nino Cipri
Series: Finna #2
Publisher: Tor.com
Released: April 20th, 2021
Received: NetGalley

Defekt is the second novella in Nino Cipri’s Finna series, and it was such a delight to read! If you’re a fan of fast-paced and humorous science fiction, then this is absolutely a series that you need to check out.

When it comes to loyal employees, you won’t find anyone better than Derek. His entire life is LitenVärld. No, really – he even lives in a shipping container set up in one of the back parking lots. His dedication can not be questioned.

Or rather, once upon a time, it could never have been questioned. Then Derek dared to take a sick day – he really did need one. Suddenly, the management and company started seeing Derek through new eyes. Who would have thought that this would be enough to throw him into a world where furniture comes to life and tries to eat him?

“When “Don’t Be Evil” Fails, Try “Don’t Be Boring”: It’s worked for us since 1958.”

As a huge fan of Finna, I just knew that the sequel was going to be amazing. I went into this novella with high expectations – and was blown away. What I got was SO much better than I expected. Defekt may just be my favorite of the series (so far – please let there be more).

Where Finna is an entertaining novella full of portal jumping pirates, Defekt is more of a Cronenberg/science fiction horror tale with a humorous undertone (and overtones, for that matter). I love both novellas, but for completely different reasons.

The series is centered on a science fiction version of a Scandinavian superstore (go ahead and guess which one). The company has found lots of neat hacks to get the job done fast and quickly, including other dimensions and their resources. That sometimes results in…let’s say, oddities.

Having all of that introduced in Finna allowed for Defekt to dive right into the world. As well as all of its glorious chaos. I really enjoyed that we kind of got to see a different side of things, though management, HR, and corporate BS is still a major factor (and it is perfect).

“Derek looked back at the table only to see it staring up at him.”

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times this novella got me to burst out laughing. The quote above had me crying; I was laughing so hard. Nino Cipri and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to humor, I think. And I love it.

If you don’t believe me, here’s a testimonial for you: My husband is not much of a reader (I know, I know), but even he wants to read both Finna and Defekt after seeing how much enjoyment I’ve gotten out of them. Okay, the fact that I read a few key quotes didn’t hurt any.

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

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Blog Tour & Review: Just Get Home by Bridget Foley

Stay tuned below for a review and excerpt of Just Get Home!

Author: Bridget Foley
Publisher: MIRA
Released: April 13th, 2021
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Rape, assault, affairs, abuse

3 1/2 kitties

Bridget Foley’s latest novel, Just Get Home is an emotionally compelling read, one that merges mystery, suspense, and thriller elements all into one.

Beegie and Dessa are two complete strangers. They couldn’t have less in common with each other if they tried. Yet one disaster is about to bring them together.

Beegie is a teenager hopping from foster home to foster home. Her life has been full of trauma and betrayal. Perhaps, in a way, that helped prepare her to survive the events that are about to happen. Though even she wasn’t expecting an earthquake to hit while she was on the bus.

Dessa is a single mom in desperate need of a night off. So that’s what she did – she hired a babysitter and went out with her friends. After all, one of her best friends is about to get married, which must be celebrated. Only…Dessa isn’t celebrating now. All she wants to do is make it home.

“Beegie had kept the bags because she’d been around long enough to know that sometimes it doesn’t work out.”

Just Get Home is a dark and dramatic tale that shows the lengths that two women can and will go through to make it home. This is a novel that shows the best and worst that humanity has to offer.

Before I begin my review, I should mention that many sensitive subjects come up in Just Get Home. Rape, assault, affairs, and abuse all play significant roles in what happens inside these pages, so consider yourself warned.

The story is told through two different perspectives, Beegie and Dessa. I love how different their views and experiences are. It makes for such a compelling read, even while it broke my heart at times (for Beegie’s sake, that is).

I’ll confess that it did take me a little while to get into Just Get Home, but I think once I was around three (ish) chapters in, I found myself invested in both of their stories. Though I was still trying to figure out their past – it took a while before I could puzzle it all together. Something that was clearly done with intent.

Just Get Home is so full of twists, turns, and surprises that it was almost difficult to keep up with at times. Almost. There’s no shortage of drama or terrifying scenarios in this tale. Not to mention plenty of heartbreaking revelations and moments to make a reader stop and think.

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

Continue reading
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Weekly Update

This week certainly seemed to have its ups and downs for me. While I did get a lot of reading and writing done, it felt like I was constantly one step behind on everything. That feeling was admittedly not too great for my anxiety.

Thankfully, I made it through! And there are a few highlights for this week that really helped to balance out those negatives. One of my favorite series concluded this week (Chronicles of Amicae), and another update next week (Murderbot!!!). Best of all, Shadow and Bone dropped on Netflix.

Books Read:

  • Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory
  • Fugitive Telemetry
  • Purrfectly Dead
  • The Other Side of the Door
  • Arsenic and Adobo
  • The Hunting Wives
  • The Beautiful Ones
  • Sweet and Bitter Magic
  • The Secret Garden (graphic novel)
  • Enlightenment

Next’s Weeks Reading Lineup:

  • The Woman with the Blue Star
  • Elsa Bloodstone: Bequest
  • Thief of Souls
  • Rogue: Untouched
  • Immunity Index
  • Hour of the Witch
  • Shadowed Steel

I know that I’m a bit of an overachiever when it comes to writing up my weekly lists – so I make no promises to actually read all of these books! However! We all know that I’m going to do my best.

Weekly Quote:

“Derek looked back at the table only to see it staring up at him.”

-Defekt by Nino Cipri

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks (of Books):

These Feathered Flames – Read HERE

Fortress of Magi – Read HERE

The Perfect Daughter – Read HERE

The Last Watch – Read HERE

Six of Crows – Read HERE

Harleen – Read HERE

Crooked Kingdom – Read HERE

Bestiary – Read HERE

King of Scars – Read HERE

Burning Roses – Read HERE

The Lives of Saints – Read HERE

Too Good To Be True – Read HERE

Word of the Nerd:

The Review Crew:

When the Stars Go Dark – Read HERE

Where Secrets Lie – Read HERE

Arsenic and Adobo (Buddy Review) – Read HERE

Quirky Cat’s Comics:

Word of the Nerd:

The Mighty Valkyries #1 – Read HERE

Stray Dogs #3 – Read HERE

Monkeys Fighting Robots:

Catwoman #30 – Read HERE

Crimson Flower #4 – Read HERE

Nomen Omen #14 – Read HERE

Spider-Woman #11 – Read HERE

Champions #6 – Read HERE

Coming Soon!

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Review: Too Good to Be True by Carola Lovering

Author: Carola Lovering
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Released: March 2nd, 2021
Received: Goodreads Giveaway
Warning: Mental health

3 1/2 kitties

I received a copy of Too Good to Be True in exchange for a fair and honest review.

What would you do, if you found yourself in a scenario that seemed too good to be true? That is the question Carola Lovering asked, when writing Too Good to Be True, a psychological thriller and mystery.

Sky Starling knows a good thing when she sees it. She has had her ups and downs in life, and thus she knows to appreciate having a boyfriend like Burke Michaels. He’s older, more sophisticated, and loves her for who she is.

Only, that is only part of the story. They say that every story has two sides, but in this case, there are actually three sides to the whirlwind romance that Sky has been wrapped up in, and two of those stories will break her heart.

“All I’m saying is that if he seems too good to be true, he probably is.”

First of all, can I just say that I love love love the tagline for Too Good to Be True? “ONE LOVE STORY. TWO MARRIAGES. THREE VERSIONS OF THE TRUTH.” Um, who could turn away from a book like that? Not I.

For the most part, Too Good to Be True is told through three different perspectives. The obvious one is Sky, but the other two are a bit more surprising. Okay, one of the others might be obvious as well, since you can probably guess that Burke gets a chance to talk.

I’m a huge fan of switching perspectives in thrillers – I think it does a great job of showing more of the story, while leaving things surprisingly up in the air. That applies here as well, though naturally there were some arcs I enjoyed more than others.

There were times where I really did want to reach out and shake Skye’s shoulders. Just a bit. I wanted to be able to tell her what was happening right in front of her, or remind her that mental health issues don’t make her less of a human being. I’m sure I’m not the only reader that had that urge, either.

One of the many things that did impress me with Too Good to Be True would absolutely have to be the sheer number of surprises within. When I picked this book up, I sort of expected a few obvious yet standard twists (no offense meant, of course). But I was wrong. I was so very, very wrong. This book packs much more of a punch than I expected, and with it, many more surprises. And I couldn’t be happier about that.

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Review: The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Grishaverse
Publisher: Macmillan
Released: October 6th, 2020/December 8th, 2020 (Audio)
Narrators: Ben Barnes, Lauren Fortgang
Received: Own

4 kitties

The Lives and Saints, written by Leigh Bardugo, fits nicely in with the rest of her Grishaverse series. These are all of the stories that have been alluded to this whole time. The good, the beautiful, the horrifying, and the bad.

Thanks to Shadow and Bone heading over to Netflix, The Lives of Saints got a lovely edition for all the fans out there. Better yet, there’s also an audiobook worth listening to. Narrated by Ben Barnes and Lauren Fortgang, it’s not something you want to miss out on. Trust me on this.

The Lives of Saints is a collection of short stories, set in the Grishaverse. Each one follows a saint of the world, from those commonly mentioned in both series, to those that are going to be quite a surprise.

“You can choose faith or you can choose fear. But only one will bring what you long for.”

The Lives of Saints is such a wonderful and heartbreaking novel, all in one. It’s bittersweet, just as I imagined it would be. I loved this book so much that I listened to it and read it – there are so many little details to pick up on.

Also, I am SO glad that I got caught up (including the King of Scars) before diving into this read. There is a lot of subtext I would have missed out on otherwise!

The design and artwork of this novel are stunning, making it appear as if it really were a collection of tales in this world. You can almost picture any of the characters reading it (many would not actually read it, hence the almost part of that sentence).

That being said, it is also heartbreaking. Think about what it is to be a saint. What Alina went through, for example. All the pain and sacrifice. These aren’t all happy stories, nor did I expect them to be.

Yet I still maintain that it’s worth reading, and even more worthwhile to listen to. Any Grishaverse fan will doubtless get lots of new information/reasons to fangirl from it. For example: The Starless Saint. Need I say more?

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