Author: Caitlin Starling
Series: Neon Hemlock
Published: September 5, 2020
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Powerful shipping magnate Evelyn Perdanu lives a tight, contained life, holding herself at a distance from all who would get close to her. Her family is dead, her country is dying, and when something foul comes to the city of Delphinium, the brittle, perilous existence she’s built for herself is strained to breaking.
When one of her ships arrives in dock, she counts herself lucky that it made it through the military blockades slowly strangling her city. But one by one, the crew fall ill with a mysterious sickness: an intense light in their eyes and obsessive behavior, followed by a catatonic stupor. Even as Evelyn works to exonerate her company of bringing plague into her besieged capital city, more and more cases develop, and the afflicted all share one singular obsession: her.
Panicked and paranoid, she retreats to her estate, which rests on a foundation of secrets: the deaths of her family, the poisons and cures that hasten the dissolution of the remaining upper classes, and a rebel soldier, incapacitated and held hostage in a desperate bid for information. But the afflicted are closing in on her, and bringing the attention of the law with them. Evelyn must unearth her connection to the spreading illness, and fast, before it takes root inside her home and destroys all that she has built.
This is another one I saw on Instagram and became downright enamored but this cover. We have definitely found a contestant for the 2021 Most Gorgeous Cover Tournament, maybe even a winner? Well one can hope. But the pages under the cover … I still haven’t figured this book out yet.
It’s definitely a somber, chilling, gothic tale. I liked reading it and the setting and the characters. The story itself held me until the very end. But all I am now is puzzled. I’m not sure what this book was even about. I think the closest thing I can compare it to is Rappaccini’s Daughter, but only if Du Maurier wrote it and not Hawthorne. Thankfully I’m not frustrated by this book. If anything, I want to read it again and try to figure it out again. Overall, I liked it. But I don’t get it. So I will indeed read it again.
Goddess in the Machine
Series: Goddess in the Machine #1
Author: Lora Beth Johnson
Published: June 30, 2020
Reviewed By: Jessica
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Dates Read: September 27-October 12, 2020
When Andra wakes up, she’s drowning.
Not only that, but she’s in a hot, dirty cave, it’s the year 3102, and everyone keeps calling her Goddess. When Andra went into a cryonic sleep for a trip across the galaxy, she expected to wake up in a hundred years, not a thousand. Worst of all, the rest of the colonists—including her family and friends—are dead. They died centuries ago, and for some reason, their descendants think Andra’s a deity. She knows she’s nothing special, but she’ll play along if it means she can figure out why she was left in stasis and how to get back to Earth.
Zhade, the exiled bastard prince of Eerensed, has other plans. Four years ago, the sleeping Goddess’s glass coffin disappeared from the palace, and Zhade devoted himself to finding it. Now he’s hoping the Goddess will be the key to taking his rightful place on the throne—if he can get her to play her part, that is. Because if his people realize she doesn’t actually have the power to save their dying planet, they’ll kill her.
With a vicious monarch on the throne and a city tearing apart at the seams, Zhade and Andra might never be able to unlock the mystery of her fate, let alone find a way to unseat the king, especially since Zhade hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with Andra. And a thousand years from home, is there any way of knowing that Earth is better than the planet she’s woken to?
It is rare that I read a sci-fi novel, but the book description sounded intriguing to me, so I decided to read (well listen) to it: And Goddess in the Machine is a LONG one coming in at a 15 hour narration!
I was really only interested in Andra’s unique situation, and Zhade’s storyline did not interest me at all. I could care less that he is the bastard son and his whole situation. Part of my problem with Zhade’s perspective in the novel is the linguistics of the people in the year 3102. It is easy to ‘catch on’ with the way they speak; it just did not work for me. I think I benefited listening to the audiobook because of this versus having actually read the book. I think if I had tried to read it that I might have DNF’d it. I give props to Johnson for coming up with an ‘updated English language’ as this must have taken some time and effort to come up with. This is also her first novel, so bravo for doing something different language wise.
I did not really like Zhade with him using Andra for his own benefit. Though I do like how his name is pronounced in the audiobook. I did really like Andra (her name is short for Andromeda.) She is an average, normal teenager thrown into the most unexpected and unusual situation and having to try and struggle to survive in a new world and time with everything unfamiliar.
There are twists that come up throughout the novel that I would have never seen coming in 1000 years. As the ending of the novel creeps closer, we get more twists which was setting up for the second novel, which I need NOW! My husband heard a little of the audiobook as we were driving one day and he ended up reading and enjoying Goddess himself, though he did figure out the twists that I didn’t. That could be that he is more of a sci-fi reader/ watcher. He is not a reviewer but he said he would have given it 4 stars.
For a novel that is outside of my ‘comfort zone’ 4 stars is a very strong review from me! I would recommend this one to those who enjoy sci-fi and maybe those not so into sci-fi.[Top]
The Rise of Drohlo
Series: Book one in a Trilogy
Author: Taylor Saville
Published: June 10, 2020
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Aurlinia Verana can no longer remember the sensation of sunlight, the sway of the golden aspens, or the crash of ocean waves on the shoreline of her ancient, fallen homeland of Lineastear. From early childhood, she spends her life underground, deep within the labyrinth of caves that become both her curse and her cage. Though when a violent invasion threatens the lives of everyone on the continent of Runahn, her world changes forever. She abandons the safety of the underworld city of Vaulok to find her courage, her purpose, and herself. In a miraculous stroke of fate, she becomes aware of her unprecedented power as the only living healer of the mysterious, sentient creatures known as the tiloque. This power earns her the respect and adulation of the only tiloque strong enough to rekindle the dying hope… and unite an entire world.
I really loved Taylor’s first book, Jagged Mind, so much. I wish I could say the same for this book. While her imagination is crazy good, this book read like a soap opera, trying to be Shakespeare, but actually like a high school creative writing essay that got a C+. Unfortunately, because all of the fantasy came straight from her brain with no existing precedent, I got confused and overwhelmed very quickly. This book would have automatically been better if there had been a character list, with a pronunciation guide, and a map.
The plot, which has a lot of potential, was burdened down with a whole lot of useless middle school romance between children that obviously need to grow up. I hate to say it because I love romance in stories, but the one genuine relationship was ruined by immature pandering. Everything was so “instinctual” and that was nice and comforting for the first half of the quest, but then got annoying and overbearing real quick. I definitely want to know more about Drohlo and his kind. He was the one truly unique element, but he didn’t even show up until the last quarter.
She also had the same writing issue that she did with Jagged Mind. She jumped between characters’ perspectives and thoughts so quickly that it got confusing. I never knew who was talking. In Jagged Mind, I liked it because I wanted to see what was in each person’s head. It didn’t work in The Rise of Drohlo. At this point, I can’t decide if I want to continue reading the next book when it comes out. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, but Jagged Mind set such a high standard and The Rise of Drohlo is not even close to meeting that standard.