Review of ‘Uninvited’ by Jane C. Esther.

This was a different read. I enjoyed Esther’s debut book, but I have to admit I didn’t care for this one as much. It’s sort of one of those “what the heck did I just read?” kind of books. I like weird and I love sci-fi, this just was not what I was expecting.

The story is about Aerin, who has some kind of sensory attack while at a lake in upstate New York. She has no idea what happened to her but she knows she is different now. Aerin doesn’t want to risk going to a hospital so she seeks out a doctor/scientist for help. The problem is the doctor is Olivia, Aerin’s ex-girlfriend and childhood best friend. Can they keep the memories of the past at bay to find out what is wrong with Aerin?

For the most part, this book is what I would consider sci-fi lite. It actually might not be a bad choice for someone who wants to stick their toe in sci-fi but is a little reluctant. However, that’s not to say that this book is not weird. And I did feel it became a little convoluted towards the end. It almost felt like Esther was trying to cram too much in and my head was spinning a bit. Which is odd considering this is a shorter book that could have been made longer and is the start to a series (‘The portal’).

This leads me to a complaint, I hated how the book just ended. It didn’t even feel like a cliffhanger (although it is) but more like part of the book’s end is just missing. I hate when books end like that, drives me nuts. I did not realize when I grabbed this book that it was a series with no current ending. Knowing what I know now, half of me wonders if I would have still read this, but then the other half says ‘hey its lesfic sci-fi’, of course, I still would have read it.

Besides the annoying ending my biggest issues were the characters. I really struggled. I thought that Aerin was sort of okay. It was hard to connect to her because I could not tell if she was who she normally was or if she changed because of what happened to her in the lake. Is this her real personality? It made me feel disconnected to her so I felt a little indifferent instead. Olivia, on the other hand, was, in my opinion, awful. She was just nasty to Aerin and was still nasty with only a few chapters left to go. There was no time for character redemption. She was stuck on something that happened when she was sixteen and put too much anger on another child, it just didn’t make sense. All of her feelings were not invalid, but they sure should not have taken a whole book to get over. Maybe her character will grow in the next book, but something big needs to change or I will never believe in a possible romantic connection between the two mains.

Even though this was a weird premise, it had potential. I’m just such a character-driven reader that the characters messed up too much of the book for me. This is one of those books I can’t recommend, but I won’t say stay away either. With as much as I struggled with this, I will still probably read the next book since I want an ending. I’m hoping Esther can really turn things around in the next installment. 3 stars.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.

Review of ‘Painted over’ by Sofi Keren.

3.50 Stars. I ended up enjoying this more than I expected to. It was a sweet romance and a good debut. This is a second chance romance with some angst (but not too much) and likable main characters. Sofi Keren is definitely an author I will keep my eye on.

This is a story about two best friends that have a falling out that leads to them not speaking for a decade. When a flat tire re-connects them, they must decide if they can pick up where they left off or is there too much heartbreak in the way.

The second chance storyline is one we see often in lesfic but it worked for this book. What I was most surprised to find was how invested I was in the characters in such a short amount of time. I found myself almost crying at one point and was actually happy about that because it meant the book was making me feel. The book is on the shorter side, but it just made it so the book had a nice pace that never got bogged down.

My only real complaint is I’m not a fan of third person single point of view. If you are only going to be in the headspace of one character the whole book, I would prefer it to be in first person. That way you can really connect to the one character. But this is a personal preference and the book still made me feel so I can’t complain too much.

This was short and sweet with some angst. I think most romance fans will enjoy this one. It’s not perfect but it’s a good debut and it put a smile on my face. This is one I would recommend.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.

Review of ‘The Soulstealers’ by Jacqueline Rohrbach.

3.75 Stars. ‘The Soulstealers’ was a well written, YA fantasy book. I do have to admit that I didn’t love the story as much as I wanted to. However, I’m still rating this on the higher side because it’s a well done, quality, YA book.

In this world, magic comes at a steep price. When Druids come of age they steal and trap the soul of a person to leach magic off of. Arnaka is turning 16 and it is now time for her to get a soul familiar. The problem is the girl that must die to have her soul trapped by Arnaka is her best friend. Arnaka promises her friend that she will do everything in her power to stop any more people having to die for magic. Can Arnaka fight all that stands against her to keep her promise?

While this is a YA book, it is on the darker side. If librarians are considering this I would suggest it for older teens. One of my issues with the storyline is that I felt it was pretty depressing. There is friendship, hope, and even a teeny tiny baby f/f romance, so it’s not all doom and gloom, I just wish there were a bigger amount of lighter moments. I felt like this book weighed on me a bit.

The imagination of this book is very well done. While a floating city and palace above a ravaged land is not a new concept, the rest of the book felt pretty fresh. I have read a lot of mainstream and LGBTQ fantasy books so it’s always a pleasant surprise for a book to have really new ideas.

The characters are all pretty well done even the more secondary ones. It was a good cast of heroes and villains. As I mentioned before, there is a baby romance but nothing more than a couple of kisses. I wish there was time to develop the relationship between the characters more but with so much going on in the book, there just wasn’t.

This sort of leads me to one of my issues which is time. I wish there was more time for expanding on things in the book. I didn’t feel enough time was spent between Arnaka and her best friend to really cement their strong friendship connection. I wanted more time for the romance even if it was kept G-rated and I wanted more time at the end of the book, the ending was a tiny bit of a letdown.

This book has some great adventures, some good magic battles, and well thought out characters. The story itself felt refreshingly new. It did make me feel a little melancholy because it is on the sadder side. Overall I would still recommend this to YA fantasy fans.

NineStar Press really has some of the best covers. They impress me more and more every time I see a new book out.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.