Review of ‘A Lover’s Mercy’ by Fiona Zedde.

I was really looking forward to this book and I’m glad to say it met my expectations. This was really entertaining and I could not put the book down. While this is technically book 5 in The Superheroine Collection, you do not need to read four books before this. However, this is a sequel to Book 2 ‘The Power of Mercy’. I highly recommend reading that book first before you read this one. This book picks up where ‘The Power of Mercy’ left off and you would be missing out on a good amount of story including some important twists if you do not read it first.

This is a quick read and it’s so hard to tell on my Kindle but I think technically this is a novella, but the story is full and vibrant so it feels like a novel. These two books by Zedde are more hardcore superhero books. In fact ‘The Power of Mercy’ was a little dark at times. This book was a little lighter and focused more on the relationship between the two mains, but there is still violence and plenty of superhero action. Don’t read these books looking for a fluffy story.

After reading ‘The Power of Mercy’ I was really hoping for a sequel. Mercy or ‘Mai’ was still really growing as a person and I wanted to see more of her. I must admit I was a little disappointed this whole book was in the POV of X. I like first person so that’s not my issue, but I was disappointed not to get more from Mai’s headspace. I must admit while X is a bit of a hard character, after getting to know and connect to her more she definitely grew on me.

I don’t want to say too much more because of spoilers for people who have not read the first book. I will say if you are enjoying the Superheroine collection, absolutely grab this. If you liked ‘The Power of Mercy’, chances are you might even like this one better. Having more romance/relationship between the mains was a real treat. I don’t know if Zedde plans to write more in this series. A lot of loose ends are tied up so it could end here. But if she does write more I will absolutely read them.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.

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 ‘Demon in the machine’ by Lise MacTague.

4.5 Stars. This was a really good steampunk/paranormal romantic adventure book. This is the second book I have read by MacTague. I have realized that I really like her writing style. She also has an unbelievable imagination which really helps. If you are a steampunk of paranormal fan, I think you will enjoy this.

During England’s Industrial Revolution magic, from the demon realm, is being used to create better inventions. But that kind of magic comes with a price, one that the world might just have to pay. The only thing standing in the way is two women hell-bent on stopping it. Briar, an archivist, and Isabella, an inventor, know they must do everything to fight the evil coming their way. Can these two women, both hiding huge secrets, save England and possibly the world?

I’m a steampunk story fan and this just fits that bill perfectly. This was filled with great inventions, dirigibles, and annoying women’s clothing. I also enjoyed how MacTague seamlessly joined the magic and paranormal aspects perfectly together. I know I’m being pretty vague here but I don’t want to give any spoilers away.

I loved the two main characters. Both women have the side that society sees that they have their big secrets. The characters had a dimension which I really appreciated. I easily connected with them and cared about what was going to happen to them.

Besides the great imagination MacTague has for the main storyline, I was impressed with the romance. A lot of times stories that involve saving the world, authors don’t spend as much time developing their characters feelings. These characters definitely had chemistry together. I loved watching them go from annoyance to actual attraction. The pace worked for me and the sex scenes were pretty well done too.

My only real small complaint is I felt the ending was a little abrupt. This is not a short story, I enjoyed every bit of the almost 350 pages, but still, the ending wasn’t long enough. I want to know more. I’m hopeful the ending was like this because MacTague is planning a sequel. The characters stories feel like they are just beginning so I absolutely hope there will be another book.

If you are a steampunk or paranormal fan definitely grab this one. I don’t think you will be disappointed. Also, the book having a good romance is a nice bonus. I have wanted to read MacTague’s sci-fi series for almost two years now. This month I’m finally going to do it. Her writing is too good to miss.

An ARC was given to me by Bella, for an honest review.

Review of Waking the Dreamer by K. Aten.

What a thrill ride! This was a great action-packed romance that was exactly the kind of book that I love to read. While you can put the sci-fi tag on this, this really is a futuristic dystopian story with a good romance. I know some people don’t care for sci-fi, so don’t let that put you off. There are no aliens or spaceships or different planets, this is a look into a possible scary future of the world we know.

Around a century into the future the world is a much different place. With natural disasters, the sun heating up and air quality diminishing there are fewer and fewer good places to live. The USA is run by a general with his military in charge. Chicago is the new Capitol and that is where Julia lives. Julia is wanted woman because she is a Walker. A Walker is a person who can project out of their body into the world around them. The government has been collecting Walkers to force into service and be experimented on. Julia hides in plain site as a courier for a tech company. She lives her life alone with no family or friends. This all changes the day she runs into another Walker being hunted by the government. Julia can’t help but be attracted to Niko and wants to help her. These two women are the most wanted women in the USA. Is there any way for them to be together and stay free?

The book starts out and Aten takes the time to really explain what has happened to the world and what it is like now. It is a bit of info to take in, but it really works. Once you get by that first chapter you understand everything this new world is built. Then the story starts up and it’s this fast pace ride until the finish. I thought it was all well written. I never felt like I had questions unanswered or didn’t understand. Once the story picks up, everything flows very smoothly.

I’m such a character driven reader and I am happy to say I loved both characters. I was surprised how instantly I cared and connected with them. This is what I look for in a book and was very happy to find it. These are characters that I will remember for a long time. I also loved the Walker abilities. Julia is a real badass and it just made the book a lot of fun.

While this book is like reading the equivalent of a big blockbuster action movie, Aten takes the time for a good romance. I know romance fans are going to be happy; I loved these two as a couple. It is not insta love, but it is quick. Usually I like it to take longer, but in this kind of book with life and death in the balance I’m okay with it. And it’s not just that, it’s also that I believed in these two together. I believed in them as a couple and the connection they had. The sex scenes were all done well too.

Aten is a newer published author but every book she puts out is just a winner for me. She has quickly climbed her way to being one of my favorite authors. This book was just pure entertainment that I easily recommend to dystopian and romance fans. It was a joy to read and I can’t wait to see what Aten puts out next.

An ARC was given to me for a honest review.

Review of ‘Survival instincts’ by May Dawney.

I was really excited about this book. I’m a big post-apocalyptic fan and they seem to be few and far between in lesfic. But I’m also an animal lover, and when I heard about some of the violent scenes, I started to worry. It came to a point instead of rushing to read this, I kept putting it off. After some advice from a friend who had read this already, I finally felt okay with reading it. I’m so glad I did because I flat out loved this book.

I do want to give a warning first, yes, this book is violent. After war has ravaged the world, predator animals are back on the top of the food chain. Not only are animals a worry, but humans are too in this extremely dangerous new world. Due to the violence, this probably won’t be a book for everyone, but if you can handle it I highly recommend reading this.

I’m not going to go into a summary; there are a lot of reviews already if you need one. I do want to mention there are two main characters Lynn and Dani. This book is in third person, but we are only ever in Lynn’s headspace. I actually thought it was an interesting choice for a book like this, but it really worked. Lynn is a fantastic main character. She was one of those strong badass female characters I just love. Dani has her flaws and the author is not always that nice to her, but I loved learning about her as Lynn did. Even not being in her headspace, you still felt like you really understood Dani.

There is a romance. For this being an adventure book that keeps you on your toes with danger at every corner, the romance really worked for me. It progressed at a nice slow pace as these characters slowly learned to depend on each other. I loved the dialogue when the characters would discuss their feelings. The one main sex scene was so well done. It wasn’t steamy but it felt like a love scene not just sex. There was so much emotion behind it, it actually blew me away a bit. I think it would actually go into my top ten favorite intimate scenes in lesfic. I usually reserve them for super steamy scenes, but this was just so well written I won’t forget it anytime soon.

There are a few tiny negatives. There were a few times that I had to suspend disbelief a bit. Or I thought the time period didn’t match up perfectly with what the characters knew. This take place (if I remember correctly) 200 years after the war that really ended civilization as we know it. I think if Dawney would have cut that time in half, everything would have lined up so much better. But in the grand scheme of things, these complaints were so tiny they didn’t affect my love for the book at all.

The book is long, but in a good way. The pace of the book hardly even slowed down enough for me to catch my breath. I soon found myself staring at my Kindle’s percentage complete, wishing it would slow down. But it ended and I was left knowing this book would stay with me for a long time. It ended and I knew I was going to write one of my rarer full five star reviews. When a book is this damn good, it’s hard to do it justice in a review. If you are a post-apocalyptic fan, an adventure/action fan, I absolutely recommend this. I can’t wait to see what Dawney puts out next.

An ARC was given to me by YLVA, for a honest review.

Review of ‘Compass Rose’ by Anna Burke.

I rarely read sci-fi and even less pirates’ stories but this year I decided to read a few books that throw me out of my comfort zone. I’m glad I’ve chosen this one. Anna Burke is a new promising author and ‘Compass Rose’ is her debut book. For this novel she received the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Sandra Moran scholarship, created to mentor young writers like Ms. Burke.

‘Compass Rose’ is set in a dystopian world in 2513 in which the sea levels on Earth have risen and land is either flooded or too polluted to live on. Humans live on sea stations mainly located in the North Atlantic Archipielago. Compass Rose is a navigator born with an extraordinary ability: she can always tell her exact location and get the best nautical routes to a destination. When her Admiral orders her to work alongside mercenary Captain Miranda Stillwater to defeat the pirates that threaten to rule the Atlantic, her world turns upside down. But even her exceptional navigational skills won’t prepare her for Miranda’s captivating persona and for her threatening crew.

This novel is written in first person from the point of view of Compass Rose except for a brief Captain’s log at the beginning of each section (East, South, West, North, Center).The world the author built is very imaginative in its unpleasant and threatening nature. The dangers come in the form of gigantic squids, murdering pirates or greedy politicians. The beauty of this book is that even in this imaginary world we can see humanity at its best and worst. Ms. Burke’s use of nautical metaphors is beautiful and poetic.

Compass Rose makes a well rounded main character with all her extraordinary abilities and her shortcomings. Ms. Burke isn’t afraid to depict her as an unwilling heroine stressing on her fears and her anxiety coping mechanisms (her mantra ‘North, south, east, west’ is an amusing example). The cast of secondary characters is presented with no rush so each one can be recognised for their own physical appearance and personalities. The author doesn’t sugarcoat their cruelty or ferocity which makes the story very credible.

The romance is too much on the side for my liking but I understand the logic around it. This is not a romance but a fast-paced adventure novel. Despite that they are not together much, the chemistry between Rose and Miranda is sizzling and believable.

Overall, a very good pirates’ adventure novel for fans of dystopian sci-fi. Great debut novel by a promising author. 4.5 stars.

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