Roko’s Basilisk by Michael Blackbourn

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary via Amazon:  

Civilization is poised on the edge of technological collapse. Thomas Kirby, employed at a floundering company endures life on the brink, plagued by recurring nightmares and the fear of losing his job. He wants nothing more than to provide for his family and bring some stability into their lives. 

Salvation seems to be at hand. His friend Roko Kasun, an artificial-intelligence researcher, shares a world-shattering secret. He’s on the cusp of launching a super-intelligent AI – a guardian-angel that promises to usher in a new world order. But only after Thomas teams up with his ambitious friend does Roko reveal the catch: his preparations to summon this god-like savior have not gone unnoticed. Roko has drawn the gaze of the Basilisk – a shadowy power capable of ensuring, or extinguishing humanity’s only chance at survival.

My Review: Quick, but intriguing sci-fi short. Thrown between what’s presently happening in the story and what conversation took place prior, I was pleasantly surprised to be hooked into this terrifying breakthrough of artificial- intelligence. 

This is the second work I’ve read by Blackbourn. “Cursor Blink,” another short, was just as gripping, and I recommend it as well. 

Victorian Mistress by Jesse Stuart

My Rating: 5/5 Stars (Can I give it 10 stars?!)

Summary via Jesse Studio: “Charlotte Maguire gets you right in the heart. Literally. 

Charlotte ‘Lot’ Maguire is a thief on the streets of Victorian London until she meets Brandon O’Connor and spies a route to an easier, well paid, life. Except Lot isn’t made for the life of a Victorian lady and can’t resist the lure of trouble. With corrupt businessmen in the drawing rooms, vampires in the gentlemen’s clubs and her old associates in the alleys she doesn’t have to look far to find it.”

My Review: Full of clever metaphors, unique vampire romance and a badass female protagonist, you won’t want to miss out on this fast paced freebie!

Lot is one of my new favorite female characters. She’s independent and strong, but still opens up little-by-little to the idea of love. She’s everything you wish you were, and everything you beg for from a female character.

Victorian Mistress is brilliant and beautifully written. Edited by the author, there are little-to-no errors and mistakes throughout, which is impressive. The story isn’t bogged down with unnecessary narrative or dialogue. It all flows well together, moving the plot and building the palpable world Stuart created. Each character has a unique voice. The tension throughout the dialogue and narrative pulls and pushes you from scene to scene with little room to breath. It’s fantastic! You won’t want to put it down until you’ve consumed the ending.

You can read this book for free at Victorian Mistress on Wattpad, or on the author’s blog, Jesse Studio. Follow Jesse Stuart on Twitter @sisterquill.

Fire in the Woods by Jennifer M. Eaton

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My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Summary via Goodreads: “When a plane crashes in the woods near Jess’s home, the boy of her dreams falls out of the sky—literally. But David’s not here to find a girlfriend. He’s from another planet, and if Jess can’t help him get back to his ship, he’ll be stuck on Earth with nothing to look forward to but the pointy end of a dissection scalpel…”

My Review: Tension filled, ET romance! This book was a fun adventure.

The main character is cute, but a little dumb at times. It was hard to like her in the beginning when she’s swooning over this alien, who looks like a handsome celebrity. Very juvenile behavior at times, especially when she’s talking to her best friend Maggs about David. I like her rebellious spirit, but there were times she could have put two-and-two together and realized this guy is the fugitive on the run… Her being that dense ruined the beginning of the book for me. She’s suppose to be going into her senior year of high-school, is submitting college applications, but she still acts (in my opinion) like a middle-school girl with a crush. All that said, her goals are clear, internal and external conflicts are set up well. And, I did like her friendship with David, how it developed. Though, I wished at times David was more ignorant of his surroundings and how to behave on this planet. He was almost too human to be believable as an alien.

The pacing and tension in the conflict is great. Jess’s relationship with her friends and her father are perfect! This is a book I was able to speed read through because the pace never faltered. There were descriptions I missed, major ones, however. I’m not sure if it was because I was ready to get back to the dialogue, or if some of the narrative was too full of description.

I sped through this adventure. Pleasantly surprised with how much I liked it, despite the complaints I had. By the end, I needed to know what happened next, and bought the second book. Review to come. 

 

 

The Siren by Kiera Cass

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Short Summary via Amazon: Kahlen is a Siren, bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who’s everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger . . . but Kahlen can’t bear to stay away. Will she risk everything to follow her heart?

My Review: I was sucked into this spellbinding story from the first page, but expected so much more from this story than I got. 

Captured by the plot of this story, I fell in love with the sisterhood the sirens share, and Kahlen, the protagonist, as well as the Ocean herself. I don’t care much for the side character, Akinli, as a character on his own, but appreciate the conflict he creates for the main character. 

I definitely wanted more from the shipwrecked scenes. More detail, horror, sensory. Sensory details that would have made me sympathize with Kahlen and the other sirens, or side with the Ocean. I wanted to feel her emotions more–not just the teenage romance, but her love and hate of the Ocean herself.  

This book has a lot of potential, but there were so many questions I had left about the sirens and ocean history. Instead of the mopy romance, I wanted more from the fantasy, magical side of the story. 

That being said, it was a sweet, fast paced read. Definitely got me in a magical mermaid mood while I was lounging at the beach. My copy of this book is full of salt water and sand. 

A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Summary via Amazon:Jamie Watson has always been intrigued by Charlotte Holmes; after all, their great-great-great-grandfathers are one of the most infamous pairs in history. But the Holmes family has always been odd, and Charlotte is no exception. She’s inherited Sherlock’s volatility and some of his vices—and when Jamie and Charlotte end up at the same Connecticut boarding school, Charlotte makes it clear she’s not looking for friends. But when a student they both have a history with dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.”

My Review: A fun, fast paced YA retelling of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. 

Save for a few long-winded paragraphs of narrative, there wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this book. I really liked Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson together. It’s great Holmes is a girl in this story. And though some readers criticize her as having the same personality and characteristics of Sherlock, I think that’s what I liked most about her. 

For those who know the Holmes and Watson stories well, this might not be as exciting to read–or maybe you’ll like it even more. I can understand the desire for something new in a retelling. But, for me, this was a riveting adventure. I didn’t mind how it followed some of the original stories, since I didn’t know them well to begin with. 

I picked this book up, read half of it in a day and finished it in only a few hours. The pacing is phenomenonal and the writing style makes it easy to read. There were a few info-dumpy paragraphs I skipped, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this one!