Genre: Science Fiction

Lightning Review: Hauntings and Humbug: A Steampunk Christmas Carol by Melanie Karsak

Posted May 5, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Lightning Review: Hauntings and Humbug: A Steampunk Christmas Carol by Melanie KarsakReviewer: Holly
Hauntings and Humbug: A Steampunk Christmas Carol by Melanie Karsak

Publication Date: February 2nd 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 77
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars

Humbug! This Christmas, Ebony Scrooge will learn the true meaning of the holiday season.

It’s Christmas Eve in Victorian London, and Ebony Scrooge is hard at work tinkering weapons of mass destruction and avoiding all things Christmas. When the spirit of her deceased partner, Jacqueline Marley, warns Ebony that she will be visited by three ghosts, Ebony writes the visitation off as a dream. But on this Christmas Eve, the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future must try to pull off a miracle, restoring Ebony’s heart before it’s too late.

Hauntings and Humbug is a retelling of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, set in New York Times bestselling author Melanie’s Karsak’s steampunk universe.

Set in Victorian London, Hauntings and Humbug is a Steampunk retelling of A Christmas Carol. I really enjoyed Ebony Scrooge and the way her backstory unfolded. The secondary characters were well-drawn and I thought Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future were interesting.

This was an emotional retelling of A Christmas Carol. I enjoyed Ebony Scrooge and the people in her life.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik

Posted January 13, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Aurora Blazing by Jessie MihalikReviewer: Holly
Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik
Series: Consortium Rebellion #2
Also in this series: Polaris Rising
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Bianca von Hasenberg did her duty for High House von Hasenberg and ended up trapped in a terrible marriage. When her husband dies unexpectedly and leaves her a happy widow, she vows never to marry again. Instead, she uses her connections to save other young women. Information is power and Bianca has a network that would be the envy of the ’verse—if anyone knew about it.

After an attack, Bianca’s oldest brother, the House von Hasenberg heir, disappears from Earth without a trace. Determined to find him, Bianca leaves against orders. When she refuses to return, her father sends Ian Bishop, the director of House von Hasenberg security, to haul her home like a recalcitrant child.

Bianca leads Ian on a merry chase across the universe, but when their paths finally collide, she persuades him that they would be far more successful at finding her brother if they worked together. She will do anything to save her sibling, even if it means spending time alone on a small ship with the handsome, infuriating man who once broke her heart.

As clues lead them deep into rival House Rockhurst territory, Bianca must decide if she can trust Ian with the one piece of information that could destroy her completely. . .

Bianca von Hasenberg was sold off by her father into marriage to a monster. He slowly separated her from her support group, tore her down, then experimented on her without her consent. Now she’s a happy widow, but she’s still dealing with the pain of his betrayal and the consequences of his genetic modifications. She’s healing, but it’s slow going. When her eldest brother is kidnapped, she knows she has the skills to find him and bring him home….The head of house security, and her long time crush, disagrees. She ends up running from him and the planet. When he catches up with her, they decide (grudgingly on his part) to work together. Bianca knows how Ian feels about her her – he’s made it clear on multiple occasions he finds her to be nothing more than a spoiled Princess. That doesn’t stop her heart from wanting him. When she uncovers some of his secrets, she realizes there’s more to Ian than she ever knew….She can only hope he realizes the same about her.

We met Bianca in the previous book. She was publicly in mourning from the death of her husband, but it was obvious there was no love lost and something was going on with her. I enjoyed her strength and determination, her loyalty to her family and her overall smarts. She was an excellent character. I didn’t love the romance, however. They spent years sniping at each other, and their transition from adversaries to being IN LOVE didn’t work for me. It didn’t help that despite Ian constantly tearing her down (usually unintentionally – she had hidden emotional scars he wasn’t aware of), she still pined for him. For years. I think I’d rather have seen her walk away from him, which would force him to work harder for her affection.

Still, I enjoyed the story and the nonstop action enough that I’m rating this higher than the first book.

3.75/4 out of 5

Consortium Rebellion

four-stars


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Review: Polaris Rising by Jessie Milhalik

Posted December 30, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Polaris Rising by Jessie MilhalikReviewer: Holly
Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
Series: Consortium Rebellion #1
Also in this series: Aurora Blazing
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 448
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge, New to Me Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .

Tracy recommended this series to me. It took me several days to read it, but I think that had more to do with my current state of mind than the book.

Ada von Hasenberg fled Earth rather than be forced into a marriage she didn’t want. She’s been on the run for two years, until a Mercenary crew finds her and attempts to drag her back to her father. When the man she was supposed to marry turns up to “claim” her, she knows something is wrong. The son of a rival house, Richard Rockhurst was a good political match, but no one Ada wanted to marry. She escapes with the help of another prisoner, notorious criminal Marcus Loch, and sets out to discover why Richard is so insistent that they marry. It’s obvious he wants something, and Ada is determined to discover what it is.

I really liked the constant action, and I enjoyed how self-sufficient Ada was. She was capable and daring, which worked well given her circumstances. She as also extremely loyal to her House, despite how poorly her father treated her. All the von Hasenberg siblings are close, and she does what she does for them. But I still liked how she wanted to help her House. I did struggle with the romance. I never really felt like Loch and Ada connected outside of the physical. Frankly I was surprised when they made long-term commitments to each other. I didn’t feel like they were read for “I Love You” in any way. I also didn’t get a good feel for Loch away from Ada. The first-person narration worked against the story there. We didn’t see enough emotion or explanation for why he acted the way he did.

I did like the overall storyline, the secondary characters and the action. But parts of the novel felt unfinished to me. I’m looking forward to the next book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Consortium Rebellion

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Champion of Her Heart by Juniper Kerry

Posted October 5, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Champion of Her Heart by Juniper KerryReviewer: Tracy
Champion of Her Heart by Juniper Kerry
Series: Warriors of the Augur Nebula #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Point-of-View: Alternating 1st person
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 227
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Smart-as-a-whip Callie has a doctorate in Alien Studies. Unfortunately, her grant money has run out, and with it, her rent money. Desperate for a job, she turns to her high-power father, who has an idea: he will appoint her as the liaison for the Xalke - a race of aliens looking for breeding partners. With his daughter in charge of introductions, Grant Holland knows he can find a way to build new business partnerships. Callie is willing to make connections for her father. ...That is, until she meets Prince Dek. Now, the idea of introducing him to beautiful women makes her stomach hurt.

Dek has been sent to Earth with a clear purpose: find female volunteers and bring them back to his planet to breed. Unlike some of his fellow princes, Dek isn't against the humans, nor is he against babies. When he sees Callie, he knows right away that she is the woman for him. But for some reason, Callie resists. Though she seems to melt when he touches her, she also keeps pushing him into another woman’s arms. Dek has only a week before he must return to his home; can he win her heart in time?

Champion of Her Heart is the fifth book in the Warriors of the Augur Nebula series by Juniper Kerry. It is a steamy romance, featuring inter-species pair-bonding, love at first sight, and a guaranteed happy ending.

Callie has finished her PhD in Alien Studies as she lives in a world where Aliens are friends of Earth.  Certain aliens (the Sarta) have been on Earth for years and have started factories and stripped the Earth of its resources.  Why would we want to continue being friends with them? Not only are they friends, but Earth’s governments go a bit far in keeping them happy, obviously. One of the ways they are doing that is allowing representatives of the Denne race from the planet Beshtast to come and collect human women who would like to move to their planet and breed with them.  All voluntarily, of course.

The Denne have discovered that human woman are compatible with them (see books 1-4 to see how that came about), and they don’t die after giving birth, which is what has been happening for centuries with other alien races that are compatible.  One of the Denne Princes, Dek, has come to Earth with 4 warriors to choose women who would like to live on Beshtast and breed with the Denne.

Callie is the liaison between the Denne and the women who have volunteered.  She’s planned events to keep them busy, show them a bit of Washington D.C. and coordinated gatherings to meet pre-selected candidates. When Callie first meets the aliens as they step off the spaceship, she never imagines that she would be so drawn to Prince Dek.

Prince Dek is shocked when he steps onto Earth for the first time and finds his pair-bonded mate right in front of him.  He must convince her to come back to his homeworld with him, which is not going to be as easy as he thinks, as Callie has no intention of leaving Earth.

CoHH is book 5 in the Warriors of the Augur Nebula series.  It is a little different from books 1-4 as it takes place, for the most part, on Earth and not on Beshtast like the other 4 books.

In this book Callie and Prince Dek are pair-bonded – basically fated mates.  They feel a pull towards each other.  Dek knows what he’s feeling almost immediately, but obviously Callie is a little confused as to why she feels such a strong pull to this alien.  Dek is all that is strong, kind, thoughtful – I’ll admit, he’s a pretty good guy (considering I didn’t care for him all that much in previous books) but Callie keeps herself away from him.  She has no desire to leave Earth and she’s determined to find him a mate that’s not her.  This really confounded me, I must admit.  She’s down on her luck, no job, nowhere to live, her dad isn’t making anything easier even though he’s got pots of money, and she doesn’t want to go live with the prince who she’s falling in love with.  What is wrong with you?? Lol  Ok, I see that it’s scary to consider leaving the life you’ve known for something completely unknown, but really, why stay?

The author does a pretty good job of making us understand that Callie wants to feel needed and that she’s making a difference in her life and others. She also finds a solution to the problem, but I won’t tell you what that is. 😉

There are things about this series that I really like.  I like that it’s high on girl-power and that the human women in the books are trying to make the aliens see that they aren’t just things to breed, but people with emotions, needs, rights, etc.  That part is great.  On the other hand I find it a bit ridiculous that the aliens throughout the series are so well versed in just about everything, but they have no idea what tears are, or that little nub that is part of a female’s anatomy. But they know all about going down on a woman? Lol  Ok, whatever.

Overall I find the series entertaining.  The books are pretty short (200-250 pages) and are quick reads.  If you like sci-fi and alien romance, then this might be one for you to check out.  This does say that it’s a stand-alone, but I would recommend reading from book 1 to understand everything that’s going on.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Posted August 24, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa ColeReviewer: Holly
The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole
Narrator: Regina Hall, Mindy Kaling, Feodor Chin, Therese Plummer, Dina Pearlman, Neil Hellegers, Adenrele Ojo, Kyla Garcia
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 125
Length: 5 hours and 18 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

Listening Length: 5 hours and 18 minutes

A captivating romantic comedy with a thrilling sci-fi twist by award-winning author Alyssa Cole!

Trinity Jordan leads a quiet, normal life: working from home for the Hive, a multifunctional government research center, and recovering from the incident that sent her into a tailspin. But the life she’s trying to rebuild is plagued by mishaps when Li Wei, her neighbor’s super sexy and super strange nephew, moves in and turns things upside down. Li Wei’s behavior is downright odd—and the attraction building between them is even more so. When an emergency pulls his aunt away from the apartment complex, Trinity decides to keep an eye on him…and slowly discovers that nothing is what it seems. For one thing, Li Wei isn’t just the hot guy next door—he’s the hot A.I. next door. In fact, he’s so advanced that he blurs the line between man and machine. It’s up to Trinity to help him achieve his objective of learning to be human, but danger is mounting as they figure out whether he’s capable of the most illogical human behavior of all…falling in love.

I loved the narrators. They definitely made the experience for me.

Trinity is recovering from an accident at her previous job at a government research center. She’s trying to heal emotionally and physically. She spends most of her time in her apartment building, either hanging out with her two best friends or swimming or running. When she’s introduced to her neighbor’s extremely attractive nephew, Li Wei, she kind of goes into a tailspin. All of a sudden pieces of her memory are coming back, and what she sees in front of her isn’t adding up. When she realizes Li Wei is actually an A.I., she begins to question everything..especially her sanity, since she can’t deny her major attraction to him.

The story is told from both Trinity and Li Wei’s points-of-view as they both recover. Li Wei is working on recovering his memory systems and becoming a fully functional A.I., while Trinity is in physical and mental therapy. I really loved how they came to know one another, and how Li Wei insisted from the beginning that Trinity was to be fully trusted.

The world took a bit to fall into, since so much is strange and we see the majority of it from Trinity’s POV. I struggled with the first couple hours of the audio, even with the excellent narrators, but I’m glad I pushed through because I really enjoyed the story. I wouldn’t mind finding an AI like Li Wei for myself. I’m just saying.

I’m looking forward to more books in this series.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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