Witch Hunt by S.M. Reine

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

Series: Preternatural Affairs #1

César was a protagonist that was not easy to like. After a night of heavy drinking, he found a woman shot to death in his bathtub. He had no idea what happened. The secret government agency he worked for didn’t do anything to investigate the situation. Through all of this, he never seemed distressed. I didn’t get a good read on his emotions. He didn’t come off as cold or heartless, but I couldn’t empathize with him either. This wasn’t just a flaw with César. All of the characters were flat and needed more development.

César did a lot of stupid things. It wasn’t so bad that he was TSTL, but nonetheless it’s annoying when characters constantly cause problems for themselves by making bad choices. He worked in a government agency, yet he wasn’t knowledgeable in working around the agency. He knew how they operated and continued to unnecessarily place himself in their path.

The world building needed to be explained better. I still don’t understand how magic works in this world. All I could grasp was that different people are capable of different magic. The world building was seriously lacking. I don’t require in depth or complicated world building, but being able to understand the basics is always good. Some things didn’t add up. Early on César was capable of ripping a window from a wall. Clearly his magic gave him incredible strength, but later on he couldn’t manage to extricate himself from rope. I’m sure rope is strong, but can it really stop a guy who can basically tear down a wall with his bare hands? Also he got beat up a lot, so his strength didn’t seem to be much of an asset.

Maybe I’ll try another series by this author at some point, but it’s not likely I’ll be continuing this one.

Midnight Burning by Karissa Laurel

Rating: 2 stars

Series: (unnamed) #1

The idea behind this book was great. An inexperienced southern woman traveled to Alaska to find out what really happened to her brother, and then weird things began happening. More was going on than she knew. Sounds cool, right? Unfortunately it just wasn’t executed well. The writing was decent. It was well edited and didn’t have plot holes.

I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Even a good story isn’t interesting if none of the characters are. Solina considered herself to be a prim and proper southern woman, a people pleaser, and someone who didn’t take risks. None of her actions reflected this at all. She mouthy and rude. The only person she aimed to please was herself. She took a hell of a lot of risks for a cautious person. Other people often withheld information from her (although they had their reasons), which annoyed her, but she didn’t divulge anything she knew to them. Why did she expect others to be open and honest with her when she couldn’t do the same in return?

Val was her brother’s best friend and had been a source of comfort to Solina since her brother’s death. All she did was push him away. It didn’t make sense to me why she found the one person in the group she’d know the longest to be the most untrustworthy. He was vocal about his desire for her, but she could have just flat out said she didn’t want sex. Instead she treated him poorly. Val’s character needed more development. Mainly he was overly protective of and horny for Solina.

Thorin was cold. He had a bit of an “you don’t want to mess with me” edge, but was too rigid and uptight to be a bad boy or any kind of fun. There wasn’t much to him. Solina claimed she didn’t trust him but deferred to his opinion when it came to what she needed to do, which went against her constant insinuations that she could do what she wanted and didn’t need to rely on anyone. It’s beyond me as to why she ever warmed to him, but it happened.

Skyla was simply there. She didn’t have much of a personality. Her purpose was to be a friend who had no potential of becoming a love interest and to feed Solina info when no one else would. All she did was fill that purpose. She lacked any unique characteristics to make her stand out beyond her role.

Of course there was the dreaded love triangle. It was obnoxious especially since Solina didn’t have any deep desire or interest in either of the men. All the men did was act like jerks and be macho in their attempts to make the other guy back off. The large roles the men played meant that the love triangle drama was at the forefront.

Untouchable by Cindy Skaggs

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

Series: Untouchables #1

When Sophia son was kidnapped, the number of suspects was fairly small. Since she was the ex-wife of a mob boss, it was likely that someone in the mafia took her child. Sophia didn’t have strong ties to the mafia anymore, so trying to find him was complicated. Turning to the police wasn’t an option. Logan and Sophia barely knew each other, but he was determined to help her find her child.

I wanted to like this more than I did. It was fast paced with plenty of action. The plot was decent, but the characters fell flat. I didn’t like or dislike them.

Sophia was cold and distant out of necessity, which didn’t bother me. I didn’t agree with all of her choices. For a woman with trust issues, ditching Logan wasn’t high on her priority list, and I didn’t understand why. The loneliness and isolation she had experienced was expressed well, but the panic and fear of having a child go missing wasn’t. A mother should freak out if her kid was at risk of being killed at any moment, but Sophia was fairly calm about it all. Logan was okay. There wasn’t anything special about him.

The romance lacked passion and chemistry. The instant attraction didn’t make sense since neither of them approved of how the other lived their lives. Plus the romance develops from strangers to love in just a few days. It wasn’t believable.

I received this from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Girl from Above: Escape by Pippa DaCosta

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Series: The 1000 Revolution #2

Treachery is the theme. Nothing is what you think it is. Everyone has an angle.

There was no way to predict anything. Each of the characters were on their own at the beginning. I’m not sure how I thought this would play out, but I certainly didn’t think it would end the way it did. Unusual alliances were forged while others were destroyed.

If you like stories all about love, honesty, and loyalty, well this isn’t the book for you. Love is involved in the story, but it’s not a romance. No one here is truly loyal because they are only loyal when it benefits them. None of them are honest; they’re barely honest with themselves let alone with other people.

Caleb did some morally questionable things. Yet I still liked him. He was guilt ridden and in a constant state of emotional turmoil, which made it easy to understand why he lashed out sometimes. One thing he did towards the end really shocked me although it really needed to be done.

#1001 was more caring than the average synth, but viewed things in terms of black and white. She is a killer but definitely isn’t heartless. She was struggling to find her own way in the world, but it is difficult for her to do since everyone wants to use her for their own purposes.

Fran is the most conflicted character. Trying to remain loyal to people with opposing views was turning out to be far more complicated than she could have imagined. I want to hate her, but I can’t because she honestly believed what she was doing was right.

I wish more sci-fi was written like this because I would read it a lot more.

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Rating: 2 stars

This has got to be the least suspenseful suspense novel I’ve ever read. It took me a week to get through it, which is a long time for me to read a book. There wasn’t much to make me want to keep reading. Tessa was the sole survivor of a serial killer. After the man who supposedly did it was convicted, she discovered clues indicating the killer may still be out there.

With each chapter the POV alternated between Tessa after being rescued and Tessa in the present day. She wasn’t fucked up enough IMO. She almost died at the hands of a serial killer. The main indication of emotional trauma was her psychosomatic blindness. Other than that she didn’t seem highly traumatized. I had expected emotional turmoil to be pouring off the pages especially in the scenes when she was younger, but it wasn’t there. Mainly she was agitated, but it wasn’t because of her experiences, it was because she had to see a psychiatrist. Details about her kidnapping and near death were not revealed in the therapy sessions either, so not much was gleaned from the chapters when she was young.

The clues and red herrings didn’t hold weight with me. A red herring needs to be believable as a viable suspect to actually, you know, suspect them. The side characters weren’t developed well enough to be suspicious of them since I was told but not shown what they were like. The killer was a complete surprise, but there were a few things about the ending that were ridiculous and unbelievable.

I received this from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Girl from Above: Betrayal by Pippa DaCosta

Girl from AboveRating: 4 stars

Series: The 1000 Revolution #1

#1001 wasn’t supposed to exist. The other synthetic humans a.k.a synths were more machine than human. They had specific orders and protocols to follow. #1001 was different. She had free will although she wasn’t supposed to; there was an order she should have been following. People were after her because she was problematic. She stowed away on Caleb Shepperd’s ship. He was an outlaw with secrets of his own, and was reluctant to help her.

I was hesitant to read this because I’m not into science fiction. I got sucked into the story right away mainly because of the characters. All of them had their own secrets or things to figure out. I love the way DaCosta writes her characters. No one is purely good or bad although some lean further in one direction than the other. They’re complex; the good people do bad things and the bad people do good things. It’s far more interesting to read about characters when it is hard to predict what they will do next. Just when you think you know what they will do next, they manage to shock you.

The world building managed to give just enough details without being bogged down with extraneous information. Although it was science fiction, it was light on the science, which is how I prefer it. My initial ambivalence about reading this was because I thought it would have more technical details about the synths and outer space. I understood exactly how the world worked at least within its pertinence to the story.

The end had a big twist, which will change the direction of the story. I can’t wait to read the next one!

I received this from netgalley in exchange for an honest review!