The Kaiju Preservation Society-5 stars
I don’t even know what to say except this was pitch perfect. It reminded me in a good way of “Old Man’s War” and I cheered through the whole book. I loved everyone. I am so sad this is a standalone so we don’t get to follow Jamie and his friends he meets in the Kaiju Preservation Society (KPS).
“The Kaiju Preservation Society” begins with Jamie Gray getting fired. Jamie lives in New York and doesn’t know how he will support himself and keep his apartment with his roommates. Then COVID-19 hits the country and Jamie is delivering food. Encountering someone he used to know, Tom, he is offered a job that includes heavy hitting and protecting some big animals. Jamie thinks anything is better than what he has, and then after getting interviewed, tons of shots, he is told that he is going someplace for several months where he won’t be able to communicate with his friends. Jamie goes off and then is shocked to find out that he is going someplace else, not of this Earth, but Kaiju Earth where he and his team are to look after and study kaiju that live on a different Earth from ours.
What can I say, I laughed so much while reading this book. I loved every minute of it. I loved Jamie, I loved Kahurangi, I loved Niamh, and I loved Aparna. We also get to know so many secondary characters like Tom and Satie that I was sad to see them all go when I finished this book.
Some people may think the book doesn’t do much til the last third, but I loved the set up of the book. We pretty much get the whole here’s what Kaiju are and the team getting to know about them via their own work paths at the base. Jamie is a grunt, Kahurangi is a chemist and geology, Niamh they do physics and astronomy, and Aparna is a biologist. Due to that the four of them have different adventures that will have you holding your breath.
The overall plot really is about learning more about the Kaiju and their habits. And the bad guys get involved and the gang of four have to do what they can to take them down.
I loved the writing and the dialogue. The book really is just like eating chocolate cake while drinking a really good champagne. It’s not dark, until it is, but you know the darkness is going to be a small part of what makes this book work.
The setting of Kaiju Earth and learning about other planets had me intrigued. Everything Scalzi sets up makes sense. And this book is set during our Earth/path since COVID-19 is included and we hear about the current President and his two tall sons. Without naming people, Scalzi lets us know who is what and why so many people feel exhausted and worried in the run-up to the 2020 election.
The ending was sublime.
Once More Upon a Time: An Enchanting Romantic Fairy Tale-5 stars
This was wonderful. This also made me miss Chokshi’s writing. I have stopped reading the YA works that she has written because they are not hitting me the same way as the other books she has written. But this tale brought back how well she does with reimagining fairy tales.
“Once More Upon a Time” follows Imelda (one of the 12 dancing princesses) and Ambrose (I think he is based on one of the sons from The Three Feathers) who meet at Imelda’s sister’s wedding and fall in love and marry. However, Imelda eats something that may kill her and Ambrose bargains with a witch who promises to save her if they give up their love for each other. And so they do. And then the story follows them a year later after they are being forced out of their kingdom (only those truly in love can rule their kingdom) and the witch turns up to set them off on another adventure.
I loved both Imelda and Ambrose. Both of them want to stay in their kingdom and resent the other because they are not in love and am now going to have to go back home (Imelda) or find their way (Ambrose). When the witch asks them to go off and grab a potion at another wedding, they both agree because she promises to give them whatever they want in return.
Together these two are someone you can root for. The story continues with little aside given by the witch who definitely sees love in a different way. I laughed and sighed through this whole tale and absolutely loved the ending. I hope that Chokshi plays with fairy tales some more.
Hot and Sour Suspects-4 stars
A solid cozy mystery starring Lana Lee. I have to say though the biggest hurdle I have at this point is that Lana has been hurt multiple times and could have caused someone else to be shot. And then her response is like I am going to get a gun and I went ehhh. The book also had a subplot dealing with Lana’s sister and her “secret” boyfriend and it didn’t resolve as well as I thought it should have.
“Hot and Sour Suspects” follows Lana as she tries to help her friend Rina Su who is under investigation after a guy she goes home with from a speed dating event ends up dead. Lana, Megan, and Kimmy decide they are going to help Rina, whether she wants their help or not.
So Lana in this one drove me up the wall. She was scattered all over the place. I think the bigger issue is that the subplot with her sister didn’t need to be included in this at all. I wonder if that was just added to set up a future plot point in another book. If not, it just was filler. I did like we got more Adam in this one. There doesn’t seem to be any angst between them about her investigating or their relationship. He spends the night, but everything is a fade to black situation so you don’t get to see/hear about any sexy times.
Megan and Kimmy were not as aggravating. The three women worked very well together and their hijinks did make me laugh.
The flow was stilted here and there though I have to say. It just felt a few times that Chien tossed some things out that didn’t really fit.
The ending was good and the information we get at the conclusion about what is going on with Chien’s personal life has me wishing her nothing but good health.
I went back and forth on this one. I honestly could not give this more than 3 stars. The book drags so much and the repetitiveness of the writing after a while started to get to me. I also just hated the fact that there were pockets of time that the main character Serilda seemed to be trying to give the benefit of the doubt to the Erlking who is a straight up murderer through most of the book. I will thank Meyer for not doing a love triangle in this one (thank you!) because I was dreading the whole, good girl who redeems an awful man/god trope that it seemed like the book wanted to dance down a few times. I feel bad that nothing since the Lunar Chronicles has grabbed me. Her other works I either DNFed, or I just didn’t have much energy to even start. I may check out the second book in this series, but if it’s as long as this one, I will probably pass. I have read other works based upon Rumpelstiltskin, and this one just didn’t grab me as much.
“Gilded” follows Serilda, who is living with her father, a miller in their village. Serila works for the local witch (or Serilda thinks she is one) and gets in trouble for telling the children another outlandish tale. Serilda knows that many in the village don’t trust her since her mother disappeared when she was a baby, and her eyes have spinning wheels in them (do not ask me, I didn’t write this). Awakening one night Serilda realizes that some moss maidens are being hunted by the Erlking and she hides them. She also manages to lie to the Erlking and tells him she was out gathering straw to turn into gold thread. Serilda is gifted items by the maidens, but soon realizes that the Erlking has taken noticed of her. The Erlking demands on every full moon that Serilda come to him and spin straw into gold. Serilda is told if she cannot do what she claimed, she will be killed. A young man named Gild comes along though who agrees to help Serilda if she gives him a gift.
Serilda drove me batty. I can’t say anything more than that. She’s rude and nasty to Gild even though he’s saving her neck. And then of course there are feelings and I went thank God I am not a teenager. I just shook my head at her. She kept doing things that made no sense and the book leaves her in a bad way that had me going what is happening.
The other characters are not very well developed which is a shame since the book is over 500 pages. There are so many hidden mysteries in this one and it takes forever to unwind some of them. The only real mystery that gets resolved is about Gild. But I assume the next book goes into Serilda’s family history.
The book flow just got so bad. I started reading this book each night I was away hiking and started to groan each time I turned on my Kindle. I probably should have DNFed it, but I wanted to finish this. I got tired of reading about Serilda’s eyes. I got tired of reading about the god of Lies, how Gild made her feel, etc. The book just kept going over the same ground.
The book ends on a big cliffhanger, which I hate when books do this. Each book should stand on its own. One thing I will give Nora Roberts credit for, most of her magick trilogies have the book act pretty much as a standalone while setting up the next couple/theme.
One Italian Summer-2 stars
I went back and forth on the rating of this book. I honestly could not give it more than 2 stars because of all of the issues that I had with it. I have to say though that Serle seems to like to play with romance a lot and she often includes things that I think most romance readers are not fond of reading about in their books. I grabbed this one since it promised to be a magical realism romance book. Those are my jam. And unfortunately this one missed the mark on so much stuff and I started to actively dislike the lead character, Katy.
“One Italian Summer” follows Katy who is left reeling after the death of her mother from cancer. Katy does not know who she is without her mother. She tells us readers repeatedly that her mother was the love of her life and vice versa. She doesn’t want to be married anymore to her husband Eric because she just doesn’t trust being married anymore for [dumb] reasons. Eric who is a better person than I am encourages Katy to go on the Italian trip that she and her mom had planned. Katy legit tells Eric that they are on a break and that they can do whatever. I legit saw Ross’s face when I read those lines and screamed cause I knew what was probably going to be coming. Off Katy goes to the Amalfi Coast and stays at a hotel that feels like a different place and time. And then Katy explores one day and ends up meeting a woman who she realizes is her 30 year old mother. Katy has been given another chance to be with her mother and she is given a choice about staying or moving on.
Look you guys, when Katy says repeatedly that her mother was the love of her life you know what kind of book this was going to be. The co-dependency of Katy on her mother was a lot. I can see why this occurred (no spoilers) from her mother’s side, but am shocked no one else ever said that needing your mother to constantly tell you what to do is not healthy. Heck, even Eric said something and I was nodding my head. I think I just started getting offended by the entire character of Katy. She talks about her mother and she doesn’t seem real. And heck with the reveals in this book one wonders if Katy even knew her mother really. She saw someone who was perfect in all things. I mean Katy doesn’t even seem to think about her father and how much things are affecting him. Eric is also upset and she gets annoyed at his upset. I started wondering if Katy was a psychopath at this point. One thing that troubled me though as I completed the book was that Katy has no freaking friends. There’s no mention of friends. All Katy has is Eric, and her parents, mostly her mom. The whole thing started having me feel claustrophobic.
The other characters we see via Katy’s eyes is a man named Adam that Katy means and is intrigued by. We also of course get 30 year old Carol. And this Carol is different than the Carol that Katy is used to. Katy gets obsessed with spending time with her and then stressing over her mother’s choices.
Adam was exhausting. I was not rooting for him. I am leaving that whole thing alone.
Carol in the end had my sympathy. A lot. And I still don’t think Katy learned a blessed thing.
There’s an ending. I booed it.
Not in the mood to write a long review. This just didn’t work on any level. I called BS on the overall plot and really didn’t like Mina or her choices. Sorry. The entire premise did my head in. And the book dragged badly. We have the book flipping between Mina and her husband Adam. We also follow some of the passengers on the flight and then a reveal, a twist, another twist, and then the end. I have absolutely enjoyed some of Mackintosh’s other books, but this one needed reworked badly. Maybe if we only followed Mina and had the passengers and that was it, it would have worked. But having the whole other plot going on with Adam took away from the main premise of this book.
“Hostage” follows flight attendant Mina. Mina is dealing with a separation from her husband Adam who she no longer trusts. They are also still dealing with the problems with their 5 year old daughter Sophia who has attachment disorder which makes Mina feel smothered and Adam feeling ignored. Mina manages to get on a 20 hour nonstop flight from London to Australia (the first ever made). But things turn quickly when Mina is given a note that tells her, her daughter will die unless Mina unlocks the cockpit to allow the plane to get hijacked……yeah.
Mina makes bad decisions and I am sorry I couldn’t root for her. I think as one reviewer said, someone deciding that other people and their children didn’t matter and her child was the only one that did had me going my God. (view spoiler)
Adam’s whole storyline made no sense. I just thought that got tossed in there to explain what was going on which many readers thought was one thing, but was another.
The whole reason behind the hostage taking had me going WTF. I didn’t buy it and it didn’t even make any sense. (view spoiler)
The book dragged so badly as I was reading. Going back and forth between Mina, Adam, and the passengers and one person in a seat had me shaking my head.
The ending was absurd.