Book Review: Hostage To Pleasure by Nalini Singh

Book: Hostage To Pleasure by Nalini Singh

Published September 2008 by Berkley Books|330 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Psy-Changeling #5

Genre: Adult Romance/Paranormal Romance

Separated from her son and forced to create a neural implant that will mean the effective enslavement of her psychically gifted race, Ashaya Aleine is the perfect Psy–cool, calm, emotionless…at least on the surface. Inside, she’s fighting a desperate battle to save her son and escape the vicious cold of the PsyNet. Yet when escape comes, it leads not to safety, but to the lethal danger of a sniper’s embrace.

DarkRiver sniper Dorian Christensen lost his sister to a Psy killer. Though he lacks the changeling ability to shift into animal form, his leopard lives within. And that leopard’s rage at the brutal loss is a clawing darkness that hungers for vengeance. Falling for a Psy has never been on Dorian’s agenda. But charged with protecting Ashaya and her son, he discovers that passion has a way of changing the rules…

I really liked this one!  I definitely liked it a lot more than Mine To Posses, the previous book in the series.  Ashaya has come up in the previous novels, and I was really intrigued by what she was doing.  I’m really glad that we got her story, though I did figure we’d get it eventually.  It’s the same with Dorian, of course.

I thought Ashaya was interesting.  We do get more of what she was doing, especially with the implant protocol she was working on.  I also thought her shields were interesting as well, and the whole thing with her sister really got my attention as well.  Even though Ashaya was the focus of this book, I’m sure her work and everything with her twin will come up in some of the other books.  I really wanted more of it.

I also like that we got bits and pieces from her encrypted files.  That’s definitely different, but it gave a lot more insight into her thoughts and what was going on with her.  She’s definitely logical (she is Psy, after all), but she and Dorian are so good together, and they are my favorite couple.  At least, so far they are.  That could change as I continue the series, but so far, they are it.

The more I read this series, the more I love it.  The characters are all so different, but there are some great friendships, alliances and romance.  And even though each story stands alone pretty well, I also love that the world keeps building on itself.  I’m curious to see how it all comes together and how it all ends.  I’m at the point where I’ve requested the entire series from the library, and I’m waiting on the last couple of books before picking it up again.

I haven’t talked about Dorian at all!  I loved seeing him with Keenan, and I really feel for him.  I definitely get why he doesn’t want to be with Ashaya, even though she is his mate.  One thing I’m kind of curious about is how the changelings know who their mate is.  Now that I think about it, I can’t recall it ever being mentioned in detail, especially since they all seem to mate with Psy.  Maybe I’m not just remembering anything, and I’m totally cool with them just somehow knowing, but it would be interesting to get more details.  Or details that I can remember.  Maybe I’ll have to pay more attention in the next one to see if it comes up.

What is driving me crazy is not knowing who the Ghost is!  Singh is doing such a great job at not giving anything away.  Not that I’m actively trying to figure it out, and I can’t recall any clues.  I’m wondering if it’s someone we know, or if we’ve never met them before.  I’m hoping we find out, but I also don’t want to be let down with the reveal either.

And what is going on with Kaleb?  I’ve decided, I want a book focusing on him.  I’m intrigued by what he’s up to, and I can’t quite decide if he’s good or bad.  Time will tell, but I’m sure this is not the last we’ve seen of him.

4 stars.  I really liked this one!  I liked Ashaya and Dorian together, and both characters are pretty cool.

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Book Review: Mine To Possess by Nalini Singh

Book: Mine To Possess by Nalini Singh

Published February 2008 by Berkley|328 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Psy-Changling #4

Genre: Adult Romance/Paranormal Romance

Clay Bennett is a powerful DarkRiver sentinel, but he grew up in the slums with his human mother, never knowing his changeling father. As a young boy without the bonds of Pack, he tried to stifle his animal nature. He failed…and committed the most extreme act of violence, killing a man and losing his best friend, Talin, in the bloody aftermath. Everything good in him died the day he was told that she, too, was dead.

Talin McKade barely survived a childhood drenched in bloodshed and terror. Now a new nightmare is stalking her life–the street children she works to protect are disappearing and turning up dead. Determined to keep them safe, she unlocks the darkest secret in her heart and returns to ask the help of the strongest man she knows…

Clay lost Talin once. He will not let her go again, his hunger to possess her, a clawing need born of the leopard within. As they race to save the innocent, Clay and Talin must face the violent truths of their past…or lose everything that ever mattered.

I liked Mine To Possess!  I think it’s my least favorite book so far, though there were things that I liked as well.

I really liked learning more about the Silence and the Psy-Net.  With each book, we’re learning more and more about the world, and while each book is relatively contained, and is a mostly complete story, we’re also getting more about the world they live in, and how much history there is.  There’s a larger picture that you wouldn’t see if you didn’t read each book.

The overall story gets moved along a lot in this book and that was nice to see.  We get more behind the scenes with the Council, and though there was something that I figured out early on in the book, I was surprised at some of the details.  It makes sense, but I had never thought about it before, and I’m really curious to see where it will go.

As for Talin and Clay…I didn’t particularly care for them as a couple.  I mean they make sense in terms of the story, and they have a history.  I get why Talin acted the way she did, and I felt for her.  There were a couple of time Clay was really frustrating, but for the most part, I liked Clay a lot more than Tally.  I wish I rooted for the romance more, because with romance, I want to love the characters together, and I just didn’t.  Hopefully, I’ll have better luck with the next book.

3 stars.  I didn’t like it as much as the previous books because of the couple but I did like learning more about the Silence and the Psy Net.  And I’m really curious to see where things go.

Book Review: Visions Of Heat by Nalini Singh

Book: Visions Of Heat by Nalini Singh

Published March 2007 by Berkley Sensation|332 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Psy-Changling #2

Genre: Adult Romance/Paranormal Romance

Hailed as a major new talent in paranormal romance, Nalini Singh takes us deeper into the world of the Psy and the changelings in her latest extraordinary novel, where a gifted woman sees passion in her future – a passion that is absolutely forbidden by her kind…

Used to cold silence, Faith NightStar is suddenly being tormented by dark visions of blood and murder. A bad sign for anyone, but worse for Faith, an F-Psy with the highly sought after ability to predict the future. Then the visions show her something even more dangerous – aching need…exquisite pleasure. But so powerful is her sight, so fragile the state of her mind, that the very emotions she yearns to embrace could be the end of her.

Changeling Vaughn D’Angelo can take the form of either man or jaguar, but it is his animal side that is overwhelmingly drawn to Faith. The jaguar’s instinct is to claim this woman it finds so utterly fascinating and the man has no argument. But while Vaughn craves sensation and hungers to pleasure Faith in every way, desire is a danger that could snap the last threads of her sanity. And there are Psy who need Faith’s sight for their own purposes. They must keep her silenced – and keep her from Vaughn.

I really liked Visions Of Heat!  I especially liked Faith and Vaughn together.  Thought Sasha and Lucas from the previous book aren’t the focus, I do like that we see them in this book, and that we still get their story, even though they aren’t the main couple in this book.

I really like the world, and I’m intrigued with the F-Psy and how isolated they are.  She lives in her own little bubble and I thought it was interesting that she decided to try to get out of it and break free.  I particularly liked seeing Faith outside of the compound she’s lived in for years, and how she begins to adjust to the outside world.

We get more of this world we saw in Slave To Sensation, and I’m curious to see if we’ll see some of the other packs and Psy in the other books.  I’m sure each book will focus on a different couple, if this book and the one before it are any indication.  She really built on the world, and though you don’t need to read the first one to understand what’s going on in this one, I still think the world and characters are good enough that you’ll want to read each one in order!

It did seem more political than Slave To Sensation- Faith is a possibility for an opening on the Council, and it’s pretty much for the control they’d have over her, and because of what she can do.  I think that’s why it’s so interesting that those with abilities like Faith are so isolated.  I mean, they do seem to train them to see certain things, but it’s interesting that they don’t try to control them more.  I don’t know if we’ll see more of the F-Psy in future books (or that we’ll see one as powerful as Faith is supposed to be), but I am curious to learn more about what they can do.

I did like her dad, and he seemed pretty cool, all things considered.  He did seem to care about her, which seemed unexpected, considering how cold and emotionless the Psy are supposed to be.  Maybe they’re not all alike after all.

We do see more of the Silence Protocol, and the NetMind, and I hope we’ll continue to see more of it in the books to come.  I’m sure we will, and while I’m fairly certain each book is going to focus on a different couple, I’m sure we’ll see appearances from Faith, Vaughn, Lucas and Sascha.  I’m very curious to see if the Psy will rebel and change how things are done.

4 stars.  I really liked Visions Of Heat, and I can’t wait to start reading the next one!

Audio Book Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, Narrated by Full Cast

Book: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, Narrated by Full Cast

Published April 2016 by Random House Audio|Length: 8 hours, 28 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Themis Files #1

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi

An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a literary thriller fueled by a quest for truth – and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery – and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

I really liked Sleeping Giants!  It was one of those books I tried reading ages ago, before realizing I’d like it a lot better as an audio book.  I’m glad I switched to the audio, because I really liked the audio book.

I think the comparison to World War Z and The Martian is actually a pretty good one.  The interviews and such we see in Sleeping Giant did make me think of World War Z and The Martian, and I think the fact that it’s told through interviews translated really well to audio.  And why I struggled with it when I tried reading it in print.

I really liked seeing all of the people involved in trying to figure out the giants.  It’s definitely a mystery, and I feel like you really get to know the characters.  Because of how the story is told, you don’t get the inner thoughts of the character, and you do see things from a distance, but even then, I still felt like I got to know the characters and what they wanted.  Even the interviewer, and he somehow seemed more anonymous, which meant I was more intrigued with him than with anyone else.

There is a lot of backstory that we don’t get.  There are all of these different files, but some are skipped over- we’ll go from, say, File #12 to File #23.  It means there’s a lot that we don’t get, and I’m wondering if we’ll get more in the books to come.

I also really liked the idea of the novel.  I mean, a giant hand is discovered and they’re trying to figure out what it means, and how it got buried on earth?  What’s not to like?  I just want to know what it all means.  I guess I’ll have to listen to book 2 to find out.

As for the narration, I really liked it!  World War Z is the only book I’ve listened to that had a full cast, and wasn’t narrated by 1 or 2 people.  I liked that it had multiple narrators, because it really made each person distinct.  I mean, I wasn’t completely paying attention to who was who, but I did like all of the narrators, and thought that they each had their own voice and personality.

4 stars.  I really liked Sleeping Giants, and I especially liked it as an audio book.  I know certain files were skipped over, and I kind of wish that we knew what happened in those gaps, and that we knew more about the mysterious interviewer.  But overall, it’s a pretty interesting story.

Book Review: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Book: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Published July 2017 by Thomas & Mercer|300 pages

Where I Got I Got: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Stillhouse Lake #1

Genre: Adult Fiction/Mystery

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

I really liked Stillhouse Lake!  I’ve really enjoyed a lot of her books, and I knew I had to give this one a try.

I will say, I felt bad for Gwen and her kids- especially her kids.  I mean, I know a lot of people thought she was guilty, and didn’t like that she didn’t go to jail for something they thought she did.  She shouldn’t have had to live life on the run with her kids, but at the same time, I wasn’t surprised by how people treated her.  The kids really should have been left alone, but like with how people treated Gwen, I wasn’t surprised that people would go after the kids too.

It’s definitely creepy and suspenseful, and it’s started off in a very dramatic fashion.  I felt like, in following Gwen’s story, that you see how Mel was a different person than he appeared to be, and how little she actually knew about what he was doing.  I can see why people would believe she was in on it somehow, and it was something I thought myself a couple of times during the book.  Still, I really felt for her, and it was easy to see how she wouldn’t have known.

The setting is great for a story like this one.  It seems like a pretty isolated community, and the perfect setting for both murder and the family dealing with the aftermath of a serial killer.  I did like that take on it- I mean, how often do you see a novel about a serial killer’s family after it gets out that they are related to a serial killer?  I don’t know how unique it is, since I don’t read a lot of mystery/thriller/suspense novels.  But it’s unique to me, so I definitely intrigued to see what would happen next.  I am looking forward to reading the next book to see where things go.

4 stars.  I really liked Stillhouse Lake and it’s a creepy book.  If you like stories about serial killers, this is one to check out!

Book Review: Blackbird by Michael Fiegel

Book: Blackbird by Michael Fiegel

Published November 2017 by Skyhorse|312 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: Adult Thriller

A dark, biting literary debut for fans of Caroline Kepnes following the unlikely bond between two sociopaths―and the destruction left in their wake.

“When I was eight years old, I was abducted from a fast food restaurant by a man who took me, in all likelihood, because of a small splotch of mayonnaise on his hamburger. And so I believe in neither free will nor predetermination. I believe in condiments.”

A cold-blooded killer-for-hire, Edison North drifts across America from city to city, crime scene to crime scene, leaving behind a world in flames. But during a random bloodbath at a fast food restaurant, Edison meets Christian, a young girl who mirrors his own vacant stare and stink of “other.” Though it’s been a long time since he felt anything resembling a human connection, something about this desperately lonely child calls to him. Edison feels certain she deserves better. And while he is not convinced that he can give her that, he can make her stronger. So begin the chronicles of Edison North―and his protégé.

As Edison begins Christian’s strange apprenticeship, Christian looks back upon her fractured upbringing and the training that made her into the killer she’s become. What follows is a brilliant―and ultimately tender―character study of two outsiders whose improbably forged bond unleashes a new facet of the human experience between them―and a jagged slash of violence on the world around them.

I thought Blackbird was just okay.  I’ve had it for a while, and while it isn’t typically the sort of book I’d pick up, it was part of the PageHabit horror box (back when I was getting it before I ended up cancelling it).

Here’s the thing.  I don’t know that I would classify this book as horror.  It’s more of a thriller, and I tend to associate horror with authors like Stephen King or movies like The Exorcist and Halloween.  Not a novel about an assassin who takes an 8 year old as his apprentice after kidnapping her from a fast food place.

We get sections narrated by both Christian and Edison.  Christian’s chapters are in a slightly different font than Edisons, and there’s obviously a different voice, but it would randomly switch between the two, so it always took a while to get into the two very different perspectives.

It’s not an easy read, and I found that I could only read a little bit at a time before I had to put it down and read something else.  I liked it at the beginning, but by the end, I kind of lost interest in what was happening.  I also thought things were more muddled by the end, though this is the sort of book you need to pay close attention to, and I wasn’t really doing that.  It’s not my cup of tea, and it felt like things were painfully slow.

It also felt like I was getting snippets of their lives, and I think that’s because of the time jumps.  Which were fine, of course, and the story was pretty linear.  I just felt like I was getting little snippets, and even with the time jumps, I still felt like things moved slow.

I did get a conspiracy theory vibe from the book, which was interesting.  Edison has a handler, and people are watching both him and Christian (xtian as he calls her) and he travels around doing murder for hire by some shadow organization.  If that’s not some sort of conspiracy right there, I don’t know what is.

I also liked that Fiegel had no problem showing how terrible Edison was, and it is a pretty straightforward book.  You see his methods and beliefs, and yet it didn’t seem like he was intentionally trying to shock or scare the reader.  It was also more literary than I expected.  In the literary fiction sense.

I’m not sure what else to say about Blackbird.  It seems like a book a lot of people liked, but it wasn’t for me.

2 stars.  Blackbird was okay, and while I initially liked it, by the end I was bored.  I can see why people like it.

Book Review: Mambo In Chinatown by Jean Kwok

Book: Mambo In Chinatown by Jean Kwok

Published July 2015 by Riverhead Books|448 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction

From the bestselling author of Girl in Translation, an inspiring novel about a young woman torn between her family duties in Chinatown and her escape into a more Western world.

Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Wong grew up in New York’s Chinatown, the older daughter of a Beijing ballerina and a noodle maker. Though an ABC (American-born Chinese), Charlie’s entire life has been limited to this small area. Now grown, she lives in the same tiny apartment with her widower father and her eleven-year-old sister, and works—miserably—as a dishwasher.

But when she lands a job as a receptionist at a ballroom dance studio, Charlie gains access to a world she hardly knew existed, and everything she once took to be certain turns upside down. Gradually, at the dance studio, awkward Charlie’s natural talents begin to emerge. With them, her perspective, expectations, and sense of self are transformed—something she must take great pains to hide from her father and his suspicion of all things Western. As Charlie blossoms, though, her sister becomes chronically ill. As Pa insists on treating his ailing child exclusively with Eastern practices to no avail, Charlie is forced to try to reconcile her two selves and her two worlds—Eastern and Western, old world and new—to rescue her little sister without sacrificing her newfound confidence and identity.

After reading Girl In Translation, I knew I had to read Mambo In Chinatown.  While I didn’t love Mambo In Chinatown, I still really liked it, and I liked it a lot more than Girl In Translation.

One thing I noticed while reading this book is that something about it rings true.  It seems like Kwok draws on her own experiences as an immigrant when she writing, and it shows, because something about Mambo In Chinatown felt really personal.  Also, I think Kimberly from Girl In Translation makes an appearance in this book…at least, it seems like her, and it would be really cool if it were.

I did like Charlie.  She’s doing everything she can to help out her father and her sister, and you see how she struggles with reconciling two different worlds.  I was surprised with what happens with her sister, and I hope she gets the help she needs.  I respect that their dad is doing what he thinks is best for them, but it ended up doing more harm then good, it would seem.

And Charlie did have a lot on her plate- for some reason, I initially thought she was younger than she was, but it’s clear she cares about her sister and that she’s doing her best to help out.  I love that she ends up learning how to dance, and considering her mom was a ballerina, I thought there would be more connections to that.  Still, I’m glad it worked out for her, and while her dad wasn’t happy about it, it seems like he comes around, which is good.

Speaking of her dad, he does do his best in raising Charlie and her sister, but a lot of work still falls to Charlie.  I’m glad she finally said something about it to him, because we do see some changes in him after that.  I did hate that he didn’t want to give Western Medicine a try.  I’m not sure if it’s because of the medical issues his wife had, or if he just didn’t believe in it, but it was frustrating, even if I could understand it.  He went through quite the change, and it happened pretty fast, so that was a little odd, but at least he’s trying.

Charlie was easy to relate to- she’s imperfect and clumsy and she just wants a better life.  I really liked her, and I thought she became a lot more confident by the end of the book.  I’m glad things worked out for her, and that she has great friends and family.

4 stars.  I really liked Mambo In Chinatown, and seeing how much Charlie changed by the end of the book.

Book Review: Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix, Illustrated by Michael Rogalski

Book: Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix, Illustrated by Michael Rogalski

Published September 2014 by Quirk|248 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Horror/Humor

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.

This was a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while, and I finally got around to reading it!  I didn’t love it, but it is an interesting take on the haunted house story.

It is set in an Ikea-type store, and throughout the book, we see references to the store itself and the products that the store has.  Each chapter has an interesting header- different products that Orsk has, and they get more interesting as the book goes on.

I did like the format of the book- we get a map of the showroom floor, there’s an order form, coupons for Planet Baby, and other cool catalog type stuff.  I did think the format would be more catalog-like, but at the same time, it did have a story to tell, so it makes sense that we’d see more story, and less…interesting formatting.

I was a little disappointed by that, because while there was some interesting stuff throughout the book, it wasn’t like that for the whole book.  Maybe I just made a lot of assumptions about the formatting itself.

Sometimes, things like letters and emails and any other variation on the typical paragraphs don’t work- not that I read a lot of books where we see that sort of thing- but I think Horrorstor could have used a little bit more of that.

It’s definitely a cool take on the haunted house story- obviously, it’s a haunted store, and I liked the story behind it. There is a point where the police can’t find the exit for the store, and I couldn’t help but wonder if they were ghosts or if there were other forces at work.  I did like the setting, and a fictional Ikea-type store is a really good setting for a haunted house story.

The characters where what I expected for the story.  While I’ve forgotten names already (and the book has since been returned to the library, so I unfortunately can’t reference it), the characters are pretty typical.  There’s the management type who drinks the company Kool-Aid because the store saved him, there’s the long-time retail worker who is beloved by employees and customers alike, and there’s the disgruntled retail worker struggling to survive, and hating every minute of her job.  We see a few other characters as well, but the three mentioned above are the ones we see the most.

I think, of the three, disgruntled retail worker is the one the book follows.  It is more her story than anyone else we see in the book, and she is the one I could relate to the most.  Not completely, but I definitely see where she is coming from.

I will say that the book is an interesting mix of horror and humor.  I thought it worked, but I don’t know that the humor is necessarily for everyone.  It’s not laugh out loud funny, and it seemed more horror and parody than horror and funny.  But overall, it’s an interesting combination.

3 stars.  I liked it, and it’s a cool concept.  I didn’t love it, and the characters were pretty typical, but worked for this story.

Book Review: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

Book: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

Published September 2015 by MIRA|429 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Menagerie #1

Genre: Adult Fantasy

From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent comes a richly imagined, provocative new series set in the dark mythology of the Menagerie… 

When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger’s Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus big-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she’s forced to “perform” in town after town. 

But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other “attractions”—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she’ll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed. 

Renowned author Rachel Vincent weaves an intoxicating blend of carnival magic and startling humanity in this intricately woven and powerful tale

I really liked Menagerie!  It’s a really cool concept and I liked the mythology behind it.

I felt really bad for Delilah and everyone at Metzgers.  They’re treated horribly, and they’re seen as not human, even though quite a few of them have the appearance of being human.  It’s creepy and awful and you slowly realize how helpless Delilah, and everyone else at the Menagerie are.

I did like the mystery surrounding what type of cryptid Delilah was.  It fit her pretty well, and I thought it worked really well with the story.  While I wasn’t trying to figure it out, I can’t say I’m completely surprised by it.  Considering what we see of her, it does fit.  I can’t say I’m surprised by a character like Delilah, because I kind of figured that we’d have a character like her.

We do have multiple POV in Menagerie, and while the writing style was pretty much the same for each one, I thought each perspective was very different, and showed what it was really like at Menagerie.  It seems like Delilah has a pretty…unique…experience there, and not completely representative of life at Metzger’s Menagerie.

There is violence (and rape) so this book is definitely for adults, though some older teens may be able to handle it.  It is unsettling, and makes it clear that the many people in the book will do whatever they want to the cryptids.  There is no fighting back for the cryptids, because no one cares what happens to them.

One thing I wish we got more of was the Reaping.  We do get snippets of an event called the Reaping, where hundreds of thousands of children go missing or dead, and their entire families are killed.  I wish it were more clear what it was, and what was behind it.  I mean, there are two more books after this one, so there’s always the chance we’ll learn more about what happened.  It’s clear that something led to how the cryptids are treated, and I did want more about what happened.

Still, VIncent created a pretty convincing world, and I feel like you could draw a lot of parallels between the world of Menagerie and our world.  She doesn’t refer to real world events or atrocities, and she has her own story, but still, I think you could draw your own conclusions.

4 stars.  I really liked it, and I thought the world was unique but familiar.  I wish we had more about the reaping and the cryptids, but perhaps we’ll see that in the next book.

Book Review: It Devours! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, Narrated by Cecil Baldwin

Book: It Devours! by Joseph Fink And Jeffrey Cranor, Narrated by Cecil Baldwin

Published October 2017 by Harper Audio|9 hours and 38 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Welcome To Night Vale #2

Genre: Adult Fiction

From the authors of the New York Times bestselling novel Welcome to Night Vale and the creators of the #1 international podcast of the same name, comes a mystery exploring the intersections of faith and science, the growing relationship between two young people who want desperately to trust each other, and the terrifying, toothy power of the Smiling God.

Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town. This investigation leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, and to Darryl, one of its most committed members. Caught between her beliefs in the ultimate power of science and her growing attraction to Darryl, she begins to suspect the Congregation is planning a ritual that could threaten the lives of everyone in town. Nilanjana and Darryl must search for common ground between their very different world views as they are faced with the Congregation’s darkest and most terrible secret.

Night Vale is such a delightful place.  Weird, but delightful.  And I am glad that I got to revisit Night Vale in It Devours!

The nice thing about It Devours (and the Welcome To Night Vale novel) is that you don’t need to listen to the podcast in order to read this book.  It’s completely separate (but does reference the podcast), and while I loved the first book, I think I loved this book even more.  It’s very different than what I expected, but I really liked the story.  Carlos and his time in the Otherworld is very different in this book, and it’s a big change from the podcast.  He was more excited about the possibilities in the podcast, and more tortured in the book.

Cranor and Fink don’t like to keep things neat and tidy, that’s for sure.  But maybe it affected Carlos more than we thought.  It’s a very different Carlos that we see in this book, but maybe…I mean, it’s not like we see a lot of Carlos in the podcast.  I mean, we do, but not like this, and it’s a very different side of him.

As for the main story, I liked Nilanjana and Darryl’s story.  It’s more focused than the first book, and while it meanders, it’s not meandering the way the first book is.  We see the Joyous Congregation, which has been mentioned on the podcast, but this is a much closer look at the Joyous Congregation and the Smiling God.  And science!  And how they can be good or bad, depending on how you use it.  Darryl and Nilanjana work together to save Night Vale, and they each have their own unique perspective.

It definitely adds to the world, and it really shows how big Night Vale is.  There are a lot of stories to tell, and while I love Cecil, it’s also nice to see some of the other characters and people of Night Vale.  I also feel like they’ve gotten the hang of the novel format, and I’m sure any future Night Vale books will continue to get better.

With the first Night Vale book, I both listened to the audio book and read the book in print format.  Having been an avid listener of the podcast for years, I knew I would love it as an audio book.  It turned out that I didn’t love it in print, which is why I only listened to It Devours.  I love Cecil, and I can’t imagine experiencing Night Vale in any other format.  I’ve listened to Night Vale for years, and Night Vale in print is a very strange concept for me.

I would definitely recommend It Devours as an audio book, though it could be interesting in print as well.  It didn’t translate well the first time around, but maybe this time it well.

It Devours is a lot more philosophical as well.  It really examines science and religion, but they do it well.  There’s a very Night Vale take on both science and religion in this book, and it’s not science vs religion.  Which is nice.  It’s very kind towards both.  Weird, but kind.  We are talking about Night Vale here.

By the way…It Devours!  Yeah, I’ve totally read that book.  In case you didn’t pick up on that.

5 stars.  I loved It Devours! and it was a great book to listen to while I cleaned the heck out of my room.  I found myself paying more attention to the book than the cleaning, and it’s a big improvement on the first book (which I also loved).