Book Review: Smoke And Iron by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Smoke And Iron by Rachel Caine

Published July 2018 by Berkley|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Great Library #4

Genre: YA Steampunk/Alternate History

To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making…if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.

I really liked Smoke And Iron!  Overall, I’ve really liked this series, and this book was no exception.

I was slightly surprised by how things ended, and I can’t wait for the next book to see how it’s all going to end.  There are a lot of changes in store for the Library, and I just really want to know how everything is going to go.

I was wondering what would happen in this book with the plan that Jess had in place.  We definitely find out but considering what the plan was, I had to remind myself of who was who and what was going on.  I think if people had been made aware of what the plan was, some things could have been avoided, and maybe even turned out differently.  But maybe not.  We’ll never know.  Either way, there were a lot of twists and turns in this book, and I liked seeing how the plan actually worked out.

I really liked seeing so many people narrate, especially because our band of fugitive scholars are split up.  It worked really well because we saw what was going on with everyone and it was great once everyone was together.  Hopefully, it will stay that way for the next book, but we shall see.

I really liked seeing more of the Obscurists, especially since this is the most we see of them.  Morgan just wants to be free, and while she wants that for the other Obscurists, I also like the perspective that it would be hard for a lot of the Obscurists because they don’t know anything outside the tower.

Khalila was amazing in this book and she’s just awesome.  I want good things for her- well, I want good things for everyone- but she’s pretty amazing.  She’s grown into someone who would make a great leader, and she’s strong and one of my favorite characters in the series.  She really wants the library to be the best version it could be, and she really believes in the library and what it can do.  It was really obvious in this book that she wants the library to exist, but not in it’s current form.

There’s a lot of action, and the book moves along pretty quickly.  There are some unexpected deaths, and one in particular was really hard.  I’m actually surprised that our main group of characters have survived so long, and I’m terrified that one (if not more) will die in the last book.  As long as it’s not Wolfe, Santi or Khalila, I think I’ll be fine.  I hope so, anyway.

4 stars.  I really liked Smoke And Iron, and while there’s a lot of resolution in this book, things are still hanging in the balance.  I can’t wait to see how Caine wraps everything up.

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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: Working Stiff by Rachel Caine

Book: Working Stiff by Rachel Caine

Published August 2011 by Roc|306 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: Revivalist #1

Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn’t the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment–until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele as part of an extortion racket. Now, Bryn faces being terminated–literally, and with extreme prejudice.

With the help of corporate double-agent Patrick McCallister, Bryn has a chance to take down the bigger problem–pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She’d better do it fast, before she becomes a zombie slave–a real working stiff. She’d be better off dead…

This is a book that I’ve had on my shelf for a while, and it’s weird I haven’t read it yet, especially considering I’ve really liked Caine’s other series.

I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would, but I did like it.  It is a cool idea, though.  I mean, a drug that can resurrect people and the company behind it.  It just wasn’t as fun as her other books, particularly her Morganville and Weather Wardens series.  I mean, there is some banter and sarcasm, but…I just wasn’t as into it as I thought I would be.

It’s very different from Outcast Season and Weather Wardens (her adult urban fantasy/paranormal series) and her Morganville Vampire series.  And even her steampunk Library Of Alexandria series.  You’d think I’d be all over her take on zombies, but I wasn’t.  It just wasn’t what I thought it would be.  I was bored and not interested in Bryn and the pharmaceutical company and what they were up to.  It was dull and slow, and it felt like nothing was happening.

Apparently, I’m not going to love every single thing she writes, but I was still hoping to like this one more than I actually did.  I feel like I’m pointing out the obvious, but I had a hard time getting through the book.  I think, if it were any other author, I might have not finished the book, but I’ve enjoyed her books enough that I read more of it than I would have otherwise.

Things felt muddled, and in terms of the world, it just wasn’t there.  I wish it were, obviously, but maybe the other books, if I ever pick them up, are a lot better.  Maybe this series needs some time to get to the level of story I’ve come to expect from Caine.  As much as I like her books, I just don’t know if it’s enough to continue this series.

2 stars.  Working Stiff has a really cool premise, but unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me.

Book Review: Ash And Quill by Rachel Caine

Book: Ash And Quill by Rachel Caine

Published July 2017 by Berkley|368 pages

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

Series: The Great Library #3

Genre: YA Steampunk/Alternate History

 Words can kill.

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny…

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library…

I really liked Ash And Quill!  This has been a really cool series to read, and it really is amazing what the Library will do to keep their power.  For some reason, I’m reminded of the Catholic Church and how huge it is- the Great Library feels like the library version of the Catholic church.  I’m not sure if anyone gets the same vibe, but I really felt it in this book, more than the previous two books.

America really does have it’s own thing going on, and I really am curious about why there seems to be more dissent in America.  Maybe because it’s further away, or it’s just what we do over here, but after this book, I’d really like to see more of what’s going on over in America, and if they’d be of any help to Jess and his friends.  I doubt we will, but who knows what is in store for Jess and everyone else after the way the book ended?

I can honestly say that I really think Jess needs to keep an eye on his dad.  I don’t trust his dad at all, and I half expected him to turn on his son.  There is something awfully shady about him, and if he doesn’t make it, I’ll be happy.  I really like the letters we see throughout the book, and it really shows what the library will do to keep certain things hidden and away from the general population.  They’ll do anything to keep printing presses suppressed, and it was interesting to see how people reacted to the idea that they could print books themselves instead of going through the Library for books.

Things are getting a lot worse, and this is the darkest book we see yet.  I think it’s a result of everything that’s happened in the series so far, and considering they’re prisoners in America, it’s also not surprising.  I’ll admit that I am intrigued by what Morgan can do, but she seems to have this…vibe about her.  Everyone wants to control her, and I still don’t completely understand why.  I mean, it seems like there’s not a lot of people who can do what she can do, but I’m not completely convinced of her special snowflake-ness.  Also, I don’t love her and Jess together, and it feels like they have zero trust and chemistry.  At least Wolf and Santi are an amazing couple, and they really do see this group of kids as their own.  Like it or not, they are a family, and they really are bound together.

It just goes to show that we can choose our family, at least to some degree, and that family isn’t always people we’re related to by blood.

I just want to know what happens next.  What is Jess really up to with that plan of his, and how on earth does he think it’s going to work?  It’s going to be a long wait for the next book.

4 stars.  I really do think this is the best book.  At least so far.  I don’t find Jess and Morgan believable as a couple, but no one can compare to the awesomeness that is Santi and Wolfe.  There’s a lot of twists and turns, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Book Review: Paper And Fire by Rachel Caine

Paper And Fire CoverBook: Paper And Fire by Rachel Caine

Published July 2016 by NAL|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Great Library #2

Genre: YA Alternate History/Steampunk

Blog Graphic-What It's About

In Ink and Bone, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, she continues the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history…

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

This was such a great book!  I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her, and this book was no exception.  You really can’t go wrong with a steampunk world where the Library Of Alexandria still exists, and is in control of, well, everything.

There’s a lot more to the library than I remembered from Ink And Bone, but it’s also been a while, so it’s a little hard to tell if it’s because I remember almost nothing from the first book, or if it’s because we learn more about the Library, or even a combination of both.

I did enjoy it, though, and it’s a lot more simple than I expected it to be.  I think it’s because this book is basically a rescue mission, with a lot of trouble along the way.  It’s definitely a 2nd book, and I’m wondering about certain things that have yet to be answered, and there’s some excitement and magic, but not the way Ink And Bone was exciting and magical.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a really interesting concept, and I like a lot of the ideas we see in the book.

The control of knowledge that we see in Paper And Fire, and how the Library hides so many advancements- it’s really scary and disturbing what lengths they’ll go to in order to control everything.  And what’s sad is that it’s something I can picture happening all too well.  And with the Black Archives, and seeing the Iron Tower and the little snippets of messages and letters before each chapter…the Library has a lot of power, and they may have started off with good intentions, but those in power have changed what the Library should be.

I liked seeing what was going on with Jess and the other characters, but there were a couple points where I found myself wishing that we had chapters narrated by someone other than Jess.  There’s a lot that happens off-the-page, and I think another narrator, even if it’s one or two chapters, would have given another perspective on what was happening.

It also took a while for things to get going, but I’m willing to overlook that (at least a little) because we’re picking up a little bit after where things left off in Ink And Bone.  But once things got going, it got INTERESTING, and there were one or two things that took me by surprise.  Because THEY WEREN’T AT ALL EXPECTED.  At least for me.  Well, maybe one of them might be a little bit obvious, now that I think about it.  But it was hard to tell with this book, because sometimes, you had no idea who to trust.  And I didn’t think it was possible, but Paper And Fire seemed darker and a little more frightening than Ink And Bone, and I think it’s because we learn more about the Library, and how the characters react to some of the things they learn.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I really liked it, but I would also re-read the first one if it’s been a while, because the details from Ink And Bone will help a lot with Paper And Fire.