The Canary That Sang to the World is the fourth entry in The Panagea Tales and an excellent conclusion to series. This book finishes the epic saga in an intense, high-stakes closer. The crew is back together this one, and once again, it’s lovely to see these multifaceted, lovable characters banter and take on the world. I loved seeing the legendary bamf, Kazuaki, take center stage once again, and their final battles are a fitting, satisfying conclusion to the series.
However, I will say… *possible light spoiler ahead*
If you’re looking for a feel-good, happily ever after ending… I might beware. This book is as heavy as the third entry. Death, loss, and grief play a prominent role, and the ending is firmly in the bittersweet category.
Absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for a beautifully written steampunk epic featuring a cast of colorful characters in a dark, detailed world and heavy themes that take a bittersweet bite. I would definitely read more by McKenzie Austin in the future!
The third book of The Panagea Tales, The Serpent That Swallowed Its Tail, follows Kazuaki’s crew after the climactic showdown at the end of the book 2, but I’ll keep this review short to try to avoid spoilers.
With the crew spread out, one prominent character noticeably missing, and Panagea, itself, trying to rearrange in the face of new world, Book 3 definitely takes on a slower, more morose tone than the last two books. This book tackles some heavy themes head on, and builds even further on the intricate world-building of the first two entries. The characters are more spread out here, and although they eventually connect in the end, their narratives feel much more independent in this book. Still, the story retains the epic scale and beautiful prose that makes the series stand out. I will say I did miss a certain missing character in this book, and I missed some of the crew interactions and comradery I loved in the first two.
A solid entry in the Panagea Tales that I would definitely recommend to fans of the first two, and one that definitely left me curious for Book 4!
People of the Sun follows cautious John and adventurous Sarah on their third adventure through time. With their first journey to ancient Egypt, and their second to ancient Rome, I was curious to see the young siblings dive into the the Aztec civilization.
While the first two were definitely stand-alone adventures along the lines of magic treehouse, I felt like this story tried to weave together an overarching plot through their adventures. Instead of getting thrown back in time, and fighting to get home, John and Sarah had a new, grander purpose in this book.
While I really liked the concept that there’s now a bigger reason behind their travels through time, I felt like in the first half of the book we got bogged down with the details of time travel, with rules that were both specific and yet also leaned heavily on the “advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” philosophy, which made it feel inconsistent.
As always, I really enjoyed the effortless style of writing as well as the historical detail of the Aztecs, although I wish they had been able to spend more of their time there and get to connect the Aztec characters a little more. I thought John and Sarah’s moral dilemmas that come along with time meddling were an interesting touch as well, but with the sticky time traveling logic they were following, I don’t think it quite resonated as well I would have liked.
Overall, I think fans of the first two books will really enjoy the third installment of the Eye of Ra series as it continues John and Sarah’s high-stakes historical exploration, and I’m curious to see where they go next! People of the Sun launches 1 Feb 2022, and is available for preorder here.
Thanks so much to the publisher for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Okay, so to review. Book 1: I thought the first half was boring, and the second sucked me in. 4.5 stars Book 2: Totally got me with the side characters, the enemies-to-lovers romance, and the plot. 5 stars And now here we are at book 3.
So… I jumped right into this book from Book 2, excited and ready, and for about the first 30% I was riveted… and then we ran into some problems. First, the romance seemed to overwhelm the plot, which isn’t super problematic, but the MCs were square in the honeymoon phase for pretty much the whole book. Their relationship didn’t seem to grow, and the smut was honestly kind of repetitive. The inside jokes that were cute in book 1 and book 2 (Miss Willa’s diary and Poppy’s neverending questions) felt stale here, and the plot as a whole just seemed to stall with lots of talking and not much doing. There were also a few plot points (won’t give away without spoilers) that also didn’t really work for me.
I actually hesitated reading this book with #4 not out yet since I thought I would be dying to get my hands on it. As it is, I think I’ll read it once it comes to the library, but I’m really hoping it has more to it then this one.
Okay, so I had mixed thoughts on the first book (specifically I thought the first half was boring, and the second half was awesome), but it left off on a bit of cliff-hanger so I decided to give book two a try, and I was NOT disappointed.
I INHALED this book. Book two successfully intensified everything I enjoyed from book one. Although once again, I did think the start was a touch slow, I wasn’t bothered too much because I was already so invested in the characters. And the side characters really showed up here too in the best way. I absolutely loved Kieran. And this time, I loved learning about the world. The world-building definitely fleshed out and deepened here, but it was more seamlessly woven into book two.
It’s darker, it’s steamier (kind of veering into the weird, but this is a world of essentially vampires and werewolves so… you know), and in general, it’s just more awesome. Cas and Poppy are borderline dysfunctional and absolutely violent, but they seem so suited to each other, and their dynamic just totally works. If you’re unfazed by sex, violence, and language, and you enjoyed the second half of book one, then I wholeheartedly recommend. On to Book 3!
So I started reading Split Therapy by EP Stavs after my last two book had endings that kind of left me unsatisfied, and I was a little worried about an impending reading slump. But this book was such a breath of fresh air!
I really enjoyed EP Stavs’ Shendri Series, so when I saw the chance to get an ARC of her thriller novella, I just couldn’t help myself! Split Therapy follows sweet college student Jane as she tries to carry on with life after a traumatic incident. Meanwhile, her vigilante alter ego, Jae, roams the night finding a different way to come to terms with the incident.
First of all, I just love EP Stavs’ writing style. It is sharp and snappy but still paints the clearest picture of the action. Her banter is always on point, and she always manages to paint the most loveable characters that are so easy to connect with. I read this book in one enjoyable evening, totally drinking in the building tension and the sweet love interest, and I put it down feeling ready for another!
I totally recommend to anyone looking for a fun thriller to get lost in (that doesn’t mind adult themes and language) and can’t wait to see what Stavs writes next! Thanks so much to EP Stavs for the ARC; Split Therapy comes out on 4 Nov!
I put this book on my Amazon list after I loved Illuminae and Geminae. I wasn’t crazy about Obsidio, and then Aurora Rising wasn’t really for me, so I guess this was like a tie-breaker for me on Jay Kristoff. And I can say, this was probably my least favorite so far.
Lifelike takes place in a tech-filled dystopia full of androids, logikas, etc. It follows scrappy Eve after she finds a lifelike (basically a high-tech android) and starts getting chased by all kinds of bad. The world was cool, and while I usually like sci-fi slang, it felt a bit too cutesy/light for the bleak setting. Although I loved the action and the world-building, I had trouble connecting with the characters, and I found their quirky catchphrases (“don’t call me little” etc) to be a bit irritating. Even so, I would’ve given it four stars if it weren’t for the ending.
I felt like Eve did a complete 180 in the last 3% that didn’t seem to jive with anything I knew of her character. If you’re a Jay Kristoff fan and looking for a quirky YA sci-fi, I think you’ll probably enjoy this book, but it left me feeling dissatisfied and a bit annoyed, so I don’t think it was quite for me.
My husband (a *huge* sci-fi fan) absolutely loved this book, and basically shoved it to the top of my TBR so that we could talk about it. I loved The Martian, so I was definitely interested in giving this a go. One thing I noticed from the beginning is that Ryland Grace and Mark Watney have a LOT in common. They’re both highly intelligent, independent, passionate scientists, Grace just has a cleaner mouth.
This book follows Grace as he wakes up in a strange room without memories and basically tries to remember who he is and what he’s supposed to be doing. The story goes back and forth between him in “the room” and remembering his past. So… in the beginning, we spend a lot of time with Grace by himself, and there are a LOT of scientific explanations.
While I totally enjoy the way Weir manages to explain complex science in a way that I can understand, I felt like the balance was a little off in Hail Mary, and it seemed to slow down the pace quite a bit. Also, Weir introduces a few very powerful sci-fi elements, that had me asking my husband questions about potential plot holes. (To which he said: don’t think about it too much. XD) However, I absolutely loved the secondary character that comes in about midway. Overall, I thought the premise was super interesting, and on the whole, it was definitely an enjoyable read.
I will say, I thought the ending felt a little incomplete. I can’t say too much more with giving anything away. Still, I totally recommend this for any fans of sci-fi. My husband gave it a glowing a five star review, but while I thought it was a solid sci-fi I didn’t quite love it as much as The Martian.
This is a cute little picture book about a cloud that falls in love with the sun, and does his best to get close to her and give her gifts. The illustrations are vibrant and fun and the personalities of the four winds were a lovely touch. I love how it seamlessly weaves in the water cycle into this sweet little story. I read it to my 5yo and my 3yo, and they both said they liked it a whole lot. Super eager to share this in our little free library, and definitely recommend for the 3-7 age group!
This was definitely an unexpected read! Neha’s Mother follows a single father as horrific, paranormal things start to occur in and around his young daughter. This book does NOT hesitate to jump right into the demonic, creepy possessed child thing right from the start. And from there, the demonic possessions continue at a pretty intense rate. This book definitely nailed the tension and gore-filled terror of the demonic onslaught, and I loved that it didn’t pull punches in intensity or pace.
While the writing flowed really smoothly, I did have a hard time connecting with the characters. The story fluidly jumps from one to the other, including some lengthy flashbacks, but I didn’t feel like any of them, particularly the MC, were really likeable, and the MC’s complex relationship with Lakshmy was a little tough for me to follow.
This books is definitely rated R for violence/murder, gore, sex, and extensive profanity, and I’d also throw in a trigger warning for references to kidnapping, prostitution, and pedophilia. I’m not sure this book was really for me, but if you’re interested in dark, gory horror that leans heavily on the demonic and spiritual, then you might want to give it a look!
Thanks so much to Hellbound Books for the free ARC!