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Review: Time to Play (Apocalypse Parenting Book 1) by Erin Ampersand

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Time to Play (Apocalypse Parenting Book 1) is a LitRPG book about a mother thrust into an apocalyptic game-like situation with her three kids. One minute she's worrying about driving them to their sports lessons and the next minute the electricity stops working and an announcement informs her - and everyone else - that earth has just become the site of some alien game-show and they're now the unwilling contestants in this game. It's such an excellent premise with some great characterization that grounds it and makes it very, very real. I flew through this book in about two days because it was such a page-turner. One of the main draws that kept me turning the pages is the main character Meghan's realistic struggles and reactions as a mother of three. In a way, it's a book where monsters suddenly spawn and the characters can collect points and have to figure out how to survive, but it's also really just a book about the struggles of parenting, because it's not

Review: Any Minor World by Craig Schaefer

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  Any Minor World by Craig Schaefer follows Roy - a sort of private detective/"hired muscle" who is approached by a bit of a suspicious client. Despite his misgivings, he takes the job and goes after a dead writer's unfinished manuscript and begins to unravel a mystery surrounding this author's books. The mystery brings him up against a legendary criminal network and introduces him to Lucy Langenkamp, an art restorer who once wrote a cancelled comic. As they struggle to survive the crazy adventure that springs up around them, Roy and Lucy slowly grapple with their own pasts as well. It's a well-written book with a very distinctive noir/pulp vibe to it.  Before I go on, I have to comment on the descriptions. I'm usually someone who doesn't enjoy/gets bored by descriptions, but I found the ones in this book to be well-written. They're interesting and paint some very vivid pictures that enabled me to imagine exactly what some of these characters and place

Top 6 Books I Read in 2023

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It's a little later than I usually do this, but I've finally had a minute to look at the books I read in 2023 and choose the best ones to share with you. I may not have read that many books, but I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of them, so I get to share 5 truly amazing books with you all! Hopefully this will help you fill your TBRs and find some great reads! Before we jump in, check out my past top books posts:  Top 5 Books I read in 2022 Top 8 Books I read in 2021 Top 5 Books I read in 2020 Top 3 Books I Read in 2019   Top 5 Books I Read in 2018   Top 3 Books I Read in 2017 This year I read books from a wide variety of sub-genres! Without further ado, here are m top 6 in the order in which I read them:  Miss Percy's Travel Guide to Welsh Moors and Feral Dragons by Quenby Olson Genre: Historical Fantasy Miss Percy's Guide to Welsh Moors and Feral Dragons is the second in the Miss Percy Guide series and so I went into it for the comforting, but still adventurous kind

Review: The Prism Effect by J. Wint

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The Prism Effect by J. Wint is set in a future post-apocalyptic Earth (or, rather, on some belt structures orbiting the now almost uninhabitable Earth) and it follows the main character Jet through the beginning of his university career. He's not a normal university student, though, he has a rare condition that makes his eyes glow and renders him an outcast - a condition about which not much is known, except that there is no cure. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially the first 2/3 of it when it focused on the mystery of the condition and Jet dealing with it and making connections with others on campus. The slow pursuit of more information about this condition and the way that's woven in with his university life (which is mostly sport-focused) is well done. I'm not the biggest sports fan or anything, but I found the way that was done realistic and I never felt it overwhelmed the story. It allowed us to see some aspects of Jet's day to day without having to go too d

Review: Pallas Lost by Jake Morrison

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Pallas Lost by Jake Morrison is a space-heist sci-fi story with excellent world-building. The first few chapters introduce several characters that eventually come together around the mystery of a mythical lost spaceship - Pallas. The way their stories came together was excellent and made for some great, entertaining reading. The author also did a wonderful job at slowly revealing the history, myths, and current politics of the human colonies on the various planets. Everything was revealed smoothly at the right time and it made the world (galaxy, I guess!) seem very real while maintaining the fast pace of the storytelling.  I want to know more about Pallas and the AI that started it all and the politics of the corporations that rule these planets so the book definitely did the job of the first in series quite well, while still telling a complete enough story of this part of the adventure.  I only had a couple of very minor issues with the book. First of all, Eliot's intro scene wher

Review: Replacement by Jordan Rivet

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Replacement follows the story of Jane, a forgotten clone in a factory-like facility where most of the others are part of larger "batches" who have been cloned/designed to take on specific roles in society. Jane is yearning and searching for "batchmates" and for answers. She wants to know who "sponsored" her to be cloned in the first place and why. To connect with her identity.  She thinks she might get answers when she is sent to replace/pretend to be Janie, one of these batchmates she has been yearning to find, but she find a whole bunch more questions!  This was a great, well-written read that had mystery and explored the ethical issues that arise from cloning in an entertaining way. Since Jane is a teenager there was a bit of school life/teen relationship stuff that was written in a realistic way that didn't overpower other aspects of the story. It all served to move the story along and help explore Jane's struggles, because on the one hand she

SPSFC 3 Books I've Sampled

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As you know, I mostly read and write epic fantasy, but I have a bit of a soft spot for science fiction as well. And I'm always on the lookout for good indie hidden gems . So when the amazing Athena @ OneReadingNurse gave me a chance to join her SPSFC3 judging team, I decided to give it a try!  As a part of Team 4: Peripheral Prospectors , I've already sampled many amazing Sci-Fi books. We had a lot of great books assigned to our team and deciding which ones to put forward in the competition was no easy task! So before I dive into reading some of the Quarterfinalists in full, I wanted to introduce you to some of these great books I sampled so you can check them out too.  Some of these books I enjoyed and will continue reading, whether they made it to the Quarterfinalists list or not, and others weren't my style, but they might be yours! The Books I've Sampled So Far:    After Moses by Michael F. Kane  This book starts off like a space-Western that takes place between v

Taking Notes from the Storytelling Genius of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is not a new anime. It's been out for a while - since 2009! In fact, it's the second anime adaptation of the original manga series. So I'm sure what I say here is nothing new to a lot of people, but I just can't stop thinking about this amazing story so I guess I'll rant about it here for a bit.  Another note before I start. It took me a while to get into this anime. I actually started watching it and dropped it a couple of times. Even this time, it took me a few episodes to get invested/convinced as the story built up. I wasn't hooked as quickly as I am with some other anime/shows/fantasy works. But I stuck with it and I'm so glad I did. If you haven't watched it, you should definitely give it a chance.  Moving on, let's talk about the genius of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which I will from now on refer to as FMAB:  Everything Builds to a Well-Defined Ending  The manga that this show was based on was already fi

Review: Daughter of the Wolves by K. S. Villoso

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  Daughter of the Wolves, by K. S. Villoso is a fast-paced adventure-filled sword and sorcery book filled with magic and battles and shifting loyalties, and amazing complex characters. It's kind of a follow-up, chronologically, to Blackwood Marauders and features some returning characters, as well as featuring some characters from Villoso's Agartes Epilogues and Wolf of Oren-Yaro. I love each dive I take into this fantasy world. Agos-agan feels real and each glimpse I get into it just makes me want to re-read all the other books and trace character paths and look at the maps of the world. But what I love most about Villoso's writing is those gut-wrenchingly accurate portrayals of how it feels to be an outsider, how it feels to try and communicate with people who don't understand you, etc. Daughter of the Wolves focuses on Anira, a relative of the Warlord of Oren-Yaro, who finds herself caught up in this crazy adventure when her brother, the soldier, makes a stupid mista

Top 5 Books I read in 2022

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Well, it's that time of year again where I look back at the books I read throughout the year and highlight the top books. Check out my past top books lists:  Top 8 Books I read in 2021 Top 5 Books I read in 2020 Top 3 Books I Read in 2019   Top 5 Books I Read in 2018   Top 3 Books I Read in 2017 It's been a year of cozy reads for me overall and I continued the mood-reading trend that I began last year so even though I only read 14 books this year (I know, it's not much, but I wrote like 3 books) five of those 14 turned out awesome! Here they are in the order in which I read them:  The Lord of Stariel by A. J. Lancaster  Genre: Faerie/Historical Fantasy  The Lord of Stariel is a cozy, almost slice of life fantasy about a girl who returns to her family home for a funeral. She didn't leave on such good terms so there's a lot of awkwardness between her and her family, and it's the day-to-day interactions between her and the rest of the family that makes this book. 

3 Books I rated 3 Stars that I still think about...

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Everyone is making their "best of" lists for the books they've read this year (I plan to do one too, hopefully soon) and planning their TBRs for 2023, but I wanted to take a few minutes to look back on three books I read a while ago that I still think about sometimes. When reviewing and rating a book I always try to be as balanced as I can be. My reviews are always written the day of finishing a book or the day after if I finish it late at night or get busy. If I leave it for longer I'll either forget to leave a review or it'll start feeling like this looming difficult task that I'm delaying. Anyway, this means that my reviews are usually my initial reactions to the reading experience. They tell you how I felt about it right after closing the book. I'm well aware that ratings have issues, and sometimes even for me it's hard to decide how many stars I want to give to a book, because I want to be fair, but at the same time I'm very aware that this wh

Review: Blackwood Marauders by K. S. Villoso

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I loved K. S. Villoso's Agartes Epilogues (aka Legacy of the Lost Mage series) and I enjoyed Legacy of the Wolf Queen as well, so I've wanted to read this book for a while. I finally had the chance and I found myself flying through it. Compared to both the other series I've read it was much more on the character-driven side so it reminded me more of the Wolf Queen series. At the same time, there were a lot of call-backs to the Agartes Epilogues in terms of the settings and characters. Overall, I loved the main character Luc, but hated the other main character Roena so it wasn't my absolute favourite of Kay's works, but let's be honest, I still flew through it and found myself eager to get back into it and find out what happens next. Blackwood Marauders follows the (mis)adventures of Luc - a boy who was born on a slave ship and rescued by a man who came to be an amazingly loving father. He grew up on a farm with his father, his father's wife, and their son Al

Top 7 SFF Books/Series I Would Put In My Physical Library

I've never been one to get physical copies of books. From a very young age only the local libraries could support my extensive reading addiction. When I discovered how convenient ebooks are I switched almost completely away from physical books to ebooks, whether it's from the library or books I buy on kobo and amazon. So my physical collection is very tiny. It consists of a couple of copies of the Lord of the Rings, one of them very beat-up from the number of times I've read and re-read it, and the Harry Potter books from 3-7 because there was no way I was waiting until that came to the library and had to have them as soon as they came out. I've also got a handful of other books I somehow collected over the years.  Lately, though, I've found myself mentally shelving certain books into a future physical library. These are all books I loved so much that I know I definitely need to have a copy of them if I ever decide to get a bookshelf and start a physical collection.

Review: Miss Percy's Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons

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 Miss Percy's Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons is basically like a Jane Austen novel, but the main character inherits a dragon egg. The egg hatches. She has to deal with it while also dealing with her growing realization that the life she's settled into isn't exactly the life she wanted. Her inheritance changes her life, slowly but surely, but I loved that Mildred doesn't immediately become some hardened adventurer at the drop of a hat. She remains true to her character and reacts to the change in her life in realistic ways, making the book more charming than ever and adding another excellent thread of her personal growth into the plot.  It's a cozy book, but not one without excitement and adventure. The plot really comes together near the end and delivers a satisfying action-packed conclusion. That being said, this is book 1 in a series and the doors were definitely left open for even bigger adventures. I think it works well enough on its own