Ensnared

EnsnaredEnsnared by Rita Stradling
Published by Rita Stradling on May 23rd 2017
Genres: Retelling, Romance
Pages: 380
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy at The Book Depository
Goodreads

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.
Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.
To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.
Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.
[This novel contains adult situations and is only suitable for readers who are 18+]

A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the story arc is predictable, meaning girl falls in love with Beast and vice versa, Rita Stradling’s Ensnared kept me guessing nevertheless. The buildup to the final push of love between Alainn, the pretty captive of Lor, takes twists and turns that actually had me wondering if the fated couple would ultimately be together.

What interested me in this book is the fact that it is a futuristic retelling, complete with robots that are very intelligent. Alainn begins her journey into the fortress of the mysterious, scarred Lor, posing as a robot, Rose, which was created for Lor by Alainn’s father.

Keeping up the guise of being inhuman, Alainn soon finds that the plan made for her by the real Rose model is not what she agreed upon, which was to go to Lor in Rose’s place for a short time before being switched out for the real robot.

As she falls in love with Lor, pressure mounts for Alainn to maintain her robotic act. Alainn is a brilliant character; she is very creative when questioned about her seemingly human behavior at times. While in the midst of falling in love, Alainn is being manipulated by another robot, the original Rose model, which is in cahoots withe the newer model.

Alainn’s seemingly idyllic existence with Lor is quickly shattered as she finds herself caught in a race against time to not only save the life of her true love, but to reveal to him her true identity.

Love, Maggie

Illuminae

IlluminaeIlluminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Pages: 599
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy at The Book Depository
Goodreads

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.
BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

As I am bad to avoid perusing summaries of books prior to reading them, I had no clue what to expect when I began Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

Little did I know, I was in for a treat.

Illuminae, told through pieces from a dossier compiled regarding the incident at the heart of the story, is at once science fiction, romance, and extreme excitement.

I finished reading the book in less than one day; I could not step away from the story or the characters.

Kady and Ezra are each part of a former couple who find themselves thrust together as the world they know, Kerenza, is destroyed.

Communicating through cyberspace, each aboard a different rescue ship, Kady and Ezra struggle to hack into the truth surrounding the decimation of their homeland and that of a third savior ship.

The duo slowly come back together amidst the chaos surrounding them and enlist others in their fight to find answers and save the innocent from impending doom. With the number of enemies they face growing larger, Ezra and Kady must decipher who and what they can in fact trust.

Illuminae is an incredibly fast-paced novel, despite its number of pages. Outfitted with illustrations, charts, and correspondence, the book is not only a fantastic read, but it is very visually appealing.

Illuminae is the first installment in The Illuminae Files trilogy by Kaufman and Kristoff. I am already incredibly excited to read the second and third books in the series! Gemina, companion book to Illuminae, was released in 2016.

Love, Maggie

Elementary, She Read

Elementary, She ReadElementary, She Read by Vicki Delany
Published by Crooked Lane Books on March 14th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy at The Book Depository
Goodreads

Gemma Doyle, a transplanted Englishwoman, has returned to the quaint town of West London on Cape Cod to manage her Great Uncle Arthur's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. The shop--located at 222 Baker Street--specializes in the Holmes canon and pastiche, and is also the home of Moriarty the cat. When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing the first Sherlock Homes story hidden in the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne (who runs the adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room) set off to find the owner, only to stumble upon a dead body.
The highly perceptive Gemma is the police’s first suspect, so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books expert, the dead woman's suspiciously unmoved son, and a whole family of greedy characters desperate to cash in on their inheritance. But when Gemma and Jayne accidentally place themselves at a second murder scene, it's a race to uncover the truth before the detectives lock them up for good.
Fans of Sherlock Holmes will delight in the sleuthing duo of Gemma and Jayne in Elementary, She Read, the clever and captivating series debut by nationally bestselling author Vicki Delany.

Vicki Delany’s Elementary, She Read is quite possibly the coziest mystery I’ve ever read. Cozy mysteries aren’t my go-to genre; however, Delany’s tale has helped open up a whole new world of books for me. I’m highly anticipating the follow-up to this, the first in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series!

I mean, seriously, what’s not to love about a protagonist who owns a cozy bookstore focused on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as books and items related to Sherlock Holmes in general? I had so much fun reading Delany’s story that I completed in less than two days.

The characters are so lovable, yet flawed, and very well-developed. I adore the main character, Gemma Doyle, who lives in the sleepy Cape Cod tourist town of West London. Gemma is lovably snarky, absentminded, smart, witty, and superbly observant, making her the perfect amateur detective.

Gemma’s best friend and owner of the tea shop adjoining the Sherlock Holmes Bookstore and Emporium, Jayne, is an excellent foil for Gemma. Put together, organized, and gorgeous, Jayne fits the role of Gemma’s best friend perfectly.

I really like that Delany’s book focuses on the mystery at hand and character development more than romance. While there are a few dates scattered throughout the story, as well as some teasers regarding Gemma’s romantic past, I love that the mystery doesn’t get bogged down by the minutiae of attraction between the sexes.

Furthermore, I enjoyed the easy, playful dialogue between the characters and the flow of Delany’s writing style. The mystery at the center of the book is intriguing and I didn’t come close to guessing which character is the culprit.

I have never delved into Sir Doyle’s work or into the world of Sherlock Holmes, but after reading Elementary, She Read, I am incredibly looking forward to doing so.

Love, Maggie

The Star-Touched Queen

The Star-Touched QueenThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 342
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy at The Book Depository
Goodreads

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

I hardly know where to begin except by saying OMG, I’m SO grateful and lucky to have had the chance to read and review Roshani Chokshi’s beautiful tale, The Star-Touched Queen, prior to its release thanks to the publisher and NetGalley!

It’s going to be tough to review the story steeped in Indian mythology while avoiding the temptation to add tons of spoilers! However, have no fear: this will be a spoiler-free review!

I was immediately sucked into the pages of Chokshi’s debut. Chokshi’s development of her characters, especially those of protagonist Maya and the mysterious Amar, goes deep; I felt as though I was right alongside Maya throughout her adventures and challenges.

The Star-Touched Queen features a multitude of fabulous twists and turns; just when I thought I had figured out the secrets of Maya’s world and the direction her story would take, I was quickly proven wrong, which made me very happy, as I love being surprised by novels, as opposed to figuring out the ending before finishing my reading.

The book is sprinkled with awesome quotes, most stated by Maya. My favorite of her sayings being, “I’d rather spread ideas than legs.” All I could think was, “Go, girl!”

Maya is the epitome of someone who craves freedom to make her own choices while at the same time remaining tethered to her loved ones and the life she knows.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the story is the fact that Maya is ‘cursed’ by the stars: her horoscope, which seems to doom her to a life filled with suspicion, sacrifice, and danger.

Typically, some romances in novels drive me nuts, as there is generally so much focus on physical attraction, etc. Chokshi’s romance between Maya and the elusive, secretive Amar is a nice slow burn, which centers on destiny and fate.

Throughout the book, Maya’s beliefs are continuously being tested, as is her basic instinct to place absolute trust in others. In addition, Maya is haunted by a mysterious voice, which torments her with riddles and coerces her to explore a new world and uncover its many secrets.

I especially enjoyed the cattiness of the women of the Raja’s harem, mainly that of Dhina, who verbally abuses Maya every chance she gets prior to Maya’s transition into a new, mysterious life, seemingly written in the stars.

Love, Maggie