Friday, February 25, 2022

Review: Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik

Hunt the Stars
(Starlight's Shadow #1)
Jessie Mihalik
Release: February 1, 2022
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The critically acclaimed author of Polaris Rising takes readers on an exciting journey with the start of her brand-new series about a female bounty hunter and the man who is her sworn enemy.

Octavia Zarola would do anything to keep her tiny, close-knit bounty hunting crew together—even if it means accepting a job from Torran Fletcher, a ruthless former general and her sworn enemy. When Torran offers her enough credits to not only keep her crew afloat but also hire someone to fix her ship, Tavi knows that she can’t refuse—no matter how much she’d like to.

With so much money on the line, Torran and his crew insist on joining the hunt. Tavi reluctantly agrees because while the handsome, stoic leader pushes all of her buttons—for both anger and desire—she’s endured worse, and the massive bonus payment he’s promised for a completed job is reason enough to shut up and deal.

But when they uncover a deeper plot that threatens the delicate peace between humans and Valoffs, Tavi suspects that Torran has been using her as the impetus for a new war. With the fate of her crew balanced on a knife’s edge, Tavi must decide where her loyalties lie—with the quiet Valoff who’s been lying to her, or with the human leaders who left her squad to die on the battlefield. And this time, she’s put her heart on the line.



I have been looking forward to picking up Jessie Mihalik's next series since I finished the Consortium Rebellion back in 2020. I loved that series so you can imagine how excited I was when her new series features a female bounty hunter captain and an enemies-to-lovers romance! And y'all! I love this series even more than the Consortium Rebellion and it has definitely earned a spot for Jessie Mihalik on my list of auto-buy sci-fi authors! 
I loved so much about this book that I could rave about it for days! I was totally on board for the slice-of-life, twisty mystery, enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance vibe this book had going on and I need more! The characters! The world building! The politics! The back story! The found family! The romance! The psychic alien race! I seriously loved everything about this book!
It's fun to read an author's work from their debut because you can see how their writing is growing and changing. Jessie Mihalik is definitely getting better at writing those plot twists that you can only partially see coming. She totally surprised me several times while reading this book because I thought I had things figured out and than wham! plot twist! It made this such a fun story to read!

I quickly fell in love with Tavi and her crew! Kee and Eli are polar opposites with Kee being the sunshine and Eli being the grump but they are highly protective of each other and Tavi. I especially loved Luna! It was intriguing to see the crew interact with Torran and his team, their once sworn enemies! I loved how Tavi's plan to keep her enemies close turned into both teams finding some common ground. 
The one thing I will say I wish this book had (and it's something I wanted in Mihalik's other series) was multiple POVs or just a dual POV with the love interests. While I came to like Torran's team, I didn't come to love them as much as the Tavi's crew because Tavi's POV was the only one we had. I get why the author didn't because some of the plot twists wouldn't have worked with a dual POV but it is something that I find myself wanting every time I've read one of her books.
I cannot wait to read more in this series as Tavi, Torran, and their teams start to hunt down who is trying to restart the war between humans and the Valoffs! I will admit that I am shipping some of Tavi's and Torran's crews together. I have my fingers crossed for a certain doctor and first officer pairing but we'll see if that happens. The seeds are there for that romance though! The next book is Kee's and I can't wait because the love interest looks to be a specific Valovian weapons expert and I ship it!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley


Friday, February 4, 2022

Review: A Bargain of Blood and Gold by Kristin Jacques

A Bargain of Blood and Gold
(Midnight Guardians #1)
Kristin Jacques
Release: June 15, 2021
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A novice hunter with a mission. A five-hundred-year-old vampire with a strong sense of irony. A town plagued by creatures in need of saving.

When Johnathan Newman arrives in Cress Haven, the last thing he expects is for his life to be irrevocably changed. Sent by a clandestine league of vampire hunters to investigate a string of murders, signs point to a vampire lurking amid the townsfolk. Johnathan’s attempt to enlist the locals leads him to an unlikely partnership with Vic, the town's most eligible, enigmatic bachelor.

As the pair work to solve the mystery, Vic’s secrets come back to bite him. Revealed, the vampire fights his attraction to a man trained to destroy him, while Johnathan’s emotions land him in the middle of forbidden desires. Even if Vic isn’t the murderer, how can Johnathan yearn for his natural enemy?

As Vic leads Johnathan into encounters with terrifying beings straight from children’s nightmares, Johnathan learns that not only is the world stranger than he knew, but that those he once trusted have far darker intentions that will place hunter and vampire at the center of a conflict between realms.

Cress Haven holds more sinister secrets than its resident vampire, a secret so great, it could unleash Hell itself.

For fans of Gail Carriger’s Supernatural Society, The Charm of Magpies series by KJ Charles, Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh, and The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee.

Do you ever see a beautiful cover and read a book's comp titles and immediately think "I need to read this book!"? That was my experience with A Bargain of Blood and Gold. It was compared to some of my favorite queer historical paranormal romance series so I had pretty high expectations going in to this book. Unfortunately, they were a little too high in the end.

This read was both intriguing and drove me absolutely bonkers. I felt like we just get thrown into the deep end with the worldbuilding and I spent a good chunk of the book trying to figure out how everything fit together. I think part of this stems from the writing style which was kind of disjointed and full of awkward phrasings. To be honest, I'm still not 100% clear on what was happening in the back story.

I did enjoy the characters and the mystery (which is where the author put all of their money in the storytelling) by the end but not enough to earn a place on my favorites list. I feel like the synopsis put a lot more emphasis on the romance than there was romance in the story. While there was some chemistry between the two love interests, for me, it wasn't enough to explain how the characters got together in the end. I will say that I am intrigued to see what happens next especially with a certain female character so I'll probably pick up the next book in the series at some point.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley

  3 / 5 Stars

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Review: You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo

You Sexy Thing
Cat Rambo
Release: November 16, 2021
Goodreads Amazon
Farscape meets The Great British Bake Off in this fantastic space opera You Sexy Thing from former SFWA President, Cat Rambo.

Just when they thought they were out...

TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that's just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it.

Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance.

But, some wars can't ever be escaped, and unlike the Hive Mind, some enemies aren't content to let old soldiers go. Niko and her crew are forced onto a sentient ship convinced that it is being stolen and must survive the machinations of a sadistic pirate king if they even hope to keep the dream of The Last Chance alive.

This book was fun! It took me about fifty pages to get into the omniscient narration style but once I did I didn’t want to put this book down! The idea of an ex-military squadron owning and operating a restaurant was a space opera plot I didn’t know I needed in my life! There’s a reason I love the found family trope so much! And the sentient bioship was just icing on the cake! The food aspect of this book is compared to Great British Bake-Off (GBBO) but really there wasn’t as much food content as I expected from the tagline. It more embodies the feeling you get from watching GBBO.

This book reminded me a lot of Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series. There are some pretty heavy parts in this story but they’re infused with hope and a good dose of sarcastic wit. I laughed a lot but there are some places where I cried. It still makes me sad to think of some of the events of this book.

The other reason this reminds me of Becky’s books is that the aliens are diverse and peculiar. They act alien and not like pseudo-humans. I loved the whole crew so much! The Farscape comparison is a good one.

The story is billed as a standalone and while it ended in a satisfactory way, it is open-ended enough that a whole series could be written from this book. I, for one, am hoping for some more books following this crew and their culinary and non-culinary adventures!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  4 / 5 Stars

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