Soulless by Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate #1)

Title: Soulless
Series Title: Parasol Protectorate
Author: Gail Carriger
Date Added: October 26, 2016
Date Started: April 26, 2018
Date Finished: June 1, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Supernatural/Paranormal, Paranormal Romance

Soulless by Gail Carriger coverPages: 357
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: October 1, 2009
Media: Paperback (Library)


Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. 

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?


Note: I borrowed this from the library with the thought it was a graphic novel/manga.  While there is a manga (which I also want to read after I finish the series), I didn’t realize it was based on the book, and that is what I wound up getting.

Nothing makes me happier than when a novel I’m dicey on becomes an utter delight.  I considered DNFing this because of the, how should I say it, Victorian bigotry that’s presented more as Alexia’s navigation through it rather than her own personal fixation.  She has to be concerned with her spinster status, huge nose, and darker skin (courtesy of her Italian father) because everyone, including and especially her mother and half-sisters, judge her for it.

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The Shadow Soul by Kaitlyn Davis (A Dance of Dragons #1) (DNF)

Title: The Shadow Soul
Series Title: A Dance of Dragons
Author: Kaitlyn Davis
Date Added: June 15, 2016
Date Started: May 14, 2018
Date DNF: May 15, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult (YA), Paranormal

The Shadow Soul coverPages: 292
Publication Date: January 22, 2014
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Media: eBook/Kindle


When Jinji’s home is destroyed, she is left with nowhere to run and no one to run to–until she meets Rhen, a prince chasing rumors that foreign enemies have landed on his shores. Masquerading as a boy, Jinji joins Rhen with vengeance in her heart. But traveling together doesn’t mean trusting one another, and both are keeping a deep secret–magic. Jinji can weave the elements to create master illusions and Rhen can pull burning flames into his flesh.

But while they struggle to hide the truth, a shadow lurks in the night. An ancient evil has reawakened, and unbeknownst to them, these two unlikely companions hold the key to its defeat. Because their meeting was not coincidence–it was fate. And their story has played out before, in a long forgotten time, an age of myth that is about to be reborn…


This is one of those books that initially seems like I’d tear through with alacrity based on the blurb, but I was extremely meh about the opening.  It’s your typical destroyed people/vengeance fare, but I didn’t garner much deep emotion from it because I didn’t invest much in the characters due to that cataclysm being present in the blurb.  Even so I liked what the author was setting up with Jinji’s story arc, an indigenous young woman whose home and culture is destroyed.  I was here for that revenge story, but then…the male character is introduced.

Rhen is unlikable for a variety of reasons.  He’s arrogant as fuck with an unearned know-it-all attitude.  Davis tells us how smart he is through his own ruminations, which may be her way of disputing it, but it just comes off as pompous.  I could forgive this slight, but I was pretty much done when he revealed he might be an unabashed rapist per the very act that introduces him.

He did however feel slightly uneasy.  It really wasn’t the girl’s fault that he had slipped into her room just before dawn.

I won’t say it’s blatant, but it gave me an icky feeling.  Pairing that with a lukewarm beginning sealed the deal.  If Rhen had been interesting or reputable, I might have continued, but I had no interest in seeing a fairly decent character like Jinji paired with what can’t even be considered a mediocre man.  Maybe he matures; maybe she “fixes” him (ugh), but she deserves better.

The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente (A Dirge for Prester John #1)

Title: The Habitation of the Blessed
Series Title: A Dirge for Prester John
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Date Added: September 28, 2012
Date Started: March 26, 2018
Date Finished: May 23, 2018
Reading Duration: 58 days
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Christian Mythos

The Habitation of the Blessed coverPages: 269
Publication Date: March 1, 2010
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Media: Paperback


This is the story of a place that never was: the kingdom of Prester John, the utopia described by an anonymous, twelfth-century document which captured the imagination of the medieval world and drove hundreds of lost souls to seek out its secrets, inspiring explorers, missionaries, and kings for centuries. But what if it were all true? What if there was such a place, and a poor, broken priest once stumbled past its borders, discovering, not a Christian paradise, but a country where everything is possible, immortality is easily had, and the Western world is nothing but a dim and distant dream?

Brother Hiob of Luzerne, on missionary work in the Himalayan wilderness on the eve of the eighteenth century, discovers a village guarding a miraculous tree whose branches sprout books instead of fruit. These strange books chronicle the history of the kingdom of Prester John, and Hiob becomes obsessed with the tales they tell. The Habitation of the Blessed recounts the fragmented narratives found within these living volumes, revealing the life of a priest named John, and his rise to power in this country of impossible richness. John’s tale weaves together with the confessions of his wife Hagia, a blemmye–a headless creature who carried her face on her chest–as well as the tender, jeweled nursery stories of Imtithal, nanny to the royal family.


They think you childish, that you insist your god looks just like you.  That is how a baby thinks, because she has only her parents to protect her, so all the power in the universe bears her own face.

Catherynne M. Valente is mostly a hit with me, and though I’ve had issues getting into a few of her novels before, I was determined to give The Habitation of the Blessed another try.  Not only did I love the language and mytho-religious basis of it, but the following book The Folded World seemed even more intriguing.  Of course there’s no rule that says you must read all the books in a series; I just don’t like entering a narrative in the middle unless, of course, it’s in media res.  The second attempt was more fruitful, and my inabilities prior might have been due to my own concentration issues.  The beginning is a bit slow, but it doesn’t last for long.

The Habitation of the Blessed exists as a series of vignettes tied together and hinged on a butterfly’s wings.  Using the framing device of Brother Hiob searching for Prester John who went abroad to teach Christianity, but found himself the recipient of an immortal faith.  This style of story within story is very similar to Valente’s other series The Orphan’s Talesthough Habitation doesn’t go quite as Inception as the fore mentioned.  It also involves multiple story tellers as opposed to just one.

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Restless Bones on Crystal Lake by B. Batiste (Moon Investigations #2)

Moon Investigations

<–Witch Hunt on Crystal Lake

Title: Restless Bones on Crystal Lake
Series Title: Moon Investigations
Author: B. Batiste
Date Added: March 26, 2018
Date Started: May 1, 2018
Date Finished: May 12, 2018
Reading Duration: 11 days
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural, Mystery

Restless Bones on Crystal Lake coverPages: 170
Publication Date: March 28, 2018
Publisher: Amazon
Media: eBook/Kindle


A soggy decrepit ghost visits Hazel. And with her new ghostly admirer comes a new case and a new hidden danger.

Lola is wanted for the murder of Royce Habernath, a pirate treasure hunter whom she has fought with many times over a treasure map. In their search for the truth, Hazel, Syn and Blossom struggle with the realization, Lola is the mistress of secrets and killing someone is definitely within her wheelhouse. But when it becomes clear that Lola was framed it becomes a race to find the real murderer before Lola is sent to a prison most don’t return from. At least not whole.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Hazel may have a hidden power a queen is searching for. Whether Hazel truly has it or not the Blood Queen and her minions now know she is on Crystal Lake. And if they find Hazel, her death is certain.


Lola is one of the most interesting characters in the Moon Investigation series.  Often side characters are just that: ones on the side, but Miss Batiste puts a great deal of effort into making all of hers intriguing.  Unsurprisingly, Lola didn’t become a bad ass on a whim.  She was forged in fire and pain with pirate ancestors who became embroiled in more than what they bargained for.

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Top Books of 2018

Goodreads Challenge: 50
Books Finished: 51
Books DNF: 19

Last year I was ambitious and wrote out all the books I read.  This year I’m just going to talk about my top picks and biggest disappointments.


Top 10 Books/Series

10. Blister by Jeff Strand

Blister coverSurprisingly much more insightful than what it’s billed to be.

9. Two Hearts by Peter S. Beagle

Two Hearts coverYou can read this for free through the link.  It’s honestly the best I could hope for from a sequel to such an epic work.  It continues the themes without being trite and the resolution is beautiful if bittersweet.

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All’s Well That End’s Well by William Shakespeare (DNF)

Title: All’s Well That End’s Well
Author: William Shakespeare
Date Added: September 15, 2017
Date Started: January 26, 2018
Date DNF: March 3, 2018
Genre: Play, Classic, Drama

All's Well That End's Well coverPages: 336
Publication Date: 1602
Publisher: Latus ePublishing
Media: eBook/Kindle


Helena, a ward of the Countess of Rousillion, falls in love with the Countess’s son, Bertram. Daughter of a famous doctor, and a skilled physician in her own right, Helena cures the King of France-who feared he was dying-and he grants her Bertram’s hand as a reward. Bertram, however, offended by the inequality of the marriage, sets off for war, swearing he will not live with his wife until she can present him with a son, and with his own ring-two tasks which he believes impossible. However with the aid of a bed trick, Helena fulfils his tasks, Bertram realises the error of his ways, and they are reconciled.


This was the first play I finished in my goal to read/reread all of the Bard’s plays.  I didn’t finish it because it annoyed me, but apparently I also didn’t review it either, which is odd, since I usually still review literature I DNF.

Bertram, the son of a countess, is a snobbish ass and Helena, the low-born ward of the same countess, could do so much better.  He refuses her marriage offer even after the king of France says he’ll fix any title issues Bertram has with the union, which seems to be the only problem: he doesn’t want to marry below his station.  Helena has fulfilled her promise to the French monarch in healing him, and the king has the power to raise her beyond her “low breeding as a physician’s daughter,” which is (ironically for that judgment) the reason she was able to cure him in the first place!  Granted, at this point in history, doctors weren’t looked up in high regard, so this assessment wasn’t inaccurate.  If this is Bertram’s only reason for not wishing to wed Helena, it’s a poor one at that.  Obviously, no one should be compelled to marry against their will, regardless the cause, and that’s exactly what the king forces Bertram to do.  While he weds her, he doesn’t bed her, instead sending his unwanted bride back to his estate and informing his mother how much he hates her.

Excuse me what the fuck meme with very wiggly, grey guyI became bored with the story at this point and decided to DNF it, but thanks to the internet I know what else happens, and yes, it is twisted.

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The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling (The Tamir Triad #1)

Title: The Bone Doll’s Twin
Series Title: The Tamir Triad
Author: Lynn Flewelling
Date Added: June 9, 2016
Date Started: March 22, 2018
Date Finished: April 30, 2018
Reading Duration: 39 days
Genre: High Fantasy

The Bone Doll's Twin coverPages: 524
Publication Date: July 16, 2001
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Media: eBook/Kindle


Sometimes the price of destiny is higher than anyone imagined….

Dark Magic, Hidden Destiny

For three centuries a divine prophecy and a line of warrior queens protected Skala. But the people grew complacent and Erius, a usurper king, claimed his young half sister’s throne. 

Now plague and drought stalk the land, war with Skala’s ancient rival Plenimar drains the country’s lifeblood, and to be born female into the royal line has become a death sentence as the king fights to ensure the succession of his only heir, a son. For King Erius the greatest threat comes from his own line — and from Illior’s faithful, who spread the Oracle’s words to a doubting populace.

As noblewomen young and old perish mysteriously, the king’s nephew — his sister’s only child — grows toward manhood. But unbeknownst to the king or the boy, strange, haunted Tobin is the princess’s daughter, given male form by a dark magic to protect her until she can claim her rightful destiny. 

Only Tobin’s noble father, two wizards of Illior, and an outlawed forest witch know the truth. Only they can protect young Tobin from a king’s wrath, a mother’s madness, and the terrifying rage of her brother’s demon spirit, determined to avenge his brutal murder….


This novel is told from the point of view of the past where the prologue isn’t the precursor to the narrative, but rather the ending.  Since the first chapter starts with Iya, Arkoniel’s teacher, and we learn from Arkoniel, the POV of the prologue, that Iya is dead, we therefore know Chapter 1 occurs prior with only Arkoniel left to remember. Whether or not the wizard and his late teacher succeeded remains to be seen, but what they had to do in order to secure both Tobin’s safety and future from King Erius would torture anyone with a conscience for the rest of their life.

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