Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Throwback by Edward J. McFadden III

*Spoilers Marked*

A space cloud of unknown composition is on a collision course with Earth as the world holds its breath. 

The anomaly sails through the solar system and the International Space Station along with three astronauts and one cosmonaut are thrown back to the Cretaceous period where dinosaurs roam Earth hunting prey and great pterosaurs patrol the skies. 

Supplies on the station run low and desperation takes hold, but morale grows when the crew sees a bright multi-colored light blinking on the surface below. The astronauts decide to evacuate the station in the Soyuz escape capsule and investigate. As the adventurers struggle to survive in the primordial jungle, the party discovers artifacts of an ancient civilization that could help them find the light beacon. If they can stay alive long enough.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

I don’t remember how I found this audiobook, but the premise sounded interesting. I’m always game for sci-fi, time travel, and a good monster tale. So let’s rewind, and talk about Throwback.

First off, I felt like the beginning of this novel was rushed. There’s a ton of characters that are introduced and quickly killed off. It felt like the author was in a hurry to get to the dinosaur part and didn’t setup a decent introduction. On top of all of that, I felt like the characters we’re eventually left with were bland and unmemorable.

The only saving grace I have to say about this story is the dinosaur action. I loved how detailed the author got in to describing what they looked like and how they interacted with the world around them. Sadly, that is the only saving grace I have to say about this book.

The ending wasn’t satisfactory in my opinion. After their arduous journey and this mysterious light is just as much a mystery as when they first saw it in the spaceship. So as the typical humans do, they break it and just set up camp and proceed to live out the rest of their days in this prehistoric world.

No closure, no meaning for all the sacrifices they’ve made. Just ‘huh, I guess there’s nothing we can do, so let’s just live here now.’ I was shouting at my phone when the narrator was reading the end credits, ‘that’s it? That’s the end!?’. I feel like I wasted my time and energy with this one. The only reason this isn’t lower is because of the dinosaurs like I stated earlier in the review.

We get no answers for anything. What was the beacon? What was this ancient race doing? All we get is the astronomers guesses and assumptions. I would say to pass on this prehistoric waste of time.

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Novels

REVIEW: Garlic & the Vampire by Bree Paulsen

*No Major Spoilers*

Garlic feels as though she’s always doing something wrong. At least with her friend Carrot by her side and the kindly Witch Agnes encouraging her, Garlic is happy to just tend her garden, where it’s nice and safe.

But when her village of vegetable folk learns that a bloodthirsty vampire has moved into the nearby castle, they all agree that, in spite of her fear and self-doubt, Garlic is the obvious choice to confront him. And with everyone counting on her, Garlic reluctantly agrees to face the mysterious vampire, hoping she has what it takes.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

The recent uproar about how all the bookish social medias are hyping the same five or ten books has others trying to diversify other’s TBRs. However, the books that are often described as ‘books I’ve never seen on TikTok’ are still highly popular books. However, I saw this graphic novel on Instagram and I fell in love with the art style and the anxiety representation. So let’s weed out my thoughts for Garlic and the Vampire.

Garlic and her friends are adorable. I wish I could’ve jumped into this world and stayed. They spend every day gardening and providing the townsfolk with fresh produce. When they notice that someone has taken residence in the abandoned castle, they all fear for their safety and the safety of the townsfolk.

I liked having the anxiety disorder representation in this story. I suffer from an anxiety disorder as well and to see Garlic overcome it with help and encouragement from her friends was comforting to me. I hope it helps and encourages others with anxiety feel the same way while reading this graphic novel.

Garlic & the Vampire by Bree Paulsen

Overall, I loved this story. The characters, the artwork, and the earnest emotions are what made Garlic & the Vampire my book of the year so far for 2022. I would highly recommend this graphic novels to everyone who loves cute characters, Studio Ghibli films, and are looking for a palate cleanser.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

RAPID REVIEW: The Hunchback Assignments (The Hunchback Assignments #1) by Arthur Slade

*No Major Spoilers*

The mysterious Mr. Socrates rescues Modo, a child in a traveling freak show. Modo is a hunchback with an amazing ability to transform his appearance, and Mr. Socrates raises him in isolation as an agent for the Permanent Association, a spy agency behind Brittania’s efforts to rule the empire. At 14, Modo is left on the streets of London to fend for himself. When he encounters Octavia Milkweed, another Association agent, the two uncover a plot by the Clockword Guild behind the murders of important men. Furthermore, a mad scientist is turning orphan children into automatons to further the goals of the Guild. Modo and Octavia journey deep into the tunnels under London and discover a terrifying plot against the British government. It’s up to them to save their country.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Back in 2020, I read a graphic novel spin-off of this series called Modo: Ember’s End. I still enjoyed this novel even without knowing much about the series other than what was said in the graphic novel. So, I am thinking about making a whole post comparing the two after I reread the graphic novel so I can talk about them with fresh eyes.

I like this alternative take on The Hunchback of Notre Dame story. Modo gets found by a secret organization and gets to be trained on how to be an undercover agent. It’s so cool on top of everything being steampunk.

In my review of Modo: Ember’s End I said that I wish they didn’t make Octavia the typical dumb brute that is paired with the smart, scientific genius. However, in The Hunchback Assignments, Octavia is a smart and clever girl who catches on that Modo has a special ability. Even when she asks to see his true form she respects Modo’s boundaries when he refuses.

Overall, I found this novel to be an entertaining read. Seeing Modo go through a transformation makes me excited to read more of this series in the future. I would recommend this novel for fans of fairy tale retellings, Young Adult fiction, or fans of spy thrillers and steampunk.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1) by Isabel Sterling

*No Major Spoilers*

Trigger Warnings: Toxic Relationship/Emotional Abuse

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I saw this book on TikTok, and it caught my eye because it reminded me of a book I read in the past, Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson. The cover also caught my eye having each of the girl characters as Tarot cards gives off a good vibe for what’s to come! So let’s summon the energies for my review of These Witches Don’t Burn.

First off, I have to say 3/4s of this book focuses on the breakup between Hannah and Veronica. Veronica is a toxic partner and she keeps trying to beg for Hannah’s forgiveness and tries to coerce her into them getting back together. I hated these parts of the story because Hannah is trying to stay strong against the things Veronica is saying, but having been raised together doesn’t make this an easy task. I almost gave up on this book because of the toxicity and remembering the event that caused this breakup.

However, after a major turning point in the story, the toxicity goes away and we go back to focusing on the mystery at hand. The mysterious person stalking Hannah and Veronica was somewhat predictable, however I felt like the clues were misleading a bit and the villain was in my pool of suspects, but after process of elimination, you’re only left with one option. So the mystery element of this novel overall is okay.

However, certain points in the book was powerful emotionally with negative and positive ones. I felt like I was Hannah in those moments and not just someone observing her story. Even though this story is told in first person, I often feel like more of an observer of the events in the story rather than living through the character. Not sure if that’s a quirk of mine or just not being able to relate to characters sometimes.

Overall, this book was alright, I remember Undead Girl Gang more fondly even with all of it’s moments of melodrama, but These Witches Don’t Burn is saturated with melodrama and it makes so much of the story suffer in my opinion. So if you’re a fan of melodrama with a dash of mystery then this book is for you. If not then I’d check out Undead Girl Gang.

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

*No Spoilers*

She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.

It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it human-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game.

Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life—and husband—she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones as she goes.

But as her emotional and physical reserves dwindle, she grasps that the real world might have been altered in terrifying ways—and her ability to parse the charade will be either her triumph or her undoing.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

I joined TikTok to find more book recommendations (like I need more books). And this was one of them. I wish I could remember which BookTok I saw talking about it. However, I’m glad I dove straight to this dark adventure! Let’s hop into The Last One.

I listened to this one as an audiobook, and I believe this is the best way to enjoy this novel. You have two distinct voices narrating; the present from Zoo’s perspective and another narrating what happened once the filming for the TV show began. The TV show perspective is more of a third person point of view. Often referring to the contestants by stereotypical nicknames such as ‘black doctor’ and ‘cheerleader boy’.

I’ve heard believers speak of the coldness of science and the warmth of their faith. But my life has been warm too, and I have faith. Faith in love, and faith in the inherent beauty of a world that formed itself.

Alexandra Oliva, The Last One

The Last One tapped into my irrational fear of coming back from a long night shift at work and not knowing that the world is actively falling apart around you. The atmosphere is portrayed beautifully. I was actually waiting for Zoo to come across her first zombie and how she’d handle that scenario. Thankfully there’s no zombies here.

When Zoo breaks her glasses after getting attacked, that made me feel even more nervous and on edge since I wear glasses and I am like Velma when she loses her glasses. I couldn’t imagine having to survive in the wilderness without the ability to see clearly.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Last One. It’s full of suspense and a relatable main character you can really root for. I would recommend this novel for people who enjoyed Bird Box by Josh Malerman and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. If you haven’t read those novels, that’s okay. If you like Survival Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, or stories with strong female leads. Then I would check out The Last One by Alexandra Oliva.