Book Review: The Taken & The Lost

We're going to discuss the first two books in Vicki Pettersson's newest undertaking, the Celestial Blues series, together since I read them back to back and I canNOT wait for the third to come out.

Griffin Shaw is the male protagonist of this series. He and his beloved wife Evie were murdered in Las Vegas in 1960. Apparently Grif didn't take being ripped from this mortal coil all too well because he was not successfully incubated in the Everlast (what we like to call the afterlife) and is still too emotionally damaged? burdened? to enter Heaven. As a result he's been assigned to the role of a centurion, or an angel responsible for escorting newly departed souls safely to the other side. On his most recent mission he broke one of the cardinal rules of being a good angel and interfered. As punishment he's tossed back to Earth and locked into his flesh. Griffin Shaw is alive again: half angel, half man, half a century displaced. Then he goes and interferes again and saves Kit Craig from fated death.

Kit is a modern day girl in love with the past. She's a bonafide rockabilly chick. And believe me, Vicki's description of the rockabilly lifestyle and clothing will have you wishing to join up. Kit is also a reporter who, perhaps naively, believes that truth will always win. Despite Grif's protests that she is putting herself in danger by pursuing the criminal kingpins (and queens) of modern day Vegas, Kit manages to drag him right along in all of her journalistic pursuits. She also teaches him the importance of a good manicure and getting your hair done along the way.

The two make an engaging team and a unique romantic pairing. The thrilling plots of the individual books will leave you a bit shocked at the depths of depravity that human beings are capable of reaching. These are definite page turners. They also have a nice dose of fantasy with the whole angel dynamic. Vicki has concocted a very unique view of the afterlife and I'm enjoying the novelty of it all. I'm also in love with the vivid fashion descriptions that having a 'billy heroine allows. And like I said, I cannot wait for the third installment in this trilogy so I can finally watch Kit and Grif figure out the answer to "Who killed Griffin Shaw?"


Book Review: YA Extravaganza

Let's review some of the best YA I've read recently: Adamant by Kieran Wisser, Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza, and Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger.


This book is the first in a series that has a definite Percy Jackson quality mixed with some serious fangirl tendencies. I love anything that even fleetingly mentions Greek mythology so I was in love with the premise of this book when I first heard about it on Kieran's Tumblr. I will go ahead and warn you that this book definitely reflects the Tumblr fangirl mind (which I can definitely relate to, even at the ripe old age of 28!) and therefor may not appeal to everyone, but I would encourage everybody to give it a try. Kieran is such a great storyteller and despite some editing issues (it is her first book after all, and it is self published) I was captivated and I can honestly say that I cannot wait to read the next one. So go show some love to a writer just starting out. 


This is also the first book in a series. Mila is your average high school student, albeit one suffering from the traumatic loss of her father and the resulting amnesia blocking her past. At least that's what she thinks. If you can survive the beginning quarter of the book that is filled with a bit too much teen angst and references to the hot new boys amazing hair and skater shoes, then you will be rewarded with the teenage girl version of Jason Bourne. Yes, the angst is still there, although it morphs from why did my dad have to die and why are other girls so mean, to why am I an android and not a real girl angst. I did find Mila to be a bit whiny and and a little under-enthused about her super cool android powers. I also would have liked a bit less time spent on the discovery phase at the beginning and a lot more time focused on her action scenes. I'm interested to see how the next book pans out. I will say I am recommending this book like crazy at work because it's a very clean YA option. No cursing (there's one "day-yum") and no sex or sexual overtones (the poor little thing malfunctions every time anyone even gets close to kissing her). So if you are a voracious reader like me or are looking for something parent-friendly to give to a teen girl, then go ahead and pick this up. It's not the greatest, but it kept me entertained. 


Yet again, this is the first in the series. Unless you've devoured the entire Parasol Protectorate series like I have, then this is the first prequel (sort of). The book is set in the same steampunk universe as Parasol Protectorate, but 30 years in the past in the 1850s. The book ties in several well-known favorites, albeit in their much younger versions, very nicely and as a fan I squeeed with delight every time that happened. This particular series is YA, where Parasol was more adult fantasy in nature, and follows 14 year old Sophronia as she is shipped off to finishing school after her mother simply cannot deal with her  inappropriate antics any longer. I mean, what kind of lady reads books, takes apart the mechanicals, and climbs up the dumbwaiter? The finishing school turns out to be more than it seems, however. Sophronia will be expected to rapidly improve her curtsy while learning how to kill Vampires and werewolves and avoiding death threats from the Picklemen as well. I am honestly so excited about this series it combines so many great elements: Steampunk? Check. Fantasy? Check. No-nonsense heroines who are too smart for their own good? Check. Humor? Check. Definitely pick this one up. And if you've never picked up any of Gail's other books you should do that as well. Well worth the read.