Book Reviews · Fantasy · POPSUGAR Reading Challenge · Science Fiction · Young Adult

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2021 Update: Weeks Twelve and Thirteen

Good morning, everyone! It’s been about a week and a half since my previous update, and I am officially back to posting on The Unapologetic Bookworm.

The past several weeks have been really tough, and I feel like I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that my mum is gone. My mum and I were really close, and I miss her terribly. A lot of friends and family members have called and/or texted over the past couple of weeks to see how I’m doing, and it’s hard to know what to tell them. I am coping, but it’s going to be a long time before I can say the words “I’m okay” and actually mean them.

I really want to thank you all for your support over the past several weeks. Thank you especially to everyone who has reached out to me here on The Unapologetic Bookworm, through social media, and on websites like Goodreads and Discord. All of your thoughts and prayers, virtual hugs, and words of encouragement mean so much to me!

This week’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge update is a little longer than usual, and is focused on my reading from Weeks Twelve and Thirteen. I read two books as part of the Reading Challenge during the past couple of weeks, both of which I’m excited to have the opportunity to share with you.

The book I chose to read for Week Twelve of the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge was The Lady Rogue, by Jenn Bennett.

A book set in multiple countries…

The Lady Rogue tells the story of a young woman named Theodora Fox. Her father, who is a treasure hunter, has gone on an expedition to find a legendary ring that was once owned by Vlad the Impaler (the real-life warlord who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula). Convinced that the expedition is too dangerous, Fox leaves Theodora at a hotel in Istanbul to await his return.

When her father goes missing, Theodora finds herself teaming up with his assistant, a young Irishman named Huck. Their search for Fox will ultimately take them to Romania, and into a considerable amount of danger.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Lady Rogue! It was a fast-paced, exciting book, and one that really caused me to lose myself in its story. I had a very difficult time putting it down, and actually ended up reading nearly the entire book in a single day!

While I really enjoyed the plot of the book, what I liked best were the characters. Theodora and Huck were both very well-developed characters with strong personalities. It was a lot of fun to watch them interact with each other over the course of the book, especially since they share some romantic history. Their past romance really amps up the tension between them, and creates some very funny (and somewhat awkward) moments throughout their journey.

In addition to the main characters, Bennett also created a cast of fascinating side characters (both good and bad) that Theodora and Huck encounter on their travels. One of them, a woman named Lovena, is a particular favorite of mine.

If you are a fan of young adult fantasy novels, then I highly recommend taking the time to read The Lady Rogue. I had a wonderful time reading it! While The Lady Rogue is a standalone novel, I would love to see Bennett write more books about these characters in the future.

For Week Thirteen of the Reading Challenge, I decided to switch gears from young adult fantasy to adult science fiction. The book I chose to read, The Complete Aliens vs. Predator Omnibus, is a collection of three novels, which includes:

The book on your TBR list with the ugliest cover…
  • Prey, by Steve Perry and Stephani Perry
  • Hunter’s Planet, by David Bischoff
  • War, by S.D. Perry

Prey takes place on Ryushi, a planet that has been colonized by a group of human settlers. The novel’s main character, Machiko Noguchi, has recently become the colony’s supervisor. Viewed as a no nonsense ice queen by many of the ranchers, Noguchi has her work cut out for her if she wants to build relationships with the members of her new community.

Unfortunately, Ryushi is also the chosen hunting ground of an alien species known as the Yautja (also referred to as Predators), who intend to use the planet as a proving ground for a group of young warriors, who are embarking on their first hunt. Their prey is a species known as the kainde amedha (hard meat), which the warriors have seeded onto the planet in preparation for their hunt.

The humans soon find themselves caught between the two alien species, and it’s up to Noguchi to ensure the survival of her colonists…

If the plot of Prey sounds familiar, that’s because it is a novelization of a comic book from the early 1990s. You can find my review of the 30th Anniversary edition of the original comic book in the following post: Comic Book vs. Movie — Aliens vs. Predator.

While the novelization tells the same story as the original comic book, I feel like it has a definite edge when it comes to character development. Prey not only follows Noguchi’s story, but also those of several human colonists, as well as a pair of pilots who have arrived on Ryushi just in time to get caught up in the conflict. The book also follows the story of the Predators’ Leader, Dachande.

Normally I am not a big fan of books with frequent changes in perspective, but I think the shifting perspectives actually work really well for this particular story. It helps the reader to connect not only to the human characters, but to the Predators as well, and gives the reader some very helpful insights into the Predators’ culture.

The second and third books in this collection take place sometime after the events on Ryushi. I won’t go into very much detail about either of these two stories, in order to avoid spoilers, but both of the novels continue to follow the character of Noguchi.

In Hunter’s Planet, Noguchi is hired by a man named Livermore Evanston to take care of a problem on the planet he owns. His so-called Hunter’s Planet is being visited by Predators, who have apparently seeded the world with kainde amedha. However, not all is as it seems, and Noguchi has to make some tough choices about where her loyalties lie.

War, on the other hand, tells the story of Noguchi’s time with a pack of Predators. Chronologically, this book takes place between Prey and Hunter’s Planet, so I’m somewhat confused as to why it was included as the final book, rather than the second. Personally, I would actually recommend reading the books in the following order: Prey, War, and then Hunter’s Planet.

I really enjoyed reading all three of the novels included in The Complete Aliens vs. Predator Omnibus. They were all very fast-paced, action-packed stories, which completely captured my attention. I also liked the fact that the second and third novels continued to focus on Machiko Noguchi. It was exciting to find out what happened to her after the events of Prey, and I thought the authors did a great job of keeping her personality consistent, while also giving her opportunities to develop as a character.

I do think it is important to mention that the novels in this collection do include content that might cause discomfort for readers, including: memories about the suicide of a family member, PTSD manifesting in nightmares, and unwanted sexual attention. The stories also include a significant amount of strong (often graphic) violence, which is pretty consistent with the violence included in the movies from both the Predator and Alien franchises.

Ultimately, if you are a fan of the Alien and/or Predator movie franchises, then I think you’ll enjoy checking out The Complete Aliens vs. Predator Omnibus. I had a really hard time putting this collection down, and I’m looking forward to reading more novels set in this universe in the future. If you have the opportunity to read this collection of novels, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Next week’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge update will be posted on Saturday, April 3rd. In the meantime, I hope you’ll visit The Unapologetic Bookworm frequently next week for a review of Lucy Foley’s The Guest List, an update about my participation in this year’s Beat the Backlist challenge, and my wrap-up of this month’s March Mystery Madness readathon.

Have a fantastic weekend!

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