Cover Image: Beta Bots

Beta Bots

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Member Reviews

Loved this book. I think it's even better than the 1st book. I am a bit disappointed to find out that it's only planned as a trilogy. I can't imagine how it can end with 1 more book. But no spoilers here go read book 1 and 2 now ready for book 3.
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3.5 stars

This is the second book in the 'Womanoid Diaries' trilogy. I'd advise interested readers to begin with book one.

The first novel in the trilogy, Alpha Bots, takes place in New Stepford, a town where all the women are AI androids, purchased by men to fulfill their needs. Cookie Rifkin is unhappy in her role as a submissive wife, and becomes part of a militant group of AIs who want to be independent.

As Beta Bots opens, Cookie has gained her freedom and sets out on a mission with two AI companions: her boyfriend Wayne .and her non-binary metallic shapeshifting friend ANA (pronounced A-N-A). The threesome plan to rob the Central Bank of Russia of thousands of tons of gold as well as a stash of palladium coins - which the AIs eat for energy. The heist doesn't go smoothly and Wayne is captured by a Stepford Corporation bounty hunter, who's paid to retrieve escaped androids.

Cookie and ANA get away, and set out to free Wayne, who's been spirited onto a private plane headed for England. Cookie knows what's happening to Wayne because AIs have Wi-Fi, which permits them to communicate with each other and share data. AIs can also upload any information they need from the internet, like martial arts moves, weapons specs, dance routines, recipes, location coordinates, and so on.

As Cookie is trying to work out how to help Wayne, she hears the clicking of Giuseppe Zanotti platform pumps - which retail for almost $1500 - and meets gorgeous AI Tabitha Kirsh. Sparks fly between the bisexual gals, Cookie explains her plight, and Tabby offers her luxury yacht - named Wonder Woman - for a rescue mission. Tabby also introduces Cookie to a number of AI friends who'll help with the rescue: Richie (a handsome trans man); Richie's girlfriend Peaches (a gorgeous drag queen); and Uno (a non-binary white Bengal tiger).

There's time to spare before the fivesome need to head for England, because Tabby can teleport the Wonder Woman anywhere she wants. So the friends take a pause to party in Richie's gay nightclub, called Dorothy's, where there's dancing, drinking, drugs, and sex. As it happens there's also danger, because the Stepford Corporation advertises a HUGE bounty for Cookie's capture, and almost everyone is now after Cookie. Moreover, an old nemesis of Cookie's shows up.....and the war is on.

With cops showing up, and AIs fighting each other, there's plenty of action in the book. This includes fights with knives, guns, rifles, rocket launchers, high-pitched sounds, karate, etc. Battles involving AIs are especially tricky because AIs contain internal recyclones (sort of like Star Trek replicators) that they can use to heal themselves, rebuild lost body parts, and basically make anything they want....weapons, clothes, whatever.

AIs can eat and drink like humans, and they're especially good at preparing desserts. To celebrate a victory. Cookie and her friends prepare a buffet that features crème brûlée; Moskva cake; black-and-white cookies; rainbow fudge; devil food's cake; and banana pudding (all of which sound good to me).

After an exciting climax, the book's finale leads into book three, called Gamma Bots - which is another exciting LGBTQ+, sci-fi adventure story.

Thanks to Netgalley, Ava Lock, and Semiscope IBPA for a copy of the book.
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This book represented a prime reason why I do not like series. I loved Alpha Bots - the first in this series - and quickly I glommed onto the sequel thinking it would be as much fun as the original was, but the sorry truth is that it was the polar opposite, and I DNF'd it due to the complete lack of humor and the appalling violence which hit hard and was totally unnecessary, and it came right up front. It was such a contrast to what I'd experienced in the first volume that it felt like a whole different story. I quickly decided that this was not for me. I guess I should have known that a series titled "The Womanoid Diaries" couldn't be good - not all the way through.

In the words of Chrissie Hynde, who was no pretender: don't get me wrong! One of the reasons I dislike series is that they're essentially cookie-cutter repeats of the original, which often is merely a prologue. I don't do prologues. Where is a series to go? It's the same characters often facing the same issues and it's boring, and it's lazy writing.

I like very few series and the ones I tend to like are ones that maintain a freshness throughout: enough of what I liked in volume one to keep my interest, but a different sort of story. Very few writers can nail that consistently. Thus you might think I'd go for this sequel here because it is so different from the original, but for me it was too different and not in any good way.

Yes, there was violence in the first volume too, but the story eased into it and it felt natural in the context of the fiction: the victims were 'deserving' and main character Cookie was completely adorable throughout - even heroic. I did not like her one bit in this second volume. She was a different person altogether. I decided I did not want to read any more about someone who had essentially changed from being an original, engrossing, assertive, and fun character, and morphed into a psychotic serial murder. No thanks.

The writing seemed lacking, too. It didn't have the same 'oomph' in this volume. It felt tired and clichéd and had lost its sparkle. One thing I noticed just in my relatively short read was this: "With Tabitha's knife in hand, I hid in his blind spot and waited on the gunnel for him." The author doesn't seem to grasp that the gunwale (pronounced 'gunnel') isn't the deck - it's the part of the ship's hull that surrounds the deck - the part that the passengers traditionally lean on when the ship is departing and they're waving to those on the dock. If Cookie were standing on the gunwale she'd be particularly visible, not hiding! It's not a story killer, but that wasn't the problem.

The violence in the second volume was not remotely defensible, not even in the context of this fiction. So what if these were Russian SWAT team? That makes them acceptable victims of the Mansonian violence that Cookie perpetrates, none of which was actually necessary? Cookie had been quite happily avoiding surveillance under the river, but somehow, I guess, these people had tracked her. How, I do not know, but instead of simply going back underwater and avoiding them, Cookie decides to single-handedly take out the entire squad. And not to dinner.

Where she hoped to go with that approach, I don't know. What - these were the only police in the entire city of Moscow and after she kills them she's scot-free?! It felt like the author was trying to emulate a male writer instead of being herself as she was in volume one. There's a reason I read more female writers than male and for me, this author undermined that reason with this writing. Being a strong female character doesn't mean you're a hard-bitten man with tits. I'm sorry for those who've been misinformed on this score, but it doesn't.

The other problem with this 'opening scene' was Cookie's sexual attraction to the lone woman on the boat that she eventually climbed onto, out of the river. It felt predatory - like badly-written male-authored exploitation novel. Cookie is supposedly pining for the fact that her one true love, Wayne, from the first novel, has been taken prisoner. She's mentally tired and down, and is now facing the threat posed by the encroaching SWAT team, yet Cookie is thinking only of how hot the 'chick' on the boat looks. No. Just no.

And what about that with Wayne being captured? Cookie abandoned him! Yes, he told her to go, but is Cookie no longer a strong, independent character? Has she no agency? Can she no longer make her own tactical decisions like she did in volume one? Is she now enslaved to Wayne like she had been to 'Normie' at the beginning of the original novel? This approach cheapens and demeans her. It's a backward step that undermines everything she achieved in the first volume.

The macho slant in this novel made for truly unattractive, unnecessary, and sadly unpleasant reading and seemed to me to betray the whole raison d'être of the first novel. It turned me right off Cookie and by extension, the story she was telling, and I couldn't bring myself to even finish that one part, let alone read further. I can't commend this based on what I read, because it's the very antithesis of what I expected and not in any good way.
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Did I say that I'd probably not read the next book in the series? Yes, I did and here I am, proven wrong. Well, let's be honest Laci Powers's narration did its fair share in realising that I should give the next book a go as well. 
So, here we go - Beta Bots! 
If I had my doubts with Alpha Bots at first, it's save to say that Beta Bots is absolutely awesome! Almost perfect. Matter of fact, the only reason I am not giving this book five stars is because almost all of the chapters ended with "And that's how.."/"And that's when..." - I get why Ava Lock chose to finish her chapters that way but I think it happened a bit too often. It got repetitive and dimmed my excitement for the next chapter a bit. 
Other than that - there are new friends, old enemies and familiar faces becoming a regular member of the cast. 
Big shout-out to the colourful and awesome queer representation during the book! 
A trans man, a non-binary character, an asexual character - and, of course, the Triple-A (agender, aromantic and asexual); not to mention the most PEACHy drag queen ever. 
I LOVED Beta Bots. From beginning to end, I was mezmerized with the characters - especially with the return of a certain someone, the Tyler Durden of the female fight club. I literally SCREAMED when they came back.
I am so excited for book three! Also, I LOVE how Ava Lock presents Cookie's bisexuality. I recently read another book where the bi-rep fell extremely flat, so I was delighted to have it much better handled in Beta Bots. (Actually, Alpha Bots already did a very good job at that, but Beta Bots tops it). 
Long story short - I am extremely grateful to have been granted this ARC by the publisher, Ava Lock and Netgalley. I can't wait for the audiobook and I don't know how I am supposed to maintain patient until Gamma Bots will be released. 

I am definitely recommending Beta Bots. There is so much queer rep in this book, especially of groups who usually are "forgotten" or aren't fully considered LGBTQIAP+ by some people. One asexual character is rare in a book - but two? And one of them is aroace? Consider me sold!
A trans male character and a drag queen?
Shut up and take my money. 
I am looking forward to book 3, even though I am sad, because it means that this rollercoaster of emotions will come to an end. 

I received a free ARC by Netgalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.
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love this book just as much as i loved the first one such a Grate sequel I read it all in one sitting
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