Interest in Book: This was the August choice for my rocksauce book club. I am not sure I was even aware of it before then, but I am super happy that it fell in my lap. It was pleasantly morbid and I enjoyed the psychopathology aspect of it all. Maybe I should work with sociopaths? Not to get too personal in this book review, but I have huge interest in Attachment theory as a social worker. While there has not been a lot of research linking non-attachment in the first few years of life to antisocial personality disorder in adulthood, I am a full believer that attachment can be a major factor. I would love to someday, maybe, work in this area. I've worked with children who likely had insecure attachments, and one with Reactive Attachment Disorder, and holy cannoli, it's bone-chilling to interact with a child that has no life in their eyes. To hear them talk about hurting or killing animals or people like they were going for ice cream. EEEEEEEP!
World-Building: This isn't a fantasy book. Rather, it's set in modern times in a small po-dunk southern town. I think the most chilling aspect of it was because it's reality-based. Serial killers, do in fact, exist in our society. Getting a glimpse of how serial killers think was fascinating and creepy as hell. More interesting, however, was being inside the head of Jazz Dent, teenage son of the infamous serial killer, Billy Dent. Jazz was pretty much molded by his father to become a serial killer. Now that Billy is finally in prison, being caught by a small-town sheriff after 120+ kills, Jazz is living with his grandmother and doing everything in his power to not become a monster.
Characters: Jazz's constant internal struggle was so incredibly fascinating. He does not 100% believe he is not turning into his father, but is trying his damnedest otherwise. Jazz constantly questions his humanity, often seeing both sides to his actions. It was eerie and sad. Throughout the novel, we get glimpses of Billy Dent via Jazz's perspective, the trauma and horrors he subjected Jazz to as a child. Dear Old Dad, as Jazz refers to his lunatic kin, sent chills up my spine. It appears that he cared for Jazz in the only way he knew how. Unfortunately, being devoid of emotional input/output , Jazz likely did not grow up with the warm snugglies from his pops. Dr. Smash always says the quickest way to raise a sociopath is to use cold, inconsistent parenting. I don't envision Billy being that father who played baseball with Jazz and took him to the zoo. And as far as consistency goes, I'm thinking he was only consistent when it came to Jazz's special training. The nature vs. nurture question is heavily apparent in this book.
Jazz's mother has been out of the picture for sometime, another piece of Jazz's life that is slowly pieced together throughout the story. Or not. His grandmother, Billy's mother, is definitely psychotic. She has random hallucinations and appears paranoid.
“[She] was made up of skin and bones and hate and crazy, and hate and crazy don't weigh anything.”
Jazz has to care for her now, though he has been keeping that information from his social worker. The last thing he wants is to be placed in foster care. He treats the social worker with the least amount of respect possible, and as social workers do, she doesn't give up. NO appreciation, peeps! :) If his grandmother has always been psychotic, I'm not surprised Billy grew up to be loco! Having a mental illness as a parent, especially a psychotic disorder, will definitely hinder your parenting ability. Jazz does not want to abandon his grandmother, however, and deals with her random bouts of psychosis and personal attacks.
Ok, enough of my analyzing. I have to mention best friend, Howie, who I wanted to give a great big hug or high five on many occasion. Of course, I would have to be very careful, as Howie has some serious hemophilia and even a light tap on the knuckles can bruise him for days. You would never guess that Howie is plagued by a serious disease which has kept him from doing many enjoyable activities. His personality shines bright and he is forever the optimist. He made me laugh multiple times and I adored what a good friend he is to Jazz, despite his background and the rest of the town's opinion of Billy Dent's child. Connie, Jazz's girlfriend, was also a great character. She challenges and pushes him to work through his father's influence and break the tight grip he has on Jazz's sanity. I was proud of her in a few scenes. Jazz's affection for her is something he struggles with, constantly wondering if he is manipulating her or if his feelings are true.
“Jazz hadn't given her many details of exactly what life in the Dent house had been like, but he'd told her enough that she knew it wasn't hearts and flowers. Well, except for the occasional heart cut from a chest. And the kind of flowers you send to funerals.”
Lasting Impressions:I Hunt Killers will rock your world, in a morbid way. It definitely has gory scenes and is not for the squeamish. I was really impressed with the author's knowledge about the psychopathology of serial killers, and his ability to write those intracacies into his characters made this one hell of a good story. I truly look forward to Game! I think parents should definitely gauge their child's maturity before allowing them to take this one on. And, as always, be there for them to discuss their thoughts and feelings. Way important. Favorite Quote:
“...called nine-one-one," Howie was saying, "and then I heard something in the alleyway, so I went back there and" --Howie coughed-- "and valiantly attacked his knife with my guts, to no avail."
"Did you get a good look at him? Could you describe him?"
Howie smiled wanly. "Yeah. He was about yay long" --he held up his hands, four inches apart-- "thin, made of steel. Pointy. Sharp.”
Interest in Book: I read Jeff Hirsch's The Eleventh Plague and found it to be entertaining, but I had issues really connecting to the characters. That being said, I loved the world-building and themes in the book, and enjoyed the writing. Once I read the synopsis for Magisterium, I knew I wanted to read it and hoped for more in terms of character connections. Plus, I really had to find out what was on the other side of that fence, and I desperately wanted to know who the creepy Charlize-Theron-Evil-Queen character was on the cover. The cover is just incredible!
World-Building: Holy Awesome, Batman! I was immersed in this world when the characters finally take a trip across the invisible divide. The two worlds, or realities, are extremely different in every sense of the imagination. The modern-day world is the one Glenn has been growing up in, but on the other side of the Rift, reality is far different. Once she crosses the fence, Glenn is presented with magic and mystery and creatures and mayhem. I ate it up! I loved how starkly different both realities are, and how instantaneous the change was once you crossed the barrier. And this obviously caused issues for the characters. You see, Affinity, or magic, does not work once you cross the Rift. The same goes for technology. Problematic, or life-saving, when you are being chased down by power-hungry loons!
Characters: It was very hard to not like the characters in this book, and for that, I am grateful. Glenn was easy to like. She had hardship but her resiliency has led her towards a bright future. She is very studious, intelligent, and curious. She possess morals and seeks proof in her world, as any scientist would. Her father, a brilliant scientist, has lost himself in his work since her mother's disappearance many years ago. Due to her father's influence, Glenn relies on technology and proof to shape her world. None of this magic hocus pocus stuff appeals to her, though her geeky best-friend, Kevin, teases her about the possibility of such things. Kevin was a good, loyal friend, and as you can easily guess, there are some romantic tension between the two.
I was quickly interested in the creature Aamon, who we meet once Glenn crosses the Rift. He appeared very protective and interested in Glenn's well-being, but I always wondered where his loyalties lie. I think his character was the biggest surprise of all, one I was not expecting! Opal Whitley was another interesting character that really grabbed my attention. The reader's first encounter with her is eerie, but she soon morphs into a very useful character. And then, of course, we have the Magistra, the evil entity that is the driving force of this story. The scene where the reader first meets her will blow you away. Just think of that book cover in real-time. It was like out of a movie. I re-read it a few times because it was truly magnificent and eerie to experience.
Lasting Impressions: Bravo, Mr. Hirsch. This was a home run for me. I was engrossed in the story and a few scenes on the magical side of the rift were truly breathtaking to experience. The pacing was great and the descriptions were fantastic. The idea of having two realities side-by-side, so very different from one another but also so dependent on and threatened by the other, was a fantastic idea and all the intricate pieces were woven together well.
If you love magic, alternate realities, great world-building, eerie and intriguing characters, give Magisterium a go!(less)
Oh man, this was a cheesy one. It definitely reminds me of why I don't read typical romance/erotica most of the time. I did enjoy the characters, and...moreOh man, this was a cheesy one. It definitely reminds me of why I don't read typical romance/erotica most of the time. I did enjoy the characters, and it being a novella, things had to move quickly. I get that. The setting was cool, too, but the ending just killed it for me. It was just too easy. I did enjoy the campy phrasing though, like "hump a knothole," "keep your twigs off mine" and "nice piece of timber he's sporting." Heh.(less)
Mmmmmmm. Raze. What a decadent creature. Raze is a Fallen Angel who is apparently the only to fall without knowing love first. And since he's lost his...moreMmmmmmm. Raze. What a decadent creature. Raze is a Fallen Angel who is apparently the only to fall without knowing love first. And since he's lost his soul, love doesn't seem to be a possibility. Raze isn't a one lady kinda guy, but that's only because Kim hasn't sauntered into his life yet. I really liked Kim. I liked her inner strength and determined will to keep Raze, regardless of the obstacles they may face. The world-building was squeezed into a novella, so I'm still confused on some aspects of the Fallen, Vampires, Minions, Lycan relationships and duties, but I am damn interested to continue. This was my first Sylvia Day read and I must say, she has me quite interested in the Renegade Angels series now. I love me some Angel mythology, and it's actually been a long times since I've read any. I appreciated her story-telling ability and writing style. It kept me interested, as did the romance.(less)
Interest in Book: I started talking to the author on Twitter, and next thing I know, I have the opportunity to review her book. I had not yet heard of this series, and I am so happy that I know of it now. I love Shifter and Were books, and well, with a lone female wolf who is feared by the supernatural community, I was definitely game to find out what is so special about Jessica McClain.
World-Building: The book opens up with a bang as Jessica is woken up out of a dead sleep when her body endures its first shift into wolf form. This comes as a serious surprise to her, for many reasons. Firstly, she should not even be alive, as females born to weres never, ever occur. Secondly, a shifting female? Say what? She is an anomaly that has sparked much interest and fear since her birth, and with a pesky prophecy hanging over her head, let's just say that Jessica's life is now on the fast road to danger and hardship.
This book set up the world quite nicely. The Pack dynamics and politics were very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed the brotherhood and camaraderie between the members. Other supernatural beasties are prevalent in this world, such as witches, vampires and other were animals. Vampires play a pivotal role leading up to the next book, and they were creepy to experience. Definitely not your shimmering type.
Characters: Jessica McClain is the daughter of the North American Pack Alpha, Callum McClain. Pretty much the baddest bad ass of his kind. Her brother, Tyler, is as dedicated to her and her father, and their relationships were endearing and heartfelt. Jessica has been living as an alias for the past seven years so she could live a normal human life away from the pack. Unfortunately for her and the rest of the supernatural community, her first shift has put into motion some serious treachery and a supernatural showdown is imminent. I enjoyed Jessica's character development. She is a fierce chic who does not back down due to possessing boobs instead of balls. She is a courageous as they come, though her new found powers and abilities are not quite known to her, or anyone else, which puts her in serious danger.
Packmates James and Danny, as well as best friend and business mate, Nick, are rocksauce. Danny is adorable with his accent and confidence. He has some of the best lines of the books, most of them aimed at Jessica's buxom chest or tight ass. James is Callum's second and a powerful, rockhard, sexy beast! His devotion and dedication to his pack and protecting Jessica are evident in his bold actions. And Nick is just fun and always there when Jessica needs him. Her only gal pal, a witch named Marcy, also delivers some light commentary and has a great personality.
And then we have Rourke. *rawr* Rourke is a deadly mercenary who ends up in town, seeking an audience with Jessica. After a series of events, Jessica finds herself alone with Rourke as they flee to safety deep in the Ozarks. Some revelations are had and some battles are fought. Rourke is an ancient werecat of some kind, though no one who has seen his were form has lived to tell about it. His raw energy is enough to light up the night sky and he is about the size of a boulder. I am hoping that we get to witness his cat form. The guess Jessica made about his were-form has me SO intrigued! That would ROCK!
Lasting Impressions: I was really impressed with this book! It reminded me of Rachel Vincent's Shifter series, which is a mega favorite of mine. I really love reading about Pack life and experiencing the harsh politics and extreme dedication among pack mates. Plus, there is an uber strong female lead who is trying to figure out her role in the world. I also loved the inner monologue Jessica had with her Wolf. It was humorous as hell watching the two as they got to know one another. And the author made me giggle profusely anytime Jessica's Latina neighbor, Juanita, made an appearance. Her thick Spanish accent was hilarious to read. The romance is minimal with a few damn sexy scenes, but the romance is the numero uno catalyst for book two, Hot Blooded! All in all, a fab start to a UF series!
If you love weres, pack life and politics, sexy, strong characters and great action, put this one on your TBR!
I love Thea Harrison's Elder Races series. I truly, truly do. It's magical, full of amazing world-building, characters that light up the pages, and in...moreI love Thea Harrison's Elder Races series. I truly, truly do. It's magical, full of amazing world-building, characters that light up the pages, and intense, passionate romance. All of the full-length books and novellas have been a sheer joy to experience. One of the most well-crafted paranormal worlds ever, and the romance is just incredible. If you have not experienced this writer's talent yet, get with the frakin program!
That being said, of all the amazing pieces of fiction set in the Elder Races world, this novella is my favorite so far. The world-building was minimal, but the love story was one of the most beautiful I've ever read. I was touched beyond belief as I watched Aubrey and Xanthe's love blossom and consume them. Seeing as she had to care for him while his body recovered from a brutal attack, it was only a matter of time before their close quarters brought them closer together. It happened so naturally, so beautifully. Their reactions and inhibitions and emotions were so realistic and palpable. On the lighter side, I loved when Aubrey playfully teased Xanthe after he realized that she had a crush on him. And I love how he occasionally slipped out of his political role and said Fuck. It made me laugh just as much as Xanthe. It's really hard not to love these two.
Of course, it did not hurt that Tiago, sexy beast that he is, had a few scenes. I sure do miss him, and he hasn't changed a bit. Always professional, but still putty in Niniane's hands. Heh. And they don't call Niniane Tricks for nothing. That's all I have to say about that!(less)
Interest in Book: I'm not on the underwater creature feature bandwagon, but it does intrigue me because I love the ocean's inhabitants. When Ashley @ Bookish Brunette offered up this tour, I decided to give it a go. I enjoyed Amanda Hocking's Hollowland well enough. I still need to review that one, too. *sigh*
Characters: I have to admit to being really engrossed in the family dynamics. Gemma and her older sister, Harper, have lived with their father for the past 9 years. An unfortunate accident has kept mom from having an active role in their life, though there was a scene near the end of the book that makes me wonder if she will play a larger role later on. The scenes where Gemma and Harper visit with their mother are so touching and realistic.
Harper has taken over the mother and wife role in the home. Not literally, of course, but she has definitely shifted the family dynamics and while it shows her love and dedication for her family, it isn't healthy for any of them. Harper needs to live her young life and not put so much pressure on herself. Gemma and Harper's relationship is endearing, as well as hard to watch. I truly felt love and devotion, as well as annoyance and confusion. Emotions that family brings out in us, loud and clear. Harper drives Gemma crazy with her constant (s)mothering. Gemma is in need of some privacy and autonomy, and the only place she can de-stress is the ocean. Her nightly swims keep her sane.
Alex, the-nerdy-boy-next-door-who-is-now-filling-out-that-Superman-shirt-nicely is too adorable. I love nerds and geeks, so much so, I married one! I would marry Alex, too, or at least make him a man...whooops. TMI. Alex came off so realistic to me. His personality is full of win and I adore the budding relationship he has with Gemma. Then there is Daniel, an older boy who lives on his boat. He's got his eye on Harper, who shoots the poor dude down on a constant basis. However, when you have a golden personality such as Daniel's, your target is bound to falter at some point. Harper remains a determined hard ass throughout the book, but her shell is slowly cracking, and I love being witness to it all. There is also something very intriguing about Daniel, as he appears immune to the wiles of the next characters...
Penn, Lexi and Thea, the mysterious newcomers to the small ocean town, have unnerved the residents of Capri. They are strikingly beautiful and have this creepy yet awesome ability where they can easily influence people. Men are suckers at their feet, and a lot of women become dazed in their presence, too. They become increasingly interested in befriending Gemma, and have big plans for her. Penn was a classic malicious bitch, and I wanted to knock her teeth out on many occasion. I cannot deny what an incredible villain she is!
World-Building: Once we learn the lore of the sisters and Gemma's role in their world, I was a little disappointed. I love Greek Mythology, and guessed the sister's true natures very early on. However, the lore and background that Penn reveals to Gemma was not very interesting, to me. Maybe my love for Greek Mythology mucks things up, which could be the case for a lot of books that incorporate these myths into their story lines. On another note, one of their true forms was horrendous, though it felt odd in this story! I was totally imagining a hella creepy character from a dark 1980s Jim Henson movie, and I loved it. Eeeep!
Lasting Impressions:Rhiannon Frater mentioned that she saw many parallels to The Lost Boys. Yea, that wicked vampire movie from the 80s, before vampires sparkled and shit. I thought the same thing, having just watched the movie again recently. Not that this is a bad thing, because that movie rocks my face off, but the overall plot and major scenes are very similar. Regardless, I'd like to see how the world expands in the next installment. I am curious to see how Gemma handles her new life, and how Harper, Daniel and Alex try to save her from it.
"I could win you a goldfish."
"I don't think that'd be fair to the goldfish," Gemma said. "I've had about a dozen of them, and they all seem to die within days of me getting them."
"Oh, yeah." Alex smiled crookedly. "I remember you making your dad bury them out in the backyard."
"They were my pets, and they deserved a proper burial."
"I better be careful around you." Alex stepped back from her cautiously, giving her a wide berth. "You're a goldfish mass murderer. I don't know what you're capable of."
"Stop!" Gemma laughed. "I didn't kill them on purpose! I was little. I think I overfed them. Out of love, though."
"That's even scarier," he teased. "Do you plan to kill me with kindness?"
"Maybe." She narrowed her eyes at him and tried to look menacing, making him laugh.
I was originally interested because of the fantasy element. I discovered a Young Adult book club here in Atlanta and their July pick is Shadow and Bone, so I had to buy it and read it quickly. I cannot express how happy I am that it fell into my lap sooner rather than later. Loads of excitement, peeps!
CHARACTERS: I love me a good villain. The kind that you want to simultaneously hug and stab repeatedly. The kind that can manipulate you into a pile of confused goo but leave your blood boiling like lava. The author delivers a villain such as this in Shadow and Bone, known as the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha alive. He is at the center of the twisted, dangerous journey our heroine, Alina Starkov, must endure. He was fascinating to experience.
Alina is an orphan employed in the map-making ranks of the army, alongside her lifelong orphan friend, Mal, who is the best tracker in the army. As the story begins, it is apparent that Alina is smitten with Mal and has been for a years. Mal is quite the lady-killer and enjoys his status, but adores Alina and is protective of her well-being. When Alina’s life drastically changes with the blink of a blinding light, she is quickly swept away to the palace, leaving Mal far behind. She struggles deeply with their separation, as well as with fitting in amongst the elite people of her world. She never quite feels welcome and normal. I welcomed her insecurities because it made her likable and relatable. Mal resurfaces and you are immediately reminded of why Alina loves the guy, though their reunion is anything but perfect and peaceful.
Genya, a fellow Grisha and a character you are never sure to trust or not, is the only person Alina grows fond of in the palace, and I adored her personality. She’s a sassy redhead.
“You’re very welcome,” she said, giving my hair a hard tug. “You should be used to being gawked at by now.”
“And yet I’m not.”
“Well, if it gets too bad, give me a signal, and I’ll get up on the banquet table, toss my skirt over my head, and do a little dance. That way no one will be looking at you.”
WORLD-BUILDING: I will do my best not to flail about in serious world-building delight, but I am in awe and in love with the world-building in Shadow and Bone! The magical atmosphere of this book is heavy, as the Grisha are the magical elite force of the Second Army and Masters of the Small Science. There are 3 categories: Corporalki (The Order of the Living and The Dead), Ethrealki (The Order of Summoners) and Materialki (The order of Fabrikators). These people have innate magic that is tested during childhood. If they are discovered as Grisha, they are sent away to the palace to be trained and master their skill.
At some point in history, a very powerful Grisha created the Shadow Fold, or the Unsea. It is a vast expanse of sandy terrain devoid of any light. Pitch. Frakkin. Black. Not only is it terrifying, but creatures out of your worst nightmare are ready to rain down on your ass. According to the map in the book, it covers the western part of the continent, and stands in between the people and the True Sea, which makes it very difficult for trading and the like.
An interesting part of this society, for me, was how segregated it appeared. The Grisha look down upon their associates in other categories, whispering and engaging in forms of snobbery and discrimination. Alina never quite felt at home due to the constant backstabbing and gossiping, often wondering who to trust, which only added to the isolation and loneliness she felt. Another interesting part of this society was the outcasts, or otkazat’sya. It reminded me very much of the Indian caste system, though less harsh – on the surface, anyway.
The political minutia is subtle in this book, but the Darkling has serious plans to take politics to the next level for this society. Of course, Alina lay at the very core of his plan. I hope we learn more about Grisha Theory and the Small Science in Siege and Storm!
LASTING IMPRESSIONS: This book has it all: stellar world-building, intriguing characters, an epic plot line and a romance so subtle that the realization bowls you over. This book is my favorite read of the year thus far. I am thoroughly in love with the characters, the world and the plot. Triple WIN!
“You are becoming dangerous, and you will become more dangerous still.”
“Me?” I whispered. “To whom?”
“There is something more powerful than any army. Something strong enough to topple kings, and even Darklings. Do you know what that thing is?”
I shook my head, inching away from him.
“Faith,” he breathed, his black eyes wild. “Faith.” (less)
The Steampunk era is really fantastic setting for sex. I loved the mix of machinery and flesh. Holla!
*Iron Hard by Sylvia Day: Vibrating Copper Finger...moreThe Steampunk era is really fantastic setting for sex. I loved the mix of machinery and flesh. Holla!
*Iron Hard by Sylvia Day: Vibrating Copper Fingers FTW! Seriously. You need know nothing else about this one but vibrating copper fingers. *Heart of the Deadalus by Saskia Walker in Steamlust: Nothing like a good sword fight to get those juices flowin! And the Deadalus creation was wicked cool. I want one! The author's use of puss had me giggle like an immature idiot. That word cracks me up. *Fog, Flight & Moonlight by Sacchi Green in Steamlust: Sex in a hot air balloon FTW! But not very good sex. Lost potential. I did love Maddy though. What a spunky gem of a whore she was.
There are more stories, but these are the first three...(less)
Interest in Book: I won this book during ArmchairBEA. I had not even heard of it, but the title and book cover interested me so much that I didn't even need to read the synopsis. I'm not sure that I ever did. "And girl created boy..." was surely going to provide some thought-provoking content, and I was right.
World-Building: This book appears to be set in present day, though I thought it was futuristic due to the apparent advances in technology. Terra Spiker owns Spiker Biopharmaceuticals, a multi-billion dollar biotech company. Her scientific teams have cured diseases and are held in high esteem around the scientific community. She is pretty much Queen Bee in the scientific/medical communities and will refuse anything short of that title and respect.
The book opens up with a grisly scene that catapults Evening, Terra's daughter, into a whole lot of reality, and propels the reader right into the story. I LOVE when books open with HOLY SHIT! scenes. When you can grip a reader like that from the beginning, you also have to keep us interested. For the most part, the book did just that. I enjoyed the scientific aspects greatly, especially when science and creationism clash in epic ways. The ramifications and WTFs of this world keep you turning the page! I think my only issue was with the ending, which did not go in a direction I was expecting, and it was all a bit dull for me.
Characters: Being the teenage daughter of "Terror" Spiker has its pros and cons. I'm not sure if Eve would be able to identify any pros at this point in her life, but her mother sure would! She uses her power and influence to remove Eve from the ICU immediately after a horrendous injury. Terra claims her company's technological advances are far better for her daughter's prognosis, and whisks her away to her own hospital in the Spiker Biopharmaceuticals complex. This makes sense if your mom has such resources, but the way Terra reacted during that scene was so cold and scientific. Not at all like a mother would be acting in such a scenario! My antennae went up and I wondered about this woman's real motives from there on out.
Accompanying Eve in the ambulance, since her mother could not fathom being enclosed in a space laden with micro beasties, is Solo, a Spiker employee. Solo is a bit too young to be fully employed by her mother. He's a lackey, given the crap jobs and no one really pays much attention to him. He also lives at the complex, which immediately makes you wonder about his family. He slowly reveals himself to Eve throughout the story and helps her puzzle together some serious reality checks.SERIOUS. It's pretty easy to adore Solo, even though he comes off as less appealing at first. Being who I am, I immediately thought about the causal factors for his actions and words, and by the end of it all, I was cheering for him.
While Eve is recovering in the SB complex, her mother puts her to work: create the perfect man. Of course, she provides Eve with a very advanced technological program in which to carry out this interesting, and entertaining task. Eve names her creation Adam and feels proud of what she has created. She pays great attention to the details - personality traits, intelligence, appearance, biological components like metabolism, prone to acne, diabetes. It was a fascinating look into genetics and really makes you think about what represents perfection to you.
Of course, Eve has absolutely no clue just how important Adam will become in her future...
Lasting Impressions: I enjoy multiple POVs when they are done well, and this book made me happy. It also made me think. Lots of questions about genetic modification, survival of the fittest, creating the perfect human and playing God come to mind. As a society, we are hell bent on perfection, when the sad fact of the matter is, perfection is unattainable because what is perfect to one person is not perfect to another. As a whole, society will never, ever reach perfection because of the vast differences each person embodies.What we should focus more of our energies on is happiness and acceptance. I will never be a size 6. I will never have thin legs. I will never have big eyes. I will never have the IQ of my husband. I will never be as spontaneous as he is, either. I have a bit of a controlling side, think I'm right more than I am, and can be a bit of a firecracker with a sharp tongue. I am ok with this because I have a lot of other things that I am happy with, both physical, mental and emotional. We have to stop searching for the perfect this or that, and start focusing on what we have and how it adds to our lives.
This novella was straight out 90% sex. The story line was as you see above, and aside from the beginning and ending of the story, there was not one se...moreThis novella was straight out 90% sex. The story line was as you see above, and aside from the beginning and ending of the story, there was not one second of non-sexing. Vetis is the Demon of Corruption. I giggled every time I said his name. In my head, I pronounce it Vee-tus, which is way too much like Fee-tus. :) Not very sexy. However, it's probably pronounced Veh-tis.
Amara's sexual awakening with Vetis was hot. He took his sweet time (like 3 days?) and showed her the ropes, and then some. He made it his personal mission to replace Amara's pain and suffering with pleasure. They both got a little more than they bargained for.
And there was chocolate and felatio. Chocolate coverd peens, anyone? His tongue was also creepy yet wildly ah-mazing. And he called one of her boobs "old friend", which had me keel over in giggles.
We first meet Seremela in Serpent's Kiss, and I was so amazed to find a medusa in a story! Big ups to Thea Harrison for incorporating medusa lore into her series. I mean, who ever thought they wanted to learn about these supposedly icky creatures? I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED learning more about the medusae culture in Devil's Gate.
The medusae believed that each medusa was born with a drop of poison in their souls. The poison turned into a medusa's Adversary, the dark voice that whispered doubts and fears in one's own thoughts. The measure of one's strength was determined by how well on withstood one's internal Adversary. Seremela tried to overcome the negative voice, but her own Adversary had a lot of ammunition to use against her.
It was eye-opening to be in Seremela's head and realize how lonely it most be for that species. However, what tenacity and determination this women possesses! And her snakes, poisonous to many creatures, were hilarious to experience. She refers to them as brats occasionally and they really did remind me of rambunctious, nosy pets. They sure did calm down and appear at ease when Duncan was around though...
Duncan is a Vampyre and the progeny of Carling, who was once the Vampyre Queen but is now enjoying her days and nights with her mate, Rune. I don't think I ever thought twice about Duncan, but he certainly came across as appealing int his novella. And so very different from the large, aggressive Alpha males in this series. Duncan's Alpha-ness is different. Still quite strong physically, his intelligence and charm are more his forte, and he has them in spades.
Duncan and Seremela are an odd pair, but I was quite taken by their story. They seem to complete each other, accept each other. It just felt natural and beautiful. Win!
He's have to be a liar or blind to claim he wasn't affected by her beauty, because he was, but what really engaged his interest was her quick mind. It was such a goddamn pleasure to seduce an intelligent woman.
Interest in the book: After being introduced to Kendall's first book, Inhale, and devouring its wicked world-building a...moreCourtesy of Smash Attack Reads.
Interest in the book: After being introduced to Kendall's first book, Inhale, and devouring its wicked world-building awesomeness, I knew I had to continue on the journey with Zoe and Gavin. Their story is one that you want to finish. I want to see them safely through the end of their struggles. I NEED THEM TO BE OK! Ok?
First Impressions: The book leaves off exactly where Inhale ends, which I personally enjoy. We are catapulted back into the situation at hand, which is as hairy as your Uncle Mo's back. Emotions are raw and confused, and hellions are back on the loose to make life hell for Zoe and Gavin.
Characters: Zoe and Gavin are back with their stellar personalities, insecurities, yearning to experience life, passion for their respective jobs (and each other!) and compassion for others. Zoe is great and I really enjoy her voice in the story. She's insecure but her stubborn nature will not allow others in very easily. She is tough at her core but crumbles under the passion and adoration of Gavin. I think we'd all crumble. Gavin is a stand up guy. He's oozing with sex and definitely makes you want to take a cold shower, but the guy is just plain ole tender-hearted and good-natured. I frakking love experiencing Zoe and Gavin from the other's perspective. Aside from the serious intimacy of it all, I love knowing their thoughts in the moment, their insecurities and confidence, their happy and sad memories. I LOVE being inside their head. They balance each other but also challenge and push each other.
God, she was instant relief from all the shit flying around in his head. Her touch grounded him, put things in perspective.
Plus, their moments together never disappoint. Their encounters don't always end happily but their passion and adoration for the other pours off the pages.
He'd always viewed kissing as the path of least resistance to achieving the goal of bedding women. But Jesus, this wasn't a kiss. It was a fucking experience. Like discovering a new world. And the intoxicating atmosphere in Zoeland turned his bones to jelly.
And the HEAT they produce together is steamy. Kendall's use of phrasing always bring home a win.
He leaned in for a kiss, but she avoided his lips by dropping to her knees. She sucked his dick stupid.
Of course, Scarlet and Sinnder are never to far behind where Zoe and Gavin are concerned. Sinnder was so perplexing throughout the entire book. I love his mysterious nature. He constantly has me guessing where his loyalties lie and if his heart is as fiery as it's supposed to be. He is my favorite character in the series, and his role in this whole clusterfuck is becoming more and more interesting! Scarlet really upped the ante in this installment and bitch took psycho to ultimate levels of crazy. As much as I want her to go out in an everlasting flame of good riddance, I LOVE her character. She is seriously one of the best villains I've come across in a long while.
Fuck. If she'd been an ordinary human, Scarlet would have been classified as dangerous, but the Fyre Elemental label upgraded her psycho status to platinum deadly.
World-Building: You want world-building? You got it. Rich, intense and interesting world-building. Characters that jump off the pages and sear you with their interesting, engaging and sometimes down-right scary personalities. Two different parallel worlds that affect the other in tragic ways. And whales! YAY!
Lasting Impressions: Kendall Grey has talent and a beautiful heart. Did you know she was donating all proceeds of this trilogy to whale education? That, to me, is pure heart and compassion and a cherry on top. I wanted to be a marine biologist throughout my entire childhood, and dolphins were my passion. I completely get where she is coming from, and also love how she weaves them into her storytelling.(less)
b>Interest in Book: Duh. It's a zombie book! And then I opened it and read the dedication. SO MUCH WIN. I knew immediately I would enjoy the author's voice. It turned out to be exactly what I expected: quirky, dangerous, campy, highly entertaining and just plain fun. It's not your typical serious zombie post-apocalyptic book, but it definitely has some gory moments as a band of teenagers try to figure out just what the tittlepop is happening in their little slice of America. Of course, underneath all the silly fun are some heavy themes, mainly corporate monsters and the food industry, which are one in the same, I suppose.
World-Building: Nick, aka Nero, is a normal teenager living with his perceived deadbeat of a father, The Dude, and his younger sister, Amanda, who has Asperger Syndrome. Nick works for a major chicken production plant and after a serious(?) incident, he ends up at the "Inward Trek" camp for juvenile delinquents. I think the incident was silly, but it connects the plot later on so I guess it gets a pass. On the way to camp, Nick notices odd occurrences but writes it off strange human behavior. Once at camp, the zombie infestation lands right outside their tents, literally. From there on out, lots of chaos, death, funny one-liners and tough chicks grace the pages as Nick and gang try to save humanity.
The zombie encounters were wicked fun and a tad gory. The zombies appeared to have some sort of rational grasp on reality, as they were able to use strategy a time or two. I absolutely love the groups' descriptions of the zombies, as camp counselors, camp mates, joggers and random people become flesh-eating hellions. The source of infection turns out to be connected in a big way to Nick, and his stance at the end of the book was unexpected.
Characters: Nick was the protagonist and as always, it's nice to read from a male's perspective. I really enjoyed the flashbacks where we learn more about his family. He also has a constant back and forth with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in his head that was ridiculously fun. however, Nick stood out the least. The author brought life to the supporting characters in a big way because they are all memorable. Every single one of the delinquents that Nick is unfortunately stuck with during this bizarre adventure had serious personality. When the zombie outbreak finally reached the group of misfits, I was laughing hardcore at their reactions. Idle and Billy start dropping beats, yo! And they use yo. Love!
I adored little sis Amanda. I've been around Asperger kids, and have a few friends whose children have been diagnosed. I think the author really captured the personality characteristics of this disorder. The author used a lot of question marks when Amanda was speaking, in between her words, to evoke emotions or maybe her constant questioning and wondering? I'm not sure. It was hella annoying at first, but then I realized it was only with Amanda and it made more sense.
Lasting Impressions: I really wish I could post some quotes, as this book is highly quotable. This was my first book by the author and I really enjoyed his style, commentary and phrasing. I loved the use of Zombrules throughout the book, which were just downright hysterical. My favorite spoke of Ztockholm Syndrome. Scary shit, people. The chapter titles were also really creative, as well as the Fresh Bukket Menu and the Incident Reports. The blood splatter at the beginning of each chapter gets bigger and bigger, too. All of this supplementary material and creativity really brought the story to life. Unfortunately, the ending fell flat for me, but it really didn't detract from my enjoyment throughout the book.(less)
Hold on to your hats, ladies and gents. Humanity is rearing up for one hell of a bumpy ride!
Interest in the book: Rhiannon Frater invited me to be part of the blog tour, and being a major fangirl, I could not say no. After the cover reveal, I was even more excited to read the book. Isn't that cover ridiculously awesome? At first, I thought it was a series, but then she corrected me. I am actually glad it's a standalone. The ending works. It felt right.
First Impressions: In true Frater fashion, the prologue sets the scene and grips you tightly by the throat. Humanity is dangling by a thread because the last Bastion has been cut off from its food sources due to the Inferi Scourge breaking through a pretty impenetrable gate. The Bastion sets out on its final mission to save humanity, and as with any zombie book, they don't make it easy on you!
Characters: Vanguard Maria Martinez is a bad. ass. mama. jama. She is fierce, protective, loyal, inquisitive and compassionate. She is also broken, physically and mentally, but is not afraid to lay her ass on the line to save the last of mankind. Maria is in love with officer Dwayne Reichardt and their secret love affair is her only form of happiness. Maria was part of the last mission to rid the valley of Inferi Scourge, a mission that ends on a serious sour note. When she is contacted to be part of a secret mission as the final attempt to rid the world of the infected, Maria jumps at the chance to save humanity, even though it may cost her everything. She is such an admirable, courageous woman! She faces fears pretty damn personal throughout the mission but she always keeps her eye on the prize.
Dwayne surprised me with his dedication to Maria. He is left back home while Maria is in the field, but with the assistance of Maria's dear friend and tech geek, Lindsay, he is able assist Maria behind the scenes. You see, not all is what it seems in this game. Discovering the truth about everything, along with the characters, is incredible. You feel the intense feelings right along with them, and the deception and surprises will make you gasp!
World-Building: Ohhh. The world-building was rich in this book. It's set in the future, and a virus has infected most of the human population, turning them into mindless Inferi Scourge whose sole purpose is to spread the virus by biting their victims. In other words, they do not eat flesh. They merely bite your ass and welcome you to the family. These zombie-like creatures do not decompose, so their human-like appearance plays psychological havoc with the military personnel sent to destroy them.
The Last Bastion is the final safe place for humanity, and it is surrounded by millions of Inferi Scourge. The Bastion is slowly dying because the Inferi Scourge has cut them off from all renewable resources and food. The future is bleak, the current living conditions are poor, the ammunition is running low, but the government officials have something up their sleeve. The government's super secret mission is their last hurrah before humanity dies out, and it is full of devious, treacherous, scandalous twists and turns. But as is typical with zombies and viruses, in general, they deliver a set of surprises all their own. Booyah!
Lasting Impressions: The ending worked. I was expecting something different, as I am sure others will, but I'm glad Frater decided to surprise us. I finished the book with hope and a smile on my face. And trust me, there is no time for smiles with the Inferi Scourge breathing down your neck! Frater lights up the plot with conspiracies, treachery, coups and a bucket load of political fucktards to last through a nuclear explosion (since, you know, they are like roaches). She also delivers a touching love story that stands strong through a milieu of WTFckery!(less)
SMASHTASTIC ENTERTAINMENT QUICKIE: Oh. Em. Squee! EPIC storytelling!
INTEREST IN THE BOOK: This may have not shown up on my radar had Kt from A Book Obsession not tweeted to tell me about the ZOMPIRES in the book. I mean, really? Freaking Zompires? I HAD to witness it. I had no clue what I was getting myself into and this book turned out to be way more than I anticipated.
WORLD-BUILDING: This is my first venture into Julie Kagawa’s mind, as I have yet to read her Iron Fey series. That being said, I really had no idea what to expect in terms of world-building, which as you know, is my favorite piece of any story. I will state that she blew. me. away. This dystopian setting was epic, as Kelly at Reading the Paranormal so aptly described. Deteriorating cities were described in great detail, with ravaged skyscrapers giving these ghost towns an eerie feel. The author did a fabulous job at conveying our current environment as complete wreckage in the future. Obliterated, disintegrating, disappearing. The Chicago we know today is a water-world of sorts in this setting, offering many different obstacles and hazards for our characters. I particularly loved this setting the most.
Due to a virus eradicating much of the human population, the vampire race rules in this future world. That being said, people are not very hopeful and live in constant fear. The larger populations of people are where, of course, you will find the larger population of vampires, who request services and sustenance in exchange for the basics: shelter, food, protection. This last one is a bit iffy.
"In this world, the only law was to obey the Masters, and the Masters didn’t care if their cattle occasionally turned on each other. Run into a bored, hungry gang, and you’ll be lucky if all they did was kill you."
On the flip side, there are certain humans who prefer to face this big, bad, scary world alone. These unregistered humans are given no shelter, no food, no protection. Nada. Zilch. Needless to say, they have learned how to survive in this desolate, horrific environment, among the gangs, vampires and other, more sinister and dangerous creatures: the rabids, or how I will forever refer to them – ZOMPIRES! The lore behind the rabids is extremely interesting and given to us in bits and pieces throughout the book. We also come face to face with these creatures on a few occasion, and I cannot express the pant-shitting fear I had during those scenes! I was so impressed with the author’s ability to instill fear and horror in me when the rabids were front and center. I kid you not, I was trembling in me skivvies, peeps!
CHARACTERS: Allison “Allie” Sekemoto is an unregistered living on the outskirts of vampire society, doing her best to survive each minute of the day. She doesn’t always possess the best insight and decision-making, but she is, at her core, a survivor. She, like the rest of the human population, abhors the vampire race and she suddenly finds herself the very thing she despises. While she struggles to cope with her worst nightmare, she must learn the rules of her new immortality. Fun times, people. Intense struggle lands in Allie’s lap, but as I’ve stated, she is a survivor, and she finds it deep within her to continue breathing moving.
ZEKE! Holy canoli, what a magnanimous character this young man turned out to be. Zeke is a part of a shoddy group of people on their quest for Eden, the human paradise, or more likely accurate, human stronghold minus vampires. Zeke has been raised by a fanatical man named Jeb, the leader of this desperate band of survivors. As with all families, Jeb’s beliefs have bled into Zeke’s mind, and he carries out his father’s bidding without question. However, one thing is clearly different about father and son: Jeb is a ‘do what needs to done regardless if it results in casualties’ kinda guy, whereas Zeke holds on tightly to his humanity, even though he questions it often. I LOVE ZEKE. Amazing character.
The romance that blooms between Allie and Zeke, two very-unlikely-to-ever-be-romantically-involved people, is beautiful, subtle and real. I look forward to the struggles and triumphs in future books that these two will no doubt experience together.
LASTING IMPRESSIONS: What else can I say? Aside from being so upset and frustrated that I have to wait a long ass time for the next installment, I gots nothing! Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. Now. *glare of doom*
Jeb regarded me with no expression. “Do you believe in God, Allison?”
“No,” I said immediately. “Is this the part where you tell me I’m going to hell?”
“This is hell,” Jebbadiah said, gesturing to the town around us. “This is our punishment, our Tribulation. God has abandoned this world. The faithful have already gone on to their reward, and he has left the rest of us here, at the mercy of the demons and the devils. The sins of our fathers have passed to their children, and their children’s children, and it will continue to be so until this world is completely destroyed. So it doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not, because He is not here.”
Interest in the book: After reading Abandon, I was surely going to follow Pierce's journey into the Underworld. The book leaves off right where Abandon ended, which made the story seamless. I am pleasantly surprised and entertained by this retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth.
First Impressions: The book opens with a horrific nightmare that Pierce wakes up from in terror, and suddenly realizes those curtains aren't familiar. Oh, right. Pierce is not in her bedroom. She's in John's. In the Underworld. And he's next to her. On the bed. This is not a situation that Pierce is ready to encounter. Oh, the woes of teen love!
Characters: Pierce is still that same odd young lady who doesn't quite fit in with others, but she has matured greatly due to events in Abandon. She remains fiercely protective over her family members and is distraught at the thought of never returning home to tell her mother that she is ok. Pierce meets some new characters that live in John's home. They all seem to think he's a captain and they kind of act like seamen. This may or may not be related to a major hurricane and sunken ship and all this other lore that surrounds Isla Huesos.
Pierce becomes more curious about John's true origins and learns more about him throughout this installment. Of course, John fears the worst and believes Pierce will see him as a monster. While I disagree heavily with John removing Pierce's choice and free will, he does his best to see that she is happy, even though he is seriously afraid of the dangers she faces. His conscience is on a constant give-and-take and I would hate to have to deal with that! But still, Pierce forgives him way too easily...
I have to mention the Mourning dove that John gifts her in the beginning of the book. The bird is very symbolic to Pierce and her relationship with John, and it also symbolizes something else for Pierce: Hope. So yea, that's what she ends up calling the bird, even though she is against the name in the beginning. The thing about Hope, you see, is that she pops into existence when Pierce is in trouble or needs assistance. Of course a bird can't do much to assist a human, but she is great at alerting Pierce to danger. Not only that, but Meg Cabot gave her the sauciest, sassiest little personality, and trust me when I say you will adore this bird!
World-Building: I really enjoyed the time spent in the Underworld. Despite the title, a lot of time is spent "above ground" as Pierce and John try to save her cousin's life. Of course, the Furies have a different agenda and they face perils of all shapes and sizes. What time is spent in the Underworld, however, really moves the plot forward. I enjoyed Pierce's discoveries of the other characters and the changes that have occurred in the Underworld due to her compassionate heart.
Lasting Impressions: This series is entertaining, and while the romantic relationship between Pierce and John is not quite right, what relationship is perfect? He is the caretaker of the dead and she is a teen girl who has been chosen as his consort. Things are bound to be less than ideal, though these two do their best to understand the other. The action was great, the secondary characters were fun and the plot has definitely moved forward. I look forward to Awaken!
“...Did you see him? I know the photo was grainy, but he looks like one of those death metal goth heads, or whatever they’re called. All dressed in black with long hair —”
I took umbrage at my mother describing my boyfriend this way. John was the Lord of the Underworld. How else was he supposed to dress?”
World-building: WOW! I am wicked impressed with Kendall's world-building skills! The world she has created is intense and it took me a while to acclimate to it all. In this world, you have the Dreaming (dream world) and the Realis (real life). You also have Aers, Wæters, Fyres and Erthe elementals. These elementals have different functions and personalities, but we get a major dose of the Fyre elementals, whose personalities are exactly what you imagine: passionate, fierce, dangerous. The elementals feed off of the Wylding (humans) in the Realis, but need skin contact in order to absorb elements; their life force. In the Dreaming, it's an entirely different ballgame. However, elementals aren't supposed to be in the Dreaming. When they invade the Dreaming and mess with the Wyldlings therein, the seriously mess up the Balance. As Kendall states here: "Though the Dreaming is the collective unconscious of the human race, events that transpire there affect people in real ways." In other words, an elemental might suck the real life right out of a human! Therefore, Sentinels, beings with equal parts of water, air, fire and earth, have to guard the Dreaming and protect the vulnerable Wyldlings.
Confused yet? I was! But tell me that isn't damn interesting? It is seriously original and really sucks you in to the possibilities of it all. Wicked impressed, I tell you!
Characters: Gavin, our hero, is an Australian musician with tattoos and a lip ring. Rawr! I do love me some bloody fun Australian colloquial language. The use or arse and bloke had me smiling. Anywho, Gavin's conflicted about his past and struggling to go on with life when he meets our beloved heroine, Zoe, a whale biologist. Their encounters are anything but normal. Gavin is a Sentinel, and first meets Zoe in the Dreaming. Needless to say, their lives intertwine and their connection becomes undeniable. Gavin has lost his way and Zoe is just the spark to bring him back online. *waggles eyebrows* Note: See my favorite quote below. Gavin is full of protective spirit and when he regains his passion, his fire made me sweat! I absolutely loved watching his transformation. He has so much potential and I am excited to watch his growth. All of his growth. ;) Zoe is one hell of lady! She is fiercely passionate about her job, but her past experiences have taken a toll on her ego. She struggles to regain herself, though you would never be able to tell that from the outside. Zoe is admirable for standing up for her beliefs, regardless of the consequences.
There are other characters worth mentioning: Scarlet and Sinnder, Fyre elementals up to no damn good. Scarlet is one hell of a bitch, wrapped tightly in leather and fuck you. She is behind a master plan of which Zoe stands so firmly in the way. And of course, Scarlet has history with Gavin, but she is not yet ready for it to be considered history. She is out for blood. Scarlet is so easy to hate but she added such steam to this story. While I'm not a fan, I am totally digging her role and its effects.
SINNDER! Ha. Oh my. *fans self* Sinnder is Scarlet's lackey, or so she thinks. As Kendall described him here: "Sinnder’s an enigma. You just don’t know what the hell he’s about, what his goal is, or whose side he’s really on." I completely agree, as you never truly know his motives. His way of dealing with Scarlet and her unwanted advances towards him is sooooooo sexy. I love those scenes the most! Um, kitchen scene, anyone! Woot! He is just sexy without even trying. He bleeds sex. He is a Fyre, after all.
Whoa. Hot. The kind of hot that could make a woman feel like she needed a month-long vacation in a nunnery after one night with him.
Um. I have located my local nunnery. #JustSaying
Lasting Impressions: THE ENDING! THANK YOU FOR THAT ENDING, Kendall! And um, all the other in between stuff too. I cannot wait to pick up Exhale and continue on Zoe and Gavin's journey. And experience more Sinnder! And get scalded by Scarlet!
"I'm not finished with you yet," she whispered, dragging her hips up, down, squeezing her inner muscles around his cock. It was like fucking CPR. Brought him right back online.
I may have written this note in my Kindle: "That's what I'm fuckin talkin' bout, right there! #SmexyTime"(less)
Interest in Book: I saw this title on Scholastic's list and requested it because it sounded intriguing, entertaining and mysterious. It was all these things, and I am really glad I've been introduced to the author. I plan to read more of her work because she is a great storyteller. Also, Small Review really sold it with her review!
World-Building: I really loved the world-building. It was simple and to the point, with political intrigue and betrayal at every corner. There is an imagined world but no fantasy elements of any kind, at least not in this book. Apparently the king in place is weak, according to those who want to dethrone him. The countries surrounding Carthya are looking for any way to bring down the royal and take over the land. The King's youngest son, Jaron, was lost at sea when pirates attacked his ship, but as one would expect, his body was never recovered. It seems as though this young Prince is key to bringing back peace and prosperity to Carthya.
We first meet Sage as he is running through the streets with a roast in his hands as the deli owner relentlessly chases after him. Sage is quick and sneaky, but he trips over an unfortunately placed foot in an alleyway, where a nobleman saves his ass from losing a hand, or something. This nobleman, Conner, whisks him away from the orphanage, against Sage's wishes. Conner has big plans for Sage, along with 3 other orphans, and Sage is set on a course that will change his life drastically.
Characters: Sage is full of WIN. His sarcasm and snark made me laugh out loud many times. This young man hands back everything given to him, and then some. Dude's got swagger in spades. He is FULL of fire, spunk, spirit, soul. Regardless of the abuse that he receives from Conner and his lackeys, Sage's light never goes out. This is a character you will adore immediately. It's hard to deny him. Not too mention, he is incredibly smart, witty, tricky and a masterful actor. Sage has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, and he will no doubt surprise the gold from out of your pocket.
Conner, a King's regent or something of that nature, is an insidious bastard. With a capital B. You will no doubt agree immediately. He harbors lots of secrets and wears his maliciousness on his sleeve. He sees nothing wrong with whipping young boys who disobey his will, his idea of breaking them like a wild horse. He is manipulative and uses the idea that only the chosen one shall live as a way to cause unease and suspicion among the boys. And of course, the suspicion stirs the pot, and each boy eventually reveals his own grand plan to ensure he is chosen as the crowned fraud.
Mott, Conner's right-hand man, is someone who interested me greatly. He was that unfortunate foot that Sage trips over in the beginning, so the two do not get off on the right, er, foot. Their relationship morphs over the course of the book, however, and it appears that Mott has some admirable qualities about him, after all. I look forward to his role in future books. Imogen, a mute servant in Conner's establishment, catches Sage's eye, and their relationship is extremely interesting to watch unfold. It's almost hard to call it romance, because there was nothing romantic about it, but I assume the buds of a beautiful love flower have been planted, as she slowly comes to respect Sage's brazen, unapologetic personality. Plus, he respects and sticks up for her on countless occasion. In her eyes, he is causing her more trouble by doing so, but honestly, what woman can resist a man who sticks his neck out for her?
Lasting Impressions: I cannot express how AWESOME the revelations and twists and treachery in this book were. I was so pleased and so entertained by the turn of events about 75% through the story. It was brilliant, and the explanation of it all had me confused and questioning if what I read was real or part of the grand plan. It was fantastic and I loved the mystery and jaw-dropping moment. The book doesn't end on a cliffhanger, but Sage has big plans, peeps. I cannot wait to accompany him on the treacherous road to glory.
“I've got to go."
"To go. I'd have just taken care of it myself, but it looks like you want to come along."
Mott cursed. "Wait for morning."
"Wish I could. I've been cursed with my mother's pea-size bladder.”
Ohh lawdie. What a nice way to wake up and start my day! Can I get an AMEN for a smexy shifter Wyr built like a brick shithouse? A to the MEN. I will take a heaping plate of the Luis Special, please! Ok, Ok. I will discontinue my Luis-obsession so I can actually tell you about this novella. Party poopers.
Thea Harrison is a rock star. She has truly blown me away with her Elder Races series, always bringing bigger and better with her world-building, alpha males and strong female mates. I liked Claudia instantly, mainly because she stopped on the side of the road to help a giant dog who looked to be on the brink of death. Unfortunately for her, she finds herself in a heaping pile of local town WTFckery. Claudia is fierce, however, being ex-military, and decides to use her internal strength and fierce determination to assist a man down.
Luis, a Wyr Peacekeeper, has been assigned a job that gets him a swift ride down an ass-kicking sand dune. He’s hanging by a thread when Claudia finds him, and she nurses his mind, body and soul back to life again. It was apparent that Claudia’s damaged soul was going to be a hard shell to crack, and typical of an alpha male, he did not take no for an answer. I loved those little glimpses of vulnerability from both characters.
This was a great novella set in the Elder Races world. Good action scenes, great romantic tension, vulnerability and passion. Claudia is the main ass kicker in this installment, and that was nice to see. I sure do love me a FIERCE lady!
Interest in the book: It's Dystopian. Need I say more? Ok, I will. Just for you. The first line of the synopsis - "Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the world’s population." - sucked me in. Engineered organic beings? Oh hells yea! Bring on the science and research and babies that live only days due to a virus that has wiped out most of humanity and creations that turn on their creators. I eat that shit up. And we are questioning what makes us human, what is humanity? Where do I sign up? That, my friends, is WHY I love this genre so damn much.
First Impressions: The year is 2076. Kira, our protagonist, appears confused and saddened and angry. She is a medical intern in the maternity ward, and her emotional output has reached its max. After each baby is ravaged by the RM virus and dies a painful death, Kira slowly loses confidence in saving humanity altogether. If that can't grip you by the lady balls and urge you on the harrowing journey Kira will soon face...well, I guess you just don't have lady balls then. :)
Characters: Kira Walker, 16-year-old medical intern, is what the older generations refer to as "plague babies." In other words, she was too young to remember the Isolation War, a war that brought humanity to its knees. She barely remembers her biological parents, and has been living with an older woman and other teenage girls for some time. Kira is part of the East Meadow community, a small pocket of humans near Manhattan that are trying to survive. Older generations state that plague babies don't remember the horror and terror that came with the Partial uprising, and discount many of their flippant opinions and nonsensical ideas. Kira, however, will not go unheard. She is the catalyst to what becomes an epic fight to save humanity, and the enemies are not always so easily identified.
Marcus, Kira's long-term boyfriend, was a great addition to the story. I really enjoyed his witty remarks and his dedication to Kira. I may have teared up a time or two during their serious talks and more serious decisions. I really enjoyed the realistic feel to their relationship. Xochi, one of Kira's housemates, is a gung-ho chic with enough fire to light a forest ablaze. Jayden, Isolde, Madison, Haru, Nandita and the rest of the characters all left an impression on me.
And then we have Samm. And Samm, my friends, I will leave you to discover.
World-Building: The Partials are bioengineered sentient beings that are part human (with our DNA) and part machine. They look human, can think, feel, reason. They were created in order to win the Isolation War, and eventually, turned on humanity. The Partials created the RM virus that wiped out 99% of the world's population. No baby in the past 11 years has survived the RM virus, and thus, the extinction of humanity is imminent.
The political WTFckery in this book is disturbing and keeps the tensions high and the blood flowing. Not to mention the band of humans, aka The Voice, who disapprove strongly with the new government's laws. Like, for instance, the Hope Act, which is looking to drop the mandatory pregnancy age down to 16. Since, you know, the best way to save humanity is to turn all the women into baby-making factories their entire reproductive lives, no? I mean, looking for a new way to save humanity is stupid and unreasonable and why should we study something different since the last 11 years of doing the same damn thing has turned up nothing useful? Why, Siri, WHY!?
Lasting Impressions: I enjoyed the scientific/medical parts of this book greatly, but I can understand that they may not be exciting for others. They do not overload the story and are extremely important to the plot. All in all, this book is exactly what I look for in this genre. The tons of questions that come tumbling our of Kira's mind into ours are questions that I would also ask myself, should I find myself in this bleak, desolate, hopeless environment. I was backhanded by the action, gasping at the treachery and discoveries and yes, my jaw made nice with the floor near the end. And I swooned. Not for any one person romantically, but for their PASSION. And their spirit, courage and HUMANITY. And lastly, this book ends with a seriously good entry into the next book. We now know Kira's next move and I cannot wait for Fragments!
"Well, thanks for not shooting anyone, I guess," said Marcus. "My contribution was to somehow refrain from peeing myself. You can thank me later."
Interest in the book: I was totally impressed with the first book, Exiled, in The Protector series by M.R. Merrick, and looked forward to jumping back into Chase’s chaotic life. Or his arms? Either works for me.
World-building: Hot damn, the world-building in this book was Ah to the Some. Shifters are more prominent in this book, and I absolutely loved the drama and action they brought to the story. Learning specifics about Shifter life and magic was interesting and entertaining. On another note, Chase is plagued by Riley and other nasty characters in his dreams, causing physical and mental trauma during play time. This type of magic is uber scary!
Characters: Chase! My oh my, how this young man has bloomed before our very eyes. Dealing with grief from events in Exiled has led Chase down the path of retribution. Chase has hardened up a bit and has morphed into someone who does. not. play. As the series title so aptly portrays, Chase is ever so loyal and protective of those he loves, always the do-gooder and never backing down from what is right. And hello, confidence. Where has confident Chase been all my life?
Rayna also has serious screen times as she struggles with the beast within. Her storyline was exciting and anxiety-ridden, but she is a tough cookie and can take it. Chase is beside her every step of the way, and she too remains by his side, working with him to gain control of his erratic powers. The budding romance between Chase and Rayna is so raw, natural and beautiful. On the topic of romance, M.R. Merrick drew out the tension, interrupting prime smooch time on numerous occasion, resulting in the angry fist of doom more than once.
I must give a quick shout out for Rai! I fell in love with this creature in Exiled and was giddy with excitement that she remained in Chase’s life. I adore her and find her to be so valuable, mentally and physically. We also get to see a side of Vincent the vampire that I didn’t know he had, and I was quite freaked out by his demeanor in this book.
Lasting Impressions:Explosive is the word I am using the describe this book. The story opens up with an explosive scene that resulted in my jaw making nice with the floor. All I could think about through the entire opening scene was “WOAH!” (Think Joey Lawrence a la Blossom). Then we are hurled through explosive actions scenes, more explosive dramatic scenes, and maybe an explosive romantic notion or two.
The last line of the book only means there is much explosive fun to be had. I love where the story is headed and have no doubts that M.R. Merrick will give us nothing less than explosive epic storytelling!(less)
Smashtastic Entertainment Quickie: Interesting mystery with entertaining, likable characters. And Grims, peeps!
Interest in the book: When Teen Book Scene sent out the request for this blog tour, the synopsis immediately drew me in. Grim Reapers FTW! And the justice bit interested me, being who I am and all.
World-building: This book starts out in a boring little town with a teenage girl full of angst and screw the world attitude. She’s getting into serious trouble with her peers and in school, so the family sits down and discusses options for Lex. Spending a summer on her Uncle Mort’s farm, shoveling horse manure and milking cows, is bound to teach her a lesson or two. Ha! See how much you know, mom!
Lex is sent to Croak, a town the size of a Piggly Wiggly (which surprisingly does not have a Piggly Wiggly). Croak does, however, have streets called Dead End and Slain Lane and menu items at the Morgue diner called Mad CowBurger, HomiCider and Salmo-Nilla Ice Cream. FULL of win, I say! And death. Of course, Croak is not your typical backwards podunk town.
The Afterlife, filled with everyone dead and gone, was an enjoyable piece of the story. We get famous greats like Abe Lincoln, the Wright Brothers, Benjamin Franklin, and Edgar Allen Poe, who wander around the Afterlife in bliss. Or not so much. Some are still stuck in their moments on earth, trying to figure out how to make anything fly or light something else on fire. Their personalities and interactions with the characters were light and humorous.
Characters: Lex is hardcore teen angst in a fearless package and her M.O. is busting balls and making your daddy weep. Lex feels misunderstood and out of place in the real world. Of course, so do all the other miscreants in Croak and around the Grimsphere, so that sense of belonging brings out a different side to Lex. She becomes bearable but never loses her edge. I loved Driggs so much because he gave Lex attitude right back. He was her equal in many ways and I loved their banter. How can you not love Driggs?
“Did I just blow your mind?” Driggs asked. “I think I just blew your mind.”
Uncle Mort, Cordy (Lex’s twin sister) and the rest of the cast where entertaining and enjoyable.
Lasting Impressions: This book was fun. I can’t say I was too caught up in the mystery. I found it odd and the outcome was a bit meh. However, I enjoyed the story because of the world-building and characters. I also like where the story is headed. I am interested to see just how unique Lex really is!
“Michael Thorley turned out to be an assclown, the rest of this place is nothing but a barren wasteland of undateability. The only guy who’s shown the slightest amount of interest in me this summer is Mr. Papadopoulos on the third floor of the nursing home. He says I have the ass of a Russian call girl.” -Cordy.
Interest in Book: Firstly, it's Rhiannon Frater. That should really be enough. Secondly, it's Rhiannon Frater's take on vampires. I knew going into this book I would get the darker side of vampires, but wow. I got so much more than I expected. In true Frater fashion, the opening of this book will grab you and plant your ass in a seat until it's had its way with you. And it will be rough, so hold on to your skivvies...
World-Building: I love Rhiannon Frater's brain. When the zombie apocalypse occurs, and if this incredible author should perish at the teeth and/or claws of zombies, I sure hope they leave her brain intact. A lot to ask for, I know, but I would preserve it in the Museum of Awesomesauce Awesomeness, of which I will be the Curator of Awesome. Am I getting through to you? Good. Now that my zany personality has your attention, I would want to preserve her brain because we need to learn from it. Dissect it and welcome all the treasures inside. Ha. You thought I was finished babbling. Sucka!
So really where I'm going with this is that Rhiannon's world-building always leaves me satisfied. Like a good piece of chocolate, ya know? This world isn't so different from our own, aside from the fact that paranormal creatures are your neighbors in Amaliya's world. What I loved most about the world-building was how Rhiannon took a story about a newly turned vampire and added a nice dose of necromancy on top, just to keep it interesting. Amaliya's sire is a serious threat to mankind and the mystery and danger surrounding his character kept the intensity-level sky high. Amaliya is connected to him more deeply than she imagined, yet he is also surprised by how deep that connection goes.
Characters: Amaliya's dealt a shitty hand when her throat is ripped out during a sneaky coffee date. Her pursuer leaves her in a shallow grave, only to rise again a few nights later with no recollection of how she got there, and one hell of a rumbling tummy. As one would expect, things just go downhill from there. Amaliya is thrust into the vampire life with no assistance, no knowledge, no guide. She has to deal with her asshole father and his clan, whose reactions to Amaliya's new nature were very realistic. She has to figure things out for herself, which puts those around her in danger. Luckily, she finds herself in Austin, TX, the home to vampire master Cian, who was, in no way, expecting Amaliya to sashay into his life. She turns his life upside down and inside out, and he likes it so good. I love Rhiannon writing some sexy time! Cian and Amaliya's romps were just the right amount of umph and ahhh. Totally hot without being over the top raunchy.
Amaliya's grandmother, Innocente, will grab your heart and squeeze it. She is an amazing character, with the ferocity of a thousand army ants in your pants. I did not find her reaction to Amaliya's new self very realistic, but as I got to know more about Innocente, things fell into place. Cian's girlfriend pre-Amaliya, Samantha, was a wacky bitch with a sassy mouth. She's going to be fun, I can just tell! I demand more! I also love that Rhiannon gives such life to animals in her books. The few moments that Samantha's cat, Beatrice, graced the pages were so hilarious.
Lasting Impressions: Awesome, of course. Need more? Ok. When Amaliya finally comes to terms with what she is, a major curve ball is thrown and she needs to slide into home quickly or the ref will be sending her ass back to the dark side. The villain is a tricky, malicious, evil bastard who made me squee with glee. I loved him in all his evil glory. A really well-written villain who has many tricks up his sleeve. So read the book. And then the rest of the series. I just know it will fulfill my need for dark vampires, vengeance and a good laugh or two. (less)
"Our brother fell apart in the war. Mother fell apart after that. Then we had to leave."
Wow. This book opens up on a bleak scenario. Simon and Jonah are up shits creek, so to speak. Ma is gone, dad is incarcerated, older brother, Matthew, is in Vietnam fighting for his country. These two are as poor as dirt and Jonah has decided it is time to leave and find their father. They set out with $10 in their pocket, some tattered clothes and Matthew's letters. The journey they endure is hellish beyond comprehension and their bond is tested to the limit.
Characters: The characterization in this novel is out of this world. Simon and Jonah experience tension, as do any siblings, but their bond is strong due to their life experiences. Simon is the youngest. Jonah and Matthew have a special relationship, which you experience via letters from Matthew. I feel Simon was protected from reality and possibly felt isolated. There may have been some attachment issues too, since mom was MIA most of the time and dad in jail.
Due to these circumstances, I think Simon easily connected with Mitch, the man who picks these two young boys up on the side of the road and offers them a ride to Arizona. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Mitch is a master manipulator and psychopath of epic proportions. Mitch's passenger, Lilly, is a young pregnant woman who is also on her way to a specific location. She brings great conflict to this odd quartet, and you are never quite sure if she is trustworthy. Mitch is incredibly fascinating for someone like me. He likely had antisocial personality disorder and was obsessed with Lilly, as seen by his serious jealousy when she shows some interest in Jonah.
Matthew, who we only meet via his letters from the war, was likely the most incredible piece of this story. His letters start out happy, engaging, purposeful. But as the story progresses, his letter become increasingly depressing, anxious and a little psychotic. You can literally feel the war slowly killing this healthy, vibrant young man, and it was hard to swallow. Matthew's descent into madness parallels the tragic trek that Jonah and Simon endure, and it so. well. done. This connection is creepy and sad as hell.
World-Building: The world-building occurs on the road, as the quartet from hell take off a journey that leaves a path of death and destruction. A few new characters are introduced that add to the richness of the environment and situation. The narration jumps around the characters, so we get many different perspectives. Mitch's chapters were the most disturbing. As he slowly becomes less lucid and more insane in the membrane, you will experience chills down your spine! As I stated above, the letters from Matthew were short but such a creative, powerful, and important aspect to the story.
Lasting Impressions: There is no doubt that this book will stay with you. It's gritty, disturbing and emotional, but it also brings about hope. Andrew Smith gets under your skin and provides you with an experience. I truly find him to be an exceptional storyteller.
I pictured the first time we saw the girl, breezing past us in that Lincoln, blond hair whirling around her, her glasses tipped down, her smile, the stroke of her fingers. The teasing.
Simon tumbled the meteorite around in the sweat of his hand. I wondered what it would be like to look down at the earth, to fall, to burn brilliantly in the air like the image of the girl who passed by, kicking back dust like cosmic ash, and could she see that, now; was she up there above us?
Interest in Book: Because Andrew Smith is awesome? Heh. Ok, you need more than that. I get it. Well, I'm a huge fan. I think Andrew's imagination is incredible and his way of telling a story is exciting, personal and poignant. It was no different with Stick, a pretty powerful story about a teenage boy trying to accept himself as is, and the strong bond between brothers.
Characters and World-Building: The world-building occurs within Stick, for the most part, as he struggles with his deformity and accepting that he is unique in other aspects of life, as well. He lives with his abusive parents and older brother, Bosten, out in the boonies. Stick and Bosten are very close, as they've had to support each other through the abuse and lack of support from their parents. They pal around and enjoy their time away from their parents as much as possible. They trust each other, which is vastly important in their world. Stick's best-friend, Emily, makes no issues about Stick's deformity and treats him normal, whatever normal is. In a nutshell, Bosten and Emily mean the world to Stick and represent stability and unconditional love. It's obvious that Stick is beginning to develop more-than-friendly feelings for Emily, but his relationship with her remains so innocent. There is one scene they have together that could have led to a sexual encounter, but it was so simply beautiful and innocent. They were just spending time together and enjoying one another's company. Society constructs how we view things and puts pressures on people regarding many topics. It's amazing to see how people act when those societal messages are not present.
Stick's parents are abusive and the reader is witness to some of the torturous, horrific experiences the boys endure. You are also slowly presented with other dysfunctional family dynamics that make your heart hurt. When Bosten's father discovers that he is gay, Bosten knows he must leave if he is to survive. Stick sets out to find his brother, and refuses to let his brother self-destruct. For all the saving Bosten did for Stick throughout his childhood, Stick saves Bosten in a big way in the end. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the boys have an ally in which they can turn to. Someone who loves them unconditionally and steps up to the plate. This character made my heart sing with happiness. So selfless, so welcoming and trusting and compassionate.
In the beginning, Stick stays in the background, being the third wheel with his brother and friend. Slowly, Stick transforms. His life experiences fuel a fire. He becomes adventurous, sticks up for people he cares about. He remains non-judgmental and forgiving, regardless of his ugly past experiences. His growth was profound and it hits you like a ton of bricks.
Lasting Impressions: Andrew Smith can tell a story! He used a really intriguing, creative way to convey Stick's hearing issue. It was brilliant and I truly enjoyed how it added to the experience. Family seems to be a central theme in Andrew's stories, especially strong bonds between brothers. I enjoy his perspective, as well as experiencing sibling bonds, as I grew up an only child. This book has heart, soul, pain, love. It's full of ups and down, but in the end, the characters overcome personal odds in a big way.
I never understood what jocks did for boys other than make us follow rules. They were supposed to protect our balls, Mr. Lloyd explained, but I'd seen at least a hundred guys who wore jocks and got hit in the balls, and it always seemed to hurt just as bad as if they had their balls hanging out and fully exposed. I mean, a shot to the balls is a shot to the balls, pretty much no matter what you're wearing.