Farley Hope is still dealing with the fallout of her mother's disappearance when Daniel, a mysteriously sexy guy, and the Reavers turn her world upside down. There is an entirely different world of super humans living beneath the city? Farley is a part of some ancient prophecy? What's a girl to do when all she wants is to find out what happened to her mother and get back to her normal life?
Sovereign Hope is definitely one of the best indies I've read this year and truthfully one of the best in the genre I've read in awhile. Mainstream YA has really let me down the past few years and it is a relief to read something where the characters and their reactions feel realistic and where the heroine doesn't play the damsel in distress. Farley may not be a sneaky ninja, an irresistible vamp, or an all-powerful slayer, but she still manages to contribute to the group. She doesn't just suddenly find out she has supernatural roots and become insta-cool. Her character arc shows that she has worked at and earned her badassery. And the best part is she remains relatable.
I'm not gonna lie, Daniel was what got me to start reading this and although I enjoyed the book for its many other assets, he really made the book for me. He's snarky, and sexy, and tries to keep his distance from Farley and not because, "he is no good for her," but because he can't let himself get to close without risking blowing things for himself. I guess what I'm trying to say here is it's not all about Farley. Too often the heroine dominates the book as far as importance. No other character could possibly be as important as her, she's a super special snowflake, blah blah blah. In Sovereign Hope Farley knows her worth and the worth of her comrades and doesn't take that for granted.
This was a nice start to a new series that has a lot of potential. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Eternal Hope to see what happens to Farley, Daniel, and their companions!
I was provided a review copy by the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for the views stated above. All opinions are my own. (less)
I had lots of fun reading this book so I intend to have a good time with the review as well. I got my copy as a kindle freebie thanks to my Wigs telling me about the deal. Thanks Wigs!!!
This review is brought to you by the Godking himself! He is ever so excited to be involved in a review of a book that is about his absolute favorite subject... himself.
Let me start off by saying Mike Vasich has truly captured the unique flavor of Norse mythology that is adventurous and fantastic, but at the same time quite bizarre. The Trickster figure that spans across multiple mythologies and belief systems has always fascinated me and Loki is no exception. This short story collection recounts many of Loki's most famous tales, and opens up a whole new perspective on the god of mischief's reasoning. If you are not familiar with Norse legends let me give you a quick lesson on the general structure of your classic Norse myth.
Yes, Loki my love. That is the injustice you are faced with. Take comfort in the fact that your fangirl army is strong and keep reminding yourself that...
Whether you love him or love to hate him, Loki is without doubt one of the most fascinating characters to come out of mythology in general. This shapeshifter and master of magic spans genders and even species (sometimes both at once!) in order to perpetuate his trouble-making and, more often than not, to save his own ass from pissed off Norse gods. Oh and he's sexy as hell.
This short story collection advertises itself as "naughty" and indeed there are some delightfully indecent tid-bits, but it wasn't quite up to my wicked standards. I'll be the first to admit I'm a perv having enjoyed my fair share of bawdy fiction, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I was hoping for some decidedly more steamy Loki time. I mean, the man is just scintillating with unbridled sex appeal!
Of course my king! After the review...
Despite my disappointment in this area, I enjoyed this collection a great deal. Vasich's characterization of Loki is devilishly charming. I think I should note here that, while I've been using Tom Hiddleston's portrayal of Loki in the visuals, the Loki readers will find in this book does not resemble him in physical appearance nor does he suffer from major daddy issues. The core personalities are fairly similar, but in Nine Naughty Tales of the Trickster you get a much broader picture of Loki's character arc. In fact, I was massively impressed with how the sequence of the tales shows the evolution of Loki as the Trickster figure from playfully mischievous to spitefully destructive. Vasich stays true to the essential classic depiction of the trickster while putting his own spin on why Loki did the things that he did.
Ok Loki... not helping.
While the sequencing did wonders for the character development of our favorite mischief maker, it flubbed quite a bit in its consistency. Loki's monstrous children are actively present in one story, but then they are suddenly just born in the next? I think this will be terribly confusing for readers who are not familiar with Norse myths.
And Hel being depicted as a dark beauty from the waist up? Not quite accurate, but I assume the author was taking some artistic license with this detail. While these flubs were distracting for me, I did appreciate the author's note at the end of the book that gives readers a bit of an explanation for why he took that particular path.
Finally... THAT ENDING! This was by far the most creative and risky interpretation that Vasich throws at us. I will not go into it in order to avoid spoilers, but I will say the risk definitely paid off in my opinion.
Nope, sorry you're just going to have to go check it out for yourself!
If you have any interest in Loki or Norse mythology at all, I would highly recommend this book, although I think brushing up on some of the actual myths first would be beneficial. Marvel Loki's fangirls should do their research on the trickster's origins and exploits if they haven't already. Marvel has taken some heavy liberties with this character and assuming they are generally the same would be a mistake.
Looking forward to reading Mr. Vasich's full length Loki novel for sure! Thank you kind sir, you have indulged my Loki fascination with your writing. Now! All of you reading this review, go pick up your copy and...
Allison Sekemoto has spent her life surviving day to day in the Fringe of New Covington, a sprawling vampire city. When she is ravaged by rabids, Kagawa's version of zombies, she is given a choice between death and becoming what she hates most.
This first book in the Blood of Eden series was a likeable read that fell a bit short of my expectations. The idea of mixing dsytopia with vampires caught my interest right away, but while The Immortal Rules is set in the future, it's dystopian aspects mirror another popular series a bit too closely. The beginning of this book is very similar to The Morgainville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. Vampires have contracted with humans to provide them with protection, food, and work in their cities in exchange for keeping the vamps supplied with blood. The exact same statement can be made for Caine's YA vampire series, except the vampires' power extends to the boundaries of the city of Morganville. There is also another key element to Kagawa's vampire lore that is also exactly the same in Caine's series, but it is a spoiler for both so I won't discuss it here. The likenesses between The Immortal Rules and The Morganville Vampires series will be painfully obvious to fans of the latter. This could have ruined the book for me, but thankfully the core structure of the dystopian element isn't the focus of the novel. The story Kagawa tells once Allison leaves the city is one worth reading.
Once Allison gets past New Covington, the story becomes more unique and enjoyable. She spends some time surviving in the outside world alone for a time, but it isn't long before Allison meets up with a wayward group looking for the legendary Eden, a sanctuary for humans devoid of vampires and the threats they bring. This was by far my favorite part of the book. Allison is constantly covering up her vampire nature as she tries to maintain her tenuous alliance with the people and their formidable "man of God" leader. I definitely bonded with these characters and experienced some heart-wrenching moments throughout their journey.
Allison is a breath of fresh air in the YA heroine category. She isn't your average sweet, but misunderstood, pretty princess. Allison begins her journey by becoming what she most hates and proceeds on a progressive and satisfying character arc. This girl is tough and often times stoic in her need to disguise her nature. The best part about her is there is not once an instance of whiny, pathetic damsel in distress syndrome! She is hardly perfect, but she soldiers on and doesn't rely on others to save the day. I'm looking forward to future books staring this badass, lone wolf heroine.
My only complaint about Allison? There is a scene at the beginning of the book that was so cliche I cringed. Allison's vampire sire asks her to pick a weapon from an abandoned museum and what does she pick without fail? Of course! the Asian girl picks a katana as her weapon of choice even though she has no identification with or knowledge of her Japanese heritage. Given, a katana is a generally perfect weapon of choice for any situation, I thought this was just way too obvious and was left shaking my head.
Finally, the book's version of zombies suffer from an unfortunate title. Rabids and rabidism remind me too much of Raving Rabbids.
I couldn't help but imagine a bunch of these crazy cute little guys every time the "rabids" appeared in the book, regardless of their vicious and frightening natures. This is obviously hardly the author's fault, it was just something that messed with my overall enjoyment.
The Final Verdict
The Immortal Rules is a decent start to a new and exciting dystopian series. While the painful similarities to The Morgainville Vampires series are unfortunate and a bit off-putting, the characters, running plot, and lethal heroine will keep readers coming back for more. This could be the start of something beautiful if Kagawa keeps up the excellent character writing and puts a more unique spin on her dystopian world.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for stating any of the above views. All opinions are my own. (less)
Finley Jayne, a young commoner girl, displays a serious case of the Jekyll and Hydes when she is attacked by the rakish son of her employer. Frightened by the violent darkness within her, Finley makes a run for it and is hit by a velocycle in Hyde Park. The operator just so happens to be His Grace the Duke of Greythorn, who has a habit of taking in peculiar strays. Finley soon finds herself in the midst of the grand scheming of the villainous Machinist and discovers the truth about her father and his shrouded past.
While I enjoyed my read of this book, there were a few things working against it that cost the book some serious points.
The first 30% of this book suffers from sluggish pacing. It really shouldn't take that long for me to get into a book, especially one with as much potential as this loosely based Jekyll and Hyde steampunk adventure. The idea is certainly appealing, but takes forever to get going. Once it finally does, the plot twists are so predictable and simplistic that I had the villain and his master plan figured out by the half-way point. Hinting is essential to peaking your reader's interest and keeping them engaged in your story's outcome, but such obvious foreshadowing dumbs the story down. To be perfectly honest it is downright condescending to your reader.
Now, I understand that steampunk is all about the crazy gadgets and technology mixed in with the delightful drama of Victorian era novels, and I love that. However, the first 30% of The Girl In The Steel Corset is over wrought with gadgets, tragic backgrounds, and special abilities. This portion of the novel was really just an info dump wrapped up in shiny gears and cogs that leaves the rest of the novel feeling rushed and empty. Most of the gadgets, back stories and abilities could have been woven throughout the bulk of the novel to make it feel more complete and leave a little mystery to the characters, rather than dumping it all in the reader's lap at the very beginning.
Even though these aspects meddled with my enjoyment, once I finally got to the meat of the story, I couldn't help but be caught up. The best things about this novel are its vibrant side characters and the admirable camaraderie they develop for one another. Although the plot of this novel didn't work for me overall, I definitely found I cared for the characters and looked forward to seeing what happens to them in the next book, which I hear is more satisfying than this one.
My favorite character was without question Jack Dandy. This sleekly charming crimelord stole my heart from the moment he stepped onto the page! Now, I'm not a fan of love triangles, but Jack made this one amusing rather than frustrating with his dark charisma perfectly setting off Griffin's more earnest gallantry. I really hope to see more of him in the next book.
One final thing. I couldn't decide whether the whole "mandroid" thing worked for or against this book. Sam, is referred to as a "mandroid" rather than a cyborg in a completely serious manner. This term sounds hilarious to me and the fact that it is said with absolute seriousness makes it even funnier. Nearly every person I related this to had the same thing to say, "Sounds like some kind of sex robot."
The Final Verdict The Girl in the Steel Corset is an attractive concept that gets messy in its execution, but still retains an endearing quality in its charming characters. The Steampunk Chronicles may very well be a series that suffers from the 'first book" syndrome. Giving the second book, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, a chance could be a good investment.
FTC Disclosure I purchased a copy of this book to read in preparation of my review for its sequel. I received no compensation for the views stated above. All opinions are my own. (less)
The final book in the Newsflesh trilogy played out like the last 45 minutes of an action packed thriller. Well... that is, an action packed thriller w...moreThe final book in the Newsflesh trilogy played out like the last 45 minutes of an action packed thriller. Well... that is, an action packed thriller with an anti-climatic ending so disappointing, it had me shaking my head and mourning the unfulfilled potential. It wouldn't have been so bad had the first two books in the series not finished with such heart-stopping, epic conclusions! With the bar raised like that, one could only expect the final book, the book Grant promised would reveal all, would eclipse the other two in the shadow of its behemoth of a finale.
No. This was not the case at all.
While I enjoyed the majority of the book, the "endgame" as it was called, was left until the last 100 pages and didn't offer much more in explanation that readers didn't already know. Oh, and a very key plot point was almost completely skimmed over!. Please only read the following spoiler if you have finished this series in its entirety.
(view spoiler)[The evil doctor from the CDC tells them there can never be a cure for the virus without destroying peoples' immune systems and that individuals with reservoir conditions must be eliminated in order to prevent people dying needlessly from second-guessing themselves. I get that, I really do, but once the good old doc is dealt with and it is revealed to the actual fucking scientists that Shaun is immune from his prolonged exposure to Georgia and her reservoir condition, it is completely overlooked as far as future cure research is concerned. Sure they must immediately make a run for their lives and don't have time to really think it over, but in the epilogue, which is over nine months later, Mahir reiterates that there can never be a cure! Ummm... so the EIS decided to completely disregard immunity via sexy time with reservoir conditioned lovers? Not even gonna look into it? No? Too much of a hassle for you? Ok, sure! We're cool with Zombieland USA anyways. (hide spoiler)]
After all the build-up, the fantastic world building, the endearing characters, the insane plot-twists, and the BALLS Grant had to posses to take the risks she did, this ending felt sloppy and rushed in comparison. Why bother putting in all that hard work? Why bother with the extensive research? Why bother developing the science when you are going to end it all like THAT? As you can see, I'm pissed, and for good reason too. I had so much invested in this series. I cried, laughed, and sweated bullets with these characters for nearly 2,000 pages total for all three books. I grieved at the losses, raged over the injustices, and rejoiced in their triumphs, only for it all to come down to such a baffling conclusion.
I am disillusioned
I am disheartened
I am utterly disappointed with a series that had begun to define me as a reader and shift my standards for what makes great fiction.
I bet you've gotten to this point in the review and are wondering, "What the hell, Jess? If you're so pissed, why give it 4 stars?"
Well my Wicked Darling, while I am obviously upset over the ending, I did mention earlier that I enjoyed the majority of this book. The shifting view points from chapter to chapter was a nice change from the usual stagnant single narrator POV from the previous two books.
Each new revelation presented on page made for perpetually increasing possibilities. I don't know how many times Wigs and I said to each other, "There are so many ways this could go horribly wrong! And we love it!" The level of excitement that was built up over 3/4 of the book had me frantic to get to the climax. Only to have it wind down rather than explode in a blaze of glory. (Yes that innuendo was intentional.)
Regardless of my sadness over how it all went down, this still remains a series I will keep close to my heart. I can't say the same for Wigs, who wasn't nearly as attached as I was in the first place and was still disappointed. Wigs, at least we'll always have THE FOX.
Adorable Frightening Bat-shit I am The Fox["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Fed is an alternate ending to Feed. A What If scenario if you will, that you should not read unless you have already completed Feed
For those of you lo...moreFed is an alternate ending to Feed. A What If scenario if you will, that you should not read unless you have already completed Feed
For those of you looking for a spoiler free review, I will say this. Fed is an almost complete regurgitation of the last few chapters of Feed, that exchanges thoughts and dialogue between characters as if they were interchangeable plot mechanisms rather than unique characters. Many passages are word for word what they were in the original regardless of whose point of view it was in to begin with. I felt cheated by this and didn't understand the point of writing an alternate ending if the author wasn't going to give us an alternate experience. Rather than seeing the ending as an entirely new possibility, we saw the same ending through a different set of eyes, with the exact same sentences, descriptors, and dialogue.
Not to mention, the part that was actually alternate to the original events is skimmed over so completely that I was left feeling more ambivalent than the intended devastation.
If this is how the story had actually ended, I would have been completely put off of this series. To be honest, I don't think this series would have continued period, if it had ended this way. It is jarring, unnecessary, and has absolutely no correlation to the events in the following two books. Things revealed to be true in Deadline and Blackout are completely disregarded. And while yes, these plot twists aren't introduced until after the events of this short, they still existed during regardless of whether the reader and the characters were aware or not. The following example is a spoiler from book 2 and this short so please do not read it if you haven't finished both yet. (view spoiler)[i.e. Shaun's immunity to the virus. In this alternate ending, Shaun is hit by the dart instead of Georgia. However we learn in book 2 that he is immune! As Grant gives us absolutely no details to how Shaun actually died outside that van, I can't give her the benefit of the doubt that she didn't slip up and forget that little tid bit. Instead of the emotionally charged original ending, we get this sadly flat alteration. George and Rick sit in the van and play, "Is He Dead Yet" and any truly investing details are skipped entirely. I have a hard time believing Georgia, being the badass she is, would have just sat there, with her tail between her legs, trying to shut it all out. (hide spoiler)]
Fed is a weak, and utterly uninspiring rendering of a story that was absolutely perfect just the way it was. And while I love the Newsflesh Trilogy, I can't give this sad little short a five-star rating based on the merits of its predecessors.
This was a story that didn't need to be told.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Dahlia is a hardworking young lady who compulsively paints the angelic subjects of her dreams that torment her nightly. These aren't your everyday chubby cherubs, these angels are dark, vicious , and downright dangerous. Little does she know that her dreams are actually suppressed memories of another lifetime, and her new friend Belial and her crew are a group of Fallen angels Dahlia used to know very, very well.
I think I'll start off by discussing the kinds of things I look for in a great read. My ideal book is dark, dangerous, exciting, sexy, and thought provoking. I also love when an author can round these elements out with humor. Now, let me explain why Morningstar just didn't do it for me.
While there are darker core story elements, they are overwhelmed with the excessive lighthearted humor. Every time there was a flashback or talk of Lucifer and Dahlia's past, I would get excited and think I had finally reached the meat of the story, only to be disappointed when the silly romp continued on. I can see this kind of thing working for readers looking for a light, zany read, but for me The Fallen spent too much time being hyper and baking cookies, and not enough time being sexy bad-asses. All madness with very little direction made Morningstar a frustrating read. I just wanted to get to the good stuff!
A good romp can do wonders for your character development. Sending your characters off on a shopping trip, having them cook something together, or even letting them throw a house party allows the reader to become better acquainted with the aspects of their personalities that may not be visible in your current plot line. However in this case, Morningstar suffers from too much of a good thing. These character building vignettes shouldn't detract from the overall plot progression, or become the focus of your book and unfortunately in this case, both of these are true.
Of course, this book isn't without it's merits. For the first third of the book I enjoyed the writing style, well delivered one-liners and tender moments between Lucifer and Dahlia that pepper the narrative occasionally. I'm not talking about the gratuitous amounts of PDA. The scenes I'm referring to are the real heart-to-heart moments they have when they are, for the most part, alone. The tenderness of Lucifer and the wide-eyed wonder of Dahilia make for a truly beautiful combination.
The narrative is well written for the most part with the exception of the battle scenes which come off painfully technical.
"A knife came soaring at them. Lucifer caught it and threw it back at the attacker stopping him in his tracks. Furcas jumped on a man to their left. Dahlia kicked at another as he grabbed for them. A soldier stabbed Lucifer in the back. Dahlia screamed. Lucifer pulled the blade out and tore open the man's throat."
As you can see, any excitement these scenes possess is greatly overshadowed by the bland, "He did this and she did that" format. There are very few transitions or descriptors throughout. To be fair, battle scenes are very difficult to write without becoming repetitive if you don't have extensive practice, but with some blocking and the helping hand of a more action oriented writer, these scenes can become pivotal to your reader's emotional investment.
While reading, I mostly struggled between hope and frustration. There were moments when I could see a glimpse of what this book could have been. The material, characters, and history of this mythology that the author had to work with could have made for a truly epic story. I saw potential in the poeticlly written memories and flashbacks, and in my favorite line said by Lucifer near the end of the novel.
"This I deserve but you do not. Within you, you posses the power of Hell. Rage Dahlia. Tear Heaven down."
The Final Verdict While the characters are likeable and the core conflict is interesting enough, there just isn't enough real story. There are very few noticeable plot progression points and the action of the last twenty percent comes much too late.
If you are looking for a lighthearted read filled with colorful characters that is devoid of heavy themes, Morningstar could be the book for you. Unfortunately, it just wasn't my thing.
FTC Disclosure I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for the views stated above. All opinions are my own.(less)
Calder is enjoying himself in the Caribbean when he is abruptly called back to the shores of chilly Lake Superior by his sisters. Their blood calls them to avenge their mother, and it just so happens they finally found the man who can satisfy their blood lust. Calder is recruited to seduce Jason Hancock's daughter Lily in an attempt to gain his trust and get him alone on the water so his sisters can strike. Everything is going fine until Calder develops feelings for Lily and must fight between his emotions and his animal instincts, or risk losing the only warmth he has ever felt.
Murderous mermaids indeed! This dark take on possibly one of the most fanciful mythical creatures is breathtaking in its morbidity. Lies Beneath was a first for me in a couple of ways. First, it was my very first paranormal romance about mermaids. I hadn't yet taken the plunge into mermaid fiction as it seems to have been met with mixed reactions, but when I saw the cover for this one and read the blurb, I had to give it a go. As a friend recently pointed out to me, I tend to lean towards darker fantasy as opposed to fluffy fairy stories. With that in mind, this really was the perfect introduction to mermaids in popular fiction for me.
The other first that Lies Beneath presented me with was a first-person perspective, starring the male lead. I have read fathoms of paranormal romance from the perspective of the naive, human girl, but never have I come across a YA story told by the seductive otherworldly guy. A tale told by the predator has an entirely different tone. Had the narrative been more traditional, Calder's initial murderous intentions would have been unrelatable and could have very well made this more disturbing than darkly delightful. Thanks to Brown's foresight on this, you get to see their violently beautiful existence through his eyes, rather than discovering a completely alien way of life as experienced by another clueless teen.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about Lies Beneath was that the author stayed away from the Disney incarnation of mermaids and even poked a bit of fun at Ariel. Brown seems to have molded her merpeople around the dangerous sirens found in Homer's The Odyssey; those tantalizing, yet vicious creatures who lured sailors to their deaths in the murky depths. Calder and his sisters thrive off of absorbed energy from humans they drag beneath the waves. Creepy? Oh yes, but the author's well developed mythology and vivid writing style make this a tale about how truly transformative love can be for the soul.
The only issue I had with this fantastic first title in the new YA series was that there were some continuity problems. Especially near the end of the novel when the hectic climax was in full-tilt, I found that certain events weren't explained enough or were just dropped entirely. I don't know whether this was because they will be expanded on in the coming sequel, or if the author lost sight of them during the frenzy and hoped readers wouldn't notice. Regardless Brown's writing style, while wonderfully depictive, reveals that it is still in need of development.
The Final Verdict An impressive debut that fans of dark fantasy will delight in.
FTC Disclosure I received an advanced reading copy of this book from Netgalley and Random House Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for the views expressed above. All opinions are my own. (less)
“Look at us. Amps. We're morons smarter than Lucifer. Cripples stronger than gravity. A bunch of broke-ass motherfuckers stinking rich with potential. This is our army. Our people. Strong and hurt. We're the wounded supermen of tomorrow, Gray. It's time you got yourself healed. New world ain't gonna build itself. And the old world don't want to go without a fight.”
Amped takes place in a future America where technology has managed to help individuals overcome disorders of the brain. Amplification devices are fitted to manage everything from ADD to epilepsy. Sounds great right? Well in a country legendary for its history of discrimination, these devices cause a whole new civil rights movement. It just so happens that people fitted with these amplifiers also benefit from enhanced neural processing and focus, setting them at a cut above the rest. Schools and workplaces are becoming inundated with individuals who are smarter, faster, and stronger than the average American, leaving everyone else in the dust. So, what's an average American to do? Take it to the supreme court of course.
When the supreme court rules that amplified Americans (Amps) are not equally protected under the Constitution, the world becomes a frightening place for anyone with a maintenance port on their temple. There is rioting in the streets and people are being thrown out of their homes as contracts with Amps are no longer being recognized as legal and binding. Enter Owen Gray, a man whose amplification merely keeps him from going into epileptic seizures; or so he thinks.
Amped started off with a bang, hooking me from the very first chapter. I kept saying to myself, "This is it! That epic read I've been waiting for!"
The narrative reminded me so much of Ready Player One that my awesome meter exploded and I started raving to my friends and family about how Amped was going to be the best read of my year. Little did I know...
It literally felt like it was the skeletal outline of a much longer novel. With an idea with this much potential, I was really looking forward to an epic read. While, Amped combines familiar aspects of American history with futuristic technology to create a concept that is wonderfully intriguing, it fails to really follow through. Wilson spends too much time jumping the reader from one major plot point to the next and not enough time developing the core characters and exploring the epic possibilities of cybernetic civil rights.
Amped does have some spectacular moments where you get a glimpse at what a truly remarkable work of science fiction this could have been had the author taken more time to develop his idea. The wasted potential is even more highlighted by the newspaper articles, court rulings, and press releases at the end of each chapter detailing how the events were impacting the nation as a whole. For all its ambitious concept and likeable characters, there just wasn't enough meat to back it up.(less)
Chelsan is a young girl with the power to raise the dead. When tragedy strikes, she finds herself in the midst of a frightening conspiracy and discovers the truth about her past. Along with her gang of friends, Chelsan tries to uncover the whole truth and reveal it to the world.
I really thought this was going to be my kind of book. All the reviews have described it as a dark and gritty dystopia novel. While there is darkness involved, it was definitely muted by all the inane teenage drama. YA writers of science fiction, dystopia, fantasy, and paranormal romance are constantly having to balance their epic, heart pounding story lines with the everyday concerns of their teenage protagonists. Dating, mean girls, and homework are all things we expect to see these characters dealing with if they are living in a futuristic or contemporary world. The problem comes in when these things pop up in awkward moments. This happened a lot in Riser. Caught up in a life-threatening situation? Who cares! Let's go shopping! Or better yet, let's worry if my crush like, likes me. Yes, that term is actually used in this book by persons older than 11 years old. This part of the book overwhelmed the potentially gritty plot and just left me feeling like the book was just silly overall.
The main character Chelsan is your classic Mary Sue. She lives in a trailer park with her parents, has average looks, goes to a school for rich kids, and has two hot, wealthy guys vying for her attention. Wow, go figure. I'll give Chelsan this, at least she knows who she wants and isn't ping-ponging back and forth between the two. She makes a definitive choice early on and sticks with it. For that I definitely have some respect for her. Other than that I was a bit annoyed with her inner commentary that was constantly throwing me off of the dark vibe I so wanted out of this book. She sure says "ewww" a lot for a girl who has been playing with dead things her entire life. More often than not, the light-heartedness of the dialogue and narration just ruined any grittyness the book had. Here are some examples:
"I couldn't see his face, my sight was too blurred and the angle of the light made him look like a walking black shadow of doom coming toward me." (Black shadow of doom? Sounds like the name of some Dr. Doom wannabe)
"'Sleep.' He sounded like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz." (Honestly, this quote made this particular bad guy much less scary for me)
"He was so cute when he was thinking." (Oh dear lord...)
"It was like walking into a safe haven of awesomeness."(Seriously? This from a straight A student at a prestigious academy of the wealthy who managed to get in based on her academic achievements alone?)
The characters are fairly two-dimensional for the most part and I never really felt a connection to any of them. However there was a scene with Chelsan's love interest, Ryan that got me pretty steamed. The mean girl of the school, Jill, finally gets on Ryan's last nerve. What does he do? He punches her in the face so hard she falls on her ass and has a nasty shiner the next day. Regardless of how cruel teenage girls can be, I think we can all agree that this is unacceptable behavior. So what does Chelsan do? She is totally gaga over the fact that Ryan is willing to beat on other girls for her. As this is a YA book and predominately directed toward teenage girls, I guess the thing that steams me the most is that this is teaching them (1) they do not have to fight their own battles and (2) to romanticize violence towards women. I'm positive this wasn't the author's intent, but the message is loud and clear. Beating on girls is sexy.
Another thing that really put me off this book was the poor editing. If there was actually any editing done on this book at all. I was constantly coming across grammar errors and incorrect vocabulary. I cringed every time I came across a sentence in which the author uses the completely wrong word. It was made even worse by the fact that I could tell exactly which word she had meant to use. Here are some examples:
"They were inhumanly pitch black and they began chanting illegible words." (Speak up! I can't read the words that are coming out of your mouth!)
"He was going to gauge my eyes out." (Obviously she meant gouge... Unless there is some new body modification fad I'm not aware of?)
"Would everyone stop obsessing about my bowl movements..." (Can I buy a vowel please?)
"Perfectly coifed grass separated the parallel lined mansion-sized houses." (No, no, no, no!)
coiffed: past participle, past tense of coif (Verb) Verb:
1. Style or arrange (someone's hair), typically in an elaborate way. 2. Style or arrange the hair of (someone).
As my good friend Wigs said, "What is this English? How does it work? Does it have rules?" This had to be the most frustrating, and admittedly entertaining, part of the book for me. And before all the 4 and 5 star reviewers start jumping all over me, check out the FTC disclosure at the bottom of this review.
The Final Verdict
Riser has an interesting idea that is unfortunately executed poorly. The concept of a character with the power to raise the dead is far from new. If you want to read a YA necromancer story that balances the gritty and fluffy elements well, I would suggest you check out Kelly Armstrong's Darkest Powers Trilogy. Riser still needs some work and a thorough edit.
I was provided with a review copy of this book by the author and IO Tours in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.
Update Shout out to Becca C Smith for taking this review like a boss. It takes a truly awesome person to enjoy a negative review of her own book. Thanks again for your kindness and understanding.(less)
Leaving Mundania is a non-fiction, in-depth look into the world of live action role playing and the people who have made it a lifestyle.
If you are a regular on my blog, then you know I am nerdy and proud. Now although I'm an avid gamer, I can't say that I've delved much into the world of LARP. I mean, I have cosplayed at anime conventions, but I don't really consider that to be the same thing. I did play table top RPGs with my high school buddies a couple times, but it just wasn't something I got into. Now years later in my adulthood I have found a sudden interest in this subject. While I don't expect to go jumping into a LARP convention anytime soon, I do see the experience in a whole new light. I picked up this book out of curiosity and came out intrigued and endeared thanks to the wonderful compilation of stories and information that Stark has put together.
I love that this book doesn't just seek to dump information into your lap about a subject you probably know little about. Stark informs her reader through the telling of her actual personal experiences and the often heartwarming and comical stories of LARPers she has interviewed. I didn't feel like I was being talked down to by some self-important expert on the subject. I felt like I was being led, hand-in-hand, through the entire process of starting up to becoming a part of the community. I think people interested in the subject will find Leaving Mundania a lot of fun.
Another thing that I found interesting while reading this book was that LARP may very well be a great device for authors. How you may ask? Well, as explained in this book, LARPers explore the characters they have created during each session of gaming. One of the most important things an author needs to do before they even put pen to paper is to get to know their characters. What better way than to actually put themselves into their characters' shoes and see how they would react in a plethora of improvised situations? I could see this process truly immersing an author into the characters they wish to write about and allowing them to reach an entirely new level of development. I could just be nuts, but it's at least something to ponder I think.
The Final Verdict Leaving Mundania is a fun and informative read that will satisfy your curiosity and quench your thirst for nerd culture.
FTC Disclosure I was provided a review copy of this book by Netgalley and Chicago Review Press in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation for my review. All opinions are my own.(less)
The Becoming, the first book in a new trilogy and Meigs' first novel follows three main characters as they experience the initial outbreak of the zombie virus Michaluk and fight to survive. Cade, Ethan, and Brandt pick up other survivors along the way, but when Ethan insists on returning to Memphis to find closure with the loss of his wife, Cade and Brandt forge on to find a safe place for their group.
Finally! A strong female lead character in a zombie series other than the Newsflesh Trilogy! I've been reading a lot of zombie fiction lately and I have to say I'm sickened with the amount of wimpy, whiny, practically useless female lead characters. The Becoming was a breath of fresh air for me and certainly for the genre itself. Finally a woman who can hold her own and is just as gritty as the boys. While there were still times I was frustrated with Cade's often overly dramatic actions, I still enjoyed her character.
Really each character Meigs has crafted for this novel is well developed and relatable. For me, there is nothing better than well written, character driven apocalypse fiction and this novel delivers it in droves!
One other thing that really stuck out to me was how much more cinematic this novel felt to me than others I've read of the genre. In the first chapters of the book, the tension is slowly and carefully built, setting the reader up for horror moviesque anticipation for the action to kick off. The tension had me biting my nails as I waited for the first zombie to rear its ugly head. This is one of the first zombie novels that truly made me experience horror rather than simulating it with over the top gore and action. Meigs played on my worst fears from the very beginning, sucking me into her world completely.
I think the only thing that rubbed me the wrong way about this book was the fact that the main characters took forever to catch on to what was happening. As this book is set in our world, which has been saturated with zombie movies, books, and pop culture for decades, I would have expected the main characters to have caught on right away. Instead, they spend the first quarter of the novel going, "This is so weird! I wonder what could be happening?" Umm... duh... A real world example would be the incident in Miami recently where a naked man was gunned down by police as he ate the face of another naked man. Although it has been ruled that the man was incredibly high on an illegal narcotic that caused him to act this way, many people associated the actions with zombie like behavior. No, I'm not insane, I don't think the zombie apocalypse is upon us, my point is, people are smarter than you think. It doesn't take an erstwhile Marine you randomly meet to tell you its freaking zombies chapters later. I really felt this dumbed down her otherwise impressive and capable heroes for me. Really, this may not make much of a difference for other readers, but it is kind of a sore spot for me when it comes to zombie fiction in general.
The Final Verdict
Regardless this was an amazing read for me full of action, true horror, and visceral emotion. Well written and superbly edited, The Becoming is a zombie novel you don't want to miss. Looking forward to the rest of the series!
I was provided a copy of this book by the author and IO Tours in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation for the views stated. All opinions are my own.(less)
Very well written, very sexy erotic short story. Highly recommended for readers looking for a quick and dirty tale of submission. I will definitely be...moreVery well written, very sexy erotic short story. Highly recommended for readers looking for a quick and dirty tale of submission. I will definitely be checking out the other shorts in this series. :-)(less)
"Beliefs or anxieties, they don't matter. One way or another, death comes in the shape it wants and doesn't guarantee a pretty ending."
Tragedy, horror, and the instinct to survive will do crazy things to a person, but how will they effect two young men who have barely struck out into adulthood? Dead Meat follows a small group of survivors as they discover the true extent of their recently ravaged world and find out first hand that the promise of living another day will make you do things you never imagined were within your nature.
This was how I interpreted the tone of the book as there are moments you start to second guess the sanity of the main characters Benny and Gavin. As a psychology major, I was immediately taken by the depth of each character and the range of development they go through. The action scenes are well thought out and spectacularly executed, but the true achievement of Dead Meat is in its characters. The Williams boys have obviously taken great pains in bringing the main characters to life and exploring the depths of human emotion, both light and dark, and it absolutely shows. What books have you read lately where you met a character who disturbs and terrifies you one moment, charms you the next, freaks you out again, and then heads straight into becoming one of your favorite, albeit slightly douchey, anti-heroes of all time? The anti-hero is a difficult character to pull off, but when done right, these characters always top my list, because we don't often get to see authors really push the limits with the classic hero. I can't even begin to describe how perfectly Benny both fit and exceeded my expectations. I hated Benny. I loved Benny. He frightened and repulsed me and with a turn of the page, he was being charming and heroic. WTF Benny? Why are you so crazy awesome? I haven't had a character mess with me like this...well...ever!
"'Open the door,' I whisper. I swallow to moisten my throat and say it again, this time much louder. 'Open the door.'"
And that ending? Obviously I won't spoil it for you, but HOLY CRAP! I never saw it coming and I usually have the story figured out fairly early on when I read. I will say that I'm fairly heartbroken over it, but satisfied all the same.
I think the only complaint I have about this book is the female characters. There are only two, and both are fairly underwhelming. Not that they aren't well developed, they are, but one only makes a short appearance and the other is truly vile. I wanted at least one good, strong, female character, but didn't find it here. However, I can't exactly hold it against the authors as again, through the depth and realism of these characters, they show important aspects of how humans can experience and react to life and death situations.
The Final Verdict Dead Meat is gritty, stunning, character driven zombie horror fiction that asks readers, what would you do to survive when you have everything to lose? Another edition to my must read zombie fiction list.
FTC Disclosure I was provided a copy of this book by the authors and IO Tours in exchange for an honest review. I have received no compensation for my review. All opinions stated are my own.(less)
At this moment, after just finishing Deadline, I believe I'm in shock. I don't really know how I will write a review for this book without giving away spoilers for itself and for its predecessor Feed, but I will give it a try. Was this the best book ever? Certainly not. Were there flaws? Quite a few actually. Do either of those factors compare to the grip this series has a hold of me? Do they effect the love I have for the characters that Grant has created? Do they lessen at all the emotional reverberations I feel long after I have put the book back on its shelf? The answer is a loud and resounding NO. The people we love without a doubt have flaws, but the sheer magnitude of the impact they have on our own personal human experience makes these flaws pale in comparison.
This is Deadline to me.
This is the Newsflesh Trilogy to me.
The After the End Times team is back and hot on the trail of the conspiracy that rocked their world in the last book. If you think I'm being incredibly vague here, I am because there is honestly very little I can talk about this book plot wise without giving everything away. Let's just say I was very impressed with how quickly the action got going compared to Feed. Instead of a huge info dump that gets us acquainted with the characters and the world they inhabit, we take a quick moment to catch up with the team, and then are thrown directly into the action. And thank god for the action! Where Feed spent much of its length exploring politics, blogging, and evil plotting, Deadline spends it running, jumping, climbing trees. (Sorry couldn't resist the Eddie Izzard reference ^_^) There is still plenty of evil plotting going on here for those of us who loved that in the previous book, but this time we get to enjoy a faster paced story.
What Deadline has made up for in pace and excitement, it seems to have lack key character development in Shaun. I felt Grant had an almost unlimited amount of potential for Shaun's character here, but she held back for some reason. This was really disappointing for me as I love a good crazy anti-hero, but after being blown away by the ending, I trust that Grant knows what she is doing here. You see, after finishing Deadline I got the distinct feeling that everything that felt like a flaw throughout the course of the novel was absolutely intentional. Every emotion I felt during my read of this book seems to have been directed by Grant's storytelling in an almost subliminal way. To me this proves that Grant understands her core audience and knows just how to play us.
Which leads me to my final thoughts... What exactly does she have planned for us in Blackout? The ending of Deadline completely threw me as did the ending of Feed. So, if Grant is topping herself with each book... what epicness can we expect from the final book in the Newsflesh trilogy? I'm absolutely tingling with anticipation.
The Final Verdict
I think fans of the first book will love the ride and be left dying to find out what happens next.
Eight months after the zombie apocalypse took Earth, a group of brave survivors gets a chance to make their world safe again. Dr. Compton has found a cure for the virus he inadvertently created. The catch? It's back at his lab facility hundreds of miles away through the rotter infested ruins of the American East Coast. Will Mike Robson and his crew of tenacious survivors be able to bring back the cure and take back their world, or will they die trying?
Rotter World is a stomach churning, heart-pumping, zombie killing extravaganza. A true feast for the... zombie in you. I learned the hard way that it it not a wise idea to eat while you read this book. I often multi-task while reading and thought, "Hey, I might as well finish this book up while I have some teriyaki beef and broccoli for lunch." Bad idea, only a few pages later I encountered a particularly detailed death scene in which one of the characters gets eaten alive. While the scene was well written and emotionally evocative, I would have preferred to keep my lunch out of it. You see, Rotter World is very much a book that spares no detail when it comes to graphic gore. While this adds to the desperate and often times disturbing tone of the book nicely, it may not be for everyone. So...you have been warned.
Moving onward, Rotter World offers the reader a unique and intriguing alternate view of the zombie apocalypse in which the virus is spread by vampires in an attempt to distract humans from hunting them down. This of course backfires spectacularly on them and the vampires find themselves facing an increasingly desperate situation; the complete extinction of their kind. When the book begins, humans and what is left of the vampires have teamed up to better their chances of surviving in a hostile alliance that threatens to boil over at any moment. The tension is incredible as it offsets the already overwhelming threat of the zombie horde. Not all of the human survivors hate the vampires which also leads to another layer of hostilities among the group. I loved this, but wished that the loyalties of the characters hadn't been so obvious. I would have loved to have read a scene in which a human you thought neutral or for the vampires turned on one of them during a zombie onslaught. I love that kind of NO WAY! moment. Regardless there are plenty of action sequences and you get to see how prejudices effect the decisions of the group in life threatening situations. I won't say who, but I was very upset to see my favorite vamp go. I was like, "Scott, oh no you didn't!" Kill off my favorite character why don't you? Who are you, George R.R. Martin? I was sad, but it did do the trick of keeping me emotionally invested in the story.
The only thing that I can really critique here is consistency. With all the action and character interaction Baker throws at us that gets our hearts pumping, some in-between scenes come across a bit dry. I know it's hard to make colorful transition scenes when you've just allowed your characters to barely escape from a hauntingly bloody battle, but there were a few times when I felt Baker's writing was becoming more technical in order to explain rather than making readers see it through the already well established interactions between characters. I stress this is only occasionally, but these parts were just so stark in comparison to the rest of the story that they really killed the mood.
Speaking of "The Mood" Baker waxes erotic a couple of times throughout the novel showing readers both the wonderful and destructive sides of the human need for closeness. I was glad to have this part of human nature addressed within a zombie novel as the genre normally stays away from sensuality. What better motivation is there to incite DEFCON levels of the horizontal mambo than the almost definite possibility that you will be cannibalized by mindless, rotting husks of your peers in the near future? I honestly can't think of any. I know I'm outing myself as a perv here, but I genuinely wish there had been more sexy scenes, especially with the vamp, *wink wink* but I digress...
I know this is becoming one mother trucker of a review, but I do have one last thing I'd like to tell you all about. I absolutely hate reading books or watching movies where the women spend more time screaming and crying than kicking-ass and taking names. Thank God for Baker's badass squad of zombie killing femme fatales. The Angels of Death are leather clad ladies with some seriously messed up pasts they have overcome by blowing away many a zombie. If there were some AOD merch like a shirt or a mug, I would be first in line to get me some. I loved these ladies who prove you best not underestimate a woman with serious baggage.
The Final Verdict
You're invited to a deadman's party. Make sure you gird your loins and bring a hardy constitution, maybe even a turtleneck. That is unless you plan on fraternizing with some vamps then by all means... Enjoy the ride. ^_^
I was provided a copy of this book by the author and IO tours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed above are my own.