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)
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)
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)
"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)
Seven Habits is definitely not your traditional zombie novel. It was so close to being an absolutely amazing read for me, but there was just one thing that irked me. The book begins with Bosley talking to detectives about the strange turn of events that lead him to their interrogation room. Bosley's chapters are written like a conversation, but we only ever get Bosley's side of the story. I was intrigued by the style, but initially felt a strong distaste towards the fact that this man got his time traveling powers through the heavy, and I mean HEAVY use of drugs. Drugs give you super powers!? Interesting concept, but not one I am entirely comfortable with. It very nearly put me off of the entire book. That is, until I read my first chapter about Ocean.
Ocean is a fourteen year old girl of the future who has never known a world other than the post-apocalyptic one she was born into. As the synopsis says, she suffers daily in her search for food, water, and comfort. I was irrevocably pulled into the story when Ocean was forced to kill her mother to survive. This is where my entire perspective on this book shifted and I realized there was a world of depth here that I had only begun to uncover. I looked forward to each of her chapters with increasing intensity as the story went on.
More often than not, I can make a fairly accurate guess at the final plot twist the author is hinting at throughout the book, but this time, I was caught completely by surprise. I can't really go into it without giving away any spoilers, but I can say that what actually was going on with the underground clan was much more horrific than anything I had guessed at. When it comes to Ocean's story and the final plot twist I have to give Rose a standing ovation. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.
One other thing that I really loved about Seven Habits is that it had me questioning Bosley's sanity for half of the book. Taking in the fact that he had been under the influence of a massive amount of drugs and his attitude toward the events leading up to his arrest, I was very nearly convinced he was a psychotic serial killer who had created this fantasy to justify what he had done. I absolutely love a book that keeps me guessing, that keeps my mind racing trying to figure out what is really going on. If you do to, this is really the book for you.
The Final Verdict: I'm really not a fan of making druggies heroes, but honestly it works here in the end. Bosley becomes quite loveable throughout the course of the book and the final twist had me near to tears. The duel stories being told here are some of the most compelling and emotionally visceral I have read all year. The Seven Habits of Highly Infective People is on my zombie essentials reading list. If you love zombies, or just thrilling storytelling, than this should be your next read.(less)
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.
"If you wish to know how it is that you can dismantle the undead, laugh maniacally, and continue about your existence, then please continue on."
This has been by far the most informative and concise zombie read I've come across. Pretty much everything you could want or need to know about surviving a potential zombie apocalypse is right here within ZAP's pages. I don't care if you don't subscribe to the whole idea of a zombie apocalypse being a potential threat. The ideas, advice, practical information, and tactics presented in this book are potential life savers in virtually any major natural disaster, terrorist attack, or crisis that could happen within your lifetime. While reading, I began to seriously consider getting some of the suggested supplies together in my house as a disaster kit. Do I sound crazy right now? Maybe, but when that mega, California sinking earthquake we've all been hearing about since elementary school finally happens and you run out of food, fresh water, and a power source, I guess we'll know which one of us was the crazy one. But seriously people, I don't necessarily believe that some vicious virus is going to turn us into rabid flesh eating monsters, but I"m not ruling it out either. Better to prepare and be wrong than call everyone crazy now and be the first to get chomped on.
Outside of its survival merits, ZAP is honestly an immensely valuable resource for writers looking to put out some well researched apocalypse fiction. In all likelihood, your zombies will be unique and many of the zombie facts here won't apply, but the basic weapons knowledge, supply lists, shelter acquisition, offensive and defensive tactics, and terrain survival portions of this book will indeed help you not only shape your fictional world, but also teach you how your characters can survive. As a person who doesn't know much about firearms, (I'm more of a Dragon Age kind of girl), I was excited by the plethora of practical knowledge I got out of reading up on each type. I now know what each type of firearm is best suited for. I know this may be obvious to many, but I grew up in a part of California where we had no need for guns and therefore lacked the necessity for such an area of study. I must say as a fan of science fiction, horror, and dystopia novels this came back to shame me in my adult years, but thanks to ZAP, I now have a general idea of how this stuff works.
If these reasons aren't enough for you to add this book to your shelf of apocalypse fiction essentials, I think it is important to mention the overall irreverently funny tone of this guide. Do you enjoy sarcastic, dark humor with a generous dose of geek? If your answer is yes, this should be a no brainer for you. Houchins and Thomas have infused this zombie survival extravaganza with more references to popular nerd culture than you can shake a stick at! When you're not considering taking copious notes, you will be chuckling to yourself and freaking out the people next to you.
Recommendation: I would honestly say if you have any interest at all in the reading or writing of zombie literature, you should seriously think about checking this one out. All levels of zombie lovers will learn something new and yes, Have fun Doing It.(less)
I will not be rating this one as I didn't give up on it because it was bad, but because I just couldn't connect with the intricate world. I felt li...moreDNF
I will not be rating this one as I didn't give up on it because it was bad, but because I just couldn't connect with the intricate world. I felt like you had to have some kind of background understanding of Middle Eastern culture in order to get an idea of what is happening here and I just don't have it.
The characters and the world are all very gritty and complex which I normally love. However, there is very little time spent introducing the reader to the world and giving them the opportunity to adjust and feel familiar with it. I was constantly lost and frustrated and finally couldn't justify continuing. Reading a book, especially a fantasy/urban fantasy, shouldn't be work and this was nothing but that for me.
I'm hesitant to put a star rating on it, because while I didn't enjoy it, I felt that there was a depth that others readers of the genre would enjoy. So, if you have the time and patience for decoding some very subtle world building, please give this a try. Otherwise you might want to move on to something a bit lighter. (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)
“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)
Paige is a shy librarian who spends her free time steeped in the lore of the ancient Celts rather than living it up like other young women her age. Her world is turned upside down when she meets Cael, a vampire with a tragic past. Soon Paige finds herself not just studying the lore she so loves, but living it in this sexy new paranormal romance.
I'm a long time lover of vampires, but lately I've been feeling the whole thing has been a bit over done. So what convinced me to pick this one up? Two words; vampire highlander. That's right not only is Cael a sexy vamp, but he's also got the whole super alpha Highlander attitude. *swoon!* There was just no way I was going to pass up a tantalizing concept like that! I have to say Cael had quite a few lines that made me shiver.
"Shh... lass," he crooned. "Let me love ye; I was meant to love ye."
Although shy and a bit subdued, Paige never hesitates to stand up for herself and fight for those she loves. I adored that about her! She had her plate full with finding out her half-vampire heritage and becoming a target. I can't stand a wimpy heroine and was very pleased with Paige's ability to evolve throughout the story even as she was going through her transition from human to vampire.
"I cannot keep running.
The thought was freeing because she realized that she did not want to run from this man.
Ye couldna escape me if ye tried lass."
Although I enjoyed Paige and Cael I felt like the one downside to this story was that there was so much going on. I didn't get near as much time as I would have liked with the hero and heroine. There were so many side stories going on with secondary characters that I became easily distracted from the main story. I think this story would have been a 4 star for me if it had been a bit less cluttered.
In the same breath, the plethora of intriguing secondary characters did spark my imagination and I found myself wanting to know more about each of them, but within their own stories. Luckily, I got the chance to interview Nadja and ask after any potential sequels or novellas. She confirmed that these characters have also had her brain spinning and she is tossing around some ideas! I can't wait to spend some more time with those mischievous Garrow brothers!
Although this book in itself wasn't amazing for me, I still enjoyed it. I see a lot of potential for future tales within this lore and look forward to reading them! I always say you have to give any series a two to three book chance before passing judgment. Thus far my final ruling is Nadja Notariani is a romance author to look out for! I plan to follow her releases with giddy anticipation. (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)
Four years after the zombie apocalypse, Paige is released from her family's locked down bomb shelter into the dessicated remains of her hometown. Her mission: meet up with her father and his fellow scientists at Disney World to help rebuild society. Outfitted with razors that extend from her fingertips and some ocular implants that do so much more than night vision, Paige should have no problem getting passed the undead. That is, until she has a chance meeting with her first love, Chris Parker, now known as Chase. Chase still hasn't quite gotten over her ditching him during the outbreak. Paige hasn't gotten over putting duty before love. Will they find love again post-apocalypse?
First, I'm going to touch on the split chapter element as it seems to be dividing reviewers. The book is set up with chapters alternating between past and present; before the apocalypse and after. Some have found this bothersome, awkward, and confusing, but I thought this was a brilliant way to tell the story and loved how the juxtaposition of the two timelines allowed Chase and Paige's back story to unfold within the action. This kept the book fast paced and made for a truly enjoyable read.
I loved the combination of strong love story and zombie action. Mancusi doesn't shy away from the darker elements of this genre, but still manages to keep the tone intrinsically young adult. These two are still teenagers trying to figure out who they are while they fight to survive. You even get the fairly annoying relationship tug-of-war aspect so common in YA fiction. A bit of this is necessary to keep the story moving, but it got to be too drawn out for my taste. The character development was so-so for Paige, but quite a bit better for Chase.
In the chapters concerning past events, Chase is the scraggly, soft hearted nerd who just wants a shot at the pretty popular girl. In the chapters concerning present events, he has been shaped by the apocalypse into a harder, more world weary version of himself. Obviously this works for a number of reasons, not only has he grown out of his scrawny body, but also his naive view of the world. I even enjoyed the fact that Marcusi was brave enough to tackle teenage drug addiction. She blended it well into the plot and made it one of Chase's eventually redeemable flaws. Overall, the development of his character was very satisfying. However the one thing that really bugged me was I felt like some of his sentimentality wasn't realistic for a nineteen year old boy. All three of my brothers are around this age and let me tell you, when daydreaming they would not be imagining their girlfriend/love interest as a Disney Princess. The imagery I got out of the last third of the book from Chase concerning Paige felt very out of character for a guy his age and broke me out of the rhythm the book had going. It felt much too feminine and not in sync with the more realistic tone of his thoughts from earlier on in the story. To me, this just felt like a rushed effort to tie together the whole Disney themed undertone of the novel, which while kinda fun at first felt a bit out of place in a story that had started out so gritty.
What I loved about this book was the technology aspect. Paige's razors and ocular implants made her a unique and kick-ass heroine. The zombie origin wasn't exactly unique. The zombie virus is spread by a vaccine that should have been a cure for a disease that has been plaguing mankind, in this case HIV/AIDS, but instead backfires turning everyone to mindless, flesh eating monsters. Cure gone wrong has been done quite a bit, but the implementation of it all was done very well.
The Final Verdict:
A very sweet post-apocalyptic love story, awesome tech, and fast-paced story make this a quick and enjoyable read, but the occasional lightness in tone was more awkward than complimentary. Tomorrow Land will please fans of fluffy YA fiction, but may not appeal to more hard-core fans of the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genres.(less)
Amelia, a spinster at 27 is secretly a published author. In order to pursue her dreams, she vowed never to marry. However when Amelia agreed to accompany her dear friend, Prudence to meet her potential fiance, she never expected to become the object of Lord Carnach's desire. In an unfortunate turn of events, Amelia finds herself in a tenuous situation. Marry Lord Carnach or be ruined in the eyes of the ton. Either way she has earned the ire of Prudence who is one of the three people who know Amelia's scandalous literary secret.
Malcolm is a Scottish laird who desperately wants to save his clan and their home in the Highlands by joining the House of Lords. He seeks an obedient and simple wife in Prudence to help him reach his political aspirations without scandal. However when he lays eyes on Amelia, he can't deny the magnetic attraction he feels towards her. Will he be able to tame her into the wife he needs or will their passion consume them both?
While I ate the majority of this book up there were a few things about it that irked me. After tearing through the first half like a mad woman, I started to notice a continuing pattern that at first presents an interesting twist to Malcolm and Amelia's romance, but becomes frustrating after the fourth or so repetition. The whole basis of this book's plot is that Amelia never wanted to be married, but now that she is, she is altogether the wrong kind of wife for Malcolm's political career. I very much enjoy the premise of an unlikely pair finding love and understand that this requires quite a bit of back and forth, "I love him, I hate him." However, instead of feelings and complications evolving over time, the two characters are stuck with the same issues throughout the entire book. Plus, they spend very little time actually considering their situation and substituting actual relationship building for loads and loads of sex. It sort of goes like this...
Malcolm: Are you going to behave woman? Amelia: Are you going to force me into subservience so that I will have no time to write my...letters? Malcolm: (Gets distracted by her breasts) Um... letters? What could you possibly be writing to people about!? Amelia: You know... stuff, the Highlands, London stuff... Malcolm: (Still distracted by her breasts) There's something she's not telling me... Oh well! Bend over darling!
Obviously that's only my abbreviated version of events, but you get the idea. This sort of thing happens over and over again. After half of the book I felt like the romance just wasn't developing and they were trading sex for avoidance of the real issues. Finally at 2/3 of the way through, it has to actually be stated point blank, "I think I'm in love with him/her" by each of them internally in order for you to get the gist that all this bumping and grinding hasn't been for nothing. I feel if the emotional side of the romance was better developed earlier on in the story, this would have been an excellent read for me.
As it stands, this was still a good read, much better than many of the historical romance I've been indulging in lately. I enjoyed the premise of Amelia, who was determined for spinsterhood, lands herself in a marry or be ruined situation. The irony that she is stuck in a situation she would have written for one of her heroines was attractive and I loved reading about how the Highlands and Malcolm were inspiring her to be a better writer. Even though I didn't enjoy the constant back and forth I did appreciate the fact that there were no easy answers here. Everything doesn't magically fall into place and work out in the end. The characters have to work for their goals.
Overall, I felt Scotsmen Prefer Blondes is an enjoyable read read for lovers of the genre and will likely charm less picky readers. (less)
I gave this one a good try and because I didn't finish this, I won't bore you with a long review.
All I can say is, there was nothing new here that I haven't seen in other books of the genre to keep me interested. The writing was decent, but offered nothing unique or substantive. I just didn't see the point of wading my way through another mediocre paranormal YA that wasn't delivering when my review queue is filled with books written by authors who are taking risks and delving into unexplored territory.
'Burn a Pure and breathe the ash. Take his guts and make a sash. Twist his hair and make a rope. Use his bones to make Pure soap.'
When I first picked up Pure I was relieved. My review queue was a mile high and I was looking forward to a fast-paced YA read. With all the great press this book has gotten, I figured it was going to be highly addicting and a nice diversion from all the so-so books I had been slogging through recently. Quick and dirty. Easy Breezy. In retrospect, I don't know if anything could have prepared me for Pure.
My initial reaction to Pure was frustration, confusion, and morbid fascination. I hated the narrative perspective. The third-person present tense completely threw me off and made the experience that much more grating. ie. "Pressia is waiting..." I kept thinking, "Who writes like that?" and "Why write like that?" I even considered updating my Goodreads status to make a point as, "Jess is thinking she does not like this book..." I wondered if this was some strange attempt at making "stream of consciousness" the new literary fad, but no, Pure was still understandable, just frustrating. The strange world I had been tossed into without warning had me struggling to acclimate and I spent the first quarter of the book in aggravated confusion.
Then something strange happened. I couldn't even tell you exactly when, but I began to become attached to the characters and the story was slowly drawing me in by taunting me with little peeks at the big picture. Once the main male character Partridge leaves the Dome and begins to experience the outside world, I had a truly awesome lightbulb moment. What I realized was, Baggott meant for her readers to be confused at first. The strange and disturbing elements of the alien world created by the detonations is shocking and the true gravity of the consequences of nuclear warfare could not be better related to readers than to force them to feel it for themselves.
While this book is classified as young adult fiction because it follows teenaged characters, it carries a much more graphic and intense nature than most book in the genre. I have seen reviewers classify this book as "icky" or "just gross", but let's be honest here. What did you expect? This book chronicles the struggles and survival of individuals who have been deeply scarred, mutated, and even fused to the world around them. The weight of the message this story carries was meant to challenge your way of thinking and immerse you in a world where teenagers must be brave, strong, and decisive as opposed to the often more fickle nature of YA characters. Do I recommend this book for everyone. Absolutely not. There are scenes that made me cringe from their graphicness and scenes that I never saw coming from a young adult title. I'm not talking about sexual content. The novel is very mild in that aspect with mostly a chaste kiss that is few and far between. I'm talking about gore and death. There is a particular twist at the end (I won't spoil it for you) that completely shocked me with it's disturbing abruptness. That being said, it felt completely right within the context of the story. As an adult, I was elated that Baggott was not afraid to truly express the gritty, dark nature of her world.
The Final Verdict
Pure is a hauntingly brilliant story that combines the impact of more literary dystopia with the sneaky addictiveness of modern day young adult fiction. This is a story I will not soon forget and I look forward to future volumes in this series with hungry anticipation. I would recommend this book to adult fans of YA and dystopia and more mature teens.(less)
I was not aware at the time I took this on for review that it was a non-fiction history book rather than a novelization of historical events. I normally don't take on biographies or other works of non-fiction for my blog, however I must say, throughout the course of the book, I became captivated with the story Goldstone so eloquently revealed in the pages of The Maid and The Queen.
The book is split into three portions; Before Joan, Joan of Arc, and After Joan and chronicles the intertwined lives of Joan and Yolande of Aragon, Queen of Sicily. I was very interested to see just how Yolande of Aragon influenced Joan's journey and how Yolande in turn seemed to fade into the recesses of history. What I found was the much larger portrait of Joan's life and death that the small picture I already had fit into. The things I was taught about Joan through history teachers, documentaries, and films didn't even begin to cover what actually happened to this amazing girl. Goldstone manages to give readers the facts as objectively as possible while still staying respectful to Joan's religious beliefs and claims. While I would have expected a non-fiction book to attempt to explain away Joan's visions and voices as delusions or schizophrenia, The Maid and The Queen points out the events that were pushed along by Yolande of Aragon while gracefully allowing for Joan's piety.
You must be wondering why I have given it only three stars after having enjoyed it so much. Although it is beautifully written, there are points within the book that seem bogged down with political dealings and war strategy. While these details are important to the overall understanding of the events of the Hundred Years War, they dry up the lushly told history and slow down the read exponentially. A reader who is only looking for the tale of Joan of Arc would easily get frustrated fishing through the political intrigues, rivaling parties, and genealogies. That being said, I still enjoyed learning about these two strong women.
If you are a fan of non-fiction, Joan of Arc, and are interested in learning in depth about the Hundred Years War, I would recommend picking this one up. As a reader of mostly fiction, I enjoyed it very much and feel it has been a good introduction for me into reading more books like it. (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)
Derek Prince's night on the town takes a sexy turn when he meets a mermaid. No, not a real one, but one of the nearly legendary beautiful, virginal women who entertain Manhattan's most prominent men. Entranced, by her beauty and charm, he follows her into the infamous nightclub, Fathoms where he discovers how the other half really live!
I really liked this sexy, contemporary adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Although there is no actual magic or mermaids involved, this erotic short still tinged my nostalgia for the Disney film even as it turned up the heat.
What I loved about Immersed in Pleasure was that the hero, Derek, doesn't try to sweep Xenia off her feet and take her away from her life. The heroine is not some damsel in distress, but a strong woman who can take care of herself. Unlike many popular romances today, Xenia doesn't just throw her life away for her man. I won't spoil the end for you as it has an interesting little plot twist, but I enjoyed it very much.
I also really loved that the narration of the story unfolded as Derek told his guy friends about how he and Xenia met. The funny little interruptions of his buddies asking for more info had me chuckling and added to the fun tone of the book.
Recommended for those looking for a sweet and spicy short!(less)
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland meets Greek Mythology when Teenager Cora Alexander falls through a sinkhole during her abusive father's funeral and finds herself in the Underworld! Together with her strange and not entirely trustworthy guide, Minotaur, Cora must navigate the Underworld to find her genius brother Lucas. But what's a living girl to do in the land of the dead?
The White Oak suffers from a raw narrative riddled with short, choppy sentences. However, there is an undeniably captivating quality regardless of the overall unpolished feel. From start to finish I was pulled into the strangely wonderful world White has created. The chapters are a reasonable length making it easy to read one chapter at a time during a busy schedule, but you may find it difficult to stop. Cora's surroundings are so unique and fantastic that you will devour many chapters at a time just to see what comes next. Despite its obvious Alice roots, the entire reading experience fondly reminded me of Jim Henson's movie Labyrinth with all the bizarre and fiercely beautiful creatures and locations.
My main problem with The White Oak is that it felt more like half of a book than a whole one. Just as the conflict with Minos began to reveal itself, the story ended. I felt like the moment I began to truly love this tale, it was over and I was left feeling like I had been majorly jipped! There was just not enough actual story and there is no real character development in sight. I never felt like I got a chance to really know Cora as a person. I understand this is going to be a series, but this felt more like a novella companion than an actual first novel in a set. I really would have liked it to be much longer
Although this book didn't match up to my standards with length and polish, I still can't deny there is something magical about this book. An immense potential lingers in the background showing itself in brief spurts throughout the novel. I kept waiting for it to reveal itself during my read, but just as I thought, "Yes! Here it is!" the book abruptly ended. Regardless of my disappointments, you can bet I will be reading the next book in this series. This author has the potential to be amazing, and I want to be reading her books when that happens. (less)
Jax is a young witch on the run. She does not want to live her coven's black magic lifestyle and dreams of a normal teenage experience. Then she finds Baker's Gap, a tiny little town where everyone knows everyone else, and Jax settles in. Can she keep her powers under the radar and avoid being tracked down by her coven? When things get crazy, will she stay and protect her new found friends, even if the price is death?
When we first join Jax as the story opens, she has already flown the coop, bought a used slug bug and a small RV, and has procured herself a campsite to live in. She already has a plan for getting herself enrolled into the local high school in Baker's Gap, after failing numerous times in other towns. This is also where she gets her first sight of the local supernatural hunter who ends up being the school hottie. Don't worry, that wasn't really a spoiler as you find this out almost immediately. That was one of my problems with this book, there was very little mystery. Most of the plot is straight up with only a few minor plot twists. It was very easy to feel like absolutely nothing was going on.I would have liked to have experienced the escape with Jax and gotten a better feel for the hostility of the life she was leading rather than just being told, "this is this, and that is that."
The awkward toss of the reader into the already executed escape was a rough start, but really the whole book feels rough and underdeveloped. There is just not enough world building for the reader to feel either comfortable in the story, or confident that it is going somewhere. This is not helped by the fact that the meat of the book is made up of silly teenage stuff. Jax gets a crush on her super hot hunter, Jax gets a BFF, Jax goes to local dinner and gets milkshaked by local bitch, Jax pines over hottie hunter, Jax goes to homecoming! It just goes on and on and it was disappointing for me because I was looking forward to a fun YA paranormal experience not teen time with residual magical effects. This felt like a story about a contemporary runaway landing in a new town and doing silly teenage stuff. The witch aspect plays a very small role until the very end of the book.
My other main problem with White Witch was that I never really connected with any of the characters. There were plenty of fun, likeable characters, but this book was so short, and there was so little development, that these characters just felt like faces put there for the direct purpose of furthering Jax's journey. Although this is exactly what characters are in relation to a hero/heroine, the reader should never recognize them as such. A reader should be so lost in the story that they see supporting characters as people, not tools to move the story along.
That being said, there were things I enjoyed very much. I loved Jax's new bestie Toni. She's a tough young lady who isn't afraid to be who she is. As a fellow Buffy nerd, I had a lot of fun with all the references to the show and definitely though Hostile 17 would have been an excellent name for Toni's band. Although I still couldn't quite connect to these nearly transparent characters, Toni was my favorite. I think this really sums up how I felt about the entire experience; fun, cute, but just not quite completely there.
The bottom line is, this was a cute but lacked direction. The story and characters were rough, underdeveloped, and felt more like a sketch of what this could have been rather than a final product. White Witch could use some more action and a final polish, but definitely has potential behind it. There is a stronger version of this story somewhere and I would be glad to read it once it is found.(less)
This companion novella to Firelight fills in that three year time lapse at the beginning nicely. Readers who enjoyed the first book in the Darkest London series, and couldn't get enough of Miranda and Archer will find this informative. There were many things left unexplained about Miranda and Archer's time apart in Firelight like (view spoiler)[Miranda's failed engagement and her deflowered status (hide spoiler)]. I definitely wondered about these things and was glad to have gotten a decent explanation thanks to Ember.
I think my favorite part about this though was getting to experience the beginning of Miranda and Billy Finger's friendship. The development their was very sweet and often times chuckle worthy.
I'm only giving this 3 stars as it really is only a bite of the original and doesn't necessarily offer us a new story. Enjoyable, but read Firelight first. I observed that it would have been confusing for me otherwise as they leap over key plot points in expectation of the reader already being aware.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Dr. Gracen Ellison spends her days working in the MedBay of Camp Audie Murphy, but when she's not treating the wounds of her patients, she is pining over Master Chief Jackson Monroe. The federation's no fraternization policy keeps them both from acting on their feelings for each other, but a devastating helicopter crash in the desert will change everything. Could humanity be having its first true close encounter with Gracen and Jackson right at the center of it all?
This charming debut e-novel from author Rhys Astason, offers readers an intriguing mix of genetics bending sci-fi and smoldering romance. Add to that a tablespoon of infectious, wry humor and you've got a truly enjoyable read. I had a lot of fun while reading Water of Life. The main characters are strong and likeable and the scientific roots of the plot set-up may surprise you. For a romance novel, Astason's first book presents readers with an intriguing core concept. I won't spoil it for you, but I think you will find there is a lot more sci-fi in this book than you would expect out of a book the author describes as "a romance with light sci-fi elements." The first half of the book unfolds quite nicely and had me reading straight through in one sitting.
As a heroine, Gracen is sharp, witty, and brave. In a crisis, she doesn't wait for a hero to come whisk her away and make everything alright. Gracen actually ends up saving her hero's ass several times throughout the book. With such a strong heroine, many romance novels would have trouble producing a hero who is man enough. That is not the case here. Jackson is CRAZY hot with all his scars and service tattoos. He manages to be authoritative and stoic without being condescending and chauvinistic. And who doesn't love a sexy older man with the experience and body to make shiver and gasp? I call dibs! I officially claim him first for my book boyfriend harem!
The second half of the book, however, felt rushed and was less detailed leaving me confused. A lot is left unanswered and the "villain" isn't as well developed as I would have liked. I ended up not quite sure why he was doing what he was doing.I also would have liked to know more about the alien lifeforms that appear in the book. Again, no spoilers, so I will just say Astason only gets into their presence lightly leaving the reader very curious. There was so much unanswered actually that I emailed the author and inquired about a sequel. I was very excited to hear her reply:
"Yes to a sequel. I wrote it as the 'pilot' for a series. It was intended to leave questions out there..."
So while the book is short and a lot is left to question, a sequel that is in the works promises to fill in the gaps. Overall, I would have liked to see this book longer and more fleshed out, but as a pilot for a sci-fi romance series, it is still a very fun read. I was not ready to let go of Gracen and Jackson just yet and it looks like I won't have to! I will be looking forward to the sequel to find out more about these amazingly strong, funny, and wonderful characters Astason has created. (less)
After being saved by, and feeling up, a shadowy man in the alleyway behind her home, Miranda dreams steamy dreams of him every night. Three years later, the destitute status of her father forces her to marry The Dread Lord Archer, a darkly eccentric nobleman whose face is perpetually covered with a mask in public. He makes ladies faint in fright at the thought of what deformity he is hiding, but really he cares only for the affections of one lady in particular. The young lady he saved in that alleyway three years ago. The beauty marries the beast in an attempt to pay back her father for ruining him forever as a merchant with her dangerous gift. Can this beauty ever truly learn to love a beast?
I will begin by saying I absolutely adored this book! As a fan of historical romance and urban fantasy, I about died when I read the description for Firelight. A sassy heroine with supernatural skills forced to marry a mysterious masked man with a frightening reputation in Victorian London? Yes please! Usually, I bounce back and forth between a saucy historical romance and a gritty urban fantasy, however in this case, both of my cravings were equally and undeniable satisfied. Callihan's ability to place the reader directly in her world without getting too into the often tedious societal explanations is astonishing. I literally felt like I had jumped straight into Victorian London from page one. The world building is done flawlessly throughout the span of the novel as Miranda and Archer attempt to keep their secrets from each other. The third person perspective jumps from Archer to Miranda nicely offering readers intimate insights on each of the characters and their back stories. I ended up soaring right through this book and was left desperate for more. Not to say Miranda and Archer's story isn't wrapped up, it is, and very nicely so. Now to discuss my new favorite couple...
The chemistry between Miranda and Archer is incendiary! I can honestly say I have never been that hot and bothered over a near-kiss scene before. I mean, they don't even really kiss and I was fanning myself due to my furiously flushed face. The tone set between the two of them left my skin tingling in anticipation of the next heady moment.
“With the suddenness of a cat leaping upon its prey, he leaned forward and caught up her wrist. "Tread lightly, Miranda Fair." His thumb moved lightly over her fluttering pulse, as she stared with her mouth assuredly hanging open in shock, her heart beating furiously within her breast."You know, it's never wise to tempt the devil." His gaze lowered to her hand, still locked in his grip, her fingers glistening with pear juice. "Had I not this mask, I should be of a mind to suck that juice right off of your fingers.”
After ridiculously sexy scenes like this I was dying to get to the good stuff. The frustration Archer and Miranda felt at being so close to each other, but still kept at arms length due to their secrets was so palpable, I ended up writing this short poem to express my own longing.
Oh sweet frustration!
Oh agonizing fascination!
Oh desperately desiring delight!
Oh despair for I am doomed to die without Dread Lord Archer's dark dalliance!
And oh what dreams may come!
Archer's secret was definitely not what I was expecting, and a tad bit disappointing, however I think it is fair to say given such a wonderfully intriguing tool as a masked man, it is easy for what we imagine to be much wilder than reality. All in all, I am thoroughly impressed and delighted! Calihan has been added to my list of must have authors. I don't have too many series or authors that I will go right out and buy without seeing if the library has it first, however anything Callihan releases from now on will be sure to appear on my bookshelf!
To Be Continued? Absolutely! I will be impatiently, agonizing until book two, Moonglow, comes out in August! (less)
Dominic Paget awakens in the home of Julianne Greystone where he has been taken to receive care after being ghosted out of France by Julianne's smuggler brother, Jack. Dominic was shot in the back by an assassin, because, you see, Dom is an English spy working to help end the threat of the French Revolution. Unaware of his location, and the sympathies of the household, Dom pretends to be an officer in the French military, appealing to Julianne's Jacobin leanings. Will the love that forms between them survive his lie? Can two people on opposite sides of a war make their love work?
I didn't like this one as much as i thought I was going to. The prologue was very exciting and the concept intriguing, but the first half of the book really ruined it for me. The development of Julianne and Dominic's love while he is masquerading as Charles comes across as silly, fake, and over the top. Julianne's character is so naive. I get that she is innocent and doesn't really understand the world around her, but her thought processes come across very childish. Unfortunately, she makes for a very wimpy heroine and when paired with the very alpha Dominic, she just looks pathetic.
The second half of the book made this book more enjoyable for me because once Dom was no longer pretending to be Charles, I like him a lot more. I loved his uber alpha male attitude, for some reason, that cold exterior really did it for me. Plus, he doesn't baby Julianne at this point. I ended up enjoying the book just for him and the intrigue.
Speaking of intrigue, there wasn't much to begin with and I almost gave up and put this in the silly romance pile. However, the second half of the book makes up for this and brings to the table all sorts of plots, betrayals, and blackmail.
Even though I didn't like the heroine, I did enjoy the book as a whole. It was a very quick, and fun read once Dominic was unmasked. You could also see the author pulling the strings of characters who will star in books to come. Although this wasn't a great read for me, I will still be looking out for the next book. Sometimes, the first book in a series is just ok, but the rest ends up being amazing. I can see that being the case here. Plus, I want to read a romance staring the Greystone brothers! They sound dreamy! Lucas' blonde hair and grey eyes, Jack's roguishly charming demeanor! Oh and, Dom's ex-fiance, Nadine, just so happens to be lonely and in need! There is definitely lots of potential for future great reads there. (less)
This book was well written, well played out, and I believe will be well loved by romance fans of all kinds. I'm sure there are many amnesia themed romances out there, but this was my first one and I really enjoyed it. I felt like this book really stood out from the masses of historical romance out there in that the characters were wonderfully developed and the circumstances keeping our heroine and hero apart were more realistically observed. There was no magic solution. Society doesn't just look the other way like they do in most historical romances. Georgia actually has to work and make sacrifices in order to be with the man she loves.
I loved the incorporation of classic literature. It completely endeared the hero to me that he woke up from his accident thinking he was Robinson Crusoe. I respected the hero. Once he got his memories back, he didn't have a miraculous change of character. He was the same basic person who happened to learn some lessons about life and love. He didn't delude himself that he could make the ton accept lower class Georgia. He didn't say "Oh, what the hell!" in the name of love. He unselfishly considers the ramifications it would have on Georgia's happiness and well being. This wonderful fact gave Georgia the opportunity to be one of the strongest heroines I have ever read. I was so proud of her by the end. She never swooned and got her way. Everything she got, she had to bust her butt for.
Aside from the main characters, the supporting characters were also well written and well loved. From the hilariously creepy neighbor suffering from a bought of unrequited love, to Georiga's rough and tumble son-in-law, I found myself loving every character in this book.
My only complaint is that the ending was rushed. The majority of the book was fleshed out perfectly, engaging readers in the lives and circumstances of the characters. Georgia's plan to inflitrate the ton was such a fun idea. I really thought it could have been its own book, but wouldn't have minded Marvale making her book a bit longer to incorporate more of how Georgia and Roderick deceive the ton together. I felt cheated out of that part of the book.
Recommendation: Get cozy, make your favorite beverage, and get ready for a romance read that will take you across the emotional spectrum and leave you cheering for a strong heroine. No wilting violets here!(less)