Deuce was born in an enclave deep underground, and has been trained to be a Huntress. After her naming ceremony, she is paired with Fade, and older boy who is rumored to have been born topside. When news that a neighboring enclave has been wiped out by Freaks, humanoid mutants that menace the enclave’s borders, Deuce and Fade are sent to investigate. What they find is a slaughter unlike any they’ve ever seen, and questions that could alter their entire existence.
After standing up for a friend that has been framed for hoarding, Deuce and Fade are exiled to Topside, where Deuce will discover strength she never knew she had, and learn to rely on her growing bond with Fade. Once Topside, Deuce learns that not everything the enclave Elders taught was true, and Fade remembers what it was like to live aboveground. Among the gangers and roving bands of mutants, Deuce and Fade must fight for survival…and hope. Enclave is told from Deuce’s first person POV, and she is a tough, pragmatic, and smart heroine. I loved rooting for her as she fought through the many dangers thrown her way. Fade is a strong, quiet hero, and a perfect compliment to Deuce. Ann Aguirre’s descriptions of a burnt-out, ruined America are chilling, and Enclave is a wonderful novel of post apocalyptic survival and the bonds of friendship and love. Among the many recent dystopian releases, Enclave is a standout! Highly recommended! (less)
Sabina Kane, half vamp, half mage, and all kick-ass, is locked and loaded. Her grandmother, head vamp Lavinia Kane, wants her dead, and the feeling is mutual! Granny-from-Hell isn't the only one that wants her dead. An evil sect, the Caste of Nod, believes that Sabina is destined to unite the dark races, which would really put a damper on their plans to bring back the queen bitch herself, Lilith. Lavinia Kane has also taken one of the things that means the most to Sabina, her twin sister, Maisie. It will take everything Sabina's got to hunt down Lavinia and save her sister. With sexy mage Adam and loyal demon minion Giguhl at her side, what can go wrong? Right?
Green-Eyed Demon was hands down my favorite of the first three Sabina Kane books. Ms. Wells ratchets up the action to a feverish pace, and much of the story is set in New Orleans, which adds a rich, magic infused setting. This book has it all; faeries, weres, horny demon minions, vamps, mages, drag queens, zombies, voodoo, steamy romance, and did I say drag queens? Pulse pounding, action packed, with Ms. Wells' trademark snark, Green-Eyed Demon had me frantically turning the pages until the very end! (less)
A witch, and elf, and a pixie go on a roadtrip… Sounds like the start of a bad joke, right? Well, it’s not, it’s the basic premise of Kim Harrison latest Hollows novel, Pale Demon, which is anything but basic. Trent Kalamack needs Rachel to do him a “favor” and get him to Seattle in one piece. Rachel needs Trent to back her up at a coven meeting, where she is hoping to have her shunning rescinded, and Jenks, Rachel’s trusted partner and dear friend, is along for the ride. Throw Ivy, Rachel’s beautiful, and lethal, vampire friend into the mix, and you’ve got the recipe for a roller coaster ride of magical proportions!
Jenks gets pixie-napped in the desert, the gang tangles with a very nasty day-walking demon, the coven is on a mission to assassinate Rachel before she can get to her hearing, and Rachel finds out that Trent may not have been completely honest with her about just why it is that he needs to get to Seattle. Pale Demon is nonstop action from the start, and unlike other series,where things can start to flag at this point (9 books in), it’s just as good or even better than the previous books. Rachel has always had a bit of a struggle with her identity, but never more so than in Pale Demon. She uses dark magic for good ends, but the coven doesn’t condone dark magic of any kind, and Rachel desperately doesn’t want to be labeled a Black witch. She’ll have to come to grips with who she is, or an entire world could be destroyed. Kim Harrison has made me cry before with this series, but Pale Demon was an emotional roller coaster of the best kind. The author is a pro, her characterizations are perfect, and her ability to balance a complicated, emotional plot with just the right amount of action, is part of why I love this series. Rachel, Ivy, Jenks, Bis, Pierce and even Al and Trent are like family to me, and reading a Hollows novel is like coming home. I can’t wait to follow Rachel into her next adventure! (less)
I’m a huge Kelley Armstrong fan, and I love her Otherworld series, so I was curious to see how her new YA series would be! The novel begins a prologue in which Maya’s best friend, Serena, dies in a mysterious drowning in the local lake. An accident is one thing, but Serena is an accomplished swimmer, and when Maya jumps in to save her, she feels something trying to pull her under as well. We pick up again a year later, with Maya still trying to get over Serena’s death, and also help her other best friend (and Serena’s ex-boyfriend), Daniel, cope with it as well. Soon strange things begin happening in her tiny town, and questions of Maya’s birth begin to surface. Then there’s the sexy new guy, Rafe, who may be more than he seems…
The Gathering took a while to build up, which is fine, since it’s the first in a series, and I always appreciate a good back story so that I don’t feel out of the loop as the novel, and the action, progresses. The small town that Maya lives in, Salmon Creek, is a town owned by a wealthy family, the St. Clouds. The people that live there work in the drug research facility and their families are provided with housing and schooling. This added an element of mystery to the story, because you’re never quite sure if the research is completely legitimate. Maya is adopted, and the only thing she knows about her birth mother is that she is of Native descent. She has a special affinity for animals, and her Dad is a park ranger, so she also helps rehab and release injured wildlife. The story is told from Maya’s point of view, and she’s a suitably strong and sarcastic heroine, vulnerable at times, but also intelligent and more than capable of thinking on her feet. Most of the novel is spent unraveling the mystery of Maya’s origins, but the author has added enough action to move the story along nicely. Her best friend Daniel, who’s very protective of Maya, seems to have abilities of his own, and Rafe is one of the more intriguing teen love interests to come along in a while. Teens, and adults (especially fans of the Otherworld series) will find much to love here. There’s plenty of material to cover in future novels and after finishing The Gathering, you’ll want to go back to Salmon Creek for more! I know I do! (less)
Wild Magic by Ann Aguirre:Pearl, an uppercrust socialite in an age of steam and clockwork, discovers a door to Faery, and through a handsome fae named Pick, the secret of her own magic. Loved this one. (4)
Under Amber Skies by Maria V. Snyder-A young girl in wartime Poland discovers just what her father’s clockwork inventions are about, and the family secrets that may get her killed. (5)
The Vast Machinery of Dreams by Caitlin Kittredge:In the city of Lovecraft, where dark magic seethes and Elder Gods reign, a young writer falls in love with a beautiful girl that feeds on dreams…and may not be a girl at all…(4.5)
Tick, Tick, Boom by Keirsten White: Catherine, the daughter of an baron of industry has a penchant for building things that go boom. In her efforts to stop unfair labor practices, and those that further them (such as her father), she meets a man that makes her lips tingle, and will turn her world upside down. (5)
Rude Mechanicals by Lesley Livingston: Quintillius Farthing, a disillusioned thespian counting the minutes until his Uncle’s failing theatre closes, finally meets his perfect Juliet, a beautiful clockwork girl with copper filament hair and metallic skin. But will her Juliet be too realistic? (4)
The Cannibal Fiend of Rotherhithe by Frewin Jones: A rather disturbing tale of an evil man that kidnaps a mermaid and takes her as his wife. When she dies in childbirth, he raises the girl, Silka, shackled in a cage, telling her stories of how he will seek his true love in the big city. Around the time of her 15th birthday, Silka eats her father, breaks out of her shackles, and goes off to see her true love. During her journey, she meets all manner of men with less then honorable intentions, so she eats them too. Then she meets a thief named Toby, who teaches her a better way to live. Like I said, rather disturbing, but also sweet and probably one of my favorites of the bunch. (5)
Deadwood by Michael Scott: It’s 1868, and the independent Martha Burke sets out to search for her brothers who have disappeared after seeing work in the mines. On an airship, she meets the charming JW. When their airship makes an unscheduled landing in Deadwood, it will take all of their wits to get them out of Deadwood. (4)
Code of Blood by Dru Pagliassotti: In 1815 Venezia, a young girl that commands air elementals will do anything to save her grandfather and her city. (3.5)
The Clockwork Corset by Adrienne Kress: 16 year old tomboy Imogen recognizes her growing affections for her childhood friend, but what will she do when he is called away to war? Why, join up, of course! (4)
The Airship Gemini by Jaclyn Dolamore: Siamese twins and freak show performers Faith and Patience, are once again performing on the Gemini airship. When a powerful magician offers to separate them, and uses the fate of their dearest friend as leverage, can they possibly refuse? (4)
King of the Greenlight City by Tessa Gratton: In the City of Light, a boy that can fly and a girl intended for another fall in love, but will it be their undoing? (3.5)
The Emperor's Man by Tiffany Trent: Corporal Reed, of the Imperial House Guard, is charged with keeping Princess Athena safe in the magic filled woods during the Hunt, and he will find out a truth about Athena that will change his life forever. This was a magic and wonder-filled story! (4)
Chickie Hill's Badass Ride by Dia Reeves: Welcome to 1961 Portero. Join Chickie Hill and Sue Jean for one hell of a ride. Time travel, otherworldy creatures, and as the title suggests, one badass ride are the order of the day for a town that sits just this side of normal. (5) (less)
There’s a letter from Tricia Pasternack, a Del Rey editor, in the beginning of the Advance Reader’s Edition of Hounded, by Kevin Hearne. In it she describes something called the Kevin Hearne Effect, the rather magical feeling you get when one first starts Hounded, and that continues until the last page. When I started Hounded, I immediately knew exactly what she was talking about! Atticus O’Sullivan is a 1,200 year old Druid (biologically 21) who’s put down roots in Arizona and is living peacefully until a series of attacks shatter his quiet existence. You see, an ancient foe wants something Atticus has, and won’t stop until he gets it back.
Hounded is told from Atticus’ point of view, and what a delightful voice! Wry, witty, and charming, Atticus is my new hero, and in Hounded, we’re lucky enough to accompany him as he and his friends plan a showdown with this powerful foe. And what friends! Kevin Hearne has created an amazing cast of supporting characters, but my favorite by far is Oberon, Atticus’ Irish Wolfhound that he can communicate with using his mind. Oberon is a sweet, scene-stealing pleasure, and (at the risk of dating myself), reminds me quite a lot of Einstein, the canine with human intelligence in Dean Koontz’s Watchers. The banter between Atticus and Oberon made me laugh out loud, and Oberon is almost as big of a presence as Atticus! Add to that a death Goddess named Morrigan, the huntress Flidais, a vampire and a werewolf (both Atticus’ lawyers), a elderly, feisty neighbor that helps Atticus more than once, a coven of witches who may or may not have Atticus’ best interests at heart, a sword that is the source of Atticus’ problems, and you you’ve got the recipe for one of the best books of the year! In Atticus’ world, the Gods are alive and well, and aren’t afraid to make themselves known. Norse, Christian, Indian, you name it, they all exist, and if you have a love of Celtic myth, this is the book for you. The magic system is fascinating and unique and it’s obvious the author put quite a bit of time and research into exploring the history of Druids and Druid magic. Inevitable comparisons will be made to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and to me, that’s a good thing! I got to geek out a little with this one too, because there’s lots of references to Star Wars and other awesomeness! In a sea of female urban fantasy heroines, Atticus and his crew are a breath of fresh air! Fans of fantasy and urban fantasy will eat this one up, and the good news is that you won’t have to wait for books 2 and 3 to come out. Hexed and Hammered drop in June, and readers will be lining up to get their hands on them! Hounded is a series debut that is absolutely not to be missed! Keep an eye out for my reviews of Hexed and Hammered, coming soon!(less)
Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed Inside Out and was hoping Outside In would be as good. Well, I wasn't disappointed! After leading the rebellion of the scrubs, Trella is thrown into a world of political maneuvering, decision making, and delegation that she wants no part of. She just wants to be with her boyfriend Riley, and continue exploring the huge cube that she's spent her entire life in, hoping to find areas to expand their living quarters. Soon, riots are breaking out, no one wants to perform the tasks that kept their world running, and Trella no longer knows who to trust. When a threat from the Outside comes calling, Trella is forced to re-evaluate everything she believes in and everyone she thought she could trust.
Outside In is fast paced and full of action, and the novel actually stands on it's own. Ms. Snyder provides enough background that even someone that hasn't read Inside Out would be able to follow Outside In without a problem, although I would definitely suggest reading Inside Out first. There are many exciting moments, moments of genuine terror, and in the Outsiders, the author has given us a creepy new threat that is a great addition to the story! The suspense is unrelenting and I managed to stay up way too late finishing this one because I just couldn't put it down! This is a sci-fi, dystopian thriller you won't want to miss!(less)
After her death in 1999, 18 year old Amelia has existed in limbo, her spirit haunting the only place she knows; the river under High Bridge Road. When Joshua Mayhew accidently drives his car off of the bridge, Amelia saves him, but not until after he dies for a brief moment. Now Joshua can see Amelia, and in an instant, a bond forms between them. Amelia can remember nothing of her life, but in spending time with Joshua, she begins to remember, and he’s eager to help her regain some idea of who she was before she died. When the dark, sly Eli appears, hinting to Amelia that her soul may just belong in a darker place, among other lost souls, he threatens to tear Amelia away from Joshua, and brings up questions about her entire existence, and the nature of her death.
I thoroughly enjoyed Tara Hudson’s debut novel. Told from the perspective of Amelia, the narrative is well paced and fits the story perfectly. We go along with Amelia as she falls in love with Joshua, discovers who she was in life, and more importantly, who she is in death. We also experience her feelings of helplessness as the conniving Eli attempts to pull Amelia into his dark world. The story unfolds perfectly and certainly kept me turning the pages. Amelia’s sweet romance with Joshua will certainly appeal to teens (and me too!), and there was plenty of mystery to keep the suspense going. I will most definitely look forward to Ms. Hudson’s next novel!(less)
I wasn’t sure about this one to start. Don’t get me wrong, Tempest Maguire is charming, and I love the California setting (ocean, beach boys, surfin’ hotties, oh my!), but it had its foot firmly in teenland. It is a YA novel, after all, so that’s ok, but sometimes my 34 year old self has trouble going quite that far back. Then of course you have the boyfriend/girlfriend on-again/off-again angst and the ubiquitous love triangle. There’s Mark, the boy that Tempest has known for years, comfortable, protective, and oh-so-safe. Then we meet Kai, who rises out of the ocean like the otherworldly hottie that, of course, he is. Instant attraction between Tempest and Kai ensues, Mark spits fire in jealousy, and we’re off!
Tempest is turning 17, and for most of us, that means, usually, another year of high school (hopefully relatively painless), and enjoying dating and friends. For Tempest, it means she’s grown gills and may or may not be turning into a mermaid. She also has to make the decision to go mermaid and take to the ocean, or stay human…or does she? When Kai gets pulled under the ocean by a sea witch, Tempest goes after him, and this is where the book really took off for me!
When I was 19, I went to Cozumel, Mexico, and remember how amazing the water was, a whole other world of beauty unfolding underneath me. I had no trouble imagining the wonder that Tempest felt as she descended the ocean depths and discovered an entire underwater city, full of beings that she’d only imagined! Tempest Rising is told in first person from Tempest’s POV, and the author writes a relatively believable 16-going-on-17 voice. Teens will love this book, because, let’s face it, what teen girl wouldn’t want to A) Live on the beach in California (in a house with lots of glass, better to enjoy the ocean views) B)Have a former pro surfer dad that now has a highly successful surf and clothing line C)Have lots of hottie surfer guy friends (with two of them fighting over you) and D) Yes, you’d have gills, but…underwater cities! Awesome tattoos that appear by themselves! I realize I sound flip, but Tempest Rising is chock full of stuff that teen girls will adore, and I’ll be honest, I enjoyed too! This, er, not-teen girl had loads of fun with Tempest’s imaginative story, and also the pleasure of reading a novel where there wasn’t a werewolf or vampire in sight! Blasphemy, I know, and while I loves me some were and vamp fun, sometimes a break is nice, and Tempest Rising was a refreshing teen fantasy! (less)
Cass Dollar is lost and afraid, in a zombie wasteland. After waking up with her hair pulled out, skin flayed and raw, and at a loss as to where she is, she wanders the ruins until she comes across a young girl with a knife. This girl will lead her to a shelter, on of the last human outposts after bioterrorists have decimated the world, and left diseased, skin eating zombies, roaming and devouring. At the shelter she meets Smoke, and he offers to accompany her to find her young daughter, who was lost when Cass was attacked. What comes next is a harrowing journey to find her child, and her battle with the demons within herself.
Yes, Aftertime has zombies. Shambling, flesh-eating, rotting zombies. However, this is not a book about zombies. It’s a book about a broken woman’s journey to redemption. Cass is at once tough and resourceful, yet so raw and tangled inside. A recovering alcoholic, once using her body to quiet the despair within her, Cass must gather her wits in order to get back the one thing that means everything to her: her daughter.
Beautifully written, and emotionally wrenching, Aftertime is a post apocalyptic novel of despair, courage, and redemption that you won’t want to miss. I was riveted until the very last page!(less)
It’s been years since Darri’s sister Callie was taken to Ghostland to marry the prince and solidify a political relationship between their people. Darri blames herself every day for allowing Callie to be taken away, and vows to bring her home. When Darri turns 17 and her father decides to offer her as the prince’s bride instead, she sees her chance to rescue Callie and bring her home for good. Instead, when Darri and her brother arrive in Ghostland, nothing is as it seems, and Darri could never have guessed that maybe Callie doesn’t want to be rescued.
I really enjoyed this novel! This was my introduction to Leah Cypess and I was so glad I picked it up! Ms. Cypess creates a world where the living and the dead live side by side, in not so perfect harmony, court intrigue abounds, and no one can be trusted! Lost of adventure, and a hint of romance round out a very nicely crafted fantasy! I’ll definitely be back for more from this author! (less)
M.J. Putney’s debut YA novel is an absolute delight that I devoured in one sitting! When 16 year old Lady Victoria “Tory” Mansfield’s magic powers are exposed during a life or death situation, she is exiled to Lackland Abbey, where mages are said to be “cured” so they can return to their wealthy families to regain a small semblance of their dignity. In 1803, magic use is frowned upon by the upper echelons, while the middle and lower class thinks nothing of using powers they consider a privilege to have. Once at Lackland, Tory discovers a group of rebels determined to develop their magic so they may be of service to England during the threat of invasion from Napolean’s forces. When she joins with this courageous group of students, she will learn what it means to be needed, and realizes that the home and life she hoped to return to may not be her destiny.
Dark Mirror was such a great read, and Ms. Putney adds an exciting twist that will keep you turning the pages until the very end. Full of magic, adventure, and a dash of romance, against a lush 19th century setting, and the chaos of WWII England, Dark Mirror will please readers of all ages. Tory is a lovely heroine, and I loved getting to know her new friends at Lackland Abbey. I’m notoriously picky when it comes to YA, and I loved it.(less)
After his mother is killed in a freak accident, 16 yr old Joey Crouch is sent to live with the father he never knew in rural Iowa. Devastated and shell-shocked, Joey is further disheartened to learn that his father is known locally as “The Garbage Man” and lives in a filthy, smelly shack. Tormented at every turn by school bullies, Joey struggles to find his place. When he finally learns exactly what it is that his father does for a living, he is at once horrified and fascinated, and realizes his life is about to change forever.
Rotters is a hard book to classify. It’s listed as YA, but has themes that might be a bit beyond a younger reader. I would most definitely recommend it to older teens. It will take someone with a fairly strong stomach to get through some of the passages, but the writing is superb, and Kraus’ take on teenage angst is probably a lot closer to the truth than most parents would like to think. Joey is absolutely tortured at school. Some of the things he’s subjected to horrified me at times, but, as I said, I wouldn’t be surprised if this kind of thing happens to kids on a daily basis. Kids are cruel, and that cruelty is part of what drives Joey to embrace the unusual lifestyle that his father has chosen. Joey’s dad is a Digger, part of a long, rich history of grave robbers, and after Joey follows him to a job one night, he starts accompanying his father on digs, and is drawn into a world unlike which he’s never known. To his surprise, Joey discovers an affinity for the trade, and there begins his adventure. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, and was fascinated right through to the shocking ending!
Kraus manages to take an unusual, taboo subject and turn it into a fascinating, horrifying, and sometimes heartwrenching read. When Joey was being tormented at school, I felt it. When he labors over his first dig, fingers bleeding, body aching, drenched with sweat, I was there. I imagined I could smell the grave rot, and the stench that clung to Joey and his father after a job, and permeated their house. Kraus is that good. If you haven’t discovered this writer yet, what, exactly, are you waiting for? (less)
I don’t want to live in the world that Mira Grant described in Feed, and now in Deadline.
I don’t want to live in a house that has tiny windows, so that anything about 40lbs can’t get through, or have to endure blood tests at every entry or exit.
I don’t want to never again experience the joy of an open air concert or festival.
I don’t want to not be able to offer comfort to a stranger by giving them a hug, or holding their hand.
I don’t want to live in a world where I might have to shoot someone I love to save them from a fate worse than death.
This is the world put forth by the author, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Almost 30 years after the cure for the common cold turned into hell on wheels, the world is still recovering from the devastation. Some parts of the world will never be reclaimed, and the effects of this disease roam the wilds, seeking to infect and feed. In Deadline, news blogger Shaun Mason is our narrator, and still hasn’t recovered from events that affected him and his team in the worst possible way. When a CDC doctor fakes her own death and shows up, asking for his help, all hell breaks loose…again. He’s now on a mission to uncover a vast government conspiracy that could affect the whole of humanity and will uncover secrets that will certainly change his life, and those he cares for, forever...and he has nothing to lose.
If you haven’t yet discovered this superb series by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire), then you’re in for a wild ride. Feed and Deadline feature some of the best post-apocalyptic writing that I’ve read, hands down. Not just zombie books, these novels explore the nature of fear in all its forms and will take you on an emotional roller coaster that will haunt you for days after you’ve stopped reading. The characterizations are phenomenal, and the attention to detail is no less than it was in Feed. Sometimes it’s hard to follow up such amazing work, and sometimes second novels in a series suffer a bit. Not Deadline. It’s just as good as Feed, and you’ll find yourself plowing through this 600+ page novel in no time. I missed quite a bit of sleep finishing this one up. Was it worth it? Totally. (less)
Well, I was afraid that Wither wouldn’t live up to the hype, but I really did find myself enjoying this strange, creepy, and lyrical novel. In a future where boys only live until their 25th birthday, and girls only live to 20, 16 year old twins Rhine and Rowan Ellery live a tenuous existence after their geneticist parents are killed in a lab explosion. Human DNA tampering , in an effort to create “perfect” humans, has created a virus that now causes people to live a fraction of their former life expectancy.
One night, Rhine is kidnapped by Gatherers, men tasked with stealing brides for wealthy landowners so that they can hopefully breed healthy, virus-free children. In Rhine’s case, she is taken to the home of Linden Vaughn, and his eccentric (and creepy crawly inducing) father, who is a doctor that claims to be working on a cure for the virus. Along with her sister wives, 13 yr. old Cecily and 18 yr. old Jenna, Rhine enters a world of wealth and priviledge, but soon discovers that this gilded cage is just that, a prison of terrifying proportions. As she watches her world fall apart around her, and misses her brother, she begins to plan her escape, at any cost.
Wither is written wonderfully, and the author left quite a bit to the imagination, which is a good thing, and goes a long way toward fostering the creepy, rather claustrophobic, atmosphere intended with the insular environment she created. Rhine narrates the story, and manages to convey the terror, fear, and frustration she feels on a daily basis, interspersed with moments of genuine joy and happiness. At times she starts to lose herself, and it’s those times that made me think about the power of our environment, and how we’re shaped. There’s even a hint of romance as Rhine begins to form a relationship with a servant named Gabriel, who she enlists to help her plot her eventual escape. I fell in love with Rhine, and the strong willed, street savvy Jenna. I even fell for the young, naïve Cicely, who, raised in an orphanage, never knew love and readily clung to the illusion of security and “home” that was presented to her on a silver platter upon arriving at the mansion. I urge you to give this one a try! I’ll be looking forward to more from Lauren DeStefano!(less)
I’m a big fan of Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series and of course, her Morganville Vampire Series, so when I found out she had a brandy new one coming out, I was very excited! Working Stiff is a big departure from her other series. There’s not a bit of magic to be found, for one, and it definitely veers into light sci-fi territory (which is totally cool with me.) Bryn Davis is a 26 year old Iraqi War vet who takes a job as a funeral director, a job that doesn’t suit many, but since the dead don’t bother her, she thinks it might be a good fit. If the owner seems a bit off, and there’s a creep working as the downstairs man, well, Bryn’s no stranger to handling herself, so no big deal, right? Things seem to be going along alright until she’s held at gunpoint by an unknown intruder and realizes that there might be a lot more going on at Fairview then just funerals. During the melee, Bryn is suffocated to death, and resurrected using a highly valuable new drug involving nanotechnology. She’s not a zombie, she’s just in a permanent state of stasis, that must be maintained by the drug. She’s immediately recruited by Pharmadene to help them find out who’s been supplying the drug to the funeral home. If she doesn’t help them, her supply of the drug that’s keeping her alive will be cut off, and she needs a shot every day. Can you imagine it? If she doesn’t get her shot, she will begin to decompose and eventually, die. Yeah, not a pretty thought, and one that Bryn gets very close and personal to at one point in the book.
Ms. Caine spends much of the first half of Working Stiff setting up Bryn’s world. I really enjoyed the fact that Bryn, who certainly knows her way around a gun, and combat, from the military, she’s not a superhuman chick. In fact, she’s very, very human, and her new condition highlights that even more. There are two men helping her in her mission for Pharmadene; Joe Fideli and Patrick McCallister. They both have their own agendas separate from Pharmadene, and at first, Bryn is unsure of who she can trust. Don’t worry, she’ll soon learn, and her attraction to McCallister made for a nice little emotional push and pull that lasted the length of the book. Working Stiff reminded me a bit of early Dean Koontz (this is a good thing.) It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why, but if you know his work, you might know what I mean. There’s plenty of action and things really kick into high gear (seriously, she brings the awesome) in the second half. It didn’t emotionally engage me like the Weather Wardens, but it’s a completely different novel. I like Bryn,and I’ll look forward to seeing where Ms.Caine takes her. Working Stiff is a fun start to a brand new series!(less)
Shiarra is keeping busy with her PI business and planning a few days vacation with her boyfriend (and werewolf) Chaz. Wrenches are already being tossed into the works, however, when she begins getting messages from Royce and the White Hats that indicate something big might be going down, and a certain pesky reporter waylays her outside of her office with similar cryptic indications. Chaz and Shia head to a ski retreat in the Catskills, hoping for a fun getaway as well as a place for the Sunstrikers to enjoy some freedom. Their idyllic vacation takes a turn when their room is trashed and threatening notes keep appearing .Shia is resolved to get to the bottom of the harassment, much to Chaz’s chagrin, and when she’s kidnapped by one of the pack, all hell breaks loose. Ms. Haines brought her A-game with DTBO. Shia still feels like a fish out of water with the pack, but she’s not afraid to stand her ground (sometimes with disastrous results). Challenged on all sides by pack members that don’t like her because of her association with Royce, Shia must stand up for herself and there’s a particularly satisfying scene where she smacks down a female member of the pack that’s out for her blood. Shia still has a penchant for running off on her own and getting into trouble, and her stubbornness can definitely be a hindrance, but it’s one of the things I like best about her. Chaz and the pack have new enemies in the Nightstrikers, a group of weres that fancy themselves the nemesis of the Sunstrikers. The Nightstrikers provide some laughs and some surprising moments, and there are some great twists that left me with my jaw on the floor. Shocking secrets will come out and Shia’s entire world, and everything she thought was true, may come crashing down around her. Deceived was my favorite of the three, and you should be prepared for some shockers! I can’t wait for the next novel in this series!(less)
*Please note: My review is relatively spoiler free, but assumes you've read Song of Scarabaeus. It might be a bit confusing if you haven't:)
Children of Scarabaeus picks up a week after Song of Scarabaeus, with Edie slowly withering away, her body deprived of the drug she needs to stay alive: Neuroxin, distilled from the native plantlife of her homeworld, Talas. If Edie dies, so will Finn, as the chip inside of his head that links them explodes. Aided by Cat Lancer, pilot and ally, she and Finn are on the run from the Crib, who wants Edie back at any cost. They plan to fly to the Fringe, and use the cryptoglyph Finn is carrying in his head to help liberate the Fringe worlds from their reliance on Crib technology.
The trio hitches a ride on a ship filled with migrant workers in cryosleep, waiting to be awakened when someone needs their particular skill. Edie is understandably terrified at the idea of being put into cryosleep for an indefinite period, but Cat sets the timer for 15 months, and Edie creates bios and skillsets for them so that they might be awakened earlier. Unfortunately, the Crib finds Edie, and 13 months after going into cryosleep, she finds herself on a Crib vessel, at the mercy of Natesa, the woman that can force her to use her skills to further the plans of the Crib and systematically turn ecosystems across the universe into the “Terran ideal”. Edie discovers that Natesa is training a new batch of children to see “an ecosystem in flux as damaged, and the Terran ideal as the cure,” and when she realizes that they aren’t afraid to use the children for more nefarious means, the stakes all of a sudden become much, much higher.
I adored Sara Creasy’s first novel, Song of Scarabaeus, and was more than eager to revisit Edie and Finn’s universe. Children of Scarabaeus is just as good, and I think I liked it even more than the first! The passion between Edie and Finn burns through the pages, and the frustration they feel as the mental leash keeps them from consummating their relationship is palpable. I rooted for Edie and Finn from the start, and Finn’s need to protect Edie, as well as her desperation to keep him close to her and safe makes everything they go through that much more urgent. When Natesa finds the infojack that created the leash and is ordered to cut it, Edie is terrified this could kill Finn, not to mention the thought that he might choose to leave her behind. The real shocker comes when Edie learns of widespread famine in the Central world, and the project that she’s assigned to is designed to prop up these worlds for a limited amount of time, after which the ecosystems will completely fail. How can Edie possibly stop this from happening, without killing herself and her friends in the process?
I love the science and world building in these novels. When Edie jacks into the datastream, the pathways of an ecosystem are like “music”, and you can almost visualize the zipping, soaring colors as Edie works her magic. The author’s descriptives are also so good that a relative sci-fi newbie (like me) can easily keep up with the narrative without feeling out of the loop. I’ve had this happen before with “hard” sci-fi, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Not that there’s anything wrong with the genre, but I ended up concentrating so hard on trying to understand a fraction of the science that I couldn’t enjoy the story. Not so with Sara Creasy’s work. And the story is the best thing about these books. Wonderful character development, a lush, fleshed out environment, suspense, romance, and a multi-layered storyline makes for great reading! Sara Creasy is an auto-buy for me, and I’ll look forward to getting my hands on her next book! (less)