Category Archives: 2✰

Review: On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane

The choices I had made led to the moment when fate took over. I would learn a lesson I wasn’t prepared for. And Death would be my willing teacher.

Five years ago, Abbey Chandler cheated Death. She survived a horrific car accident, but her “lucky” break came at the expense of her mother’s life and changed everything. After she crossed paths with Death—by taking the hand of an ethereal boy made of clouds and sky—she would never be normal again.

Now she’s the target of Death’s ravens and an innocent boy’s life is on the line. When Nate Holden—Abbey’s secret crush—starts to climb Alaska’s Denali, the Angel of Death stalks him because of her.

And Abbey finds out the hard way that Death never forgets.

On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane

Release Date: 27 December 2011
Read Date: 3 December 2011
Rating:

I’m torn. There are some brilliant aspects to this book but it was dreadfully slow. I dragged myself through because after figuring out the Meet Joe Black angle I was curious to know if it would end the same way. It didn’t. Actually, it took an unexpected yet not unwelcome turn that may not be liked by the masses.

Abbey is excellently portrayed. Her predicament: the ever-present crushing guilt over her mother’s death, the growing distance between her and her father, and her misplaced obsession with Nate (the jock who has an obsession of his own with mountain climbing) resulting from her inability to deal with her guilt, wallowing in it instead of moving on with her life. So she imagines this fictitious romantic relationship with him to help her deal with reality. It comforts her. Yes, it’s sort of creepy. She was one step away from becoming a full-on stalker but I understood her crush and empathised.

Her only company was her best friend Tanner but she hadn’t revealed much about her mother’s death and how she felt about it to him. He had his own hang-ups. He’d also been in a tragic accident but he hadn’t been so lucky; he was paralysed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. I enjoyed reading Tanner’s POV, witnessing how he was treated by others, how his relationships had suffered and the difference in how Abbey treats him. Without pity. She understands how it is for him without even asking.

‘Being loners might have drawn us together out of necessity, but it was our friendship that had made us strong enough to come out the other side.’

Kind of reminds me of The Dream-Maker’s Magic.

The story is all about Abbey’s transition. Realising that she’s tired of being unhappy, of pretending, lying and hiding. She wants to live. It’s a great message and I liked the method in which it was conveyed, reminiscent of Riders of the Apocalypse. Love, and the selfish versus the altruistic needs, wants and decisions we make based on that love were also expertly demonstrated. FYI, love’s a bitch.

“Dealing with guilt and grief doesn’t leave much room for anything else. I know about that dark stuff, but one day if you’re really lucky, you get tired of feeling bad all the time. It’s like a curtain opens and light comes in. First, it’s only a sliver. Then more.”

However, it’s not all smooth sailing. Besides being slow I really struggled to remain interested whenever we joined Nate’s dangerous climb up the mountain. Since seeing Cliffhanger as a child I never even contemplated doing something so unnecessarily hazardous. Rescue teams must love those guys. Anyway, when the Angel of Death does his Joe Black thing to Nate I cringed at his interactions with Abbey. Perhaps it was realistic given her crush but the way she sort of accepted not-Nate’s behaviour was uncomfortable to read. I wanted her to push harder when she called him on it, which would’ve sped up proceedings.

Death had been dealt a bum hand, poor guy. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. As powerful as he was he couldn’t control everything and he wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes. The mythology surrounding Death was intriguing. He’s sort of a swallower of souls, holding them inside him for safe-keeping until the day he’s the last one to die. But each soul changes him, for better or worse and this is what prompts him to make contact with Abbey. The ravens were a nice touch -suitably eerie.

As for the romance, well this is tricky. How much to say? There are three potential boyfriends, I guess. One from Abbey’s past, her present and future. And the most obvious is not the guy Abbey chooses, and I’m glad of this. Some might not be pleased but just this one aspect makes On a Dark Wing unique, for multiple reasons. The resolution at end was well done. I can definitely see people reacting in that manner to such an extraordinary situation although the lead-up to the climax was a little ludicrous.

Would I recommend this to anyone? Well, I didn’t hate this book and I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading it. In fact, I might warn them it’s slow but I’d encourage them to read to the end because I think the effort just might be worth it.

***Thank you to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.***

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Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone – one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship – tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1) by Beth Revis

Release Date: 11 January 2011
Read Date: 26 September 2011
Rating:

Lessons learned:

Never trust HISTORY.
Never trust DOCTORS.
Never trust SCIENTISTS.
Never trust TECHNOLOGY.
Never trust BLANKET MEDICATION.

Overall my experience with this book was like meeting and falling in love, being excited and happy, then slowly finding out that he’s not perfect. He drinks out of the milk carton, he ignores you in favour of sports events and when you finally get his clothes off he’s as smooth as a Ken doll but insists he can still have children. Then finding out he’s right he can make babies, just not the same enjoyable way everyone else does, which is confusing and unsatisfying.

If you’re going to write science fiction, could you at least research the science? Please, please get your facts right, if you don’t then you must sell this as fantasy not SF.

I assumed, not even 50% in, that I was reading unscientific science fiction i.e. fantasy. As far as I was concerned the author had made little attempt to research certain aspects of her story so why was I wasting my time reading it? I was THIS close to giving up. It was almost as disastrous as my experience with the scientifically unsound I am Number Four. Little did I know that if I had given up, I would’ve missed out on the explanations which magically fixed many of the obstacles that I’d previously believed were unquestionably insurmountable because science told me so, and therefore the cure-all bandage Revis slaps on the problems didn’t sit right with me. They were hard to accept in the face of catastrophically fatal situations. There is a lesson in this: if it reads like unintelligent drivel some readers may give up on your work before you make the big reveal that attempts to explain the drivel.

Amy’s character is well-drawn and her memories and emotions are brilliantly portrayed. I had some difficulty with Elder’s character but his personality was a result of Eldest’s manipulation and his awakening is caused by Amy’s inquisitiveness and tenaciousness. I was glad he was finally able to see the truth of things.

Harley and his girlfriend were an excellent examples of people not being able to cope under the pressure of living on the claustrophobic ship surrounded by fakery (there is no substitute for the real thing) because despite his mood swings and obsession problem they were both perfectly sane, despite being labelled crazy.

It was completely understandable the almost absurd lengths Eldest went to to impose and maintain the many methods of manipulation in order for everyone to survive. Survival was imperative. Quality of life means nothing in the face of that. Or does it? And that’s what this questions.

This society may not believe in any religion as we know it but they do have religion: hope. Hope is their “opium of the masses” (a Marxist philosophy on the merits of religion) which is a method of control. By giving the people hope that their sacrifices will ensure that their children will be the ones to one day see real sky above their heads and feel earth beneath their feet, keeps them going, keeps them working, living, breathing. Without hope what is there?

There are moments, scenes, words of wisdom -that are pure genius and others where I felt baffled, confused and angry when I think I’m reading utter crap. Ideas have been stolen from movies like Serenity (Phydus is Pax) and the less popular Demolition Man (being conscious in cryo) which makes me wonder how much of this book is original. There is no romance despite the cover (Elder is interested in Amy but not vice versa), and we know who the killer is before the search even begins. Bevis gets the human element right but the science and mystery completely wrong. It’s a real mixed bag and it’s difficult for me to determine my position on this book, positive or negative. A five star beginning graduating to a one star ending?

Timeline of my reading experience (i.e. like status updates)

**SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!**

~ Hooked by page 10 and in love by page 11. I am in love. And I am not a cheap date. But why don’t they knock ’em out before starting the freezing process? Much less painful and traumatising. This is not something I’d want to go through.

~ I’d want my extra year on Earth back too, honey, but life ain’t fair. Best you learn that now. You chose this, I wouldn’t have. Deal with it.

~ Reminded of the movie Demolition Man (and a little of The Matrix) here. They’re both conscious during their cryo state. How does she not go crazy?

~ Jarred by the second POV, Amy is more than enough for me. I like her. I like her a lot. I want her to live. So why does she never get her blood back during reanimation? She’s literally blue-blooded now. She IS a freak!

~ Frexing? Brilly? Chutz? Are there only three new words in 250 years? That’s unrealistic. Language in the 1760s was different to today. The author probably should’ve left these out instead of calling attention to it.

~ Why do they repeatedly say the generational Elder between Elder Jnr and Eldest is dead? He’s obviously not. And he’s probably the killer.

~ I’ve noticed a small thing and it’s got me thinking about the science in this science fiction. The plague killed off many, decreasing the on-board free-range population to the 700s -this is where I couldn’t help but question the MVP (minimum viable population). Taking into consideration the 100 frozen battery humans, I do a quick Google search and the result is not good. Extinction, a foregone conclusion. In theory you need more than 3,000 individuals for a species to survive. So why read the rest? Because I’m in lurve and this will be amazing. Nothing will spoil this. Nothing!

~ I like fresh air. *opens window*

~ That old man. He’s going to heaven sooner than he thinks, isn’t he? I just know it. Well, that solves the pensions crisis.

~ Um, if incest is an issue with such a small population, why is everyone indiscriminately bonking? Be ready for the possibility of birth defects in the next generation. Also, why are those in their twenties the only ones to go through their Season? Shouldn’t everyone older as well as the supposed crazies plus Amy, Elder, Eldest, Doc etc. be bonking their brains out?

~ Halfway in and we’ve turned away from a possible romance as advertised on the cover and we’re ignoring Elder’s boner around Amy’s red hair. No, now we’re solving a murder. Whaaaaat? Elder is all talk. I thought he was going to use that boner to show Eldest who’s boss. Er, that didn’t come out right. I meant, he was going defy Eldest by making love to that (girl with the) beautiful red hair and then usurp/depose Eldest. Oh, and quietly but quickly solve the whodunnit. Elder is a disappointing hero.

~ I liked my priorities. Why aren’t my priorities Amy’s priorities. Look, love, you’ve been frozen for centuries, without boys, there’s a cute muscley one in front of you, you have hormones, go get ‘im!

~ She refuses to listen. We must find clues to who likes to unplug frozen people. Yawn. We, the reader, all ready know who it is, why bother? There is no mystery to solve for us but we have to watch and wait for the characters slowly put things together. Tedious.

~ Let’s get rid of the Hitler-worshipping Nazi instead, shall we? Anything but crime-solving. Anything! A threesome with Harley? It promises to be colourful and sticky. Well, more sticky. No? *whines*

~ CSI:Godspeed is on the job!

~ Those fingerprints tell me the Eldest/Elders are clones. I wonder how this came to be and how they’re brought to term if they have no mothers.

~ Soon there’ll be no frozens left to help colonise Centauri. This ship is doomed.

~ Dragggggging. Not much happening.

*flips to the back*

Oh, a map. I didn’t know there was one.

*reads the last 40 pages*

That’s it?! That’s how it ends?! But…but that was too easy. No mystery to it, and I was right all along. No surprises, no realisation that they’re on a failed mission.

Amy should’ve stayed on Earth, run the New York marathon and married Jason. That was obviously her heart’s desire. Her father knew that, it’s a shame she didn’t. Mind you, it wasn’t fair of him to give her the choice at the last minute. She made a decision under pressure and panic had her following her parents.

*back to reading, well, skimming…*

~ Attempted rape. I thought Elder said there was no crime now. Hormones are no excuse.

‘And I know without being told that she killed herself. And I totally understand why.’ Me too. I don’t envy their lives.

~ Incest and MVP problem solved but not in a way I completely accept although I’m feeling very wary of medicine and scientists right now.

~ They’ve been travelling for more than 300 years. The Plague –suicide, murder, riots, chaos. A never-ending journey. 250 years behind schedule. I was right, they are doomed!

”People will survive anything for their children.”

p336 ~ The seasons, the generations and other methods of manipulation all make more sense now.

“We’re just pawns. A means to an end. Toys you manufacture to keep playing your game.”

The 3 main causes of discord:

1) Difference

2) Lack of leadership

3) Individual thought

~ SERENITY! – A big whopping dose of the movie, Serenity. Pax = Phydus. No reavers but the other effect of the Pax in varying doses is exactly the same as Phydus. Small doses = calm, large does = death)

~ Recycling. They recycle EVERYTHING. People are treated like things. *gulp*

‘[…] I realize the simple truth is that power isn’t control at all-power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to stand on their own.’ p344.

I’ve read the end so…THE END.

*******I apologise for the extra long review but it was the only way to illustrate my frustrations.*******

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Review: Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

There can only be one alpha.

Bryn is finally settling into her position as alpha of the Cedar Ridge Pack—or at least, her own version of what it means to be alpha when you’re a human leading a band of werewolves. Then she finds a teenage boy bleeding on her front porch. Before collapsing, he tells her his name is Lucas, he’s a Were, and Bryn’s protection is his only hope.

But Lucas isn’t part of Bryn’s pack, and she has no right to claim another alpha’s Were. With threats—old and new—looming, and danger closing in from all sides, Bryn will have to accept what her guardian Callum knew all along. To be alpha, she will have to give in to her own animal instincts and become less human. And, she’s going to have to do it alone.

Bryn faces both the costs, and the rewards, of love and loyalty, in this thrilling sequel to Raised by Wolves.

Trial by Fire (Raised by Wolves #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Release Date: 2 August 2011
Read Date: 8 October 2011
Rating:

I’m disappointed by this sequel. I don’t feel I should be. Objectively speaking, the plot is a good one. It’s based on an ethical dilemma with no obvious answer and where gaining advice is problematic. The struggle, Bryn’s journey as alpha is what this is about but I just couldn’t seem to care. It was slow for the most part and I became bored.

Despite Lucas’s situation being a sympathetic one, I didn’t like him. I didn’t necessarily want to see him dead but I needed a reason other than his ultimate death to care about Bryn helping him at the possible detriment of her pack.

I’m also disappointed that Barnes didn’t use this sequel as an opportunity to bring depth to certain characters, Chase in particular. He was the main reason I didn’t give Raised By Wolves a higher rating i.e. 5 stars, simply because he was an unknown. We knew nothing about him and I was hoping his story would unfold here. It didn’t. I know little time has passed between books and Bryn is busy caring for the pack but they still spend time together, mostly in silence which was maddening.

The part of the book that I found intriguing was the ending simply because it meant Bryn was forced to make a life and death decision, and she chose death. It was the right choice but it was a painful one which resulted in the loss of a valuable pack member.

Callum’s warning in the form of a horse carving meant nothing until the end so I understood Bryn’s frustration with him even though his hands were tied by fate and politics to do more than he did to help.

I am glad the Bryn has acknowledged the need to one day become wolf because even though she is strong as human, she’s vulnerable, too.

Overall, I believe the writing lets this book down. Trial By Fire could’ve easily been a five star read if the writing had been tighter, faster paced with more character development. I’m not eager to read the next book but if my library order it I probably will in the vain hope these problems will be addressed.

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Review: Spider’s Revenge by Jennifer Estep

Old habits die hard. And I plan on mur­der­ing some­one before the night is through.

Killing used to be my reg­u­lar gig, after all. Gin Blanco, aka the Spi­der, assassin-for-hire. And I was very good at it. Now, I’m ready to make the one hit that truly mat­ters: Mab Mon­roe, the dan­ger­ous Fire ele­men­tal who mur­dered my fam­ily when I was thir­teen.

Oh, I don’t think the mis­sion will be easy, but turns out it’s a bit more prob­lem­atic than expected. The bitch knows I’m com­ing for her. So now I’m up against the army of lethal bounty hunters she hired to track me down. She also put a price on my baby sister’s head. Keep­ing Bria safe is my first pri­or­ity. Tak­ing Mab out is a close sec­ond.

Good thing I’ve got my pow­er­ful Stone and Ice magic — and my irre­sistible lover Owen Grayson — to watch my back. This bat­tle has been years in the mak­ing, and there’s a chance I won’t sur­vive. But if I’m going down, then Mab’s com­ing with me…no mat­ter what I have to do to make that happen.

Spider’s Revenge (Elemental Assassin #5) by Jennifer Estep

Release Date: 27 September 2011
Read Date: 30 September 2011
Rating:

A novella’s worth of content in a full-length novel. What was done with the rest of the pages, I hear you ask? Were they blank? I would’ve preferred them to be.

My name is Gin Blanco…

I know! I’ve been reading about your life for four books now.

…and I’m an assassin

Yes, you’re a hitwoman, we know this, can we get on with the killin’ now?

This is Finn. He’s my foster brother.

I do have a memory, no matter how dysfunctional it sometimes is, it’s never THAT bad.

And this is Bria…

You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? Every character is reintroduced to us along with their backstory and history with Gin. Lots and lots of repetition. And yet more repetition. Ironically, eye colour-love, the most repeated thing in the first few books was toned down.

Character histories aside, the plot is a wash, rinse and repeat too.

1) Gin gets in a bind.

2) It gets worse.

3) Her friends rally round to do anything to keep her alive because they’ve all benefited from Gin’s talents in the past.

4) Gin gets in huge fight which she barely survives.

5) Jo-jo heals her.

6) Some happy stuff happens then we learn of what Gin plans to do next. The End.

The trouble with #6 concerning this book: the drawn-out story arc is now complete. Am I willing to stick around for another? I’m not sure. One positive about this one, it was skim-city so it took only a couple of hours to read. On the other hand, I shelled out hard cash for the privilege. Venom and Tangled Threads were good reads. I like the characters, the way elemental magic is used, the pretty gory fight scenes and Gin’s unapologetic violent ways but based on the pros and cons, By a Thread is likely to go unread unless I see some stellar reviews.

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Review: Touched By An Alien by Gini Koch

How can a sexy marketing manager join forces with an Alpha Centauri male in Armani to save the planet-using hairspray, a Mont Blanc pen, and rock n’ roll? Easy… She’s Touched by an Alien Marketing manager Katherine “Kitty” Katt steps into the middle of what appears to be a domestic dispute turned ugly. And it only gets uglier when the man turns into a winged monster, straight out of a grade-Z horror movie, and goes on a killing spree. Though Kitty should probably run away, she springs into action to take the monster down. In the middle of the chaos a handsome hunk named Jeff Martini appears, sent by the “agency” to perform crowd control. He’s Kitty’s kind of guy, no matter what planet he’s from. And from now on, for Kitty, things are going to be sexy, dangerous, wild, and out of this world.

Touched by an Alien (Katherine “Kitty” Katt #1) by Gini Koch

Release Date: 6 April 2010
Read Date: 23 October 2011
Rating:

A mash-up of “Men In Black” and “Ghostbusters” with a central “McGyver” character. Intriguing premise. The sex scenes were steamy and the humour sometimes funny but the writing, in general, needed serious tweaking.

Fugly. That word has been (possibly temporarily) removed from my personal dictionary. “Baby” and “girlfriend” as terms of endearments should be banned. My lovely Kindle can illustrate why:

fugly = 39 mentions (mostly in the second half of the book) -used by Kitty.

baby = 22 mentions (as a term of endearment) – used by Martini (love interest) when referring to Kitty.

girlfriend = 21 mentions (as a term of endearment) – used by the only gay character when referring to Kitty.

Thesaurus. It’s there for a reason. Be imaginative when referring to a loved one or you know, call them by their actual name.

The first 25% was a nightmare to get through as Kitty asked a torrent of questions to establish the world-building and get to know the aliens. It was difficult to keep up, especially since Kitty would make huge “intuitive leaps” when I couldn’t figure out where she got the information to make such assumptions. She was also unbelievably arrogant in the way she told the professionals they were doing everything wrong:

“Feel free to tell us what you, having less than two days of this kind of experience, would like the rest of us do. You know, those of us who have spent years, or merely our entire lives in this line of work.”

Kitty doesn’t know the meaning of “tact” and “diplomatic”. She had a different perspective on things but she wasn’t willing to be even a little polite about it. When she wasn’t putting them down she was ogling and drooling over how naturally attractive all of the A-Cs are. I didn’t see why she was the only one to come up with all of the brilliant ideas since most of the A-Cs had either lived on this planet for over 40 years or were born on it. You’d think a few of them would’ve learned what kills slugs or would’ve heard of Earth’s history with religion.

Religion. The A-C’s religion changed to reflect Judaism right after Kitty compared it to that when explaining to her parents. And perhaps I’m being oversensitive to these next two issues but Martini says they’re all circumcised to appear more human -like being uncircumcised is somehow unnatural. Men are born that way, that’s human/natural enough for me.

Martini, the love interest, was hugely annoying to begin with. From the get-go he’s overly flirty verging on overbearing with the sexual harassment and proposes to Kitty within minutes, possibly an hour of meeting her. Some of his attraction to Kitty is later explained but Christopher’s interest was hard to fathom unless it was due to brotherly rivalry, only it didn’t come across that way.

I’m also unhappy with the dog-on-human violence. Duchess, the pitbull, followed Kitty’s actions by attacking an unarmed and physically non-threatening male. The dog teared into the guy’s groin. He made rape threats but was unable to carry them out as the women surrounding him had confiscated his guns. This upset me. If the dog saw her owner being attacked and it responded on it’s own or Kitty called for help then I would’ve felt differently. Instead Kitty instructed the dog to attack someone who wasn’t in a position to hurt anyone. This is a hot topic in the UK and pitbulls are subject to the Dangerous Dogs Act because they’re so aggressive, tend to be mishandled and have been responsible for a number of, sometimes fatal, maulings.

Okay, negativity over. The sex scenes were superb. Kitty’s upside-down Mission-Impossible pole-dancing move on the rope suspended in mid-air while shooting at the ground was very cool. I liked the A-C male/female dynamic when it came to mating choices. The females were super intelligent scientists interested in high IQs who thought human men like Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates were and I quote “dreamy”. They considered their male A-C stock to be morons in comparison. Physical appearance didn’t matter to any of the A-Cs, perhaps because they were all 100% gorgeous.

I think this book would make an exciting movie but I’m not sure I would read the sequel unless my local library acquires it.

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Review: Last Breath by Rachel Caine

There is a question Claire has long been asking: why do vampires live so far out in a sunny desert when they’re sensitive to sunlight? The reason doesn’t have to do with sunlight but water – and an ancient enemy who has finally found a way to invade the vampires’ landlocked community. Vampires aren’t the top predator on earth. There’s something worse that preys on them …something much worse. Which means if Claire, and Morganville, want to live, they will have to fight on to the last breath.

Last Breath (The Morganville Vampires #11) by Rachel Caine

Release Date: 29 October 2011
Read Date: 31 October 2011
Rating:

**Warning: This review contains SPOILERS!**

Gelatinous vampire goo. Gelatinous vampire goo. I can’t get over it. This is so…wrong. I’m hoping this new enemy is part of Caine’s endgame. We’ve had 11 books and perhaps she’s running out of ideas even though the final book, #15 is due out in November 2013. It certainly feels like the end run.

The Villains
A type of ultimate vampire, the Draug have a seductive call like sirens, need water to survive and breed, can reduce themselves to vampire goo which if you get any on you, will suck the blood/life out of you. They can remain invisible to the naked eye and easily traps their prey, human or vampire, storing them in water until they’re dead. On top of this, these guys are hard to kill.

Due to past encounters, Morganville’s vampires are so scared they plan to abandon the town and run. Of all things, I did not expect them to run from something they’d spent decades building. I understand a new foe was needed after the long awaited and much required death of Bishop but I did believe they’d learned to stand and fight rather than to submit to fear and flee. I was severely disappointed by Amelie’s response.

Amelie + Oliver
A kiss between them was to be expected though I didn’t expect Amelie to lose IQ points in the process. Killing Claire and Shane -not a good idea. I can’t believe Oliver had to step in and change her mind. Her manipulation of Myrnin when it came to this was appalling. Her actions destroyed previously strong relationships. Shane and Claire have been huge assets and her fear of this new enemy has turned her into a coward. That’s not what we’ve come to expect of her.

Oliver has always been in favour of fighting and in that respect he’s very like Shane (they wouldn’t react kindly to that comparison) but he balances out Amelie’s need to protect and retreat. They make a good ruling pair. I hope Amelie gets a magical cure for her fatal Draug bite because Oliver as sole ruler of Morganville would be terrifying.

The Wedding
Oh, the melodrama. Why do they have to get married right this minute? I understand the tenuous nature of their relationship due to Micheal’s undead status: unable to give Eve children and will most likely outlive her, remaining 18 forever but no one is stopping them from “living in sin”. I really didn’t care about the drama and political fallout from this mixed marriage between a human and a vamp. It ate up too many pages, boring me so much I kept putting the book down and avoiding picking it back up. If anything I’d have preferred someone kidnap Eve to try and turn her to end the prejudice, arguments and tears.

Main Character Death
I instantly knew this was a temporary predicament. A cheap move. A quick and quiet death with no one around to witness it. A few character’s reactions were notable though. Shane’s reaction was the most extreme but also quite understandable. He’d lost everyone he’d ever loved and he was tired of fighting when there nothing left to fight for. Claire was a reassuring presence in the Glass House, she ensured everyone kept their heads and made sound decisions, her diplomatic clout with the powers-that-be also ensured the Glass House members’ survival so her death would leave a huge hole in their lives.

It also became obvious why we get multiple POVs in this book which I think was done to better effect when it was just Claire and Shane in Bite Club. Here it added little in terms of character development but is required in order to get every side of the story.

Claire + Michael
Michael admits he once thought about Claire in a…romantic sense.

Claire + Myrnin
Claire discovers Myrnin does feel more than just friendship. It may or may not be love but he wants her as a permanent companion.

Claire + Shane
We leave them in a strong position. I can see these two marrying and spending the rest of their lives together. They have staying power. They work at their relationship, really work at it, and I think this makes them good role models for the teenage audience this is aimed at. Too many couples these days are only too willing to walk away when things get tough. However, I’m not a fan of the cringe-worthy mushiness Caine keeps shoving in our faces. They love each other, it shows. Please, don’t go overboard.

The Usual Humour, Excellent As Always
Myrnin pumping a sawed-off shotgun ‘with unsettling enthusiasm’ and calling “Let’s go hunting, shall we?”

Michael to Shane: “And you know if you screw it up with Claire, I’ll rip your throat out and drink you like a juice box.”

I admired Eve’s willingness to cut a bitch (i.e. Monica): “Micheal is missing. He may be dying. I am not in the mood for your shallow bullshit right now. If you get in my way, I will cut you, because you are nothing but a speed bump on my way to saving him. Are we clear?”

To Conclude…
Although I am a long term fan of this series this is the lowest rating I’ve given and the closest I’ve come to DNF-ing one of these books. I find this troubling considering we have four more books before the end.

I believe Caine’s heavy reliance on Bishop as a villian to bring ultimate fear to the residents of Morganville has left me distinctly unimpressed by this new foe despite their obviously lethal attributes.

For me, I think perhaps a threat from within would’ve provided more intrigue because we’ve done the “invasion by outsiders” thing with Bishop and to be honest it was done to death. Magnus appears to be Bishop with a new name.

In my opinion, Caine has taken the easy road by using predictable devices such as killing off a main character and magically reviving them, taking past situations and reusing them. If an author can’t come up with fresh stories then it’s time to stop producing them.

I still love the series. I’m determined to see it to the end but I hope Caine can inject fresh ideas into Black Dawn.

Included Short Story
In my UK edition there was a short story, “Anger Management” set between Bite Club and Last Breath from Shane’s POV, detailing Shane’s mandatory counselling with Dr. Theo Goldman, where he’s challenged to refrain from becoming angry and use non-violent methods whenever possible for 24 hours. It’s not a necessary read but it was enjoyable, especially his encounter with Monica.

____________________________________________

SNEAK PEEK


Sample chapters available HERE.

“Marriage is a big word for all guys,” Shane said. “You know that. It’s kind of an allergy. We get itchy and sweaty just trying to spell it, much less do it.”

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Review: ‘Dead Reckoning’ by Charlaine Harris

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, #11)Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

With her knack for being in trouble’s way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit – and the twisted motive for the attack. But her attention is divided. Though she can’t ‘read’ vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his ‘child’ Pam well – and she realises that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human – and that there is a new Queen on the board . . .



Details:
Hardcover, 327 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Gollancz
ISBN#: 9780575096523


My rating:

Read: 16 July 2011

**Warning: This review contains SPOILERS!**

It was all a dream! Sookie wakes up in a sweat freaking out only to realise it was all just a harmless nightmare. Her life isn’t a supernatural mess, she’s settled down with her man and is happily living in domestic bliss. The curtain comes down on the book.

That didn’t happen but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does, as a series closer that is. There was so much WTFery in Dead Reckoning it’s hard to know where to start. My feelings shifted through indifference, exasperation, WTH and the occasional chuckle.

Changing agendas and personalities of the characters over the last few books has left me lukewarm. Sookie is no longer someone I sympathise with. My exasperation came into play with what I perceive to be Sookie’s drawn out break up with Eric. It’s been on the cards for a while and many fans have predicted such a thing. Sookie thinking of her future and the impossibility of children with her current beau, his love of violence and her hatred of it plus his level of understanding of her feelings plummeting when the bond is severed has her reconsidering her options.

It seemed like Harris was throwing men at Sookie left, right and centre, offering them up as alternatives. Alcide’s weird Little Red Riding Hood move was both completely out of character and unexpected. Alcide has always been a gentleman and gentlemen simply do not take off their clothes and slip into a girl’s bed without her knowledge or permission when little more than polite words have passed between them in recent times -WTF? Creepy as hell.

Claude eyeing Sookie’s close friendship with Sam, her desperate run, whilst completely starkers, into dead-to-the-world Bill’s arms to hide from kidnappers -did she have to be naked? Did we have to be reminded of his love her and his willingness to get back together? Even her fae family were being offered up as possible love interests? Erm, incest anyone? I know Sookie’s Christian beliefs have had to stretch to accommodate her increasingly dangerous lifestyle but incest is probably pushing it.

The storyline was partly one that wouldn’t die. The death of Debbie Pelt which if I remember correctly was in book 4. This is #14. Debbie’s sister Sandra who’s one-track mind is hell bent on Sookie’s death -again, by any means necessary. The other part is how-to-get-rid-of-Victor. Digging up old storylines and rehashing them isn’t something I’m interested in, while the Victor-problem was much the same; someone seeks to control Sookie and friends and they must be eliminated, only the character to be disposed of has changed.

The introduction of a certain fae object is discomforting and leads me to believe what I’ve said in my opening paragraph is entirely possible. I really don’t want to know what Sookie will use it for, whether it be a selfish purpose or an altruistic one.

Claude, Dermot and the fae from Hooligans sparked my interest. I wished we could’ve seen more them and their plans. Dermot was sweet and I enjoyed his renewed vigor and sense of purpose.

I’m not so secretly hoping for a Hamlet ending -one in which everyone dies, including Sookie herself. I think that’s the only way to both shock readers who’ve predicted Sookie’s final situation and ensure the series isn’t somehow extended beyond an all ready long overdue point. I’m ready for Sookie stories to go the way of the dodo.

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Review ~ The Last Survivors Trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer

The Last Survivors Trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer

   

First off, I have to say that I have a crush on these covers.  They are stunning and provide a perfect visual for the world these characters are living in.  Second, I devoured these books in two days.

Although I believe these three make up a trilogy, I noticed the author is scheduled to release The Shade of the Moon (Last Survivors #4) in 2012.  I am not sure if that book will start a new trilogy or if the books will become a series.

Book #1 ~ Life as We Knew It

Rating:

We are introduced to Miranda Day, her two brothers, Jonny (age 14) and Matt, who is away at college, and her mother.  She’s a typical 16-year old and has typical worries until the moon is struck by a meteor.  Everyone is aware it’s headed for the moon, many people are even excited to watch it happen, but it’s what happens after that turns the world upside down. The impact caused the moon to shift closer to Earth and out of its normal orbit.  That in turn causes major devastation all over the world – tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

I was so impressed by her mother’s forethought and planning that I felt like I should be taking notes.  She had the presence of mind to buy up as many supplies, food items and clothes as quickly and as soon as she could in hopes of keeping her family safe during the coming months.  Others weren’t so lucky.  Many people all over the world are dying and as winter approaches more are sure to.

It was very interesting to be able to see Miranda and her family life pre-devastation.  While she struggled, as anyone would – especially teenagers, with the changes forced upon her and her family, she grew throughout the story.  Her brother, Matt, makes it home from college and she would like nothing more than to have him taken care of the family.  But, she learns to take some responsibility for the safety and well-being of her family.  Her father and step-mother, who is pregnant, set off to find their parents.  Miranda begins to wonder if she will ever see them again.  The story is written like Miranda’s diary entries and takes us through the first year.  It is so realistic in parts that it is truly scary.  Scary because you know this is something that would possibly happen.

Book #2 ~ The Dead & the Gone

Rating: 

This story introduces us to Alex Morales and his two sisters, Julie and Briana.  The Morales family live in an apartment building in New York City.  Their father left for Puerto Rico prior to the meteor/moon shift and their mother is at work during it.  Neither return, so Alex, who was looking forward to going to college, must take charge of his family and do whatever it takes to keep his sisters safe.

I had serious issues with this book.  Mainly, WHY was Alex so worried about staying in his apartment when it wasn’t safe?  WHY wouldn’t they break into other apartments (or use his father’s super key?!) to check for food, clothing and other necessities?  Most everyone is dead or dying, there was no reason for them to suffer as they did.  They may not have found much, but it would’ve been more than they had.  I also did not like or understand the relationship between Alex and his Uncle Jimmy.  Jimmy comes to Alex’s apartment to ask if he can take Briana with him.  It would really help them out (babysitting).  Alex says no, he wants to keep his family together.  Jimmy doesn’t say much else, even when Alex tells him that his parents are most likely dead.

So much of this series feels very realistic to the point of being frightening, but the ending of this one just didn’t fit for me.  It seemed very convenient that a former, not-so-close friend’s father is able to quickly and easily get Alex and his family passes for a safe haven.  If this book had been the first in the trilogy, I probably would not have continued on.  But, after realizing that book #3 brought these two families together, I couldn’t wait to read it to find out how Miranda and her family were doing.

Book #3 ~ This World We Live In

Rating:

It’s been a year since the moon was struck.  Miranda and her brothers are scavenging for food and supplies while mom stays at home.  They are getting low on food and begin rationing even more.  So, when Miranda’s dad, pregnant step-mother AND three strangers arrive at her house she’s surprised, relieved and angry.  While she’s thrilled to see that her dad and step-mother are safe, she’s angry because they just don’t have the food to split between SIX more people.  Lisa, Miranda’s step-mother is pregnant, so she’s being fed extra.

While they do make some smart decisions in this one, there are still moments when I got frustrated with their lack of doing even more.  At this point, they are on the verge of dying from starvation, their home is not entirely safe and they STILL don’t move to a better location.  They are having to take more risks in order to find food.

A constant throughout this series was the fear that something like this could happen.  It wasn’t like your zombocalypse (which Shamblin’ Dave did actually did make me wonder about), but rather an event that made you really think what would I doWould I surviveWould I be willing and able to do what it took to survive?  I think my answer to all would be HELL YES! But, don’t we all?   Overall, a very quick read and an intriguing look at one event that threw the world into death, destruction and chaos.  I really enjoyed it.

Review: “Grave Witch” by Kalayna Price

Grave Witch (Alex Craft, #1)Grave Witch (Alex Craft #1) by Kalayna Price

As a grave witch, Alex Craft can speak to the dead-she’s even on good terms with Death himself. As a consultant for the police, she’s seen a lot of dark magic, but nothing has prepared her for her latest case. When she’s raising a “shade” involved in a high profile murder, it attacks her, and then someone makes an attempt on her life. Someone really doesn’t want her to know what the dead have to say, and she’ll have to work with mysterious homicide detective Falin Andrews to figure out why…


Details:
Paperback, 325 pages
Published December 16th 2010 by ROC
ISBN#: 9780451463807


My rating:

Read: 09 July 2011

**Warning: This review contains SPOILERS!**

This one came highly rated by friends and after seeing it constantly mentioned I decided it must be worth a try. I can say I was completely engrossed and entertained by Alex and Falin’s relationship although I am surprised he wanted to stick around. That’s my positives. It really says something when the highlights of a book can be summed up in only a couple of lines.

The quirky yet distinctive opener, followed by some intriguing action (Death saved a life -why, and is that allowed?) calmed any concerns that I’d made a mistake buying this one but not long after we’re stalled, left waiting for the good stuff to happen.

All I wanted to do was spend time with Death or Falin. Death more-so because I needed to understand what his attachment was to Alex and why he was so close to her when standard grave witch-reaper etiquette states the occasional “hello” when crossing paths is the most that should ever pass between them. What makes Alex so special? The kiss, I thought, was him being playful, messing with her mind so I was surprised and disappointed when he announced his love for her when she was dying. He was cool and mysterious until then. I vehemently dislike love triangles and this one wasn’t even close to resolved by the end. Leaving Falin hanging in the Friend Zone after what had passed between him and Alex was also awkward. If she’d explained how she felt or he’d explained his weird fae ‘I’m someone else’s lover’ status I wouldn’t have a problem with them going their separate ways or remaining friends.

Under normal circumstances I like magic and witches and I understand the need for world building but I was picking things out that I’d read in other places. I know it’s hard to be completely original but the grave witchery itself strongly reminded me of Anita Blake’s zombie raising to settle legal disputes and give closure to the families of the deceased. The race against time to investigate and avoid being arrested and branded a grey/black witch was eerily reminiscent of Rachel Morgan in the the Hollows, as well as the FIB/Inderland policing. For the most part I enjoyed both of those series but here with Alex, the witchiness was over done. The amount of detail about what was happening when she was using magic, the different planes and the consequences was all too confusing and unnecessary at times that I found myself skimming.

Alex’s father mentions ‘The Long Game’ in regards to the fae. I’m not sure if this is part of some general mythology I’m unaware of but it features as part of a long running story arc involving the vampires in the Kitty Norville series. Talking about the fae, they were tricky bastards. Some appear to be good and others, not so nice. I liked that they weren’t all tarred with the same brush.

Alex herself, I didn’t find endearing. First of all, she’s cursed. Everyone around her goes missing: her brother Brian, her best friend and roommate Rianna, and now people she knew from the witch community. She’s also not the sharpest knife in the drawer and she’s a doormat. Misunderstanding clues elongated the story. It was obvious things were going to roll back to her family after the discovery of the grey book but we had to wait for her to figure out the genetic (not generic, silly girl) connection. The doormat thing annoyed me, it’s part of the reason for her money troubles, not demanding to be paid for services rendered but she also has a problem with two tiny little letters, “no”. Just say it. It’s that easy. If people turn their back on you, you don’t jump up to help them move up the career ladder. However, the strained relationships between Alex and her father and sister were interesting to me and I wished Price had delved further into their background and past dealings. In fact, I could probably extend that to all of the characters as they were all towards the shallow end of the spectrum as opposed to fully fleshed out individuals with histories and back-stories but I’m betting that’s going to be developed in the following novels.

The dog, I’m sorry but yuck, yuck, yuck. This goes to personal taste because tiny dogs like that creep me out and it’s hairless -eww, eww, eww. I wanted the thing to die.



*shudders*

One final thing about the ending, unless I’m mistaken and please let me know if I am Alex was dying not just from a stab wound but from the soul-sucking spell. Rianna healed the stab wound but not the spell. So when Alex thinks ‘we won’ and all is right with her world, she’s still dying. That’s never resolved and yet we’re led to believe it has when it hasn’t.

Yeah, so basically the last third of the book with Alex and Falin was the only good experience I can take away from this book. It’s something, I guess.

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Review: “Hunters & Prey” by Katie Salidas

Hunters & Prey (Immortalis #2) by Katie Salidas


The exciting sequel to Immortalis Carpe Noctem.

Rule number one: humans and vampires don’t co-exist. One is the hunter and one is the prey. Simple, right? Not for newly-turned vampire Alyssa. A surprise confrontation with Santino Vitale, the Acta Sanctorum’s most fearsome hunter, sends her fleeing back to the world she once knew, and Fallon, the human friend she’s missed more than anything. Now she has some explaining to do. However, that will have to wait. With the Acta Sanctorum hot on their heels, staying alive is more important than educating a human on the finer points of bloodlust.




Details:
Kindle Edition
Published November 23rd 2010 by Rising Sign Books
ASIN#: B004DNWEGS


My rating:

Read: 25 June 2011

Whilst definitely better than the first book, Alyssa’s actions are the main reason for my low rating.

Alyssa is incredibly selfish and stubborn, believing she is right and the 2000 year old vampires are always wrong. She doesn’t listen, she doesn’t care about her own safety until her life’s flashing before her eyes. She involves others, namely her best friend Fallon from her former, human life despite knowing there would be serious consequences from being warned enough times to never reveal who she is to any human or show herself to anyone from her human life.

Alyssa deserved a severe punishment for her reckless disregard for the rules but when it came down to meting it out Lysander backed down. I couldn’t believe it! Alyssa’s begging and whining reminded me of a two-year-old child who didn’t know when to let it go all ready. Despite her behaviour, in the end she was rewarded for the trouble she’d caused and the danger she’d put everyone in. Fallon should’ve run from Alyssa and the others after everything they’d put her through. I couldn’t understand why she’d stayed. There doesn’t seem to be much between Fallon and Alyssa other than that they say they’re friends -we don’t know why or how they’re so close.

I believe it’s the same with Lysander and Alyssa. I kept waiting for him to wake up and behead Alyssa. Sex must’ve addled his brain. She’s not worth the pain and suffering she causes. At least she’s going to be trained to act like a soldier now, and Nicholas is not the soft touch Lysander is. I hope he beats the selfish, cocky attitude out of her and drums some common sense into her obviously empty head.

Again, Santino, the villain of the piece, was the character I liked the most. If only he’d killed Alyssa at the beginning when he had the chance. Unable to think rationally before she acted annoyed the hell out of me and completely ruined my ability to gain any enjoyment from this book.

*Although this was a free e-book from the author this did not impact on my rating or review.

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Series Reading Order:

Immortalis Carpe Noctem (Immortalis, #1) Hunters & Prey (Immortalis, #2)  Pandora's Box (Immortalis, #3)