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Review: Deadly Pursuit by Nina Croft

Breaking assassin Jonathon Decker out of a maximum security prison on Trakis One seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, pursued across space by the two most powerful factions in the universe, the crew of El Cazador are having second thoughts. They’d like to give him back. Unfortunately, that no longer seems an option.

Jon is used to working alone. Now, he’s stuck on the space cruiser El Cazador until he can work out just what he’s supposed to know that puts him on everybody’s most-wanted-dead list. He s not happy that the crew includes a runaway priestess with designs on his virtue such as it is. Jon likes women, but he gave up the role of protector a long time ago, and Alexia, High Priestess of the Church of Everlasting Life, is an accident waiting to happen.

After twenty-four excruciatingly boring years of doing her duty, Alex is finally having some fun. She never meant to run away it was a rash impulse and she means to go back eventually. But first, she’s going to squeeze enough excitement out of the situation to last her a lifetime. And what could be more exciting than a stunningly gorgeous werewolf?

Meanwhile, the Church are chasing their missing priestess, and the Collective are pursuing their escaped assassin. Being hunted has never been more deadly…or more fun.

Deadly Pursuit (Blood Hunter #2) by Nina Croft

Release Date: 6 December 2011
Read Date: 5 December 2011
Rating:

Firefly with a paranormal twist. Better than Break Out, Deadly Pursuit continues from where BO we left off.

Al, the small teenage boy, turns out to be Alexia High Priestess of the Church of Everlasting Life, the 24 year old woman. Suffocating from boredom and lack of control over her high profile life she escapes, disguises herself as a boy and ends up on the spaceship El Cazador.

Both the Collective (people who’ve taken the expensive immortality treatment Meridian) and now the Church (believe in immortality of the soul which goes to heaven when they physically die) are chasing the crew for the recapture of Jon the werewolf assassin and the return of the High Priestess.

Despite her deception, the crew immediately defend Alexia. She’s one of them and they’re not going to hand her over if she doesn’t want to go. Jon, on the other hand, is wanted for an unknown reason, pointing to a conspiracy so they’re not giving him up after they were hired to risk their lives breaking him out of prison until they get some answers.

Alexia is instantly attracted to Jon. Unfortunately her disguise worked only too well, looking like a scruffy child. Her innocence is compounded by the fact that she’s a virgin who’s lived a sheltered life, and Jon doesn’t do virgins. He’s a rough, tough, manly 6ft 4 werewolf to her doll-like 5ft 1. He’d break her. But she knew what she wanted and was determined to experience as much of life as could before she was forced to return to her duty so the predator became the prey. Poor man, he had no chance. At least he has a new pack now i.e. the crew and a buddy in Rico despite him being a vampire.

Similarities to Firefly (Rico is Mal with fangs and a lust for blood) and the introduction of shapeshifters, my favourite supernaturals, meant I quite liked this. However, I’m slightly uncomfortable with how Alexia, seconds after being almost raped and killed on two occasions, jumped her mate-to-be’s bones. That struck me as wrong since she was beaten and manhandled. I doubt I’d feel up to it if I was in her shoes.

Tannis is next to be matched up with her crush Callum Meridian, the man who first took the immortality treatment and has been transformed by it. They’re hired as his bodyguards in the next book.

***Many thanks to Entangled Publishing for providing the ARC via Netgalley for an honest review.***

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Review: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life…

Touch of Power (Healer #1) by Maria V. Snyder

Release Date: 27 December 2011
Read Date: 4 December 2011
Rating:

Please, Sir. May I have some more?

Touch of Power may be mildly similar to Poison Study which does bring in an element of predictability but it doesn’t feel repetitive. This world is far larger and more complex than that of the Study trilogy.

Avry has been in hiding and on the run for 3 years and she’s tired of it. After people blamed the spread of the plague on healers, they’re captured and executed whenever they’re found. However, Avry can’t stop herself from healing fatally ill children and each time she does she must move on in case the child’s parents turn her in, though this time the sickness she’s assumed overcomes her and she’s captured. While in prison awaiting execution she’s approached by a man called Kerrick who breaks her out so she can heal his “friend”.

Unfortunately this friend is hundreds of miles away and with a bounty on her head the journey is dangerous even with Kerrick’s men accompanying them. When Avry is informed of who she’s to heal, she refuses because it’s a prince accused of inhumane crimes. Assuming his illness, the plague, would mean certain death for her. Sacrificing her life for a child is one thing, they’re innocent but for a cruel and powerful man -no. Kerrick reacts badly, punishing her until she changes her mind. She’s too stubborn so they try to change her mind in other ways while they travel.

On the journey she gets to know each man, saving her hate for the mysterious Kerrick. They teach her survival and fighting skills so she can defend herself. Along the way they begin to understand more about the plague, it’s link to the sentient network of huge human-eating venus flytrap flowers and the healer’s guild. They also encounter a real madman, Tohon, who can influence and read thoughts and emotions using it to gain more territory and power. His experiments are nightmarish and genocidal. Politics and intrigue ensue. There are many fighting for power in the game of thrones kings in this post-apocalyptic fantasy.

The hundreds of miles Avry & co travel, and on foot, makes my feet ache in sympathy. I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building and Avry’s journey spanning about 6 months. I loved the high level of detail involved and the intricacies of the characters’ magical abilities. I laughed at the Men in Black moment when Avry shouts “Eat me!” to the mutant plant. In fact, I did a lot of laughing. Avry and her merry men grow to be a tight-knit family who jump at the chance to tease, compete and help each other. I was sad when a character died but I have a feeling we’ll see them again though I’m worried about how they’ll be changed by the experience. I wish I had a Papa Bear and friends like these who’d die for me if need be, and vice versa.

Kerrick and Avry’s relationship develops and evolves slowly as he learns how to handle his emotions. His desperate 2-year search for a healer and Avry’s stubborn refusal turns him into an unlikeable man but with the persuasion of his men he pushes back his anger and gets to know Avry and comes to understand what makes her tick. He shares his skills with her and they come to find they can share and enhance each others magic, something they never thought possible. I enjoyed their slow-burning combustible chemistry, Kerrick’s jealousy and finally his realisation that not every woman is like his ex Jael.

And can I just say I love these covers! It’s rare when I want both. One shows pure grit, determination and “power” (LEFT). The other, the delicate yet beautiful effect a “touch” can have (RIGHT).

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I definitely look forward to the next installment of this series. Bring it on!

***Thank you to Harlequin for the ARC supplied via NetGalley for an honest review.***

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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: Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen

A heartwarming tale of terror in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.
Meet Sarah and David.

Once upon a time they met and fell in love. But now they’re on the verge of divorce and going to couples’ counseling. On a routine trip to their counselor, they notice a few odd things – the lack of cars on the highway, the missing security guard, and the fact that their counselor, Dr. Kelly, is ripping out her previous client’s throat.

Meet the Zombies.

Now, Sarah and David are fighting for survival in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. But, just because there are zombies, doesn’t mean your other problems go away. If the zombies don’t eat their brains, they might just kill each other.

Married with Zombies (Living with the Dead #1) by Jesse Petersen

Release Date: 1 September 2010
Read Date: 2 December 2011
Rating:

Dear god, what have I read?! Horrific. Superficial Too Stupid To Live characters I don’t care about, stumbling around blindly asking to be eaten.

Comedy

Having loved the show Married with Children I impulsively decided I would love this too. However, I’m wondering now whether “zombies” and “comedy” can ever be a good mix in the post-Carry On world. And perhaps with this book by marketing it as a comedy excuses the wafer-thin characters, the TSTL behaviour (e.g. checking out a potentially zombie-infested casino for the hell of it) and inappropriately timed arguments (while zombies are bearing down on you) about nothing in particular.

Romance

Um, where exactly was the romance? We meet Sarah and David on the brink of divorce as they attend their regularly scheduled marriage counseling appointment. David’s demise from having a promising future to being an unemployed deadbeat husband and all-round slacker and Sarah’s exhausted from having to work 6 days a week leads her to constantly criticise him and picking fights at every given opportunity, leaving them both deeply unhappy and wanting out of their marriage. Counselling wasn’t helping until…they killed their therapist. After that they work together to kill (directly and indirectly) almost every human they come into contact with regardless of whether they happen to be infected. In doing this they come to see each other’s positive attributes i.e. bravely killing everything in sight, appearing as heroes in each other’s eyes. So again, where was the romance? One off-stage sex scene and…I can’t remember if they ever kissed. Not good.

Zombies

Were pretty cool actually. From bite to brain-eating, the incubation period is 10-25 minutes. Red eyes, strangely happy facial expressions, faster than the average human and the ability to continue simple repetitive actions, describe these zombies. Although there is the requisite gory imagery e.g. a legless undead dragging itself along the ground carrying a baby in it’s mouth, it never truly hits home, the gut-wrenching horror of it all.

I hold Rhiannon Frater‘s As the World Dies trilogy up as the epitome of all things zombie and while reading it I laughed, I cried and I added guns to my wishlist. That was terrifying but there was humour, too. A good balance. MWZ focuses too much on the humour and whilst funny, sometimes it was grossly overused and forced, at the detriment of the characters’ intelligence and the graveness of the situation. It’s the same with the swearing, I’m not opposed to the well-timed f-word when the world is going to hell and you could die at any moment but it shouldn’t be repetitive.

After ogling this book for a while I’m disappointed it didn’t live up to my expectations. I could’ve DNF’d at any point, my lack of affection for the couple left me uninterested in whether they lived or died but obviously they were never in any danger considering it’s part of a series.

If you have some time to waste…

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Review: Genesis by Bernard Beckett

The island Republic has emerged from a ruined world. Its citizens are safe but not free. Until a man named Adam Forde rescues a girl from the sea. Fourteen-year-old Anax thinks she knows her history. She’d better. She’s sat facing three Examiners and her five-hour examination has just begun. The subject is close to her heart: Adam Forde, her long-dead hero. In a series of startling twists, Anax discovers new things about Adam and her people that question everything she holds sacred. But why is the Academy allowing her to open up the enigma at its heart? Bernard Beckett has written a strikingly original novel that weaves dazzling ideas into a truly moving story about a young girl on the brink of her future.

Genesis by Bernard Beckett

Release Date: 24 March 2009
Read Date: 18 November 2011
Rating:

Holy fucking shit, Batman! Holy fucking shit! *SPLAT!* My brain has exploded. I am blown away by the awesomeness of this little book.

Firstly, I owe a huge thank you to Lyndsey’s review for inspiring me to read this because HOLY CRAP, HOOOOLY CRAP! This is the dystopian book to end all dystopian books. Doesn’t matter if you think this sort of thing isn’t for you, or if you’re disillusioned with the genre.

At the very least this book will make you THINK. Think about the state of humanity, its limitations and where it is heading. Think about the pursuit of happiness, our curiosity, our technological advances. If the world ended as we know it tomorrow and we had a chance to start again from scratch, could we truly create a utopian society? Could we succeed in creating something we could be proud of? Or are we a doomed species hopelessly cursed to repeat the same mistakes?

Brain power is needed to read this, especially for the Third Hour chapter because damn if that wasn’t a mind-bending philosophical debate regarding what it is to be human. I had to take a break to recharge the old batteries and when I returned to it…the jaw dropped and I had to re-read a paragraph because OH…MY…GOD I did not see That coming, That was a game changer, It brought a whole new meaning to what I had read.

Genesis is a small book, an expensive one, so expensive I decided to borrow it from the library but I must have a copy. It’s absolutely worth the money. This book may be less than 200 pages but you could write a dissertation on it. Seriously.

Don’t read up on this book, don’t research it, just find a copy and read the hell out of it. Go in blind and discover for yourself the reason why I have given this the highest possible rating.

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Review: Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler

Living in small town Rockabill, Maine, Jane True always knew she didn’t quite fit in with so-called normal society. During her nightly, clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean, a grisly find leads Jane to startling revelations about her heritage: she is only half-human.

Now, Jane must enter a world filled with supernatural creatures alternatively terrifying, beautiful, and deadly- all of which perfectly describe her new “friend,” Ryu, a gorgeous and powerful vampire.

It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: a dog can heal with a lick; spirits bag your groceries; and whatever you do, never-ever rub the genie’s lamp.

If you love Sookie Stackhouse, then you’ll want to dive into Nicole Peeler’s enchanting debut novel.

Tempest Rising (Jane True #1) by Nicole Peeler

Release Date: 27 October 2009
Read Date: 18 August 2011
Rating: [Did Not Finish]

Pages read: 110/359.
Conclusion: Life is too damn short.

I knew early on that I was never going to finish this book. The death knell went off every few pages.

It failed to suck me in. It was not funny even though it tried to be. There was a stereotypical lesbian couple (the butch one and the pretty one). Odd behaviour concerning a corpse -not necrophilia, though that would’ve been 1000x more interesting. The strange supernatural reveal and Jane’s reaction to her mother’s secret. I didn’t feel anything for Jane. And the list goes on and on.

Ryu, the vampire love interest. I’m not sure what it was about him but he was a complete turn-off, which is probably to be expected since this has been compared to Sookie Stackhouse, meaning Ryu = Bill. This comparison is also an insult to the Sookie series which was actually entertaining.

Anyon – He caught my eye. I know he’s a shifter even though we haven’t been told but I expected him to be Jane’s love interest. And for some reason, I sense a love triangle forming at some point. I detest love triangles.

Although my overall perception of this book was negative there were a few things I liked: the beautiful cover art to lure unsuspecting readers, the name of the bookstore “Read It and Weep”, and Jane as her father’s carer feeling trapped in a town that hates her.

Reading Tempest Rising was a struggle which I’m not prepared to continue. I know they say “no pain, no gain” but I think I’ll gain little from finishing this so I’m not prepared to even try.

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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: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

Unearthly (Unearthly #1) by Cynthia Hand

Release Date: 4 January 2011
Read Date: 13 November 2011
Rating:

The best YA angel book I’ve read. Fully-fledged characters with no self-respect issues and solid, healthy relationships. No insta-love here, and no plot holes plus, there’s a truly mysterious mystery…but I won’t be reading the sequel.

Clara is one quarter angel who has just received her Purpose, the one thing she was born to do as an angel. Her vision of her Purpose implies she will be rescuing a boy from a forest fire. Small details show her he is somewhere in Wyoming so the whole family moves from California so she can fulfil her destiny. She finds the boy, Christian, is the most popular guy in school with a possessive girlfriend. Clara studies him to the point of obsession in order to understand the where, when and why she is to save him. She comes to believe she has quasi-romantic feelings for him until he manages to completely embarrass her at the school dance and sees Tucker, Clara’s best friend’s twin brother, step in to save the day.

Previously Tucker had acted like a child, calling Clara “Carrots” due to the shade of her dyed hair and picking on her. It isn’t until a school break when all her friends, including Christian and her mother, leave town and she’s alone on her 17th birthday when Wendy sends Tucker to be her present. He takes her on a nature tour over a number of days, always setting up another appointment to spend the day together. It’s during this time they grow closer. Unfortunately, when they first kiss, her angel powers activate and his love turns to fear…I absolutely loved this aspect of the story. It’s so well written I was right there experiencing the wilderness with them, wishing I could be doing the same activities. I was pleased to see Tucker and Clara gradually fall for each other. Tucker was a true gentleman cowboy with an easy smile and a loveable character. I was disappointed in Clara’s mother’s reaction though. Any mother would be happy for her daughter to be dating someone like him. And it’s not like it was against the rules to date a human. All work and no play…

Clara’s mother is a half-angel with secrets. She holds so much back to the point of putting her children in danger but as a mother she’s loving and caring and fully involved in their lives, always knowing how and what they’re doing. I do wonder what her Purpose is/was and whether it has something to do with her children. On the other hand, Clara has a long-distance, almost non-existent relationship with her human father who sends guilt presents.

Jeffrey, Clara’s younger brother, is practically an open book at first, struggling to balance his need to compete in sports, wanting to be the best but also needing to hold back to ensure he’s not accused of cheating. He feels like a fraud. At some point I believe he receives his Purpose but tells no one, he becomes pensive and broody. I’m assuming his Purpose isn’t a particularly “good” deed.

I liked these angels and the concept of White Wings (the good) and Black Wings (the bad, who don’t fulfil their Purpose and are unable to love). However, I found it strange there were so many angels in one small town, albeit a tourist one. Angela came across as not just intense but I kept expecting her to turn on Clara because she’s so enthusiastically helpful when it came to anything angel-related.

My only problem I have with this book is the serious implication that the reason Clara must save Christian is because they are meant to be together, romantically-speaking. I abhor love triangles. I hate them, I do. In this case, it really makes me mad because the love Clara has for Tucker, and vice-versa, is genuine. I fell for Tucker right along with Clara. Why must Hand go the route of so many other authors and implement a love triangle? It feels like a huge insult to have these characters form a strong relationship we rarely see in YA paranormals and then basically say “Nope, he’s not for you. This one is.” For a moment there I really thought “Yay! We have an honest to god healthy teen relationship.” And now, I’m pretty sure that will be ruined in a sequel, for a character I never cared about. I don’t want to see this happen so I doubt I’ll be continuing with this series.

ETA: I will, however, be interested in watching the TV show of the same name based on this book, announced in October.

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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: Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison

Able to wield thunder and lightning, wyr sentinel Tiago Black Eagle has ruled the skies for centuries. His massive build and thunderous power make him one of the wyr’s best weapons. And he’s the one sent to protect Tricks, heir to the Dark Fae throne, when she’s almost assassinated in Chicago. Soon Tiago and Tricks will fall prey to the stormy hunger that engulfs them-a passion that will shake the very foundation of all the worlds.

Storm’s Heart (Elder Races #2) by Thea Harrison

Release Date: 2 August 2011
Read Date: 9 September 2011
Rating:

After falling in love with Dragon Bound I didn’t want to read this one because nothing could live up to that first book. Nothing. And it didn’t. Not even close.

I liked Tricks before this book but here she was a bit irritating here. Irritatingly perfect at times. Everyone falls in love with her. And the one person who doesn’t is the villain. A villain I identified very early on. I was unhappy to be proved right. I was hoping for it to be someone I’d never considered.

Tricks and Tiago together didn’t quite feel right. Sure they had some funny flirtatious times but they were thrown together out of need. Tricks needed to be protected, from assassins and from herself (she doesn’t know when to stop working and look after herself), and he needed a new challenge because he’s easily bored if he’s not out fighting. They both got what they needed but did they love each other? I can’t answer in the positive because I wasn’t convinced. They never really got to know each other. Character development was poor in this book compared to Dragon Bound. We barely got to know the supporting cast, even characters that were introduced in book #1 weren’t given much page time.

I hope Serpent’s Kiss is more like Dragon Bound than Storm’s Heart.

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