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Review: Aftershock by Jill Sorenson

30 Dec

aftershocksorenson


4 of 5 scoopers

Aftershock by Jill Sorenson
Harlequin (Dec. 18, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780373777327

Favorite Lines: “Because we’d both be miserable! I love you Lauren. But I don’t want you to waste a single second of your life on me.” (p. 337, e-galley)

As an emergency paramedic, Lauren Boyer is dedicated and highly capable. Until an earthquake strikes, trapping her beneath the freeway with a group of strangers—including Iraq war veteran Garrett Wright…

Handsome and take-charge Garrett aids Lauren in her rescue efforts, even as the steely look in his eyes seems to hide dark secrets. When a gang of escaped convicts goes on the attack, Garrett’s bravery makes him more than a courageous bystander to Lauren. If they can save the others before time runs out, maybe, just maybe, they can explore the fire igniting between them—if the truth about who he really is doesn’t pull them apart forever….

I thought I was going to pick up Aftershock by Jill Sorenson, read a page and set the book down. I knew I wanted to read it but it was time for bed and I figured I’d read one page to say I started it and finish it later. That didn’t happen. I kept going until the book was finished. Not because of a great romance, but because of the great stories which were being told.

Aftershock tells many stories. From the blurb I thought the main story would be Garrett and Lauren falling in love, but it feels more like a secondary story line to the idea of a group of people trying to survive after a natural disaster. There is also the danger coming from a group of convicts which threatens the survivors. As a story I really liked the book. But I don’t think it’s a good romance.

There is an almost instant attraction between Garrett and Lauren. I totally understand the lust, but I don’t believe in the forever type of love that is supposed to have come from their time together. I want it for them, but there is so much keeping them apart that I don’t believe it’s possible.

Thinking back one of the things I most enjoyed about Aftershock is the characters aren’t perfect by the end of the book. They don’t have this giant epiphany and turn their lives around. They have good moments and they are survivors but they aren’t in perfect situations. A wand is never waved to put a rainbow over their lives so the bad disappears. Sorenson’s characters work with what their given and are very “real” with human failures. I liked knowing that the characters stayed true to that which I was introduced to in the story and at the end were that same individual.

In the end, I’ve got to tell you that as a romance I don’t find Aftershock to be successful. There is a happy ever after, but it is unbelievable. However, as a piece of fiction with tons of action and stories taking place it works. I had to know what was going to happen. I liked it enough to want to continue the series with book two, Freefall which comes out in June 2013. It tells the story of a character we meet in Aftershock but don’t ever really get to know. I’m excited to see where it goes.

Review: Sleeping with the Wolf by Maddie Barone

3 Nov

Sleeping with the Wolf by Maddie Barone
Liquid Silver Books (November 2010)
Trade: $11.99; ebook: $3.99
ISBN: 9781595787774

Favorite Lines: “I heard my father explain it once to my mother. He said that to his wolf, she was like the only warm house in the middle of a deadly blizzard. She gave him a safe place to shelter in, one that was just for him, and he would take care of that safe place and defend it from intruders.” (p. 70)

Rising country music star Carla boards a plane in the year 2014. But it crashes in the future, fifty years after Armageddon has destroyed technology and plagues have reduced the female population to a precious few. She finds herself offered as prize in a Bride Fight, where only the strongest and fiercest men are allowed to compete to win a wife. Alpha werewolf Taye knows Carla is his mate. He wins the Bride Fight and takes her to his den, ready to give her everything, even his heart. Will Carla ever be ready to give him anything?

Sleeping with the Wolf is book one in Maddy Barone’s After the Crash series set in a  futuristic world after the apocalypse and featuring paranormal creatures finding love. It shows up on my nook as 106 pages long. Since it’s short there are many instances that are told instead of shown, but I liked the idea of a world where women are in demand and where it isn’t abnormal for the men to be virginal.

Yep, you read that right. An area of land which is home to over 4,000 men only has 200 women. Two female newcomers to the world in search of aid have been sold to a man who sets up a special fight to find eligible men who can afford to care for and be good life partners to the women. Not exactly an easy introduction to a topsy-turvy futuristic world.

Short but sweet, Sleeping with the Wolf is a new look into the paranormal shapeshifter world. I love the idea of a world gone to hell, but still home to strong shifter men who can only love their mate. One of the best parts was seeing how the hero taught himself to be prepared for the time when he found his mate. Consider how sex would be if romance books were considered reference books. Think of a virginal man who bypasses wham bam thank you ma’am because he has a step-by-step plan.

The romance is definitely on fast forward cause within days the heroine falls for the alpha hero. It didn’t really bother me because the heroine constantly thought of the nice, considerate things her man did for her. She also realized that she’d never be able to travel back in time to the world she knew. Her ability to adapt without losing herself made Sleeping with the Wolf a pleasant read. I’ll be picking up the next book in the series, Wolf’s Glory.

Review: Rebirth by Sophie Littlefield

24 Jul

Rebirth by Sophie Littlefield
Harlequin (July 2011)
Mass Market: $14.95; ebook: $10.99
ISBN: 9780373803392
Favorite Lines: “I don’t need you. and I won’t thank you. And I won’t care about you. I mean it, Cass–I’ll never care about you.” (p. 65, egalley)

THE END OF THE WORLD

was just the beginning

Civilization has fallen, leaving California an unforgiving, decimated place. But Cass Dollar beat terrible odds to get her missing daughter back—she and Ruthie will be happy.

Yet with the first winter, Cass is reminded that happiness is fleeting in Aftertime. Ruthie retreats into silence.
Flesh-eating Beaters still dominate the landscape. And Smoke, Cass’s lover and strength, departs on a quest
for vengeance, one that may end him even if he returns.

The survivalist community Cass has planted roots in is breaking apart, too. Its leader, Dor, implores Cass to help him recover his own lost daughter, taken by the totalitarian Rebuilders. And soon Cass finds herself thrust into the dark heart of an organization promising humanity’s rebirth—at all costs.

Bound to two men blazing divergent paths across a savage land, Cass must overcome the darkness in her  wounded heart, or lose those she loves forever.

Rebirth is book two in Sophie Littlefield’s dystopian Aftertime series. The first book is Aftertime and the short novella is Survivors (free download). Don’t start the series with this book. You will not understand the world or events that set up the story.

Rebirth picks up shortly after the events of Aftertime. Obviously it’s been a few months because while narrating Cass thinks about her daughter’s hair that was as “short as a boy’s” and remembers while Ruthie was in the convent Ruthie was shorn bald.

Don’t expect to see much of Smoke in this installment. For the most part you get Ruthie, Cass and Dor, and a changing setting. I had wondered at the end of Aftertime how Littlefield was going to move the plot forward. How was she going to get them out of the secure box where they lived? Well, she managed to do so spectacularly.

I love Littlefield’s storytelling. It pulls few punches and tackles the hardness of life. The characters remain true to form. Cassie is a recovering druggie and the underlining issues which pushed her to drugs still exist. Sometimes she wins and other times she loses. She doesn’t turn to drugs though. She has older vices which make her disgusted with herself. How can you not like this damaged heroine who is trying so hard to learn right from wrong while surviving hell on earth?

There are shocking moments filled with violence and self-loathing. Moments which in a  pre-Beater world which would have instantly destroyed hope of a happy family. You’ve got to keep  firm hold of who Cass is and how she became the character you know. Remember her being molested as a child, her using sex as a tool and later as a drug addict. That mentality doesn’t change just because the world has come to an end.

 

Rebirth is an emotional, gritty, down and out filthy look at humanity. The dregs of society seem to survive because they’ve misplaced or ditched their morals in favor of life. It’s not always a good thing though. Hope, dreams and love have no place in this dark world. It’s a barren place filled with danger. Unless you dare to grab hold of a better life. At the end of the book I was exhausted. Through the bad decisions, life threatening situations and the courageous choices, I learned about Cass. Watching her missteps were painful, but by the end of the book I knew those mistakes were necessary for any type of future to occur.

Side note: Those who hate cliffhangers may not be thrilled with Rebirth. Know that the biggest plot line is wrapped up and a new plot twist occurs at the very end. We’ll have to wait months before learning how it turns out, but I’m good with that.

Review: The Forgotten Locket by Lisa Mangum

28 Jun

The Forgotten Locket by Lisa Mangum
Shadow Mountain (June 9, 2011)
Hardback: $18.99
ISBN: 978-1-60908-049-5

There are spoilers included in the book’s blurb and the review posted below.

Favorite Lines: “Because the truth is I chose life–with all its unpredictability and impossibilities and messiness, and with all its joy and beauty and love. I chose you, Abby. I want to be where you are. I want to be by your side as your life unfolds.” (Withholding the page number to leave you in suspense. lol) Continue reading

Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

11 May

Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends (April 12, 2011)
Hardback: $16.99; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 978-0-312-65008-7

Favorite Lines: “Every so often, they picked a citizen at random. They put artifacts in his private space and then they accused him of hoarding. They needed the consequences to be fresh in everyone else’s mind. This was how they kept us from questioning their decisions I’d once believed the elders to be benevolent and wise.” (p. 113) Continue reading

Coming Soon: Shady Lady by Ann Aguirre

23 Oct

I’d spent my whole life settling, trying not to attract attention, and generally doing whatever it took to keep other people happy. I didn’t want to do that again. Not when I was finally comfortable in my own skin. Sure, there were certain challenges, like a drug lord who wanted me dead, and the fact that I owed a demon a debt that he could call due at any moment. But everybody’s got problems, right?

Whenever Corine Solomon touches an object, she immediately knows its history. But her own future concerns her more and more. Now back in Mexico, she’s running her pawnshop and trying to get a handle on her strange new powers, for she might need them. And soon.

Then former ally Kel Ferguson walks through her door. Heavily muscled and tattooed, Kel looks like a convict but calls himself a holy warrior. This time, he carries a warning for Corine: the Montoya cartel is coming for her—but they don’t just pack automatic weapons. The Montoyas use warlocks, shamans, voodoo priests—anything to terminate trouble. And Corine has become enemy number one…  Ann Aguirre’s website

Review: The Sweet Scent of Blood by Suzanne McLeod

26 Sep

Favorite Line: ‘How’d it go with the horny bastard then?’ (p.68) Read a chapter at the author’s website.

Genevieve Taylor is the only sidhe living in London. She’s also a member of Spellcrackers.com, a witch owned business which solves magical problems by neutralizing them. However, living under the protection of witches comes with a price: no contact with vampires. Not really a big deal when you don’t want to deal with the blood sucking undead, but a huge problem when Genny is roped into helping prove a vampire didn’t kill his girlfriend.

Suzanne McLeod has a wonderful imagination as most people who have read her Spellcrackers.com series will verify. She brings new life to vampires, fae, sidhe, goblins and trolls; she makes magic. . .well, magical. I discovered this when I read her introductory book, The Sweet Scent of Blood, which proves not all urban fantasy novels are equal.

Not unlike other series (think Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire series), vampires are ruled by different houses all of which seem to have a secret agenda. Vampires are sneaky, so what they want and when they will let the rest of us know could happen at any point in time. McLeod does introduce the idea of vampire venom being similar to crack. Basically at the same time a vampire sucks blood, it is injecting an addictive venom into its victim’s blood. The venom, V1, increases red blood cell production and kills off disease. It also makes a person reliant on being bitten.

But what truly makes this urban fantasy stand out are the descriptive introductions of  paranormal creatures and the world in which all the creatures cohabitate. With descriptions like “muscle bound child”… with a “liver spotted face,” McLeod ensures her readers have  clear picture of the paranormal city of London.

Despite the great world building and quick pace, I had one issue with the story. I kept feeling like I was missing something. Kind of like a ghost hovering out of eyesight, the niggling feeling that I wasn’t getting an important part of the storyline about drove me crazy. In the end, I think McLeod did this on purpose to interest her readers in the next Spellcrackers.com book where several story lines will need to be addressed.

If you are a rabid reader like I am, you might find the setting to be a convenient part of The Sweet Scent of Blood; I did. Simply because the books are originally released in the UK before being exported to North America. What does this mean? Well you can purchase The Sweet Scent of Blood at Borders, Barnes & Noble and Amazon, but you can’t get book 2, The Cold Scent of Death in North America until May 2011, and book 3, The Bitter Seed of Magic until May 2012. Which is why I bought book 2 from The Book Depository and will pick up book 3 in November 2010 from there as well. (Can you say free international shipping? You can buy a book for $2 and get it shipped to you for free.)

If you buy the UK version keep in mind word spellings will be different.

Read other reviews at:

The SF Site
Dear Author
My Favourite Books

And check out Marta’s interview with Suzanne at Vampire Wire.

Coming soon: Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane

28 Mar

Releasing: Del Rey (June 22, 2010)

THE DEPARTED HAVE ARRIVED.

The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.– Amazon

Review: Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep

20 Mar

Favorite Lines: “Last word she ever said. I flicked my wrist, and the sharp point of the screw zipped across the room and sank into her throat, puncturing her windpipe. Ace. Evelyn’s scream turned into a whistling wheeze. She slid from her plastic chair and hit the floor. Her hand wrapped around the screw, and she pulled it free. Blood spattered onto the carpet, looking like an abstract Rorschach pattern. Stupid of her. She might have lived another minute if she’d left it in her throat.” (p. 7)

Gin, aka Spider is an assassin who works at a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit. Her handler Fletcher lines up well paying assignments for her, but she’s also been known to take on pro bono cases as well. Gin is more than a talented killer, she is a Stone elemental who can also call Ice magic.

When a quick and easy killing goes wrong, Gin finds her handler dead and herself on the run. It leads her to Detective Donovan Caine, a man who doesn’t know what he wants from her. The Spider killed his partner.

Working together in order to stay alive, the two follow the trail of corruption in various directions while trying to stay ahead of an Air elemental who isn’t afraid to get her hands a little bloody.

Reading about an assassin is not high on my to do list, well it wasn’t before I read Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep. Now I can’t wait for the next installment about the elemental assassin. Told in first person, the story jumps into action with a murder gone right and keeps on running. While there were no huge surprises in the story, the well-rounded characters made the reading enjoyable. The ability for all characters to grow helped endear them to me, and there wasn’t one person that I wanted to die. Add the possibility of Gin and the detective having sex and you’ve got tension that seems to be building up to an orgasm.

I’m not a huge fan of Donovan Caine, but I appreciate the way Gin handles him. She isn’t snippy nor does she ever try to cram information down his throat. She kinda steps aside and lets him figure it out. She recognizes Donovan’s dilemma of brain versus body. His body wants Gin, but his mental aversion keeps her at bay.

I love books with a quick pace, interesting people and endings that don’t feel forced which makes Spider’s Bite a winner with me, if you couldn’t already tell. Book two, Web of Lies, will be released May 25, 2010, according to Amazon. I think this book will dig into the Spider’s past and picks up soon after the end of Spider’s Bite.

Dante’s Girl by Natasha Rhodes

13 Jan

dantesgirlrhodesFavorite Lines: “Before she could react he grabbed a fistful of her hair in his other hand and crushed his mouth to hers, his tongue seeking to pry apart her lips.” (p. 60)

It sucks when you boyfriend is hiding things from you. Especially when you think he’s going to propose, but  instead he gets himself murdered, leaving all kinds of nightmarish creatures hunting you. Kayla Steele finds out the hard way that her boyfriend is keeping secrets and out of self-preservation defends herself against attacking werewolves.

When her dead boyfriend, Karrel Dante, visits her and tells her that she has 30 days to hunt down his killers and end their lives, Kayla’s life takes a darker turn. A turn that exposes her to corruption, betrayal and vampires.

Dante’s Girl is told in the third person and bounces from character to character. We start off with Kayla, before jumping to Karrel and several other characters. It can be confusing, but it gives the big picture and leaves little to the imagination.

Kayla is introduced as an appearance obsessed woman, but over time we discover a caring, compassionate person. She has her flaws and can be downright stupid, but she always seems to redeem herself. For example, after getting pissed off when Karrel stands her up, she goes drinking, gets smashed, meets a hot stranger, and goes to a private party with him. Just when I begin to think she is too stupid to live, she wakes up and thinks what a fool she is and extricates herself from the situation. This happens several times throughout the story.

I was really attracted to Mutt, a werewolf friend of Karrel. He has much more face time than Karrel and wormed his way into my heart. I want to know more about him, and was seriously angry with his ending. (Read the book.) It seemed unfair and selfish.

I haven’t made up my mind about this story. I bought the next book in the series, The Last Angel, when I bought Dante’s Girl so I will continue the series. If it is as confusing as the first, I won’t continue the series.

If you want to know what other people thought about Dante’s Girl go visit loves vampires, Fantasy Book Critic, and Various Thoughts.