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Review: Night Forbidden by Joss Ware

24 Jul

Night Forbidden by Joss Ware
HarperCollins/AVON (July 31, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9780062018649

Favorite Lines: “The sight was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. The emptiness billowing inside her mingled with affection and love for Yvonne, and the quiet knowledge that she’d always be an observer rather than a member of a close-knit family. She’d always be a surrogate mother instead of one herself. She’d always have to be on her guard about letting anyone too close to her.” (p. 32, egalley)

The world is ash, destroyed, and now controlled by Strangers. Survivors live in constant peril. But in the heart of Envy, resistance grows . . .

Somehow Bruno “Fence” Washington survived the apocalypse—emerging from a Sedona cave into a strange and terrible new world . . . fifty years later. Now, scouring the ruined earth for answers about the malevolent Strangers, the former extreme sportsman encounters an Amazonian beauty who calls to his every desire, but whose secret could mean his end.

Ana grew up in the ocean, diving far beneath the waves to the remnants of a world she never knew. Try as she might she can’t resist the man who tempts her in ways she never knew possible . . . whose touch elicits truths she swore never to reveal. But the passion between them won’t be denied even though it means facing a new evil rising up from the roiling waters to blanket the world in unending night.

I love Ware’s dark post-apocalyptic world where her Envy Chronicles world is set. It’s violent, deadly and full of passion. Passion for survival and for the unexpected appearance of love. No one is undamaged. No one is who they seem to be. All you can be certain of is the appearance of the zombie like former humans wondering the earth and some form of a happy ending. Warning: Don’t try to jump into the series with this book or you will be lost.

Night Forbidden introduces a new aspect to the world: mer-like people, aka Atlanteans. They aren’t Disney merpeople either. They are the reader’s key to learning about the sunken city of Atlanta. Through the water-loving people the reader learns about the crystals which have been sought after throughout the series. We also get to revisit some of the main characters from previous books. One of them, Zoe, about drove me nuts. I wanted to smack that chick.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the book once I realized the heroine could breathe underwater. I’m not a fan of mermaid books. I should have known Ware wouldn’t let me down. I was fascinated with all aspects of the story. Now there is danger coming on earth and water. It added to the tension which was being built. I want more. Mostly I just want to read Remy’s story, but I’ve a feeling that will be the last book.

If you’re looking for a romance book that involves mutated people, zombies and world building which will suck you in, you’ve got to pick up Ware’s Envy Chronicles. Each book is better than the last and I can’t wait for the next installment to come out.


Movie: ParaNorman; You Know You Wanna See It Too!

13 Jul

I Blame Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy

3 Mar

Years ago I became obsessed with reading paranormal romance and urban fantasy. I love the strong women who don’t take shit, but are comfortable with letting their man lead in the bedroom. Most of them are proficient at the art of kicking ass and find the most yummy alpha men ever. But the genres themselves have done things to me.

  • No, they aren't my puppies!

    I randomly fixate on my appearance. I panic because I need to lose weight to avoid spending my undead years chunky. I look at my poor, raggedy feet, then the next time I’m at the store buy a pumice stone. Why? I can’t live forever with feet that need to be pedicured on a daily basis. Picture it with me. Waking up next to my alpha man and running my foot up his leg only to draw blood cause my feet were dry, sharp chunks of flesh. Then there is the obvious, ultimate gross out: hair. I need to shave my (fill in the blank) and shape my eyebrows or it could be quite a lonely future when you live forever and are a hot mess.

  • Occasionally I consider the necessity of an apocalypse care kit. You know when the angels/zombies/shifters strike against humanity I will be a survivor. Maybe. I don’t know about living in a world that doesn’t have running water or television or Internet…But just in case I change my mind. I’d be sure to pack bottled water, lighters, matches, aerosol hairspray (instant flamethrower, duh!), a baseball bat and Hostess coffee cakes.
  • Sometimes I wonder if holy water would work on paranormal creatures. Would it work even though I’m not Catholic? Would it work if I took it from a church since that’s basically stealing?
  • Knowing when I die I will be cremated. Have no fear. This woman is not rising back up as a corpse.
  • Is that cool area of the room the result of ghost? Is it a malevolent apparition? Are wererats in my house?
  • Being thankful that my tubes are tied so I don’t end up like the dumb-ass Lori chick from The Walking Dead. You know, the lady who got pregnant and deserves to be eaten because she got pregnant while dodging zombies.

There are so many other things that I blame paranormal romance and urban fantasy for, but I’ll leave a few for you to express in a comment. Come on! What do you blame those genres for?

Review: Horizon by Sophie Littlefield

25 Jan

Horizon by Sophie Littlefield
Harlequin/LUNA (Jan. 24, 2012)
Trade: $14.95; ebook: $10.99 (ebook available 2/1/2012)
ISBN: 9780373803422

Favorite Lines: “She did not yet know the limits of her strength, but she was ready to be tested, and tested again. She would be tempted and discouraged and broken, but she would come back each time, into this world that had been bequeathed to them, into the dangers that threatened them and the joys that waited, buried but not impossible, for them to unearth and cherish.” (p. 400, egalley)

Of living things there were few….but they carried on.

Cass Dollar is a survivor. She’s overcome the meltdown of civilization, humans turned mindless cannibals,
and the many evils of man.

But from beneath the devastated California landscape emerges a tendril of hope. A mysterious traveler arrives at New Eden with knowledge of a passageway North—a final escape from the increasingly cunning Beaters. Clutching this dream, Cass and many others decamp and follow him into the unknown.

Journeying down valleys and over barren hills, Cass remains torn between two men. One—her beloved Smoke—is not so innocent as he once was. The other keeps a primal hold on her that feels like Fate itself. And beneath it all, Cass must confront the worst of what’s inside her—dark memories from when she was
a Beater herself. But she, and all of the other survivors, will fight to the death for the promise of a new horizon…

Horizon is the final book in Sophie Littlefield‘s dystopian Aftertime series. If you haven’t read books one and two (Aftertime and Rebirth) do NOT attempt to read Horizon. (Check out Littlefield’s comments on writing this gritty series here.)

I’m almost at a loss on how to write this review. If you’ve checked out my previous reviews of books one and two you know I REALLY liked them. They are dark and gritty and push the limits. I alternate between disgust, acceptance and wonder at all the recovering addict and single mother heroine does in order to survive in a world gone mad. I’ve followed her on her journey to recover her daughter and finding her self-worth. I’ve watched her risk it all to save a man. I’ve been sick in my stomach with worry about the depths Cass has fallen and rooted for her to make it just one more day sober. All of that comes to an end in Horizon, but not until the final page is written.

Horizon shows a Cass struggling to survive. The stress of “normal” living has knocked her out of sober living. She wants to be a better person so badly, but her need to escape the stresses of life have chased her into sneak meetings with Dor and alcohol. Meanwhile the man Cass risked it all for is struggling to survive the torture inflicted upon him during the events of book two. Littlefield has done an excellent job writing an indecisive character who has had nothing but bad heaped upon her for years. I felt Cass’s pain and revolt throughout the story. Emotionally this book wore me out. I wanted to rest when I finished it and that’s how you know it’s worth reading. I needed to think about it, not to decide if I liked it, but to ponder on everything that happened.

Watching Cass figure out if she wants to be in a relationship and with who, along with the way the men treated her, had me nervous that Cass would self-destruct. Watching her pull up her big girl panties and make hard decisions, made me proud of the woman she could be. Even better was the way all the plot lines were wrapped up. Sure one, was unexpected and almost too easy, but I’m so happy it was included. I don’t know of any better way that familial plot could have been addressed, so I’ll brush by it.

Horizon, like Aftertime and Rebirth, is a hard book to read. I don’t see myself re-reading it often, but I will revisit it. There is something about the trilogy that speaks to me. When the world is devastated, there will be good and bad people who survive. There may even be zombies. But the human will to survive is a powerful thing. Littlefield brings a glimpse of hope to a world beyond destruction. It’s not a feel good experience. However, it is keeper bookshelf material. It’s something to remind you that there is more than fluff in the urban fantasy/paranormal/dystopian field. It’s a trilogy written by a grown woman for adults. It’s not pretty, but it’s so worth reading. Off the top of my head, it’s the only zombie series that I consistently recommend.

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: Eat Slay Love by Jesse Petersen

14 Jul

Eat Slay Love by Jesse Petersen
Hachette Books/ORBIT (July 2011)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780316102926
Favorite Lines: “You know, normally I’d feel badly about killing a kid, even though we had to do it from time to time and it wasn’t anything personal. But this kid had a Justin Bieber haircut, so I actually smiled as Dave thunked his shovel into the boy’s neck.” (p. 108, egalley)

Sarah and David might have solved their marriage problem – but that pesky zombie apocalypse just won’t go away.

They have survived the zombie apocalypse.  They stood side by side and fought the undead, mad scientists, and even bionic monsters until the unthinkable happened. A zombie bite.  But not even that could stop them. Now, with a possible cure in hand, they’re headed east, looking for a safe zone behind the rumored “Wall.”  They’re feeling pretty optimistic.

That is until Dave stops sleeping and starts lifting huge objects.

Eat Slay Love is book three in the Living with the Dead series written by Jesse Petersen. In Petersen’s series each book picks up where the previous ended. I read book one and skipped book two, yet was able to read Eat Slay Love without a problem. The book explains the events of book two.

The couple introduced in book one, Married with Zombies, is no longer on the verge of divorce; they are in love. The events which led them to book three are directing them toward the Midwest Wall. The wall is said to divide the zombie plagued parts of the United States from the uninfected. They don’t know if it’s myth or fact, but are determined to reach it.

The story is fun, light-hearted and gory. It isn’t afraid to take on all forms of zombies, discuss the lengths people will go in order to survive and show the love which exists between a married couple. The people Sarah and David meet on their journey play an integral role in the story. And the decisions made will either save or destroy them.

Purchase or Ignore: Buy it. It’s a fast paced urban fantasy with a romantic and comedic tone. It’s gross and enticing at the same time. Petersen has managed to put decomposing zombies and love together without throwing in gratuitous sex. She mentions sex, but doesn’t do the in-depth 10 page sex scenes.

In other news, Eat Slay Love is the last book which will be published by Orbit. Petersen announced on her blog that she will be indie publishing “a collection of short stories in the Living with the Dead series in August.”

Review: Skeleton Crew by Cameron Haley

10 May

Skeleton Crew by Cameron Haley
Harlequin/LUNA (April 28, 2011)
Trade: $14.95; e-book: $8.79
ISBN: 9780373803262

Favorite Lines: “Everyone has an irrational fear. For some people it’s spiders, for others it’s snakes, or maybe clowns. I have a big fucking problem with zombies. I can deal with ghosts–even the really creepy ones. Hell, I share my condo with a spook, an old woman named Mrs. Dawson. I can also deal with dead bodies–as long as they stay down. If they get up and try to eat me, that’s just too fucking much.” (p. 15) Continue reading

Review: Black Magic Woman by Christine Warren

8 May

Black Magic Woman by Christine Warren
St. Martins Press (April 2011)
Mass Market: $7.99
ISBN: 9780312357207

Favorite Lines: “In her mind, he seemed to grow in size, muscles ripping and easing until she could have sworn he stood at least three inches taller and broader than he had a minute ago. Then the pleats in his coat stretched again, this time actually splitting to accommodate the emergence of a set of beautifully feathered, enormous white wings.” (p. 43) Continue reading

Review: Dark & Disorderly by Bernita Harris

28 Feb

Dark & Disorderly by Bernita Harris
Carina Press (June 2010)
Ebook: $5.99
ISBN: 978-1-4268-9033-8

Favorite Lines: “A momentary and very bleak vision intruded: myself, despised and unemployable, years hence, holed up in my little house, surrounded b twenty-nine stray cats, forty-nine stray dogs and an equal number of homeless ghosts that I’d gathered for company.” (p. 148 )

“I was standing there naked when my dead husband walked into my bathroom…”

Lillie St. Claire is a Talent, one of the rare few who can permanently dispatch the spirits of the dead that walk the earth. Her skills are in demand in a haunted country, where a plague of ghosts is becoming a civic nuisance.

Those skills bring her into conflict with frightened citizens who view Talents as near-demons. Her husband comes to see her as a Freak; so when Nathan dies after a car crash, she is relieved to be free of his increasingly vicious presence. Lillie expects to be haunted by Nathan’s ghost, but not to become Suspect #1 for her husband’s murder and reanimation.

But what’s most surprising of all is the growing attraction between her and psi-crime detective John Thresher. He thinks that Lillie killed Nathan–and Nathan must agree, because his zombie is seeking revenge. Now she and Thresher must work together to solve her husband’s murder–before his corpse kills her…

Dark & Disorderly is a paranormal romantic suspense written by Bernita Harris. It takes place in a world in which ghosts have made themselves visible. In response to the dead, some humans seem to have mutated on a genetic level to help deal with the problem. Those people are usually marked by their white hair. They walk a thin line between being respected and feared/despised by other humans.

I want to start by saying, “I never saw the twist this book took.” Some people will call me slow for not seeing where the author took the story. I think the author did an excellent job distracting me with all of the events taking place that I lost sight of the direction the story was taking. I thought I was reading a romance; what I got was urban fantasy. I’m not complaining. I was in the mood for a HEA and I didn’t get one. It’s not a fault of the author, just one of those quirks readers have that matter only to the reader.

Let’s discuss the characters. I really enjoyed several of them, but one that I didn’t = Detective John Thresher. He was so wishy-washy that I couldn’t stand him. I wanted him to fail at everything. He pissed me off throughout the entire story. On the other hand there was Lillie. I liked her. She was strong enough to say what was on her mind and to protect herself. For the most part she avoided TSTL territory and she didn’t put up with a hero’s bad treatment. She called him on it.

Would I recommend this book to a friend? I don’t know. It’s only available in ebook format and it’s the first book in a series. It’s entertaining, the world building was great, the suspense had me wondering…but I hated the hero. This is one of those books that I liked, but don’t see myself reading about. It wasn’t bad…it wasn’t great…it just was.

Review: Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield

17 Feb

Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
Luna (February 2011)
Trade: $14.95
ISBN: 9780373803361

Favorite Lines: “She hadn’t been able to clean herself in days, and she knew she carried the smell. The long hair on the back of her head, the hair she hadn’t pulled out, was knotted and tangled. Her nails were blackened and broken. Real Beaters usually had no nails left, but how could the girl be expected to notice a detail like that?”

Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Having no idea how many weeks have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished.

And with her, nearly all of civilization.

Where once-lush hills carried cars and commerce, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.

In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. Smoke is her savior, and her safety.

For the Beaters are out there.

And the humans grip at survival with their trigger fingers. Especially when they learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, of weapons in a brave new world….

Aftertime takes a harsh look at the world after the apocalypse. It is a dangerous and deadly place where the smartest people shoot first and ask questions later. It is a world where zombies and disillusionment have been mixed together to build a place where only the strongest survive.

It is not a feel good type of book. There is a moment toward the end of the story that my lips burned with sympathy pains for a character and other moments where I didn’t know if the end was ever going to come. It seems like one problem after another constantly popped up and I’m more than pleased with the way Sophie Littlefield avoided bringing unrealistic closure to the different plot lines. She went hard all the way.

The heroine of the story, Cass, is a damaged, former drug abuser who I found hard to like. Not because of her bad choices during the events of the book, but because her difficult life and the poor life choices she made before the world went psycho caused her to become a person I would never like in reality. But her goal and determination to reach her goal made Cass human to me.

Aftertime is built upon the idea that all people make mistakes…it’s what you do after you realize mistakes have been made that forms determines what kind of person you truly are. There is a light romance thread throughout the book and a constant drive to survive. The groups introduced in the story are vastly different from each other. The most important thing to remember about Aftertime is nobody is who he/she appears to be.

Aftertime is the first book in Littlefield’s series. The next book, Rebirth, will be released in August 2011.