Category Archives: Dystopia challenge

BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Ironskin

by Tina Connolly

Ironskin Series, Book One

YA Steampunk/Fantasy

Book Description

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask over half her face to both conceal the fey curse that scarred her, and to keep its’ effects within. Jane was cursed with uncontrollable rage when she tried to save her brother during the fey wars. In the years since, Jane has survived but is not really living.

Jane finds a position working with a child with “special needs” in the home of the enigmatic widower Edward Rochart. While caring for young Dorie, whose problems are very unique indeed, Jane notices that women cycle in and out of the Rochart home quite frequently…each leaving more beautiful than when they came. Jane is determined to find out what’s going on, but the truth is far more macabre than she could have imagined.

Apparently this story is a retelling of Jane Eyre. I might get my book lover card revoked for this confession, but…I’ve never read Jane Eyre. So I’m not really sure how this book stacks up against it. As a story on its’ own merits, well…

Jane is 21 years old, and the only family she has left is her younger sister, Helen. Because of her curse, Jane is extremely self conscious, a trait that does not couple well with her fey-induced rage. When Jane gets angry (which sometimes doesn’t take much), her anger is like a red hot fire that she can feel inside. It’s sometimes hard to keep it contained. Not only is Jane self conscious, she’s also a bit paranoid.

Edward is a young widower who lost his wife in childbirth. He loves his daughter Dorie, but is somewhat removed from her because of the things she can do. Still, I must ask, is bringing in a nanny who ADMITS that she is cursed with fury the best thing to do for your five year old daughter? This is just something that occurred to me while reading. I found it very interesting that Edward chose to surround himself with an all female house staff.

Even though he barely talks to her and is rarely there for his daughter, Jane falls for Edward. This was probably the most annoying thing to me in the entire book. They spent so little time together, to me it was like Jane’s feelings for him came up absolutely out of nowhere. Despite the way he speaks to her, and all the women she saw coming in and out…Jane still fell in love with him. I didn’t get it, at all.

I did very much enjoy the evil fey elements of the book. In fact, the supernatural parts were the most intriguing to me, and are what kept me reading. The book takes place in what sounds like an alternate post-Industrial Revolution dystopian period. Fey magic used to power the world, but after the war nothing was left and everyone is quite poor. I have very rarely seen fey as the evil entity in a book, so that was unique and appreciated.

As I got to the end of the book, I could see what was coming but the details surrounding everything were a little horrifying. I definitely applaud the author for creating such a cool background story for Edward. The events at the end moved pretty fast, but I was satisfied with the way the book closed.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who wants a different twist on a fey story–but don’t read it for the romance.

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About the Author

TINA CONNOLLY lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and baby boy. Her stories have appeared in Strange HorizonsFantasyBeneath Ceaseless SkiesHighlights Magazine, and the anthology Unplugged: Year’s Best Online SF 2008. Her young adult dystopia play, Witebox, will premier in Portland in 2013. Connolly is a frequent reader for Escape Pod and Podcastle, and works as a face painter, which means a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. Ironskin is her first novel.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2731809.Tina_Connolly

http://www.tinaconnolly.com/

http://tinaconnolly.livejournal.com/

https://twitter.com/tinaconnolly

PURCHASE IRONSKIN

 

REVIEW: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe

by Sarah Crossan

Breathe Series, Book One

Book Description

Inhale. Exhale. 
Breathe. 
Breathe. 
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

Alina
has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.

Quinn
should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Bea
wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

MY THOUGHTS: 2 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

*Below is a review that will most probably make people mad at me…*

Quinn, Alina, and Bea are teenagers in a dystopian future where the atmosphere has been depleted of oxygen, making it impossible for anyone to breathe. As a result, The small population of survivors from The Switch now lives in a structure called The Pod, where air is pumped in and pretty much every aspect of life is controlled by an oppressive government (any of this sounding familiar yet?).

Quinn is the oldest son in a prominent family, and happens to be best friends with Bea, a brilliant but poor girl who has high aspirations. Alina is a member of a resistance group that plans to bring Breathe (the government) down. When Quinn meets Alina, he immediately becomes interested in her, and soon all three of the kids’ lives are intertwined, for better or worse.

Breathe was one of the most anticipated releases of Fall 2012. I was one of those bloggers who heard about it ages ago and immediately put it on my TBR list. But unfortunately, the book description that roped me into wanting to read this book was just about the only compelling thing about it.

I was so excited to start reading this book, but once I started, the many shortcomings I found made me not want to finish it. First off, maybe it’s just me having dystopian overload, but I feel like I have read this story. So. Many. Times. Pure by Julianna Baggott comes to mind, countless others. It’s kinda like the author went down a dystopian novel checklist:
-Oppressive Government: CHECK
-World changing event THAT IS NEVER TRULY EXPLAINED: CHECK
-Resistance group with a crazy leader: CHECK

Then there was a YA checklist:
-Love triangle: CHECK
-Non-existent/non-caring parents: CHECK
-Whiny girl, idiot boy, kickass (but not quite) heroine: CHECK

So many things about this book didn’t make sense to me. Just for example: the kids find a drifter, an older lady named Maude. She explains that before The Switch, she was training in the medical field. That would take a person with fairly high intelligence, correct? Well, in this book she talks as if she just stepped out of 1870’s Appalachia. “I weren’t no threat.” and such. Maybe I picked things apart, but hey, I’m a reviewer so things like this catch my attention.

Characterization was severely lacking in this novel, and I’d be hard pressed to say I found redeeming qualities in any of the characters. Quinn made me want to punch him several times, Alina just wasn’t the smartest, and Bea had no backbone. The sort-of-but-not-quite love triangle was very annoying.

There are several other things I had issues with, but honestly, I am tired of talking about this book and I’m ready to get it out of my mind. I only finished it because I started it…and I kind of wish I hadn’t.

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REVIEW: Zom-B by Darren Shan

ZOM-B

by Darren Shan

ZOM-B Series, Book One

Book Description

When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B’s racist father thinks it’s a joke– but even if it isn’t, he figures, it’s ok to lose a few Irish.
B doesn’t fully buy into Dad’s racism, but figures it’s easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. And when dodging his fists doesn’t work, B doesn’t hesitate to take the piss out of kids at school with a few slaps or cruel remarks.
That is, until zombies attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers.

MY THOUGHTS: 5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Zom-B by Darren Shan

B is a high school kid who lives in London with a racist, abusive alcoholic father, and a mom who doesn’t stand up for herself. B hangs out with a tough group of friends, and has gotten a bit of a reputation.

When the zombie attacks that happened in Ireland (which B and family did not believe were real) come breaking through the front door of B’s high school, race and reputation don’t mean much. After all, zombies don’t notice skin color when digging through someone’s skull to devour their brains.

Well, I never had trouble getting into this book, but I will admit it had a slow start. Besides the prologue, it took more than half the book for zombie action to even happen. But once it did, HOLY CRAP.

The entire first half of the book was basically showing the foundation of B’s dysfunctional family. The father, Todd, is an extreme racist who believes England should be whites-only. Todd drinks too much and takes his frustrations out on his wife, until B gets between them.

Yet in spite of this abuse, B has a sick desire to please Todd. B regularly bullies a black kid named Tyler, and picks fights for no reason. Even though B knows it’s wrong, the urge to make Todd proud is a strong one.

So, then zombies attack at B’s school one day. I must say, this was a zombie novel done right. Blood and gore are not spared in the narrative, and it’s awesome. The undead hordes quickly consume kids in their path, using sharp nails to drill through skulls like plywood. B and friends form a large group to try to find some escape, but their numbers start dropping quickly. Imagine B’s surprise when one of the strongest, most level headed members is a black boy.

As I said, the first half of the book was slow, but the GIANT twist at the end and the explosive final page, combined with an abundance of zombie gore, more than made up for it in my opinion.

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Thanks to Around the World ARC Tours for allowing me to review this ARC.

REVIEW: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

What’s Left of Me

by Kat Zhang

The Hybrid Chronicles, Book One

Book Description

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

SEE THE BOOK TRAILER HERE

MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Eva and Addie are two souls who share one body–though Eva lost the ability to control that body long ago. They are called a “hybrid”–which are outcasts in society and hunted down and sent to government facilities. People are only supposed to have one soul, after all…but Eva and Addie’s body never settled.

They try to hide the fact that they are hybrid, but soon enough they are found out and shipped off to an institution where they meet several other kids like themselves. But something sinister is happening there…and Addie and Eva want out.

I had high hopes going into this book, and it was somewhat different than I expected. It was unique, but at the same time I came away from it feeling I had read this tale before.

The novel is told through the first person perspective of Eva, who is the “submissive” soul in the body she shares with Addie. (I’m not even sure what to call them, really…sisters doesn’t seem quite right? Maybe Soul Sisters. Heh.) Because Addie is the one who puts on the public face and controls the body, Eva is essentially trapped. She can think and speak to Addie in their mind, but that’s about all she’s able to do.

Since Eva was the one narrating, I didn’t get to know Addie at all. They are the same body, but two entirely different people. Characterization in general was weak in this novel. I don’t understand how Addie became the “dominant” soul, when she seems so meek and introverted compared to Eva. I wish this novel would have been told in rotating chapters from each girl…I would have enjoyed knowing Addie’s true feelings about everything that was going on.

Once the story unfolded inside the Nornand facility, then it got kind of predictable. Definitely been there before.

The part that was most confusing to me–how did the issue of a body sharing two souls even happen? Obviously the book is set in our world, at some point in the future…but some event must have occurred to make such a weird thing come about? This topic was not even broached and it’s something I would have liked to see.

I’m glad I read the book, but I wish it would have been a bit more explosive and less predictable.

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REVIEW: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Prodigy

by Marie Lu

Legend Series, Book Two

Expected publication: January 29, 2013

Book Description

Jan. 4. 1932 Hours.

Ocean Standard Time

Thirty-Five Days After Metias’s Death

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengence, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES, LEGEND!

Prodigy by Marie Lu

Right after Day and June have escaped his public execution, they meet up with the Patriots. The situation can be mutually beneficial for both parties–Day needs medical help and wants to find his brother, and the Patriots want the new Elector Primo eliminated. June and Day accept the offer, and put into motion a dangerous plan.

But how can they go through with it when they don’t know which side to trust? Things Day and June have believed in their whole lives are about to change…the nation is on the brink of revolution.

I loved the first book in this series, Legend. I thought it was pretty even in the way the story was told from June’s and Day’s points of view. Prodigy takes the same format, but somehow the story doesn’t come across as evenly–this book is Day’s, through and through.

The sequel picks up right where Legend left off…Day and June get off the train they boarded at the end of Legend. They are welcomed (by most) into the Patriots’ fold, but there’s an air of something different in the atmosphere. Though it’s only been a short time since they’ve seen each other, Tess is suddenly more grown up and crushing hard on Day.

While Legend was driven by Day and June’s relationship, Prodigy sees them separated for the majority of the book. I didn’t feel any growth between them…as a matter of fact their relationship in this book felt rather forced. I could almost find myself believing they’d each be better off with different people.

Where this novel gave me trouble was in the amount of politics I was required to follow. Now, I’m 27 years old and don’t love following all the ins and outs of politics in a fiction book…so I’m not sure how young adults will respond to this same thing. I know this is a subject broached in many dystopian novels; I just happen to appreciate those that contain less political action.

There wasn’t anything compelling me to finish Prodigy in the way there was with Legend. And though the events toward the end were interesting, overall I was disappointed. I won’t spoil the last couple of pages, but I’ll just say that Prodigy ended with a YA cliche that I’m very tired of seeing and I’d hoped this series was above using.

I won’t give up hope for the Legend series yet, but I really want it to improve from its’ sophomore slump.

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Thanks to Around the World ARC Tours for allowing me to review this book.

REVIEW: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend

by Marie Lu

Legend Series, Book One

Book Description

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

MY THOUGHTS: 5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Legend by Marie Lu

Day and June are both 15 year olds living in California, which is now a part of the country known as the Republic. But their lives couldn’t be more different. Day is the Republic’s most wanted criminal, a thief and vandal who has destroyed millions of dollars of military property. June is the Republic’s most promising young agent. She flew threw high school and college and has already come into a position of great power at such a young age.

When the two teens’ worlds’ collide, tragedy strikes. June is dispatched to hunt the boy down and bring him in to the Republic. But soon enough, she finds herself falling for the one boy she is supposed to hate. And when Day opens her eyes to the truths of her world, it’s up to June to save him–before it is too late.

I read this entire book in a single afternoon! It was such a great mix of action, romance, and conspiracy.

The ideas behind the book are nothing new in dystopian fiction…a militaristic regime controls every aspect of civilians’ lives. The rich and poor are separated by wide margins. People are dying of a plague. But the combination of all these aspects came together in a way that kept me turning the pages quickly.

Day is instantly likable. He is vicious and efficient when it comes to his family, but kind when it counts. June is a bit more cold and structured, but that’s the way she’s been raised. Perfection is always expected of her, and she always delivers.

When Day and June meet, the connection isn’t what I would call instant, but there is something there. I like how they change each other. Day opens June’s eyes to the fact that her world isn’t as rosy as she thinks, and June gives Day something more in the world to care about.

That’s not to say that this book doesn’t have a few issues. I did have a couple of unanswered questions–why is the country at war with itself? What caused the apocalyptic conditions? But since this book is the first in a series, I’ll be happy to continue reading to find out if the answers are revealed.

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REVIEW: Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas

Quarantine: The Loners

By Lex Thomas

Quarantine Series, Book One

Book Description

It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.

In this frighteningly dark and captivating novel, Lex Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don’t fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive.

MY THOUGHTS: 2 OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

David is starting the first day of his senior year, and his little brother Will is coming in as a freshman. On the first day at their brand new school however, the most unimaginable thing happens: the whole school becomes locked down and no one is allowed to come in or out. As it turns out, all the kids in the school under 18 are carrying a virus deadly to adults. And until the government can figure out what to do with them, hundreds of kids are living a nightmare.

After a year in quarantine, vicious gangs have formed and do whatever it takes to survive–even kill. David must protect his little brother at all costs…even if Will doesn’t want his protection.

For some reason I went into this book thinking it was a zombie novel…I was quite wrong. The premise of a whole school full of kids being confined is definitely what piqued my interest, but I’m not really happy with the way this novel played out.

There was not very much characterization at all, and I couldn’t connect with any of the kids, whether protagonist or antagonist. The book only tells of one event that happened prior to the quarantine, and in my opinion that wasn’t enough to get a good feel on any of the kids who were there. I know the reader is supposed to root for David and hate Sam…but I couldn’t really do either.

The gangs that formed in the school are really just extreme versions of the cliques that already divide kids in high school–Freaks, Nerds, Skaters, Varsity, etc. I suppose that having all these groups under one intense situation for so long would provoke things, but I have a hard time believing such violence and hatred would occur. Why wouldn’t all the kids try to work together to find a solution?

The book dragged a lot for me, and I only kept reading because I wanted to see if they would be rescued. But even the ending disappointed me. The last event happened so randomly and with no explanation as to how or why.

I know this is supposed to be the first book in a series, but I can’t see myself wanting to read anymore about this horrific group of kids.

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**I reviewed this book courtesy of NetGalley and Egmont Publishing.

BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Book Description

“It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”

Luminous, haunting, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles is a stunning fiction debut by a superb new writer, a story about coming of age during extraordinary times, about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty.

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

My Thoughts

3 of 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Julia is beginning the sixth grade and as an only child, doesn’t have too much to worry about. Then the rotation of the Earth starts slowing. Days and nights become longer, and every aspect of life on Earth changes.

Meanwhile, Julia is quietly dealing with changes personal to her. She’s not developing like some of the other girls are, her best friend has neglected her, and her previously happy parents are beginning to have marital issues. How can Julia handle not only worrying about the fate of the world, but her own life every day as well?

I’m so used to reading POST-apocalyptic novels, that getting into the groove of this book was difficult for me. After all, this is more of a chronicle of the slow apocalypse of the Earth as it was happening.

I had mixed feelings for Julia as a character. On the one hand, I have been an eleven year old girl and experienced the things she did: having to buy your first bra, losing a best friend, trying to decipher the intentions of boys. I feel for her in that she had to go through so many difficult situations basically alone. But part of me wishes she could have spoken out to someone…anyone. It’s like Julia was so quiet and reserved that she was scared to interrupt anyone’s life with her problems.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t totally understand how lengthening days and nights would affect the planet and its’ inhabitants in such a way. After all, as the book itself mentions, aren’t there parts of the world where 30 days of night is the norm? I tried hard while I was reading to wrap my head around why this concept would be so catastrophic, but I still didn’t get it. After all, isn’t time a malleable thing? It only can be quantified because humans made it so.

The read was rather slow for me even though the book was under 300 pages. The Earth was slowing its’ rotation, and the story unfolded in a similar manner. I didn’t actually feel there was much story to be told. I was a little disappointed that no reason was given for the slowing.

The main message I got from this book is that life goes on, even when you think there is no way it will. Even for an eleven year old girl who sees her world literally and figuratively crumbling around her.

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About the Author

KAREN THOMPSON WALKER holds an M.F.A. from Columbia University and is an editor of fiction and non-fiction at Simon & Schuster. The Age of Miracles is her first book.

For more information about Karen and The Age of Miracles, please visit the book’s website, www.TheAgeofMiracles.com, and Facebook page.

One commenter will win a paperback copy of The Age of Miracles!  I will pick a winner and email them on July 15.

REVIEW: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

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Black City

by Elizabeth Richards

Black City Chronicles, Book 1

Black City by Elizabeth Richards

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Natalie and Ash are both living in Black City, which has been ravaged by war, but their lives couldn’t be more different. Natalie is the daughter of the Emissary, a woman with a lot of political power and she knows how to use it. Ash is a half-blood; he has a human father and a mother who’s a Darkling–a blood sucking creature who lives on the fringe of society.

Things are getting heated in the city when the leader of the nation tries to pass a law that would essentially mean death for all Darklings. Ash’s life is hard enough as it is, and things just get tougher for him and the few remaining Darklings and half-bloods. But he finds himself falling for Natalie for reasons he doesn’t totally understand. Ash has to follow his heart…after all, she’s the one who caused it to beat.

OK. Let me just get this off my chest. I almost quit reading this book at first because of one reason and one reason only. NATALIE. I HATE THIS B****!! Yes, I finished the book and was pleasantly surprised that I could give it a good rating, but I still hate her.

Ash, however, was really cool. Even though a lot of people in society look down on him, he is still pretty caring and kind. He helps his dad donate food and supplies to the less fortunate. And yes, it’s very sad that he has to resort to basically being a drug dealer, but even through that, I couldn’t help but feel for him. He was doing what he needed to do to help his family.

Which is why I completely DON’T get why he could have fallen for someone like Natalie. (The TECHNICAL reason why is told late in the book, but he says this reason was not the only one he had for loving her.) She completely came off as a whiny, selfish snob. Yes, I understand she is the daughter of a powerful political figure, but there’s really no reason why she should have been so bitchy and cruelly naive.

Luckily for me, the plot itself was enough to let me rank this book as I did. It’s full of conspiracy and scandal, which is pretty cool for a YA book. It did somewhat remind me of a couple of dystopians I’ve read in the past, though. The Hunger Games and Legend come to mind.

There were definitely a couple of moments that made my jaw drop, and of course I loved Ash, so I will be on board to read the next book in this series. Hopefully I will be able to tolerate Natalie better next time.

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Thanks to Around the World ARC Tours for allowing me to review this book.

BOOK TOUR REVIEW & INTERVIEW: Væmpires: Revolution by Thomas Winship

Væmpires: Revolution

by Thomas Winship

The Evolutionary War Series, Book 1

Book Description

It is the morning of Princess Cassandra’s sixteenth birthday. Everyone’s attention is focused on the heir to the vampire throne. World leaders, the rich and famous, and VIPs from every corner of the globe have gathered in the nation’s capital to celebrate the momentous event.
Cassandra’s boyfriend, Daniel, is late for the party. He’s still outside the city when all hell breaks loose. What he believes is an act of terrorism proves to be a full-fledged revolution. Væmpires—former vampires who mutated into warm-blooded creatures with an insatiable hunger for cold blood—have launched coordinated attacks across the globe, with three goals: the eradication of humanity, the enslavement of vampires, and the ascension of væmpires as the dominant species on the planet.
The vampire and human leaders are killed. Cassandra is missing. Daniel is the acting king. Desperate to find the princess, Daniel and his friends fight their way across the besieged city. With the hopes of the free world resting on the shoulders of four vampire teenagers, væmpires unleash their secret weapons: a new breed of væmpire that is far deadlier than any ever seen before.
What can four teens do against an enemy that can shape-shift, fly, and walk through walls?
My Thoughts

Vaempires: Revolution (The Evolutionary War, Book One) My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the distant future, the Earth as we know it is no more. The planet now has three races: human, vampire, and væmpire. A væmpire is a vampire that has undergone mutations to make it stronger, faster, and in some cases, have special skills that normal vampires do not. Vampires have learned to live peacefully with humans and do not feed on them, but they have also alienated the mutant race of væmpires.

On the morning of young vampire Princess Cassandra’s birthday, they decide to stage a revolution.

Cassandra’s boyfriend Daniel is out in the city when chaos strikes, and instead of going to the palace for a party, he learns nearly everyone he loves has been slaughtered, making him interim king. Over the course of a night, the 15 year old must decide whether to help save what is left of his people, or try to rescue their future queen. The night plays out in ways no one expects.

This book was one crazy thrill ride, and I loved every minute of it. You are thrust right into the action from the very first page, and it never lets go, escalating to a bloody crescendo that left me with one hell of a cliffhanger!

Daniel is so kickass. Any other hero would race straight to his woman, giving no thought to who else might need help. But he somehow manages to consider others, even while dealing with unimaginable grief and with no knowledge of what Cassandra might be in the midst of. He was an awesome character, and he wasn’t too proud to get a little help when he knew he was outnumbered ;)

That doesn’t mean Cassandra was a wimpy princess, at all. She is smart, and a fighter all the way through. She stays royal and dignified throughout her ordeal. The moments she and Daniel have together are heart melting, and I am rooting for them so hard.

The action…oh WOW. Let’s just say it’s not for the faint of heart. These are no romantic, dashing vampires and zombies. There’s tons of killing, blood and gore. Don’t read this book if you don’t like graphic descriptions of violence. But if that is your thing, this book definitely delivers :)

Væmpires: Revolution was an amazing read, and even though I’m frustrated with the cliffhanger (GRRRR), I’ll definitely be reading the next book!

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My Interview with Thomas

Hello everyone. I’m so excited to be today’s guest at Sweet Southern Home! I’m Thomas Winship, author of Væmpires: Revolution and Væmpires: White Christmas. Both books are part of a new, ongoing vampire series that explores the question: what if vampires evolved?
1.  Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve lived in New York my entire life; a little over an hour north of New York City. I’ve always been an avid reader, but I also love listening to music, watching movies, playing sports, going to rock concerts, and attending Broadway shows.

I have a BS in Business and an MBA in Management. My career is in Human Resources—specifically in organizational development, talent management, and training—but I also serve as an adjunct professor for a local college, teaching courses in English Composition, Communications, and Business. And I write, of course …
2.  What made you want to become a writer?

About a dozen years ago, creative writing courses taken in college started to open my eyes to the possibility of writing … but something—career, primarily—always seemed to be in the way.

My wife, Elaine, deserves credit for finally pushing me to follow my dream. In early 2007 she convinced me that it was time to stop wasting time, and I listened.
3.  Who or what gives you inspiration?

I take inspiration from many things. My wife provides a lot of inspiration because she has so much faith in my talents. Movies, books, music … in many ways, the world around us … provide inspiration on a continuous basis. I just try to keep my eyes and ears open because I never know when it’s going to float by.

Since I published Vaempires: Revolution some six months ago, I also started finding inspiration in the feedback from readers. It’s really an incredible experience to have total strangers read something you’ve created and enjoy it. It’s inspirational and awe-inspiring.
4.  Tell us about Vaempires: Revolution.

It’s a vampire novel; but not your typical vampire novel. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic future in which humans and vampires peacefully coexist, until vampires mutate into warm-blooded beings (vaempires) that feed on cold vampire blood.

Over time, these vaempires begin to believe they are the dominant species on the plant and they revolt. In short time, they kill the human and vampire leaders and threaten to topple the standing governments. All that stands between them and victory are four vampire teens.
5.  What’s the hardest part of being a writer?

The number of ideas that I’ll never get to develop. New ideas constantly pop up, but there just isn’t enough time to give them the attention they deserve. So, I jot them down and file them away for the future … but the simple fact is that I’ll never get to most of them. The organized part of me recoils in terror at the thought. The obsessive part of me screams in frustration. The creative part weeps a bit. But the logical part accepts it.
6.  What do you need around you to write (special drink, lucky items, etc)?

Other than random thoughts or cryptic ideas, I don’t physically write anything, so my laptop is an absolute must. Beyond that, I don’t need anything. I do, however, prefer to write in my home office, where I’m surrounded by all of my stuff: my iPods; my walls, which are covered with posters, comic book covers, Star Wars and LOTR plates, and action figures; my two dozen bookshelves that hold my book and DVD collections.

7.  What are some of your favorite books?

I love to read. In fact, there are roughly eighty authors of whom I read everything they publish. I have a spreadsheet that helps me keep track of it all.

My favorite book of all time is It by Stephen King. Anyone who hasn’t read it should do so immediately.

It’s followed a close second by Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. In fact, here are some random thoughts on #’s 2-10 (alphabetically by author):
· Jack Ketchum – The Girl Next Door. The most disturbing, heart-breaking book I ever read. Not for the feint of heart.
· Stephen King – Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass. Poor Roland. Poor Susan. I wish King had written the rest of the series from this point forward. The comics are doing it now, but it’s not the same.
· Stephen King – The Stand. It could happen.
· Stephen King – The Talisman. More magical and innocent than the sequel, yet still dripping with malice and danger. Will we ever see a third book?
· Phillip Margolin – Heartstone. The twists at the end are masterful and unexpected.
· Robert McCammon – Swan Song. Post-apocalyptic perfection.
· Peter Straub – Koko. Ghost Story gets all the acclaim, but Koko is better.
· JRR Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings. Do I need to say anything? Well, I do have one comment: the fact that Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn are not present when Frodo departs for the Undying Lands irks me as much as Chewbacca not receiving a medal after the Battle of Yavin.
· Timothy Zahn – Heir To the Empire. Timothy Zahn saved the Star Wars franchise. Mara Jade is the best Expanded Universe character ever (and a top SW character, period). Whoever made the decision to kill her (and whoever approved it) should be jettisoned out of the nearest airlock.
8.  Are your characters based on anyone you know?

Not yet. Perhaps in the future … but, for now, all the characters are purely fictional constructs.
9.  What, if anything, are you working on right now?

I’m working on the sequel to Væmpires: Revolution, hoping for a release sometime in the fall. It picks up right where Book 1 left off—with that massive cliffhanger that shocked so many fans.
Because so many people are eagerly waiting for more, I may release the first portion of Book 2 prematurely, as a short story or novella.
Below is a short snippet (a short, unedited snippet), so everyone knows that the blood-and-guts action of Væmpires: Revolution continues in Book 2:

Crimson blood spurted as the body and head fell in opposite directions. Hot, væmpire blood that smelled like rancid meat hit the sidewalk in uneven splatters that reminded Linq of a drunken frat boy urinating in a back alley.
Then two things happened at once: he sensed a væmpire—yet another new arrival—closing in, while Ray yelled, “Watch out!”
Before he could react, Linq was grabbed from behind. Strong arms encircled him; hot, sweaty væmpire arms that felt like steel pincers. Linq’s own arms were pinned to his sides as his adversary squeezed him like a vise.
The pressure was tremendous and Linq panicked, throwing his head back in an attempt to crush the væmpire’s nose. He knew it was a mistake as he did it, but his reaction was quicker than his thoughts.
The væmpire dodged the blow, and then did the unthinkable: his head flashed forward and he sunk his fangs into Linq’s exposed neck.
Every cell in Linq’s body erupted in unmitigated pain. Nothing in his education, nothing in his imagination—in his nightmares, perhaps, but not his imagination—nothing in his experience or training had prepared him for such pain.
His eyes rolled back in his head and his jaw snapped shut, his fangs slicing deep into his tongue. He didn’t even notice.
Then the væmpire drank.

10.  Why do you love writing?

There is no way to do justice to the feeling of creating something from nothing, except perhaps when you share the thing you created with other people and they enjoy it. Readers, in particular, are amazing. It’s pretty incredible to realize that I arrange words on paper (or in pixels) and strangers choose to read them.

I’d like to thank all of you for stopping in and offer a very special “thank you” to Carrie for inviting me to Sweet Southern Home. I hope you enjoyed the interview. I’d love to hear what you think of it and/or answer any additional questions you may have. Post comments or questions below and I’ll be sure to respond.
Feel free to stop by my website and reach out. I’d love to hear from you if you check out Vaempires.
Below are links where you can find me.
Take care,
Thomas Winship

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**BLOGGER’S NOTE: Um, the digital version of this book is only 99 CENTS!! Buy it, it will be the best 99 cents you have spent in a while!! :)

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