Matt Larkin has done it again!! This short story is an amazing prequel or follow-up to Children of Sun and Moon. Both the characters and plot made me want this story to go on forever!! The only issue I have now is how to tell my husband that I’m in love with another fictional character–Malin!
Check out my very first interview with Pure Textuality!! I love this blog!!!
Review written by Alana
A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.
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.
First, I need to say that I am a sci-fi junkie. I love Star Wars, Stargate, and Star Trek. I’ve read all the Dune novels—more than once—and there is nothing like a good “out of this world” mystery. That said, I also do not like sci-fi strictly for its science part of it. The story line must be there. I love layers upon layers of the worlds that the writers build. I love characterization and interactions between people among the chaos of a sci-fi world. I love Star Wars because it’s riddled with good vs. evil, love, choices, and surviving against the odds. Sci-fi appeals to me because it adds another layer of what ifs to our everyday life. I mean, imagine you are a leader of a group of people who are isolated and stranded. You are trying everything you can think to help them survive. Now imagine being in a space ship a million miles from earth…it adds a whole other set of problems.
Across the Universe is similar to The Host in that it uses aspect of the sci-fi genre, but essentially it is about relationship interactions and the consequences of people’s actions. The chemistry between Elder and Amy is fantastic. The set of circumstances that Amy wakes up to is intriguing. How would you react if you woke up and everyone you knew was either dead or still frozen? She doesn’t just accept what is happening to her and move on. She questions everything; she is really pissed off, and of course depressed. Her reactions are real to me. Of course I don’t agree with all of her decisions or responses, but the author remains true to her character.
Elder is enigmatic. Can you imagine being mature enough to lead people at 16? But he definitely is not your typical 16 year old. In fact, I forgot that he was only 16 many times while I was reading; however, then he would do something a typical 16 year old boy would do and I would become more drawn into his character. I love how the author only gives us teasers into his thinking though—it is enough to grab the reader, but at the same time keeps him mysterious.
The entire story is rich and layered to keep the reader on their toes. Just when I think I had it all figured out, the author flips the plot. I don’t get surprised by the climax of books very much, but this one totally gave me a slap in the face. I give this book a strong 5 stars!!!
Across the Universe on Amazon: Across the Universe
Jamie Nevin struggles with her identity as much as any sixteen-year-old girl. Well, maybe a little more. Jamie just discovered that she is not human—at least not exactly. The child of a doomed union between a noble of the Unseelie Court and a Seelie Fae, Jamie has been raised by her mother hidden away from both courts in a small New England town.
Troubled by vivid dreams when asleep and plagued by paralyzing headaches when awake, Jamie knows something is wrong. After the strange disappearance of her mother, and the unexpected appearance of family she never knew, Jamie is forced to accept a truth about her past that puts her future at risk.
To make matters worse, while she works to determine who to trust, Jamie’s best friend Allie keeps a powerful secret from her.
Thrown into a world she doesn’t understand, Jamie must use her fledgling powers in a fight to stay alive and avoid capture by the Keeper, a soulless creature that frightens even the things that go bump in the night.
Shannon and Rachel here again…we had so much fun chatting about Amber Lynn Natusch’s Framed, that we decided to review debut YA author Amanda Zabski’s Between Worlds together too! Don’t worry, we’ll let you eavesdrop…
Rachel: I’ve never really given much thought to fairies. I mean, other than the required high school reading of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (which I don’t think I fully read) and watching “Tinkerbell” with my four year old, fairies have just never had a place in my life. Until now…
Shannon: See, I’ve always loved the crazy world of the fae…dark little mischievous creatures that they can be…minus the whole Sookie thing…I’m not a reader of that series but I watch the show (don’t judge me, Eric Northman is a GOD) and I don’t see her as a fairy…just sayin’…but Jamie…
Rachel: I love Jaime. She’s quiet and withdrawn, but she is definitely not weak. Everything she learns she takes in stride. She never freaked out, even when things seemed extraordinarily dire, but it fit her character. She has one friend; her best friend. I wouldn’t call her a loner, though. I think she understands that having one true friend is more valuable than having a lot of fake friends. And Allie is definitely a true friend. She is more outgoing than Jaime, but still has no more friends. Allie is strong as well, but I think she shows a bit more weakness than Jamie… Patrick is one of those “main men”, if you will, who just kind of flies under the radar. He’s not extremely handsome, but also not revolting. He has a great personality and lots of charisma that make him seem more handsome than he is.
Shannon: I loved the characters…Zabski did an exceptional job with each one of them. I felt like I was walking in Jamie’s shoes…and then Zabski pulled the rug out from underneath me. I love an author who has the ability to totally change my perspective of both the story and characters over the course of the book while still staying true to them and, can I just say, Zabski is a genius??!!!
Rachel: YES…I love everything about this book!! The plot, the storyline, the characters, and especially the way it was written. Zabski has incredible talent and I love her writing style. She has an incredible way of building up anticipation and I was on pins and needles wondering what was going to happen.
Shannon: Me too!! I swear I got up to check the locks on my doors like, twenty times while I read this book. Her writing style is just so exceptionally descriptive. Zabski has a way of contrasting the mundane with the remarkable so that the reader gets a sometimes beautiful, sometimes eerie, but always crystal clear picture of her world.
Rachel: Um, can I just say that I was disappointed by the ending of this book??
Rachel: I hated that it had to end!!! I actually think she ended it brilliantly, which can segue perfectly into the next book (which I am eagerly anticipating!!!).
Shannon: I wanted more, too! Which, of course, is one of the signs of a great book. Amanda Zabski nailed it with her debut, Between Worlds, and these reviewers are clamoring for the second installment in the Rite of Passage Trilogy…
A happy side note that this book is a true Young Adult novel. No sex, language, or other shenanigans make it a great read for middle school aged kids, yet captivating enough for reviewers in their twenties and above (I’m not saying how far above, so don’t ask)–this is a book for all ages. We heart this book!!
Betwee Worlds at Amazon: Between Worlds (Rite of Passage Trilogy)
The Lunar King bargained his daughter away in marriage to end generations of war between the two dynasties of the Skyfall Isles. The King sends his niece Chandi along as handmaid to his daughter. Chandi has two tasks: watch over her cousin, and spy on the Solars. The Solars cost her everything she cares about, and now she wants nothing more than proof of their treachery so she can go home.
She knows little of spying, but the blood of the Moon God running through her veins gives her powers mortals can’t match, powers that let her slip into places she’s not supposed to be. Of course, the more she uses her powers, the faster she becomes a lunatic.
When she discovers a Solar soldier, Naresh, watching her, she decides to return the favor and stick close to him. But as he shows her the wonders of the domed underwater city, she begins to realize the Solars are not what she thought. Soon, she’ll have to choose between loyalty to her people and her own heart.
Truly, I had no idea what to expect from Children of Sun and Moon when I first downloaded it onto my Kindle. Author Matt Larkin asked me to check it out and, while I’m always up for a new adventure, I had to be honest and tell him that this didn’t seem like my usual fare. Let’s be realistic…no vamps, wolves, angels, demons, witches, mages, or other known-to-me supernaturals in the description. I gotta say, though, I essentially got my ass and expectations handed to me by this book…it was that good…
I’ll start with the characters, since I do love a strong female lead. Chandi was kickass!! A true fighter, this lunar knows exactly what she wants and goes after it. I love her. She is sassy and takes crap from no one, yet protects her family above herself. Ratna, her spoiled cousin who I nicknamed Bratty early on in the story, was incredibly well written in her annoyingness (probably not a word, but go with me) and Larkin did a great job of making me want to slap her entitled face. Naresh…ahhh, Naresh. I’ll admit that I had preconceived notions about the kind of character he was going to be. This was one of those rare moments in life when I’m glad I’m not always right. Naresh is a soldier…but so much more than that…
So the beginning of the book was a bit of a culture shock for me, I’m not gonna lie. The names, places, and even food are all Indian (not Native American) sounding, and I found myself stumbling over them just a little. I got used to them a few pages in, though, and they added richness to the story that I really liked. It was unlike any other world I’d ever read for so many reasons. Total originality points. A couple editing issues in the book caught my eye, but nothing so detrimental as to cause alarm–I just always like to mention them for those who are sticklers about those things. There were also a few fight scenes in the book which were a little too blow-by-blow for my personal taste. I generally prefer an overview to the “he ducked this punch while swinging his right arm in a hook and kicking so-and-so in the cojones” thing. Some people are into that, though, and that’s cool too. If you are, there’s a smidge of it in there–though not a ton.
Now, on to the true genius of Children of Sun and Moon: Larkin is an amazing storyteller. His writing is descriptive, yet keeps a quick pace with no wasted information clogging my already at capacity synapses. Maybe storyteller isn’t descriptive enough. Maybe I should say that Larkin is a storyweaver. His universe is chaos and brilliance and honor and destruction and love in once amazing place. I was completely captivated by the world that he crafted with the Solars and Lunars and cannot wait for the next book!!
Children of Sun and Moon on Amazon: Children of Sun and Moon (Skyfall Trilogy)
Zoë Merrick lived a less than ordinary life, until late one night, she was brutally attacked and left for dead.
A man named Adam spotted her running down the road covered in blood, and took her under his wing. Zoë didn’t just survive that night – she underwent a physical transformation and acquired strange new abilities. Severed from her old life, her frustration grows as she tries to comprehend what’s happening to her.
Serendipity leads her to Justus. He’s handsome, arrogant, and not entirely human. Zoë learns the truth about what she is, and just how dangerous their world is for a young Mage. The only way she will understand her power is by putting her trust in this man, and accepting the protection he offers.
When her immortal freedom is threatened by the one man who has a right to claim her, Zoë learns the price of freedom…and the value of loyalty.
I picked up Sterling because of the same friend who recommended Angelfall. While she hadn’t read the book, she was curious about it and I decided to be the guinea pig this time around. I’m still quite pleased with my decision.
The book starts off following Zoe, who’s character was a bit hard for me to pin down at first. She is written very sharp and sarcastic in one scene and then seems almost sullen in the next…like there was no clear sense of identity. I just didn’t feel that the character was very well developed going into her transformation. BUT…what a transformation it was. Dannika Dark did an amazing job of introducing the new Zoe after her near-death experience. Somewhere during Zoe’s transformation, the book experienced one as well. Her character became solid (and still sarcastic-a-plenty) and her world opened up to me, albeit a new, mysterious, and secretive world. The world of the Mage. Not the typical magic and spells kind, either, but a world where energy could be harnessed and borrowed and then utilized when necessary. The fabulous part was that the supernatural didn’t get in the way of the story, but rather enhanced it.
Speaking of supernatural and enhanced…can I dish about Adam and Justus??? The leading men in this story are fascinating indeed. Adam is the handsome savior from the night of Zoe’s attack who may or may not be more than he seems. Justus comes into her life later and speaks a word that will forever transform her existence. I know what you’re thinking…a love triangle. It’s what I was thinking. But Dannika Dark outwitted me, and I love being outwitted…
Dannika Dark’s writing style is fast paced and laced with sarcasm, both of which I adore. My only issue with the book, other than the character development early on that I already mentioned, was the editing. There were quite a few grammar and punctuation errors that made me a little nuts (and I’m normally the sort of reader who hardly notices that stuff). Her writing style was very similar to Amber Lynn Natusch of the Caged Series and Karen Marie Moning of the Fever Series. Overall, I really enjoyed Sterling and have already downloaded the sequel, Twist, to my Kindle.
Sterling (Mageri Series: Book 1) at Amazon: Sterling (Mageri Series: Book 1)
It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.
Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.
Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.
It pains me to say that Angelfall sat on my Kindle for nearly three weeks after I bought it before I actually started reading it. Luckily, a friend had already “cracked out”, as she likes to say, on Susan Ee’s brand of heavenly goodness and made sure that I got my a$$, er wings, in gear.
I’ll start with a little disclaimer that if you can’t handle reading material that is a sometimes more than a little dark and disturbing, this might not be the book for you. Having said that, though, I must also say that Ee writes in such a way that even the disturbing is beautiful…a feat not undertaken by many but mastered by this amazing new author. Her characters are believable and remain true throughout the story and the plot is fresh and gripping – sometimes in a loving chokehold kind of way.
Penryn is not the dominant female voice that I usually love in a lead. I’m not saying that she’s weak…she’s definitely not…I just didn’t feel like I necessarily knew her as well as I would have liked by the end of the book. Surprisingly, though, I totally didn’t care. The dire situation with Penryn’s family and her complicated relationship with Raffe (who has one of the greatest lines I’ve read in a book recently, by the way) were so captivating, that I found myself at the end of the book only hours after I started, desperate to prolong the journey. And, as I’m all for impossible romance and completely against spoilers of any kind, I’ll just say Angels plus Humans equals Big No-No. I know, you’re excited already, right??? Me too, only I’m excited for the second book (due this summer)!!
Angelfall is a stellar post-apocalyptic novel with plot twists I definitely did not see coming…dystopian hasn’t looked this good since The Hunger Games.
Angelfall at Amazon: Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1)
After the death of her parents, Ruby awakens from a lifetime of shadows and finds herself alone, thrust into a world of lies, deceit, betrayal and the supernatural. As her quest for truth continues to come up short, she realizes that maybe some questions really are best left unanswered. When her true identity is finally unveiled, she is forced to choose between two of the mysterious men who continually seem to crop up in her life.
She chooses poorly.
Now abandoned, Ruby must learn to call on the darkness within to survive, or spend a hellish eternity imprisoned because of it.
I have a confession. You are now reading a review by someone who is not above choosing books solely based on their covers. Give my eyes an ethereal, captivating, or disturbing image to burn into my mind and I’m in. Yep, I’m superficial. But, this shallow girl scored big time using that selection criteria with CAGED, the first novel in The Caged Series by Amber Lynn Natusch. Amazingly, the inside was even better than the outside as I found CAGED to be a well-written novel with fabulous character development, brilliant dialogue, and a gripping plot.
It’s next to impossible to talk about this book without giving away spoilers…it’s one of those books that grabs you from the first page and doesn’t let go until the very last word. Ruby is easily the coolest protagonist I’ve ever read…and I’m not just saying that because I totally identify with her. She’s sarcastic as hell, she doesn’t deal with her emotions, and she’s into music and shoes. What’s not to love? Throw in the incredibly yummy men that Natusch has written into Ruby’s world (one of whom is my new book crush) along with the supernatural element…and you have a recipe for sheer reading bliss!
While reading the prologue, my husband made the ridiculous mistake of trying to ask me a question. I held up a silencing finger and shook my head in an attempt to nonverbally communicate to him that I would answer his question later. Poor guy. Later never came. I stayed up night all glued to Ruby and company. I laughed out loud more times than I could count and ended up with whiplash from the OMG plot twists. Despite the fact that I was carrying luggage for a European vacation under my eyes the next day, I could not shut up about this book. I was talking about it to everyone and my husband. Literally. Not since the Fever Series, have I been so enthralled. CAGED is one of those books…it just sucks you right into its world without warning and by the time you realize what’s happened, you don’t want to come back to reality…you enjoy life in Ruby’s head.
If it sounds like one amped up rollercoaster ride of amazing, that’s because it is…CAGED is an original, fast-paced, character driven paranormal romance that had this reader ignoring the pull of reality in order to find out what would happen next.
On a side note, once I finished CAGED, I was desperate to read HAUNTED, the next book in the series. I found the authors website at http://www.amberlynnnatusch.com and emailed her. Amber was fabulous when she responded and she even was gracious enough to allow my bookclub to interview her via Skype for our discussion of CAGED, which was fantastic! I highly recommend CAGED and will be reviewing HAUNTED in no time!
The Caged Series at Amazon: CAGED (The Caged Series)
I’m nearly giddy to be sitting here typing away on this blog right now, which is pretty typical. You see, as a redhead, I’m known for having two settings: absolutely fabulous and downright evil. When I’m doing the things I love (reading, writing, dancing, running, etc.), I’m a happy girl. Otherwise…well, you get the idea. So, it is with much delight that I introduce you to my…hmmm…I was going to say humble endeavor, but we redheads just aren’t humble by nature, so I’ll say it is with much delight that I introduce you to my exciting endeavor that will be a book review for MOSTLY indie books. I’ve recently discovered quite a few amazing novels out there being published by the very people that write them…who knew?? That’s not to say that I won’t occasionally read and review a mainstream work, or that one of the other Gingers won’t, but my main focus will definitely be the indie market. And, on that note, I’m off to read…
So…stay tuned for lots of fun reviews and be sure to check out the rest of the site for info about the rating system, review policy, and more about redheads, of course! 🙂