Tag Archive: suspense


red cellsRed Cells by Jeffrey Thomas

Published March 18th, 2014 by DarkFuse

Buy this story at: Amazon

 

Synopsis:

Private detective and mutant shapeshifter Jeremy Stake (hero of the novels Deadstock and Blue War) has fallen on hard times in the far-future city of Punktown. When he is offered an opportunity to masquerade as another man to do his prison sentence for him, Stake agrees, but this is a new type of penitentiary—existing in its own pocket universe.

In this isolated prison, a series of gruesome murders have occurred, and the inmates soon force Stake to investigate. Can Stake catch a killer that might not even be human, without becoming just another victim?

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this story from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you DarkFuse!

A story that is under 100 pages has no excuse to be boring, this one was boring. But it was also not badly written. In fact, I think if the story was given more time and space to develop then it could have been really good. As a short story, however, it felt rushed and hectic.

The character of Stake was an interesting one. He is a mutant who can assume the physical form of another human. He is normally a private investigator but things are tough and he agrees to do a stint in prison for someone else. Naturally chaos follows and gives him a mystery to solve. I liked him as a character, though he was a tiny bit stereotypical for a private investigator type. However, because the story was so short I felt like I didn’t really learn much about him. Since he is the main character in two novels this is not to be expected, but it would have been a nice addition.

The story was also a good one. A prison that is located in pocket universe and something is killing the prisoners. That is very interesting. But unfortunately, the story was told to me almost exclusively instead of showing me. That was annoying. Don’t tell me! For heaven’s sake do a little bit of creative writing and show me.

It was also pretty predictable. As soon as they described the killer to me, I thought….well of course it’s that X thing/person that they told us about. And it was. This could have been done a lot better. I have no doubt that the author can write better than this, I can see the talent there. But this story did not showcase that talent at all.

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extinctExtinct by Charles Wilson

Published May 15th, 1997 by St. Martin’s.

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Books a Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

From the Gulf of Mexico’s warm shallow waters…to the deepest parts of the Pacific…terror comes to the surface…

Six-year-old Paul Haines watches as two older boys dive into a coastal river…and don’t come up. His mother, Carolyn, a charter boat captain on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, finds herself embroiled in the tragedy to an extent she could never have imagined.

Carolyn joins the marine biologist Alan Freeman in the hunt for a creature that is terrorizing the waters along the Gulf Coast. But neither of them could have envisioned exactly what kind of danger they are facing.

Yet one man, Admiral Vandiver, does know what this creature is, and how it has come into the shallows. And his secret obsession with it will force him, as well as Paul, Carolyn and Alan, into a race against time…and a race toward death.

 

Rating: 1 star

 

Review:

This book was a serious letdown. I was told that it was different from other books in the “giant shark killing people” genre. But it’s not. It is exactly the same as every other book on the subject out there, but with even more confusion and irritation.

Let me start off with a bit of a rant. I NEVER EVER EEEEVVVVVEEERR want to see any of the following in a monster megalodon shark killing people book/movie again:

 

1. A story about the megamouth shark or coelacanth. Anybody who has ever read a single one of these stories knows those stories already! We already know about how the coelcanth was thought extinct for millions of years until one was caught in 1938. I could recite the story for you word for word with the amount of times I’ve heard it in these books. And we already know that the megamouth shark wasn’t even known to exist until 1976, and so the existence of one giant shark without anyone knowing means it’s possible for the megalodon too. I KNOW THESE THINGS, STOP TELLING ME!

2. Also, can we please stop telling the story of the shark attacks on the Jersey shore in 1916. First, I know the story like the back of my hand. But also, can we please stop saying that it was a great white shark that was responsible. Some of the attacks took place in a river. The only shark known to mankind who can survive in rivers is the bull shark. The attack pattern fits a bull shark. Most scientists have been split more than 20 years ago that it was not a white shark but a bull shark, even though officially the attacks are still recorded as white shark attacks. But seriously, stop it already.

3. I realize the the Marianas Trench is a fabulous place to say that a 100 foot long shark has been hiding for millions of years, and that’s a find theory. However, then the shark comes back to shallow water and hasn’t evolved in the last however many years to reflect their new environment? They still have exactly the same coloring as a great white, which is a shallow water predator. But I have a feeling that over many millions of years spent in deep trenches with no light, these predators would have changed and evolved their coloring and hunting patterns. Why would they still need to be able to use their eyes for sight? Living in the Marianas Trench they would have no need for sight. Why would they still have dual coloring, they don’t need to disguise themselves from prey because there is no light for their prey to see them.

4. Please please please stop giving killer sharks families that they go on revenge sprees for! Sharks do not have families. Sharks do not have mates. Sharks do not care for their babies. They get pregnant (often violently) and then they give birth and the babies are on their own. Expecting me to believe that a whole family of sharks is out there and getting revenge when one of them is killed is so laughable. Two second on Google would tell you that it was stupid and ludicrous.

 

Alright, now that I’ve had my little rant, lets move on to the flaws in the writing of this book:

 

1. I did not know until 200 pages into this crappy book that it actually was taking place in different places, Florida and Mississippi. That is not the mark of a good author. I thought they were in Florida and all of a sudden someone mentions Mississippi and I had no idea where that came from.

2. I have the ability to suspend my disbelief a great deal, but I couldn’t with this. There was two 25-foot megalodons, one 50 foot megalodon, and two 200-foot megalodons….but they only manage to eat about 10 people total. What the fuck is up with that? And why are these mega-predators eating scrawny bony little humans when there are whales and seals to be had? And if these sharks had so much food to eat in the depths, why come to the surface at all? Again, no logical sense made.

3. Switching between different character POVs literally every 4 paragraphs is not an effective way to tell a story. All it did was confuse me. It took me almost the whole book to figure out who all the characters were because I never spent more than a page with any of them. Boring, and annoying.

 

If I want a giant killer shark book that is at least funny in its stupidity I’ll go back to the MEG series, because this sucked.

 

of monsters and madnessOf Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Expected Publication: September 9th, 2014 by EgmontUSA

Pre-Order this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books a Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.

Summoned to her father’s home in 1820’s Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father’s assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they’re letting on.

 

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you EgmontUSA!

 

This book left me feeling very lukewarm. And a bit confused. But let me explain….

When I first read the synopsis of this book, I was intrigued. I am a Poe fan, but I wouldn’t call myself a purist. I was promised a “historical retelling of Gothic horror.” I got a lot of gothic, not a lot of horror. And not exactly a retelling of Poe, unless you count random snippets from his works and a story about how he was inspired. I quickly discovered just what kind of retelling we were dealing with…and frankly it would be obvious to anyone with a brain.

The setting of this novel was exactly what I expected. A dark, dank, gothic Philadelphia complete with thunderstorms to set this mood. I loved this way more than I should have. I was all set for a horrific tale of Edgar Allen Poe! That was not exactly what I ended up with.

Annabel was not a bad character, she was just boring. She was infinitely nice and sweet. But that was about all of the substance that she had. She should have been amazing. She had an interest in medicine, she has scars that she is not entirely clear what they are from, she is living in a new country far from home. How did she end up so unbearably dull?

Apart from that, not much happened. And I do mean that literally. There is a serial killer, and we quickly learn who that is. There are murders but there’s really only one or two “graphic” scenes and they really weren’t that good. I got much bigger heebiejeebies from scenes in Unwind or The Madman’s Daughter. This just paled in comparison.

Now for my biggest issue with this book, the ending. Actually I don’t even think I can call it an ending. It was just starting to get exciting! We were approaching the pinnacle of the plot! The climax of the story! And then I was at the last page….I don’t even understand it. What happened to the second half of the story? After the climax there is supposed to be a resolution! I was denied a resolution! Why was I denied a resolution!?

On a side note, kimonos don’t come from Thailand, two seconds on Google told me that. Also  Annabel kept describing her kimono in ways that made me think of a shawl that wrapped around her shoulders, so I am not even sure it was a kimono.

Overall I enjoyed the story, though it was a little dull. And I was set to give it four stars, but then the ending happened and I just can’t forgive that. Still enjoyable but the ending left me feeling cold.

tabula rosaTabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Expected publication: September 23rd, 2014 by EgmontUSA

Pre-order this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books A Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who’s trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence by opinions in any way. Thank you EgmontUSA!

 

I must say that I really loved this book. I had a droolfest over the cover when I saw it the first time. I read the synopsis and drooled some more. And then I got the ARC and just about had a happiness seizure. Ask my hubby, he remembers that day. It was not perfect however, but the faults were minor at best.

The book opens with Sarah being prepared for surgery on her brain. They go through all the details, keeping her head still, running her through a few memory exercises, making sure she isn’t cold. They get prepared for the surgery and….the lights go out. In that short moment, someone presses something into Sarah’s palm and then her surgery is called off. At first she is annoyed. This was her final surgery. After this she was going to get a new life! Be a blank slate! And it all got postponed. But when she looks at what was in her hand, all of it changes.

The most fascinating thing about this book is that we know as little about the world Sarah lives in as she does. We don’t know if she was a victim of a horrible crime or the perpetrator or something else entirely, and neither does she. She only knows what she’s been told. After this she’ll have a new life and she shouldn’t ask too many questions about her old life because it might undo what the surgeons have tried to fix. That made for a great journey as a reader.

As far as the action sequences went, I had no complaints. I felt they were well written and engaging. This book gave me someone to root for, which I think is always necessary. But I did feel that we spent too long on one particular aspect of the plot when we could have been exploring what was hidden in Sarah’s brain. The romance was unnecessary but it didn’t come off too strong so in the end I didn’t mind too much.

My only real problem with this book was the ending. It just was sooooooooo sappy and sweet, I think I got a cavity honestly. Compared to the rest of that book being dark, foreboding, action packed, and occasionally funny the ending was sickly. It was a nice enough ending but it clashed with the rest of the book.

 

nightlifeNightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin

Expected publication: October 21st, 2013 by Pocket Star

Pre-Order this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books a Million

Synopsis:

For centuries an ancient evil has slept beneath the streets of New Harbor. This Halloween, it wakes up.
An action-packed debut horror novel from talented new writer Matthew Quinn Martin, Nightlife pits a feisty bartender and a mysterious loner against bloodthirsty terrors as alluring as they are deadly.

Nightclub bartender and serial heartbreaker Beth Becker might be a cynic. But when her best friend goes missing Halloween night, Beth knows it’s up to her to find out what happened.

Her quest will take her on an odyssey through the crumbling city of New Harbor, Connecticut. Along the way she meets a homeless prophet warning of something he calls the “Night Angel”-a bloodthirsty creature that feeds on the forgotten. And she will form an unlikely bond with a hunted stranger who knows all too well what stalks the streets at night.

Rating: 4 star

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the publisher and author!

This book was both exactly what I expected and not at all what I expected, which is a rather strange sensation I’m sure you can imagine. I am always looking for a good vampire book but I want that vampire book to be something unique. That is why I am still giving this particular niche a chance, I want something different and new! In a sense, this book provided that. But also a lot of cliches.

Characters – Jack Jackson was a complete cliche if I ever saw one. The solitary man who has dedicated his entire life to hunting down the thing that caused him to lose the love of his life, working alone and very antisocial in his quest. But after awhile I didn’t really even mind the clicheness of it because I thought Jack was kind of funny. He made me laugh a few times and I really liked his character. Beth was a pretty good character overall but again, pretty cliche. The stubborn, tough, rough around the edges girl who tends to push everyone away from her but ends up being the unlikely sidekick of the previously mentioned antisocial man on a mission. And yet again, I found that I didn’t really mind the cliche. Beth was interesting and fun, and pretty kickass in her own right. Now she did have a certain amount of the required horror book idiocy about her but it was minor and short lived. None of the other characters really made much impact on me since they seemed so incredibly expendable. When they were around then they were decent enough but then they just are gone and I hardly noticed they were gone.

The plot was fairly interesting in that a bunch of vampires (or whatever they are) have camped out in this little town and are feeding on the homeless population…at least until that can’t sustain them anymore and they go after more risky targets. Jack comes roaring into town, runs into Beth, and together they go to fight and demolish the evil creatures. This was all great. Add it in a shadowy organization that seems intent on…well I’m not sure exactly because they are hardly mentioned at all. What made the plot all the more enticing for me was the origins and true nature of these vampires. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like it before. It was very unique and I loved it. I also loved that for once in a book like this the characters seem to be aware that other vampire books, movies, etc exist and have seen them. That doesn’t happen often and frankly it baffles me as to why.

By the last page I was really enjoying this book. I wish that we had heard more about “The Division” (previously mentioned shadowy organization) because it seems like that was going somewhere to just get left hanging. The ending was satisfying and not entirely a happily every after but pretty close. And it had enough of a set up for another book that I wouldn’t mind reading the sequel, but if I never read the sequel then the ending was a satisfying one for a stand alone book. This book gets one and a half thumbs up from me, add in more of The Division and it could be a full five stars next time.

Review: Fragments by Dan Wells

fragmentsFragments by Dan Wells

Published February 26th, 2013 by Balzer & Bray

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Books A Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

Kira Walker has found the cure for RM, but the battle for the survival of humans and Partials is just beginning. Kira has left East Meadow in a desperate search for clues to who she is. That the Partials themselves hold the cure for RM in their blood cannot be a coincidence—it must be part of a larger plan, a plan that involves Kira, a plan that could save both races. Her companions are Afa Demoux, an unhinged drifter and former employee of ParaGen, and Samm and Heron, the Partials who betrayed her and saved her life, the only ones who know her secret. But can she trust them?

Meanwhile, back on Long Island, what’s left of humanity is gearing up for war with the Partials, and Marcus knows his only hope is to delay them until Kira returns. But Kira’s journey will take her deep into the overgrown wasteland of postapocalyptic America, and Kira and Marcus both will discover that their greatest enemy may be one they didn’t even know existed.

The second installment in the pulse-pounding Partials saga is the story of the eleventh hour of humanity’s time on Earth, a journey deep into places unknown to discover the means—and even more important, a reason—for our survival.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

I cannot guarantee that this review won’t contain spoilers for book 1, but should be free of spoilers for this book.. So if you don’t want to read spoilers only read this first paragraph please. I loved this book. I was kid of lukewarm on the first book but was interested enough to continue, and boy am I glad I did. If you get nothing else out of this review, read this series. Now stop reading or else it’s your own damn fault if you get spoiled.

Like I mentioned a moment ago, I was pretty lukewarm on Partials (book 1). I thought it was decent but nothing out of this world. But the ending piqued my interest and so I wanted to see what happened. That brings us to Fragments. From the beginning of this book you know the stakes are high. Kira has discovered a cure for RM but apart from that one child they haven’t been able to replicate it. Samm is off to parts unknown and Kira has run off to find answers that Nandita sent her after at ParaGen. And this is where our second story begins.

Kira was still such a good character. I found her to be tough, real, gritty, and has a real soft spot to her as well. At times she got on my nerves a little bit with her whole, “OMG I’m a Partial, but I love the humans!’ routine but overall I had few complaints with her. I will just say that I loved the interaction with her and Vale. I won’t say anything else about that because it would ruin it, but it was fantastic! I felt just as confused and conflicted as Kira did just reading that part.

Samm and Marcus are officially my book boyfriends. I love them both so much I can’t even put it into words. They are so different but both so awesome at the same time. I think if I was forced to choose who I like more it would have to be Samm because he made me cry in this book, but that doesn’t diminish my love for Marcus. Although Marcus did get a bit reckless in this book, but it was all for the right reasons and that was important.

The plot moved along rapidly but it was well structured so it wasn’t too hard to follow. I really liked the introduction of Afa, he was a much needed and useful character. I really liked how many answers we got in this book. But at the same time those answers created more questions so it was a good balance. I LOVED the descriptions of this world so much in this book. It felt real and raw and I could see it in my head as we went along.

And the ending…whoa, is all I have to say. Even though I finished the book hours ago I can’t get over the ending. It took me by complete surprise and made me cry. I ended up putting the book down and just sat there with my mouth hanging open for a few minutes before I could wrap my head around what happened. I am already salivating over the idea of the final book and it causes me physical pain that it isn’t coming out until 2014. I am sold on this series, completely and utterly sold.

Not very often do I do movie reviews, I leave that to my husband who does plenty of them at the dinner table. But we got both of these movies as RedBox the other night and the contrast between the two was astounding so I had to comment. And let’s just get one thing straight right out front, Side Effects was my pick. Oblivion was my husband’s pick, I am not a fan of Tom Cruise and made quite the face when he suggested it. Oh and there will probably be spoilers, so walk away now if you don’t want to be spoiled. Anyway, onward!

 

Side Effects

Side Effects is a psychological thriller released earlier this year. It stars Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherina Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum. The film centered around a young woman who was prescribed a brand new, and fictional, drug for her depresion called Albixa. She experiences some rather intense side effects from the drug and ends up murdering her husband while sleepwalking. If you are like me and not a fan of Channing Tatum you’ll be happy to hear that he plays the husband, so he’s not around for long. This movie did a great job in making me feel sorry for poor Emily. She had everything and it was all ripped away from her. She miscarried a baby, her husband is imprisoned for insider trading, then he gets back out and she can’t bear to tell him how depressed she is because she wants to start fresh with him. She drives her car into a brick wall in what appears to be a suicide attempt and thus our story begins. This starts her on a rocky path to find the right medication with minimal side effects and she insists on continuing to take Ablixa even after she starts sleepwalking. Unfortunately for everyone it is in one of those sleepwalking episodes that she stabs her husband to death and is put on trial for his murder. But everything is not as it seems in this world.

This was a very devious little plot. Admittedly I found myself getting a bit bored in the beginning because it seemed like not a lot was going on. But once the story got started, holy crap did it get started. After that, the plot twists and turns were thrown at you quicker than you can process. Even though part of the plot was a teensy bit predictable I think it was meant that way. We were supposed to be yelling at Jude Law that she’s a lying sack of garbage and not to listen to her. That kind of predictable little plot point made it so that the real twist was totally unexpected. At a certain point in the film my husband and I just turned to each other and raised our eyebrows in unison as if to say “well that was different!”.  It didn’t even end there either. It got weirder and darker after that turning point too.

This has a current score of 84% fresh on Rotten Tomatos and I think that it is richly deserved. This was a delightfully dark little film.

 

 

OblivionOblivion is a sci-fi post-apocalypse flick starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. It occurs in the year 2077 where the earth has been attacked by people/creatures they have dubbed “Scavengers”. The “Scavs” blew up the moon which sent the Earth into chaos with flood and earthquakes destroying half the planet within hours. After those initial hours it turned into all out war with the world eventually turning to the only logical solution…nuke the hell out of the other half of the world. All remaining humans have evacuated Earth to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Tom Cruise stars as Jack Harper who is a technician (Tech-49 to be exact) that is tasked with repairing the drones that are protecting the ocean borne fusion power generators before he and his partner will finally be evacuated to Titan as well. At least that’s what I thought the plot was. Then I read a synopsis and apparently the people of Earth have evacuated to the Tet, a space station orbiting Earth, and the generators are only to be used until they have enough power to make the trip to Titan. I honestly don’t know which is correct, the story was so convoluted that my husband had a completely different third idea of what the plot was. So this one might have to remain a mystery.

I hated this movie, it was SO BORING! Tom Cruise’s characters is a whiny bitch through most of the movie. Seriously, stop reminiscing! I get it, you miss old Earth but it ain’t coming back pal so get over it already. I was immediately suspicious that things were not as they seemed when Jack Harper says it had been 60 years since the end of the war….yet he remembers Earth from before the war and doesn’t appear to be older than say 40. Yeah, something was not right about that. But the movie was so horrendously boring that I quickly forgot about that bit of dialogue until I thought about it after the movie had ended. Here’s the things that bug me about this movie:

1. Jack Harper is a clone, yes a clone. There is no colony of human beings and there are no attacking Scavs. What attacked the Earth was the Tet, which appears to be some kind of artificial intelligence complex. They captured Jack Harper and his partner (the red head, can’t remember her character’s name) and cloned them. The Scavs are actually the only remaining human beings on the planet who are trying to bring down the Tet. Okay, with me so far?  Apparently Jack Harper was recreated as thousands of clones and those clones are the ones who launched and won the war on Earth.  Now they have new clones of Jack and what’s her name to keep everything in order and try to exterminate the rest of the humans. Still with me? Don’t get too cocky, it gets worse.

2. If they have thousands of clones of Jack who were, and I quote, “mindless killing machines”…why did they not continue to use those clones? They were apparently perfect mindless soldiers. Where did they go? Humans lost the war so they couldn’t have killed them all, where are those clones now? And since they were so effective at taking over Earth there would be no reason to deactivate them or kill them so I repeat, where did all these clones go?

3. The Tet tells Jack that he and his clones have a “history of insubordinanation”. Okay, that explains why he goes rogue all of a sudden but why didn’t he before? Some might argue it was because in this case his old wife from Earth was back and it prompted him…well then what history of insubordination could there have been? And if Jack keeps rebelling, why is the Tet, which was smart enough to annihilate Earth, not smart enough to alter the clone so that this doesn’t keep happening? If Jack keeps tapping into the original Jack’s  memories then why not make the next Jack clone a “mindless killing machine” like the old ones?

4. At the end of the movie we see that Jack has impregnated his wife before he killed himself for the greater good of humanity so they have a daughter. Why do clones need to reproduce? He was created to maintain the drones, and we know he was screwing the red headed clone so how were there not more little clonelets running around? Why did the Tet create the clones with the ability to reproduce? Why is that necessary?!

5. Oh hell, I don’t even know what five is because I’ve gotten so pissed off about numbers one through four.

6. If the Tet can create clones and had thousands of drones that are not in use, wouldn’t it be more logical to just replace the drones that are getting attacked? Why do you even need the clones to repair them? Just make more drones and then you don’t have to worry about Jackclone and his “history of insubordination”! Complete and epic logic fail.

7. This movie borrows 95% of it’s plot from sci-fi movies that are much better than this one was. I suggest watching Tron: Legacy, Blade Runner and Planet of the Apes instead of this crap..just to start.

In closing, the 54% rotten rating from Rotten Tomatoes is all you need to know. Believe the 54% they are not lying.

Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman

dueledDualed by Elsie Chapmen

Published February 26th 2013 by Random House

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Book Depository / Books A Million

 

Synopsis:

Two of you exist.

Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

This has to be one of my most highly anticipated book in months. I fell in love with the cover, I’m still in love with the cover. It is spectacular. I also loved the synopsis. The idea behind this book is one that I recognized could be either amazing or terrible, it all depended on execution. This was executed well. Some things probably could have been better but overall as a story I loved it.

The good:

West- She was a fantastic heroine. I found her to be smart, brave, loving, and normal. Unlike a lot of YA heroines, she believes herself to be subpar but isn’t perfect at everything in reality. We all know the heroines I meant. “Man I suck so bad, except for my perfect looks, perfect boyfriend, perfect hair, and inability to do anything that isn’t perfect.” West doubts herself but she’s reasonable in her doubt. She is a normal girl, good at some things and not so good at others. She neither believes she’s amazing or believes she’s terrible at everything. I found her very likely for that reason. I didn’t always understand her motivations but she always made me believe that she was a very girl who was trying her best to do the right thing.

Ending- I will be the first to admit it, I didn’t see the ending coming. Not even a little bit. Of course most of these kinds of books end in one way. The hero/heroine realized how wrong the system is and tries to subvert it in any way possible. That is what I was expecting but it’s not what I got. At this point I am at a loss for how the series will progress but I will be thrilled to find out. I am in for the long haul on this series and I think the ending played a large part in that. Best of all, the ending could serve as the perfect ending for a stand alone story. It was a satisfying end to that story that I wouldn’t mind if it ended right here but there’s still enough of a story to keep going with it too.

Narrative/World Building- West was a good narrator for the book, I liked her thoughts and didn’t mind being inside her head. Sometimes I thought she was being something of an idiot, but still didn’t mind her narration. The world building was good enough that I didn’t have any trouble at all picturing it in my head. I couldn’t quite get a grasp on the rules for the world but it was well put together for the purposes of the book.

 

The not so good:

Alts- Obviously the Alts were being presented as the protagonists of the book, but I felt that this limited the book in a lot of ways. The Alts are not necessarily the bad guys, we only perceive them that way because our character, West, is being pursued by hers. So since we’re supposed to be on her side then her Alt is automatically the bad guy. But if you honestly look at it then her Alt is going through exactly the same thing as West is. She also has to fight her Alt to the death and leave her family to do so. She also doesn’t know if she’ll be alive or dead in 30 days time. So ultimately they have the same path. I would have liked to see both West and her Alt and get sympathy for both of them. It would have made it less about us versus them and more about us being pitted against them unwillingly.

West as a Striker – I didn’t understand that decision at all. It seemed to come out of left field. Why did she want to do that? Why did she think that would help? And even if she thought it would help, why did she continue after being declared active? It puzzled me all the way through the book. It was an interesting part of the story but since it seemed to have so little effect on the character or the final outcome then I have to wonder, what was the point? Maybe this will be explained later on in the series but I didn’t get what the author was trying to go for.

It used the two most cliched phrases ever- “His eyes darkened briefly.” and “I released a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding.” Authors, please please please I beg you, stop writing these things! It makes me cringe every time I see them. Really it does. Enough is enough. I am banning those phrases from the English language forever.

Much more positive than negative and I can honestly say that I couldn’t put it down. I sat on my couch and ignored the world for the entire last 130 pages, with no break. I just had to see how it would end. If nothing else tells you whether I’d recommend this book, that should.

 

 

 

The Farm by Emily McKay

the farmThe Farm by Emily McKay

Published December 4th, 2012 by Berkley Trade

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Books A Million / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis:

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race…

Rating: 3 star

Review:

I’m not so sure what happened with this book. The premise is great, the characters are great, I’d heard such great things, but it just didn’t do much for me. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was my mood. I honestly don’t know. By the end of this book I didn’t feel passionately about it in either a good or bad way. Let’s talk about the things I can actually say I did or didn’t like.

Lily was a good character. There have been far too many shrinking violet women in YA books lately. I appreciated that Lily was fairly kick ass and willing to do whatever it took to protect Mel, her autistic sister. I also really loved the brief glimpses we get from Mel’s POV. On the negative side, it was precisely Mel’s POV chapters that allowed me to easily guess one of the “big reveals”. So in the end it was a double edged sword. Conner got on my nerves in the beginning but slowly he grew on me.  By the end I had a teensy crush on him, he’s adorable!

I really liked that we had two different kinds of vampires. On the one hand you have the Ticks, which were everything that vampires have been missing for a long time. They are monsters and I loved them. Then you have the more refined vampires that have retained their humanity…a little. Still monsters and still awesome.

I even really liked the plot, although at times it seemed a bit simplistic to me. The plan was this, escape the farm, run to Canada, hope that Canada is any safer than the U.S.  Hmm, doesn’t sound very brilliant to me. I didn’t mind it as long as what happened on the way to that plan was good and most of it was. But here’s where it fell off the rails for me, the “big reveals.” Big reveal one was not even a reveal since I had suspected as much for most of the book. Big reveal two actually surprised me but I am not sure what it actually has to do with anything about the larger plot. The second big reveal seemed to shoot the larger plot in the foot honestly.

Right now I am unsure if I’ll read the next book. I am leaning toward yes I will read it to see if the plot can recover from the nuke the author threw in it at the end of this one.

agenda 21Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck and Harriet Parke

Published November 20th, 2012 by Threshold Editions

Buy this book at: Amazon / Books A Million / Book Depository / B&N

 

Synopsis:

“I was just a baby when we were relocated and I don’t remember much. Everybody has that black hole at the beginning of their life. That time you can’t remember. Your first step. Your first taste of table food. My real memories begin in our assigned living area in Compound 14.” Just a generation ago, this place was called America. Now, after the worldwide implementation of a UN-led program called Agenda 21, it’s simply known as “the Republic.” There is no president. No Congress. No Supreme Court. No freedom.

There are only the Authorities.

Citizens have two primary goals in the new Republic: to create clean energy and to create new human life. Those who cannot do either are of no use to society. This bleak and barren existence is all that eighteen-year-old Emmeline has ever known. She dutifully walks her energy board daily and accepts all male pairings assigned to her by the Authorities. Like most citizens, she keeps her head down and her eyes closed.

Until the day they come for her mother.

“You save what you think you’re going to lose.”

Woken up to the harsh reality of her life and her family’s future inside the Republic, Emmeline begins to search for the truth. Why are all citizens confined to ubiquitous concrete living spaces? Why are Compounds guarded by Gatekeepers who track all movements? Why are food, water and energy rationed so strictly? And, most important, why are babies taken from their mothers at birth? As Emmeline begins to understand the true objectives of Agenda 21 she realizes that she is up against far more than she ever thought. With the Authorities closing in, and nowhere to run, Emmeline embarks on an audacious plan to save her family and expose the Republic—but is she already too late?

 

Rating: 5 star

 

Review:

I can see this kind of thing coming already so let’s get this out of the way. If your reaction to my rating or reading of this book is any of the following, please take note:

“But Stefani, It’s Glenn Beck! OMG, like how could you possibly rate something with that’s bastard’s name on it that high?! What’s wrong with you?!”   – Okay, seriously, just go away. It’s a good book, take a sharpie to his name if it annoys you so badly.

He didn’t even write it, he’s just slapping his name on it to make money!” – True, but it says so in the Afterword that Harriet Parke conceived of and wrote this novel. So if you want to bitch about this, stop buying James Patterson since it’s exactly the same thing. And if you do buy James Patterson yet bitch about this, just go away.

“This is all just the mindless ravings of a lunatic and it’s just so disgusting!”  – Go away please. If you are so narrow-minded that you can’t enjoy a good story because of whose name is on the cover then there is just no hope for you.

Now, if you’ve made it this far, this book was fantastic. I couldn’t stop reading it, I have kept thinking about it after I stopped reading it, I want to know what happens after the last page, I have to know what happens! This is not a difficult book, it doesn’t use big words and it isn’t overly complex but it really doesn’t need to be. It’s dark, sinister and disturbing all on its own. I stayed up half the night on a week day when I had to work just to read this. Seriously go read it, now. Don’t even finish this review, just go!

Emmeline is a sweet character and I couldn’t help but want to protect her. She has been raised in this community for most of her life and knows of no other way of life, yet she hears stories from her mother about how things used to be. Never very curious about why it all happened, she just listens to the stories and walks her energy board every day like a good Citizen should. She is paired with an older man and has a daughter, who is taken by the community Authorities to be raised in the Children’s Village. That is when things begin to change for Emmeline. Shortly after her mother is taken away because she is no longer being productive and she is re-paired with another man. It is only then that she starts to question the status quo and worry that her opportunity to learn the truth might have passed.

I really liked the way the plot of this book played out. It doesn’t really seem all that bad at first, everything is provided for you and all you have to do is your assigned job to produce for the community and produce new citizens. Seems great. But it’s not. It is confining and restricting. Unfortunately for the younger citizens, how do you yearn for freedom when you have never known it? For Emmeline it is when her daughter is taken from her, which was a heartbreaking moment. The true horrors of this community are never fully explained but alluded to. I liked that since it added to the horror of it but isn’t explicit. Everything was so bleak and dark, even the colors of everything in this world.

I can’t recommend this book enough. I don’t dare say too much about it since it might give too much away. All I will say is that this is so far poised to be my Book of the Year for 2013.