Tag Archives: Ratings

Month of Reads – June

It’s that time of the month again (no – not that time) when I go through some of the books I’ve read and give them a mini-review.  There’s so many talented authors and great books, but so little time to read their works!  But I endeavour to do my best.  Here’s my reads for June!

Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1)  Life as we knew it Susan Beth Pfeffer

Genre – YA, Apocalyptic Sci-fi

Plot – Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all–hope–in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

Review – This book is the first in a series, and is written in journal form as it states above.  I thought it might take me a while to get used to the diary format, but it did not hinder me whatsoever.  I thought this was a very clever, well thought out and researched piece.

After the moon is hit by a meteor and knocked off kilter, all sorts of horrors face the planet.  The MC – Miranda, describes these events and how her family – her  mother and two brothers attempt to survive. Each wave of horror that arrives; tidal waves, earthquakes, eruptions and climate change – all happen because of the influence the moon has on our rock.  The most devastating change follows after volcanos erupt, blanketing the sky in an ash that brings on a long winter.  It kills all crops – leaving the surviving populations trying to live and scavenge through starvation and illness.

It’s a coming of age story, but in no way would anyone want to be shaped and matured by such devastation.  I couldn’t put it down. Great book.

Rating – undiminished by volcanic ash, a bright 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Space Games   Space GamesDean Lombardo

Genre – Sci-fi

Plot – Say hello to Robin and Joe—contestants in 2034’s “Space Games,” a high-stakes reality TV show from Hollywood producer Sheldon J. Zimmer that is set aboard next-generation space station, ISS 2. The winner takes home a multimillion-dollar jackpot and a chance at stardom, while the loser faces the ultimate in public humiliation. Only former NASA astronaut Vince, acting as the station’s commander and the games’ sole referee, can separate sexy spitfire and martial artist, Robin Miller, from her brutal opponent, “Big Joe” O’Donnell, as the pair compete inside the cramped zero-g environs. Watched by millions of people back on Earth, the reality show rapidly degenerates into a deadly spectacle.

Space Games is a compelling story and a biting satire about reality television: those who make and participate in it – and those who watch it.

Review – Space Games lives up to the hype.  It is a brutal free for all, a fast paced, violent and yet a satirical look at human nature and the nature of reality television gone too far.  The two main protagonists, feisty Robin and tough Joe, go head to head in an ultimate battle of the sexes show, which quickly descends into chaos.  Morality blurs and hard hitting questions start being asked: how far should one go for television?  For fame/infamy? Money? To prove a point?

The funny thing is, Robin and Joe don’t really ask these questions.  They’re more interested is getting one up on each other.  But as a reader, you do.  The MC’s aren’t the most loveable characters, redeeming qualities are thin on the ground, but that, I think, might be part of the fun of Space Games.  It’s keeps you wondering what God-awful thing they are going to do to each other next…  And the ballsy ending – it is as brutal in its ending as it is in its beginning.  Very well written, entertaining, and asks a few uncomfortable questions about our sometimes voyeuristic natures.  Thoroughly enjoyed it!

Rating – 4.5 ass kicking stars out of 5

Slated (Slated, #1)  SlatedTeri Terry

Genre – YA, Sci fi

Plot – Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.

She’s been Slated.

The government claims she was a terrorist, and that they are giving her a second chance – as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?

Review – Slating is a process of memory erasing, a thing you quickly realise the MS, Kyla has suffered.  Generally, it is done for people with criminal type back grounds, but as the novel goes on, you discover that occasionally an overly traumatic might see someone volunteer for the process.  After being Slated, the person must wear a watch-like device, called a levo, which monitors mood levels.

Kyla returns to the ‘normal’ world, a future UK living under the thumb of a stringent government and with fears of rebels/terrorists and bombings.  Moving in with a new family, Kyla tries to build the pieces of her life, realising quickly that she is unusual for a Slated person, because she will ask questions and endeavours to discover more about the world and herself and who she was in the past.  It quickly becomes apparent that if you speak out at all, you will soon be taken away – it is something constantly on the periphery and it created an air of paranoia in the book.

Really enjoyed this book, thought it cleverly plotted, strongly written with good characterisations.  Original and different and will definitely read the next book in the series.

Rating – 3.5 unique stars out of 5

Branded (Fall of Angels #1)  BrandedKeary Taylor

Genre – Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance

Plot – Jessica had the nightmares for as long as she can remember.  Nightmares of being judged by people who have died, of being branded by the angels.  Her friends and family think she’s crazy because of it all.  Yet she carries the mark of the condemned, seared into the back of her neck, and hides it and herself away from the world.

But when two men she can’t ignore enter her life everything changes, including the nightmares.  The two of them couldn’t be more different.  She will do anything to be with one of them.  Even tell him the truth about angels, why she never sleeps, and the scar on the back of her neck.  But one of the two has set events into motion that will pull her toward her own judgment and turn her into the object of her greatest fear.

Review – I thought the premise an interesting one when I read it.  Having to sit and be judged for dead people and to suffer a branding, to be exalted or condemned – it all sounded like a read great.  There’s even some good atmosphere in this book and overall it is an enjoyable enough read.

However…

There’s something not quite right about this for me.  I don’t know if it is the fact the romantic lead is all too perfect and stilted, if the relationship progresses supernaturally fast, or that it was a little too predictable – you could see the bad guy coming a mile off and I felt the vast potential and idea of this book kinda fell flat.  It’s so frustrating to feel that way when you finish a book. (Sigh)

Rating – An anticlimactic 3 out of 5 stars.

Magic of Thieves (Legends of Dimmingwood, #1)  Magic of ThievesC. Greenwood

Genre – YA, Fantasy

Plot – In a province where magic is forbidden and its possessors are murdered by the cruel Praetor, young Ilan, born with the powerful gift of her ancestors, has only one hope for survival. Concealment. In the shadow of Dimmingwood, she finds temporary protection with a band of forest brigands led by the infamous outlaw Rideon the Red Hand.

But as Ilan matures, learns the skills of survival, and struggles to master the inherent magic of her dying race, danger is always close behind. When old enemies reappear and new friendships lead to betrayal, will her discovery of an enchanted bow prove to be Ilan’s final salvation or her ultimate downfall?

Review – After losing her parents and on her way to the safety of her own people, Ilan finds herself caught up with a troupe of thieves living in the Dimmingwood.  Lead by ruthless Rideon the Red Hand, Ilan grows from girl into young woman.  She learns all her best lessons from the thieves, some kind, some not.  It is a coming of age story and at times, Ilan can be brutish, ignorant and mean, especially to peaceful Terrac, who is meant to be her friend.

I enjoyed the fact Ilan wasn’t completely likeable and her growth of character is well handled, but hard learned.  My only real gripe with this is that it ended all too quickly! There’s good characterisation, plenty of action and a Robin Hood type of magic to this book.  Looking forward to reading the next instalment.

Rating – 3.5/4 thieving stars out of 5

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Month of Reads… MAY

This is a new idea I’m trying out for my blog, which I’ve called, Month of Reads.  I thought I’d give you short and sweet reviews of books I’ve read over the last month and hopefully, I’ll remember to update it around the same time next month.

WARNING – you may see a lot of  Fantasy, YA and Sci-Fi in the list!

Image   Smuggler’s KissMarie-Louise Jenson.

Genre – YA, historic

Plot: It’s not a crime to steal a heart

Smugglers are cut-throat rascals. At least that’s what Isabelle’s always been told. But when she’s rescued from drowning at sea by the crew of a notorious smuggling ship, her principles are thrown into confusion. Outwitting the king’s men fills her with excitement, especially when she’s with one mysterious smuggler in particular . . .

Review: I found this book quite by accident after buying another book.  After reading this and a couple other of Jenson’s books, I admit to becoming a fan.  Jenson’s easy style translates well and it’s easy to see she’s done a lot of research into her characters, place, time and period detail.  The development of the main protagonist comes about as one would hope reading a historical coming-of-age book – Isabelle is spoiled, hot-headed, but completely likeable, despite her general ignorance.  But her development to being more understanding, braver and less whingey, comes about through strife, misunderstandings as well as hints of romance.  There’s plenty of adventure and like all excellent books, you’re a little sad to part from it.

Rating – An easy 5 out of 5

Image   Grave MercyR.L LaFevers

Genre: Historic, Fantasy, YA

Plot: Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Review: As soon as I read the plot summary, I was like, ‘sounds like my kind of book’ and my gut-feeling was correct!  It is the first book in the His Fair Assassin ­series and since I’ve read this, I have gone on to read its terrific sequel, Dark Triumph.

Although LaFevers’ MC, Ismae is initially a distraught character, she is also very strong.  This is seen in her acceptance of the Order and the will of St Mortain.  However, what I loved about the book is the de-construction of everything is knows as she begins to follow her heart and not just what she is told to accept and do.  Great characters and loads of intrigue.  Only minor hiccup in the beginning was the startling resemblance to the start of Jacqueline Carey’s novel, Cushiel’s Dart, but I soon realised the books are different.  A thoroughly enjoyable read, especially if you like intrigues, twists and turns and hints of romance.

Rating:  A strong 5 out of 5

Image  Fire and ThornsRae Carson (known also as, The Girl of Fire and Thorns)

Genre – Fantasy

Plot: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.

Review: This was another book I found by accident.  I liked the look of it and the blurb was intriguing enough.  In fairness, it took me a little time to warm to the MC, Elisa, who was crippled with self-doubt, a voracious appetite and a lazy attitude.  But as the plot thickens and Elisa begins to discover some self-worth, you warm to her.  A lot happens in this book, intrigues, adventure and of course, what book can go wrong with sprinklings of romance?  It’s a well written fare, with a mixture of irritating and endearing characters.  Also a lot of world building – and unique settings, running from desert, to jungle, to a land that felt slightly as though it was set in Death Valley (or maybe that was just how I imagined it!) Parts of the novel were quite sad too.  Overall a good, entertaining read and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Rating:  A solid 4 out of 5

Image    After the Ending Lindsey Fairleigh & Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Post Apocalyptic

Plot:  When people started getting sick, “they” thought it was just the flu. My roommate, my boyfriend, my family…they’re all gone now. I got sick too. I should have died with them—with the rest of the world—but I didn’t. I thought witnessing the human population almost disappear off the face of the earth was the craziest thing I’d ever experience. I was so wrong. My name is Dani O’Connor, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.

The Virus changed everything. The world I knew is gone, and life is backwards. We’ve all had to start over. I’ve been stripped of my home, my dreams…all that is me. I’m someone else now—broken and changed. Other survivors’ memories and emotions haunt me. They invade my mind until I can no longer separate them from my own. I won’t let them consume me. I can’t. My name is Zoe Cartwright, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.

We’ve been inseparable for most of our lives, and now our friendship is all we have left. The aftermath of the Virus has stranded us on opposite sides of the United States. Trusting strangers, making sacrifices, killing—we’ll do anything to reach one another. Fear and pain may be unavoidable, but we’re strong…we’re survivors. But to continue surviving in this unfamiliar world plagued by Crazies and strange new abilities, we have to adapt. We have to evolve.

And more than anything, we have to find each other.

Review:  Yes, the plot is long, however, it had me intrigued and I do admit to being a bit of a sucker when it comes to post-apocalyptic works.  The first few pages weren’t all that bad either, but as I read on, I became more and more disillusioned with this disappointing book.  Part of me feels the best part of the book was written in the plot.  The book doesn’t hold any true horror of what one might imagine if a Virus has decimated most of the world’s population.  It’s written in a passing thought kind of way.  I feel the book is truly a chick-lit novel, thinly disguised beneath the sci-fi, post-apocalyptic tag.  I found the characters vapid and shallow and I’m generally fairly easy to please.  It is written from the POV of two women that go on more about their desire for the man next to them than the horror of their situation, whilst keeping in contact via e-mail.   SO disappointed this unrealistic book didn’t live up to my expectations.

A very sad 1 out of 5 (And I feel bad writing this review…)

Image  The 5th WaveRick Yancy

Genre: Sci-Fi, Post Apocalyptic, YA

Plot: The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Review:  This is more like it!  This post-apocalyptic book from Yancey is what I imagine a good, clever and twisty ‘end-of-worlder’ to be.  It is written from the POV’s of a few of the characters, but mainly through the resourceful and brave Cassie, who is trying to save her younger brother, and the determined and disillusioned Zombie (Ben).  It’s clever, action packed and full of flawed, but progressive characters.  There’s plenty of twists and chapter cliff hangers and I enjoyed the way the characters became entwined as the book ventures on.  There are some fairly dark questions and at times it’s hard to tell the bad-invading aliens from the humans.  Far more clever, realistic and entertaining than the previous review.

Rating: A very happy 4 out of 5