dystopia

Review: The Bone Season, Samantha Shannon

The Bone SeasonThe Bone Season (Goodreads)
Author: Flag_uk Samantha Shannon (website)

Rating: ★★★★½

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

Details

Series: The Bone Season #1
Genre: Dystopia/Paranormal Fantasy/Sci-fi
Published: Bloomsbury, August 20 2013
Pages: 480
My copy: the publisher for review

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:  Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

Review

With a fast paced story, a strong heroine and a world described with exquisite detail, I enjoyed The Bone Season from beginning to end. I had heard a lot about how this was to be the next Hunger Games, the next big hit. While I’m not sure it quite hit that mark, I thought it was a brilliantly written debut that fans of the Hunger Games should certainly enjoy.

Paige is a clairvoyant – living in hiding in the criminal underworld from those in Scion London who believe her to be “Unnatural”. Her gift is to be able to sense other people’s dreamscapes and can influence others, even hurt them. She discovers that her abilities can even be deadly when she is discovered on the underground and kills two guards in self-defence. For that crime, she is arrested and sent to the penal colony of Sheol I, in the mysterious lost city of Oxford. There, she is introduced to the Rephaim – a strange race of humanoid beings who are living alongside voyant humans as their masters. All Paige wants to do is get away from her cold and aloof keeper, Warden, but as the weeks unfold it seems that the Rephaim are up to more than just keeping the world safe from the flesh-eating Emite beasts.

The Bone Season isn’t actually publicised as Young Adult, but it reads a lot like a YA Dystopia with its young protagonist, fighting to release other young people from an repressive society. This is not a new story – in fact I can think of several books I’ve read recently that have quite a similar high-level storyline, but in the Bone Season we are treated to quite a unique take on it. The world that Samantha Shannon has created here is rich and incredibly detailed, not just the corporeal world of the Scion citadel of London and of Oxford’s Sheol I, but also the etheral world – that of dreamscapes, spirits, soothsayers and guardian angels.

The world of Scion is a sort of alternative future, where the United Kingdom was rocked by some kind of event in the early nineteenth century. The Rephaim appeared from the aether and clairvoyants started appearing in the population. Fast forward to 2059 and London is now a Scion citadel, providing young voyants for the use of the Rephaim of Sheol I, or Oxford. It all has a slightly steam-punkish feel to it, although history seems to have continued in a similar fashion to the real world with Frank Sinatra music, computers and high heels still around.

The first few chapters of the story felt rather overwhelming at times, as the reader is thrown right into the thick of this world and its vernacular. There is a glossary at the back of some commonly used slang which might come in handy if you know about it before you get to the end! We only gradually learn about what has happened in the past and what the Rephaim actually are, and by the end of this first book in the series I still have a lot of questions about all manner of things in this world. The Rephaim themselves actually confused me a little as in another series I’ve read recently by Paula Weston, the Rephaim are half-angels and quite different from the beings in this book.

Information overload aside, Samantha Shannon has done an amazing job of keeping the pace up in this debut work. I had a hard time stopping at the end of each chapter, especially towards the end! The action grabbed me more than the characters did – while some of the characters were charmingly unique, I felt that most of the Dials group were a little nondescript and even the Rephaim themselves were hard to visualise. I did love Paige though – she was incredibly determined to hate everyone she perceived as an enemy and that made her a very strong character. The progression of her relationship with Warden was slightly predictable but subtle enough that I loved how it evolved.

I found The Bone Season to be a fantastic debut from Samantha Shannon who at only 22 years of age, with a seven-book publishing deal and upcoming film production under her belt certainly has a bright career ahead of her. Bring on the next in the series!

Warnings: Graphic violence, some sexual situations

What did others think of The Bone Season?

  • “If you like urban fantasy at all, please read this, you won’t regret it.” – Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
  • “Shannon has created so much strange and peculiar mythology that provided so much depth to the novel. This book is just something so odd and yet so special at the same time. ” – Scott Reads It
  • “The world in The Bone Season was very in depth and well thought out, with its own language and a uniqueness unlike anything I’ve ever read before. But … sometimes it got a bit confusing and hard to grasp.” – Auntie Spinelli Reads

 

Watch the Trailer

Tour and Review: Shudder, Samantha Durante

Shudder_BlogTourBanner_600x150

This review is part of the Shudder blog tour. Make sure to stop by the main tour page and see all the other blogs participating!


ShudderShudder (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Samantha Durante (website)

Rating: ★★★★☆

It’s only been three days, and already everything is different.

Paragon is behind her, but somehow Alessa’s life may actually have gotten worse. In a wrenching twist of fate, she traded the safety and companionship of her sister for that of her true love, losing a vital partner she’d counted on for the ordeal ahead. Her comfortable university life is but a distant memory, as she faces the prospect of surviving a bleak winter on the meagre remains of a ravaged world. And if she’d thought she’d tasted fear upon seeing a ghost, she was wrong; now she’s discovering new depths of terror while being hunted by a deadly virus and a terrifying pack of superhuman creatures thirsting for blood.

And then there are the visions.

The memory-altering “stitch” unlocked something in Alessa’s mind, and now she can’t shake the constant flood of alien feelings ransacking her emotions. Haunting memories of an old flame are driving a deep and painful rift into her once-secure relationship. And a series of staggering revelations about the treacherous Engineers – and the bone-chilling deceit shrouding her world’s sorry history – will soon leave Alessa reeling…

Details

Series: Stitch trilogy #2
Genre: YA dystopian sci-fi
Published: Self published June 15, 2013
Pages: 348
My copy: from the author for the tour

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk
E-copies:  Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Smashwords

Please note: This is my review for the second book in this series, and so contains spoilers for the first, Stitch. You may wish to read my review for that book instead!


Excerpt

By the time the sun dipped toward the skyline, Alessa and Isaac had wandered through two more vacant neighborhoods, a derelict shopping center, and a downtown area that could only be described as a ghost town.
The pervasive quiet shrouding the once-vibrant village intensified the eerie feeling of being utterly alone. If Alessa hadn’t known what happened, she might have expected families and school kids and zipping cars around every corner. Besides the overgrown shrubbery and the occasional smashed storefront, everything seemed just in its place, waiting for its inhabitants to come home.
It was devastating.
Isaac kicked an empty can which went scuttling along the blacktop ahead, finally coming to rest at the base of a large sign marking the entrance to an expansive lot scattered with cars.
“Mall Parking,” he read aloud.
But what caught Alessa’s attention was the carefully lettered banner crumpled beneath, one corner still nailed to the bottom of the mall sign. She dug the other side out of the snow and held it up, the distinctive red cross painted across the tarp waving in the wind.
“Relief Center,” she added. Alessa gazed at Isaac intently. “Isaac, do you think we found another quarantine zone?”
“Only one way to know for sure – let’s go check it out.”

Review

Alyssa and Isaac have escaped from the Paragon facility on a mission in search of a base for the rebels, but with the threat of the virus still possibly live outside the fences, plus the strange creatures that seem to be stalking them along the way, their mission will not be easy. Meanwhile, inside Paragon a young woman wakes up after an ordeal with no memory of her identity or what happened to her. Newly christened “Phoenix”, she is told the story of the creation of Paragon by the creators themselves, the Developers. They hope she can carry a message to the rebel cause they know she is linked to – they want a truce.

Shudder is an enjoyable follow-up to Stitch, continuing the story of Alyssa and Isaac and their friends trying to resist a repressive society.

It did suffer a bit from the “middle book curse” in that there was a lot of story and character development and not a lot of action – perhaps worse than a normal second book in fact, due to Stitch being mostly set inside the “dramas” so that we don’t get to meet the “real” characters until close to the end. We end up hearing several people’s stories about how they came to be part of Paragon, not to mention the different versions of the actual creation of Paragon told by the Developers. At times I started to lose the thread of who knew what when, but I think by the end everyone was more or less on the same page, so to speak. I’m sure those Developers are up to something dodgy, though!

There are some action scenes through the book though, and they are very tense – sometimes scary! I think this has to be one of the most well-written Indie series I’ve read in a long time. While there is a lot of character development in this story (perhaps a bit too much, even), I did enjoy the further development of Alyssa and Isaac’s relationship. Alyssa’s strange ability to hear thoughts or memories is quite strange and rather baffling – I’ll look forward to hearing what it develops into and how it might be useful.

Overall, Shudder builds towards what I am hoping will be a blockbuster ending to the trilogy. Bring it on!

Warnings: Sexual situations

Review: Burn Bright, Marianne de Pierres

This review is part of the Discover Aussie Fantasy feature, running during July on The Oaken Bookcase. You can find details of the feature and enter the giveaway on the Aussie Fantasy page!


Burn BrightBurn Bright (Goodreads)
Author: flag_aus Marianne de Pierres (website)

Rating: ★★★★★

In Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are absolute . . .

Retra doesn’t want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep. Retra is a Seal – sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn’t crave parties and pleasure, experience and freedom. But her brother Joel left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him. Braving the intense pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she’s ever known, Retra stows away on the barge that will take her to her brother.

When she can’t find Joel, Retra finds herself drawn deeper into the intoxicating world of Ixion. Come to me, whispers a voice in her head. Who are the Ripers, the mysterious guardians of Ixion? What are the Night Creatures Retra can see in the shadows? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion? Retra will find that Ixion has its pleasures, but its secrets are deadly. Will friendship, and the creation of an eternal bond with a Riper, be enough to save her from the darkness?

Listen well, baby bats. Burn bright, but do not stray from the paths. Remember, when you live in a place of darkness you also live with creatures of the dark.

Details

Series: Night Creatures #1
Genre: YA Dystopian sci-fi
Published: Random House Australia, March 2011
Pages: 316
My copy: library

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:  Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Bookworld (epub)

Review

Burn Bright was an edge-of-your-seat thriller all the way through for me. I had trouble putting it down, reading with a sort of fascinated horror as Retra tried to make her way on the island of Ixion.

Retra’s brother Joel ran away to the mysterious island of Ixion to get away from the repressive society in the Seal South community – where every interaction is strictly controlled. After his disappearance, Retra’s family is subjected to disruptive surveillance, and eventually she musters up her courage and breaks out of the compound, jumping the ship bound for Ixion.

Ixion is a pleasure island of endless night, where all are young and uninhibited. They party around the clock, as on arrival their metabolism is altered to not require so much sleep. Retra immediately finds it difficult to fit in as a “Seal” and is terrified by the licentiousness of the other inhabitants, but she must steel herself and try to blend in as she tries to locate Joel. What she finds along the way is terrifying – just how much control do the Ripers have over the residents of Ixion, and where is it that the older people are “withdrawn” to? Just who can she trust in this strange new world? And who, or what, is whispering to Retra from the shadows?

Burn Bright reminded me of the Divergent series to a certain extent – Retra must overcome her fears and step out of her comfort zone in order to move forward in this strange world, and she manages to hold onto her own identity just as Tris does in Divergent.

The tone of the whole story is quite dark and creepy, and although there are occasional light-hearted moments the overwhelming feeling I got was that this was less of a party island and more of a haunted house ride at a theme park. I know there are plenty of young people out there in the world who would rather party night and day more than anything and I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t one of them, so I was right there with Retra when she arrived, bewildered and slightly terrified on the island.

The characters are amazingly imagined in this night world – I especially loved Retra’s friends Suki and Rollo and their interactions and the vampire-like Ripers are especially creepy despite many of them being described as “beautiful”. There is a bit of a love triangle in this first part of the trilogy but no real romantic scenes. The romantic aspect is possibly the only thing that I didn’t enjoy about this story – not the actual lack of romantic interactions but that Retra, despite coming from a tightly controlled community where she wasn’t even allowed to talk to any boys, is strongly attracted to several in a short space of time. It all seemed slightly too quick, but I’ll still be interested to see where it all goes after this.

Marianne de Pierres usually writes hard sci-fi, but as her first foray into the Young Adult market I think she’s done very well with crafting this book to appeal to younger readers. I’ll be reading some of her other works at some stage – I really enjoy her storytelling style.

By the end of this first book in the trilogy there are still a lot of unanswered questions – I won’t spoil anything by listing them but let’s just say that I am really very keen to get my hands on the second book as soon as I get an opportunity! If you’re interested in a YA sci-fi with a dark twist, try Burn Bright!

Warnings: Violence, sexual situations (some abusive, but none explicit), drug use

Night Creatures trilogy

Burn Bright 1. Burn Bright – March 2011 0078_RHAAngelArias03.indd 2. Angel Arias – Oct 2011 shinelight 3. Shine Light – Nov 2012

 

About the Author

Marianne de PierresMarianne de Pierres is the author of the acclaimed Parrish Plessis and award-winning Sentients of Orion science fiction series. The Parrish Plessis series has been translated into eight languages and adapted into a roleplaying game. She’s also the author of a teen dark fantasy series.

Marianne is an active supporter of genre fiction and has mentored many writers. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband, three sons and three galahs. Marianne writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt. Visit her websites at www.mariannedepierres.com andwww.tarasharp.com and www.burnbright.com.au

Review: The Eternity Cure, Julie Kagawa

The Eternity Cure Julie KagawaTitle: The Eternity Cure (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Julie Kagawa (website)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

Details

Series: Blood of Eden #2
Genre: Young adult Paranormal/Dystopian Science fiction/Horror
Published: Harlequin Teen, 30 April 2013.
Pages: 446
My copy: the publisher via Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com Amazon.co.ukBarnes & Noble

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2

Please note, this is my review for the second book in the Blood of Eden series and so contains spoilers for the first book. You may wish to read my review of The Immortal Rules instead!


Review

After the rollercoaster ride that was The Immortal Rules, I was keen to get stuck into The Eternity Cure. I was delighted to discover that, although a little slow at the beginning while things were re-capped, this second instalment gripped me just as much as the first!

Allison Sekemoto has delivered her friends to safety, but as a vampire, she is not welcome with them. She resumes her search for her mentor, Kanin, following her sense of his presence as her sire. She knows he is being held captive and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren, but instead of being led to Kanin, she discovers her sibling, Jackal – the leader of the Raider city her human friends had been held captive in not long ago. It seems he and Allison might be after the same goal in the short term, but is it safe to trust him?

Even though the subject matter in this story is often quite dark and violent, there is just enough light-hearted humour to bring the story out of being a depressing read. The first few chapters contain quite a lot of re-cap from the first book, so it felt a little slow to someone like me who only just read the first book, but once the action got going, it was all go, go, go. The journey into and back out of New Covington was nail-bitingly suspenseful and there were just enough twists to keep me guessing all the way to the end. And wow, what an ending! The third book cannot come fast enough!

When Allie first meets back up with Jackal, I was a bit confused. I didn’t remember him playing a very large role in the first book – apart from being a heartless bastard, that is. In any case, he was an interesting and enigmatic addition to the new storyline, and even by the end we have no idea whether he is trustworthy or not. Such a well-written character, and I enjoyed his snark, even if I wanted to slap him more than a few times! Zeke, also, is quite different in this book – harder and more kick-arse. As the only human through a lot of the story he does a great job at making sure none of the vampires push him around, even if they could rip out his throat at any moment.

The one thing that slightly disappointed me about this book was the romantic aspect. I know, I know, it’s young adult, there has to be some romance, and after the scene at the end (no spoilers) it is necessary to a certain degree (my heart! *clutches*), but hear me out. After Zeke appears back on the scene, he knows that Allie is a vampire and that she is now working with Jackal, but he forgives her way too quickly, in my opinion. The rebuilding of their relationship could have been drawn out until the very end of the book in exquisite agony for each of them, but no. I’m trying not to give too much of anything away here, so I’ll just say that the romantic elements of this particular book didn’t work for me.

The Eternity Cure is a much darker book than The Immortal Rules in a lot of ways, but still brilliantly written and full of edge-of-the-seat suspense all the way through. I would highly recommend this series to any dark urban fantasy enthusiasts.

Warnings: Graphic violence.

Blood of Eden series

immortalrules The Eternity Cure Julie Kagawa

What did others think of The Eternity Cure?

  • “Even better than the first book! Fast pacing and high action combine for a gripping, edge of your seat read!” – Auntie Spinelli Reads
  • “It is Jackal – Allison’s blood brother and old enemy – that truly makes an impression in this instalment. He is cocky, presumptuous, unpredictable, and, more than anything, a brilliant source of dark humour and entertainment.” – Realm of Fiction
  • “…I don’t know that I’ve ever read a vampire story — especially from the point-of-view of the vampire — that I’ve loved more.  And I’ve read a lot of good ones.  Trust me.” – The Starry-Eyed Revue

Review: The Immortal Rules, Julie Kagawa

The Immortal RulesTitle: The Immortal Rules (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Julie Kagawa (website)  

Rating: ★★★★★

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for… again.

Details

Series: Blood of Eden #1
Genre: Young adult Paranormal/Dystopian Science fiction/Horror (Vampires and Zombies, oh my!)
Published: Harlequin Teen, April 2012. Paperback March 26, 2013.
Pages: 485
My copy: the publisher via Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository 
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1

Review

I heard so many amazing things about this book around its original publication date in 2012, but avoided it because, well… vampires. I really wish I had picked it up though – I ended up loving it as much as everyone else seemed to!

At some point in the near future, a deadly disease wipes out most of the human population of earth. The vampires were not susceptible to the disease, and barricaded themselves within certain cities, keeping some humans nearby as a food source in exchange for relative safety. In trying to create a cure for the disease, the rabids were created – mindless zombies who roam the world outside the cities, killing any living creature in their path.

Allison (known as Allie) lives in the fringe of the city where everyday survival is a struggle for those who choose to remain unregistered as “blood donors” by the vampires. One fateful night, Allie and her group are attacked and killed by rabids. Allie, however, doesn’t stay dead. She is “rescued” by a vampire – turned into the very thing that she hates.

Allie spends much of the story trying to come to terms with the fact that she is now dead, no longer human, and a blood-craving monster. I really admired her strength, but also her vulnerability as she mourns the life she left behind, even if it wasn’t much of a life. Her journey out of the city and towards the fabled city of Eden is very tense – at any moment she could be discovered or attacked, or get a whiff of blood and lose her self-control. The pacing is just right and I couldn’t put the book down – in fact it kept me reading well into the night with a torch while I was camping over the Easter weekend!

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the whole business with the religious group at first. I was slightly annoyed that religion had come into it, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense for someone like Jeb to have such a single-minded purpose. I must admit I thought Zeke was a bit too much of a warm fuzzy romantic interest rather than a real leader, but he does improve by the end. I hope Allison manages to run into him again before long.

Vampire society, while briefly introduced to Allie by Kanin during her training, doesn’t play any part in this part of the story. The fact that we see barely any other vampires and that Kanin disappears from the picture so quickly made it painfully obvious that this is just the first part of a much larger story. I’ll be interested to see how he comes back into things.

I would highly recommend The Immortal Rules for anyone who likes the sound of a gritty dystopian, with vampires and zombies who are slightly different from the current norm. The second book in this series, The Eternity Cure, is due for release at the start of May and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into it!

Warnings: Graphic violence including towards children.

Blood of Eden series

The Immortal Rules The Eternity Cure

What did others think of The Immortal Rules?

  • “If you swore never to pick up a vampire book again, this book is worth breaking that promise over.” – Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales
  • “Allison is actually a kick-ass heroine set to rival the likes of Buffy and whilst I didn’t see her as more than a regurgitated Katniss at first, she soon proved to be a hell of a lot more.” – Once Upon A Time
  • “The Immortal Rules is anything but traditional, and most importantly it is GOOD. (And by good I mean awesome to the point where I had trouble doing my job because I kept telling myself to read “just one more page” on my Kindle app.)” – Nina on Goodreads

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Shudder, Samantha Durante

I’m very pleased today to be able to join in with the cover reveal for the second book in the Stitch trilogy, Shudder by Samantha Durante! Samantha is also hosting a giveaway of an ARC of this book – details are at the bottom of this post.

If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Stitch, you can find my review here. I really enjoyed it and have been looking forward to the next part of the story!

I’d like to present to you: Shudder.

Shudder

Shudder (Stitch Trilogy #2)

Title: Shudder
Author: Samantha Durante

Series: Stitch trilogy #2
Genre: Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic Paranormal Romance
Published: June 15, 2013

Synopsis

It’s only been three days, and already everything is different.

Paragon is behind her, but somehow Alessa’s life may actually have gotten worse. In a wrenching twist of fate, she traded the safety and companionship of her sister for that of her true love, losing a vital partner she’d counted on for the ordeal ahead. Her comfortable university life is but a distant memory, as she faces the prospect of surviving a bleak winter on the meager remains of a ravaged world. And if she’d thought she’d tasted fear upon seeing a ghost, she was wrong; now she’s discovering new depths of terror while being hunted by a deadly virus and a terrifying pack of superhuman creatures thirsting for blood.

And then there are the visions.

The memory-altering “stitch” unlocked something in Alessa’s mind, and now she can’t shake the constant flood of alien feelings ransacking her emotions. Haunting memories of an old flame are driving a deep and painful rift into her once-secure relationship. And a series of staggering revelations about the treacherous Engineers – and the bone-chilling deceit shrouding her world’s sorry history – will soon leave Alessa reeling…

The second installment in the electrifying Stitch Trilogy, Shudder follows Samantha Durante’s shocking and innovative debut with a heart-pounding, paranormal-dusted dystopian adventure sure to keep the pages turning.

 

About the Author

Samantha Durante lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio. Formerly an engineer at Microsoft, Samantha left the world of software in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and a lifelong love of writing. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Samantha is currently working full time for her company Medley Media Associates as a freelance business writer and communications consultant. The Stitch Trilogy is her debut series. Learn more about Samantha at www.samanthadurante.com.

 

Giveaway

Enter the Giveaway HERE!!!

Review: Through the Ever Night, Veronica Rossi

Through the Ever NightTitle: Through the Ever Night (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Veronica Rossi (website) (twitter)

Rating: ★★★★★

It’s been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don’t take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe’s precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both.

Threatened by false friends, hidden enemies, and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night?

Details

Series: Under the Never Sky #2 of 3
Genre: Young adult post-apocalyptic Sci-fi
Published: Pier 9 in Australia, HarperCollins in USA, January 2013.
Pages: 352
My copy: For review from the publisher via Edelweiss, thanks!

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:
Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

Please note: This is a review for the second book in the series, and contains spoilers for Under the Never Sky. You may prefer to go and read my review of that book instead!

Roar and LivJust a short note before I begin – late in 2012 Veronica Rossi released an e-novella as part of the UtNS series – Roar and Liv. The story takes place just before the events of the first book, and while you don’t have to have read Under the Never Sky for the events of Roar and Liv to make sense, it does help. It also sheds more light on the relationships between Perry, Roar, Liv, Talon and Vale. I recommend reading it!

Buy Roar and Liv: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)


Review

After I finished Under the Never Sky I was desperate to get stuck into this second book – I really enjoyed the first one and I was hoping Through the Ever Night could live up to the expectations I had. Fortunately, it was very, very difficult to put this second instalment down – something that a lot of middle books struggle with – and I loved it.

Aria has been staying at Delphi with Marron while Perry returns to the Tides to regain his hold as Blood Lord over the tribe. The story picks up as they are reunited after several months apart, during which time Aria’s abilities as an Aud are sharpened. Aria and Perry decide that the best course of action is to return to the Tide encampment and prepare for a journey north to the city of the Horns. Apparently the leader there, Sable, knows about the location of the Still Blue, a mysterious land without the destructive Aether where their people could live in safety. The Tides are naturally wary of Aria and don’t accept her easily. Meanwhile, a consignment of food and helpers arrives from the Horns. Does this mean that Liv has gone through with her part in the bargain and married Sable after all?

Through the Ever Night is a roller-coaster ride of action, emotion, hope and heartbreak. This story is in no way just a romance between Perry and Aria – there are emotional scenes of every shade and each character is driven by their own ambitions or quest. The world they live in is travelled and explored more widely and we learn more about how tribal society works, although still not a lot about Aria’s old life inside Reverie.

The point of view once again switches between chapters between Aria and Perry, and this style works well to keep each thread of the story moving along. Even when the two are together, the pov shift adds dimension to the story to see events from two sides. Perry and Aria’s voices differ enough that they have distinct feelings about the way things happen. Roar plays a large part in this story as well, and as before is a brilliant and lovable character, driven to distraction trying to chase down his love, Liv. I also loved how the citizens of Reverie were brought back into the story – I can’t begin to imagine how they’re all going to deal with what has happened at the end!

I enjoyed every bit of Through the Ever Night. The things that annoyed me in the first book were explained or were missing in this one. The romance was lovely and there were a few “don’t you DARE do that!” moments in it too. I know this whole review has been one long gushy mess but honestly, I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Bring on the final book!

Warnings: Violence, sexual situations (not graphic)

Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky throughevernight ?Into the Still Blue(January 2014)

 

What did others think of Through the Ever Night?

  • Through the Ever Night had everything that was missing for me in Under the Never Sky: a gripping plot, characters I cared about, and a story that felt necessary.” – Book Nook
  • “Even if you weren’t impressed with the first book, I highly urge you to change your mind and read this second book. Rossi grew by leaps and bounds, and when that happens with a recently-debuted author, it’s really a joy to watch.” – Birth of a New Witch
  • “Veronica Rossi’s writing continues to be amazing and she really pulls off both Aria’s and Perry’s POV flawlessy by giving them each a unique voice.” – Book-A-Holic

Review: Crewel, Gennifer Albin

Title: Crewel (Goodreads)
Author:  Gennifer Albin (@genniferalbin)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, Adelice is exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Details

Series: Crewel World #1
Genre: YA Dystopian Sci-fi
Published: Faber & Faber, October 2012
Pages: 360
My copy: From the publisher via Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

You can read the first five chapters of Crewel for free on Nook!

Review

Adelice lives in Arras, a world woven into the fabric of time and space by the Spinsters. Being chosen as a Spinster would allow her a life of luxury and privilege that would never be within reach with her family in their neighbourhood, but when Adelice is identified as having the weaving ability during testing, her parents instead try to help her escape. The botched escape is a poor introduction for Adelice as she enters this new world and discovers its dark secrets.

Alternate cover for Crewel

I really enjoyed reading this exciting and occasionally heart-wrenching story. The world of Arras and the Spinsters is amazingly detailed and imaginative – in fact the details are often mind-boggling and leave more questions than the explanations provide!

Crewel gives us a glimpse into a world with control taken to the extreme, where every person is kept to their neighbourhoods with their family, girls and boys are kept segregated until marriagable age and men and women keep to their gender-specific jobs and roles. Those who don’t conform or who show behavioural anomalies are taken away to have their thread “cleaned” – to basically be reprogrammed. We’re never shown exactly who is actually in control, either – is it the Guild with their groups of Spinsters? Or the enigmatic Creweler who designs and weaves Arras into existence?

Adelice is brought into this world of intrigue – into the preening and pretend world of the Spinsters. She never really seems to accept it and fights against it at every opportunity, but while that is a very admirable quality in a heroine, in this case it is slightly puzzling. She knows that each time she steps out of line, someone close to her takes punishment for her, and yet she continues to do it. After a while I found her snarky nature a little annoying. Yes, there is a slightly unnecessary love triangle, but the romantic parts are very sweet and move the story along.

I do like the first book in a series to wrap up within itself rather than just end, but sadly, that’s exactly what happens with Crewel. The confrontations at the end build up and build up, and then we’re left hanging off the cliff with plenty of unanswered questions. I guess that’s what sells the next book though, isn’t it? It is a very well-written debut from Gennifer Albin though and I’ll look forward to more of her work!

I’d recommend Crewel to fans of Dystopian sci-fi with a romantic twist. I just hope the next book is due soon because wow, this book sure does hang off the proverbial cliff.

Warnings: Sexual references, but quite clean.

 

What did others think of Crewel?

  • “It’s engaging, falls on the thought-provoking side, and a touch magical.” – 3.5 stars – Paranormal Indulgence
  • “Crewel is original and unique – keeping me on the edge of my seat.” – 4 stars – Claire Reads
  • “Yes, it’s another dystopian work in a very dystopian saturated YA market, but I love the blending of dystopic, fantasy and science fiction genres and I really love the weaving/ world creating aspect of the story too.” – 4 stars – Flyleaf Review

Tour: Review: Stitch, Samantha Durante

Welcome to The Oaken Bookcase’s stop on the huge Stitch Blog Tour! You can find links to more reviews and other goodies by clicking the banner above (after you’ve read my review, of course).


Title: Stitch (Goodreads)
Author:  Samantha Durante 

Rating: ★★★★☆

Still struggling to find her footing after the sudden death of her parents, the last thing college freshman Alessa has the strength to deal with is the inexplicable visceral pull drawing her to a handsome ghostly presence. In between grappling with exams and sorority soirees – and disturbing recurring dreams of being captive in a futuristic prison hell – Alessa is determined to unravel the mystery of the apparition who leaves her breathless. But the terrifying secret she uncovers will find her groping desperately through her nightmares for answers.

Because what Alessa hasn’t figured out yet is that she’s not really a student, the object of her obsession is no ghost, and her sneaking suspicions that something sinister is lurking behind the walls of her university’s idyllic campus are only just scratching the surface…

Details

Series: Stitch Trilogy #1 of 3
Genre: YA Science fiction
Published: Indie, August 2012
Pages: 314
My copy: From the author as part of the blog tour, thanks!

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk 
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Smashwords

Review

Alessa has recently started at a new and unfamiliar college. Depressed and withdrawn after the accidental death of her parents, she starts seeing a ghost of a young man in her house. Drawn to the ghost by a strange attraction, she tries to discover who he might have been. Her world is turned upside down once more when she discovers what is really going on at her college, and that nothing in her world is as it seems.

This book was an odd one to read – here I was, settling into a slightly bland college ghost story, getting the feeling that the tension was gradually building to some unspecified event when half-way through the book, BAM. Complete plot twist and non-stop action until the end. I’m not sure what else to say without give anything away, but I will say that I completely did not see that coming, despite the clues.

The characters are quite likeable and even though we haven’t seen a lot of Isaac yet, it sounds like his relationship with Alessa is going to be very sweet and profound in the next book. Alessa herself, along with the other female characters, seem very strong and capable.

The tension is built up so well once the truth is revealed that at some points I was holding my breath, waiting to see what would happen. It does get a little wordy – especially early on in the story. We could do with hearing less about college life and get into the Isaac-related action a little more quickly – I wonder if less patient readers might put the book down during the first half before the action gets going. That said, Stitch is a very well-written debut from Samantha Durante and I’ll be looking forward to reading what happens to Alessa and Isaac in future stories.

If you like a little bit of paranormal romance or you’re a fan of Dystopia, then make sure to add Stitch to your list!

Warnings: References to torture. That’s about it, it’s quite clean.

Review: Defiance, C.J. Redwine

Title: Defiance (Goodreads)

Author:  C.J. Redwine (@cjredwine)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

Details

Series: The Courier’s Daughter #1
Genre: YA Dystopian Romance
Published: Balzer & Bray, August 28 2012
Pages: 403
My copy: The publisher via Edelweiss

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.ukBook Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Review

A while ago, the Cursed Ones rose up from deep within the earth and destroyed all the cities. The survivors banded together, forming safe city-states led by those who were able to protect their flocks from the dragon-esque Cursed Ones.

Rachel Adams is sure her father, Jared, is alive. He’s been declared dead by the leader of the city-state of Baalboden, Commander Chase, but Rachel refuses to believe it, and immediately starts plotting to take off out of the city to find him. Jared’s apprentice Logan is appointed Rachel’s new Protector, and the young inventor also suspects something is going on with Jared and the final mission he went on, but the two of them underestimate the lengths that Commander Chase will go to to have them perform his wishes and bring Jared’s mysterious package back to Baalboden.

Defiance is a rollercoaster ride of a book, extremely fast paced with plenty of action. It has an interesting structure in that it is split up into seventy-one short chapters, alternating between the point of view of Logan or Rachel, the two main characters. These short chapters help to drive the story along and kept me hooked, especially when the two characters are split up and I had to keep reading to find out what happens next.

I quite enjoyed reading Defiance, but for me there was an overarching feeling that there was too much discussion of feelings at the expense of actual story. There are a lot of horrible things that happen to Rachel and Logan throughout the story and we get to hear about how Rachel is dealing with then in intricate detail. I much preferred reading about Logan with his inventions and best/worst case scenarios.

The Commander was a nasty piece of work, but he just seemed to be a big evil baddy – I’m sure there should be some more depth to his character somewhere but we don’t get to see it. He kept reminding me of the Colonel guy from Avatar, who also played the community leader in that Terra Nova TV series, although he is a much harsher character than either of those two roles.

The community of Baalboden seemed a little weird to me. They have this strange misogynistic “Protector” system where women aren’t allowed out without their Protector, and girls are “Claimed” once they reach sixteen. If I’m reading the timeline correctly, they haven’t been living there for all that long together and surely some of them remember what life was like before the Cursed Ones came? Why would all the women just agree to a life like that, especially if it involved being punished so severely if you were caught breaking the rules?

I also found the romance a little over the top. I mean, Rachel started out hating Logan, but came around surprisingly fast. Logan seemed to suddenly realise that he actually did like her quite a lot after all, then it was on for young and old. I really think this style of romance would appeal to the teen market, but I think I prefer a bit more subtlety.

Overall, while I enjoyed reading about Rachel’s and Logan’s misadventures, there were parts of the story that didn’t really work for me. I will keep my eye out for the next in the series though, as Defiance was a promising debut from C.J. Redwine.

Warnings: Physical abuse, torture.

 

What did others think of Defiance?

  • “It can be difficult to find a new, interesting concept these days, but C.J. Redwine has thought of a great concept and executed it well.” – 4.5/5 – Stephanie of Stepping Out of the Page
  • “Although definitely not a favorite, I enjoyed myself immensely. And isn’t that the whole point of reading?” – Ash of Paranormal Indulgence
  • “Overall, I recommend this book because I loved the first part of it,  and it’s nice seeing a female character who is more into saving others than being saved.” – 3.5/5 – Ezzy of Parafantasy

 

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