Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: Solstice by P.J. Hoover

Title: Solsitce
Author: P.J. Hoover
Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Dystopia/Paranormal Young Adult
Release Date: May 4, 2011

Where Mythology and Dystopia meet...

Piper's world is dying. Global warming kills every living thing on Earth, and each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles which threaten to destroy humanity. Amid this Global Heating Crisis, Piper lives with her mother who suffocates her more than the chaotic climate. When her mother is called away to meet the father Piper has been running from her entire life, Piper seizes an opportunity for freedom.

But when Piper discovers a world of mythology she never knew existed, she realizes her world is not the only one in crisis. While Gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper's life spirals into turmoil, and she struggles to find answers to secrets kept from her since birth. And though she's drawn to her classmate Shayne, he may be more than he claims. Piper has to choose whom she can trust and how she can save the people she loves even if it means the end of everything she's ever known.

Solstice has a pretty interesting setup. The world is basically on fire. They've had to learn to live with 113 degree Fahrenheit days, barely getting relief at all at night. This is where we're introduced to Piper. A young woman, seventeen, still in high-school, Piper is raised alone by her mother - never knowing her father.

When she meets two young men at school, who make her feel things she's never experienced before, things really start to change. Shayne shows up in one of her classes - saying he'd been there all year - and Piper feels an instant connection. She meets Reese through a mutual friend, and is irresistibly drawn to him, even losing a bit of her better common-sense when he's around.

I don't want to give away too much, because the story is pretty intricately tied to the mystery of who everyone is. Though this is set up as a dystopian/mythological story, and I can definitely appreciate the skill with which P.J. Hoover combined them, it's much more a mythology or paranormal story.

The beginning is firmly entrenched in the dystopian aspect of the world though - a world dying from global warming, and that's really the impetus that drives it. It's fascinating seeing what humans in Hoover's world have come up with to combat and survive the heat. I wanted to know more, dig deeper, understand better.

It does begin to get bogged down a little bit, losing some of the interest when we're put more through the paces of introducing the mythological aspect. And without saying anything to spoil what it is essentially a retelling of, I will say that if you have even a rudimentary knowledge of classic myths you'll recognize these characters fairly early on. What kept me reading from that point was to see if there were going to be any unexpected twists thrown in. There weren't.

Solstice is an interesting story that sometimes gets lost in the details. I would recommend it for younger readers (middle-school and up) as I do think it's a fun way to retell this particular myth (which has always been one of my favorites). I look forward to reading more of Ms. Hoover's work in the future.

Grade: C

Book Link | Kindle | nook

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Review: The Starlight Rite by Cherise Sinclair

Title: The Starlight Rite
Author: Cherise Sinclair
Series: Stand Alonen
Genre: Science Fiction Erotic Romance
Release Date: August 3, 2010

Blurb from Goodreads:

Her voice is known throughout the galaxy; her face is completely unknown.

Fleeing her monstrous husband back on puritanical Earth and the police assassins he's hired, singer Mella Archer becomes stranded on the frontier planet of Nexus. Desperate to survive, she picks the wrong target--Dain, the head of planetary security.

Dain is amused by the attempted theft, and when Mella is sentenced to serve time indentured as a bedroom slave, he buys her contract. As he introduces the repressed Earther to the pleasures of sex with a dominating warrior, he slowly comes to realize that the little thief has stolen his heart.

When the monster arrives on Nexus and has lunch with Dain, Mella is panic-stricken. Her owner must be part of the conspiracy to kill her, and it will only be a matter of time before the monster discovers that she's still alive. She attempts to escape. She fails. Embittered by her lies and mistrust, Dain returns her to Indenture Hall to be sold again.

Now the monster has found her. And she has nowhere left to run..

I’m not generally a fan of science-fiction romance. I’m not sure why, I’ve just never really been able to get into it. You wouldn’t think it’d be so far off of my fantasy romance, or paranormal romance – both of which I love, but it just is for me. However, because I love Cherise Sinclair, I dug right into The Starlight Rite

Dain and Mella are both great characters, interesting, three-dimensional, and I came to care about them. The world is well-thought out and it was enough to intrigue me into wanting more.

Unfortunately, there was one aspect of this story that just didn’t work for me. And even more unfortunately it was a major aspect of the story. The plot.

This is most definitely a ‘capture’ fantasy type of book. And I’m not saying anything that isn’t in the blurb, so I knew it going in. It just didn’t work for me. The lack of choice is a fairly big deal, and it comes up over and over again throughout the book. There's one scene in particular that almost broke it for me. Even though we get from her POV that she enjoys what's happening, she still thinks about her lack of choice in the matter.

While The Starlight Rite didn’t work for me, I am sure there are many others that it will work for. Ms. Sinclair’s writing is as good as it always is and the subject matter isn’t handled badly, this is just one of my pet-peeve issues and I couldn’t get past it enough to truly enjoy the story.

Grade: C

Book Link | Amazon | Kindle | nook | Sony | Book Depository | Loose Id

Friday, June 3, 2011

Review: The Unfinished Song: Initiate by Tara Maya

Title: The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Author: Tara Maya
Series: Unfinished Song, Book 1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: December 22, 2010


Dindi can't do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi's clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.

Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn't commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don't kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father's wars and his mother's curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her... assuming she would even accept the help of an exile

When I was first offered this book to review, I thought it sounded absolutely fascinating – not quite like anything I’d ever read before. I was definitely right.

The book starts out rather slow. There’s a lot of description of the place, the people, the setting. It was a little hard to get into at first, because I was having trouble following the story among all the descriptions.

But it wasn’t too far into it that the story really picked up. When Dindi is taken for her Initiation, and Kavio is kicked out of his tribe, everything starts to get interesting.

I could not put my Kindle down. The story flows beautifully, and naturally, from this point forward, and I was up late into the night finishing it.

Dindi is an great character. She dances in secret, she’s not supposed to before becoming a Tavaedi, with the fae and wants nothing more than to be able to continue to dance. She’s not entirely sure of herself, but she’s sweet and kind.

Kavio is something else entirely. He’s strong – physically, mentally and emotionally. He willingly takes his punishment as exile, when all he was doing was trying to save his tribe. He fights off those that would do more harm, saves young girls from drowning, and doesn’t expect anyone to give him any trust or belief. He sets out to make his own way – refusing to let that way be less than what he was, he strives for better.

I really loved both main characters, as well as being incredibly interested in a few of the secondary characters we got to know (Gwenika comes to mind immediately). The Corn Maiden – I sure hope we're going to learn more about her!!

The real prize here though, is the world. It’s an intricate, beautiful, harsh world. Ancient, ancient times – think Neolithic – with tribes that remind me of the Native American or African tribes of old. Magic and fae still populate the world, and if you have magic you are admitted to an entirely different class of the tribe. The customs and interactions between the tribes were fascinating. I could see the influence of a few different ethnicities and histories, and they were seamlessly woven together into a brand new whole.  Honestly, it delighted me.

Tara Maya has given us a beautiful new fantasy world. The Unfinished Song: Initiate will pull you in, immerse you in the people and stark beauty of Faearth, and leave you wanting more when you’re done. I know I definitely can’t wait to start The Unfinished Song: Taboo to see what’s next for Dindi, Kavio and the rest.

Grade: B

P.S. There is a cliffhanger at the end, but the second book The Unfinished Song: Taboo is already out and it looks like the final book in the series should be out next month!

Book Link | Amazon | Kindle | nook

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Review: Chasing Alex by Riley Shane

Title: Chasing Alex
Author: Riley Shane
Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Release Date: June 1, 2011

Chase Larkspur is a rodeo cowboy who likes a good ride…as long as he’s the one calling the shots. Alex Dawson is a bull rider who tests every limit Chase has ever set. The passion between them burns bright and hot, until Alex grows tired of keeping their relationship a secret—and of being the one who’s always ridden. Alex lays down an ultimatum, and then the rest is up to Chase. Does Chase let the best thing in his life run away to the family ranch, or is he brave enough to chase Alex down??

Reunion stories are some of my favorites; I love the idea of people that were together finally finding love with each other. In this case there was the ultimatum – and the events that led to it – that tore Chase and Alex apart. When they come back together, their reunion is both steamy and emotional.

It’s great to read a short story, just over 30 pages, that manages to pull me in and make me care. But this one definitely does. I was rooting for Chase and Alex to get back together, to understand one another and to give themselves, and each other, a chance.

Chasing Alex is a quick, sexy, eminently satisfying read. Riley Shane has a gift of writing great stories with characters that I love and want to see more of. Recommended!!

Grade: A+

Book Link | Dreamspinner Press
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