Cover Shot! Contagion by Tim Lebbon

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I am enjoying Tim Lebbon’s Toxic City series.  The third book, Contagion, is slated to hit stores in November 2013.  I like these covers, with the characters in the foreground, and the devastated city sprawling out behind them.  Are you reading these? What do you think of them?

 

Jack and his friends are in a race against time to save the remaining inhabitants of a postapocalyptic London from a nuclear bomb.

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the rest of the world, protected by a large force of soldiers (known as Choppers) while the rest of Britain believe that their ex-capital is a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. But that’s not true. Jack and his friends know that the truth is very different-and incredible: the few remaining survivors in London are changing; developing strange, fantastic powers; evolving. And the Chopper force guarding London is treating the ruined city as its own experimental ground.

Now, Jack’s powers are growing. His friend Lucy-Anne’s powers are developing too, and Nomad-that mysterious woman who started it all-is close by. But the Choppers have initiated their final safeguard-a huge nuclear bomb that will wipe out London, and everyone still within its boundaries. Jack and his friends must spread the news of the bomb and save everyone they can. Before that can happen, Jack must face his father, the deadly Reaper, in their final showdown.

Interview with Sherri L Smith, Author of Orleans

Please welcome Sherri L Smith to the virtual offices today!  Sherri is the author of the recently released ORLEANS, as well as Flygirl.  She very graciously agreed to chat about her books and let us get to know her better.  Check out what she has to say!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Sherri L Smith] I am a writer who likes to eat chocolate chip cookies.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Orleans?

[Sherri L Smith] ORLEANS is set in a not-to-distant future in the former city of New Orleans.  After a series of man-made and natural disasters give rise to the deadly Delta Fever, the U.S. Government builds a quarantine wall from Florida to Texas and abandons the region to its fate.  In old New Orleans, now called Orleans, the survivors have gone tribal.  The story follows Fen, a sixteen-year-old girl in this world, as she tries to save the life of a new born baby.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Sherri L Smith ] My mom was a New Orleans native and Katrina survivor.  The initial idea for the story came from my experience in getting my mother out of New Orleans after the storm.  Fen popped into my head one day and just started talking.  I left myself a voicemail with her words, and went from there.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Fen?

[Sherri L Smith] Strong, loyal, fierce.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Daniel is never without.

[Sherri L Smith] His datalink, even when it can no longer help him.  How many of us carry around cell phones long after the batteries have died?  It’s like a security blanket.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Fen’s pockets?

[Sherri L Smith ]Paper money, lipstick, cell phone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Fen’s greatest regret?

[Sherri L Smith] Not being able to save her tribal leader, Lydia.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Sherri L Smith] Other books, my dreams, people’s personal stories.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Sherri L Smith] A computer or notebook and pen, a cup of tea, a snack.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Sherri L Smith] Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made by Alan Eisenstock, Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos.  I went to film school with Eric, but it wasn’t until years later that I found out he and his best friend from childhood had spent a decade of their lives remaking “Raiders of the Lost Ark” shot for shot.  They started at the tender ages of 11 and 10.  This book tells the story of that adventure.  It’s incredible, honest, and very funny.  I’ve seen the movie—it will make you cheer.  So will the book.  The “how will they do that?!” factor is insane.  (how do 10-year-olds make a giant rolling boulder?)  What surprised me the most was the wraparound story.  Eric and Chris are from Ocean Spring, Mississippi.  The book starts in the aftermath of Katrina.  It really struck home for me, seeing the destruction and then traveling into their childhood to learn exactly what these ruined houses once were, and how they formed the foundations of their lives. That was an unexpected angle that brings such bittersweet depth to an otherwise raucous romp.  Well, there’s more heart strings being pulled than that.  Suffice it to say, it was wonderful.  Definitely check it out.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Sherri L Smith] Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White.  I read it over 100 times as a kid.  I know I read little books before that, but Wilbur and Charlotte are burned into my memory as true friends.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Sherri L Smith] When I’m not writing, I like to read.  A lot.  And I love to travel.  I like to cook.  I bake a lot of cookies.  Oh, and let’s not forget sleep.  I love that.  To sleep, perchance to dream! 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Sherri L Smith] You can find me through my website, www.sherrilsmith.com and my blog, The Middle Hundred (www.middlehundred.blogspot.com).  I’m also on Twitter, @sherri_l_smith, and there’s a Facebook page where updates are posted.  But don’t try to contact me through Facebook.  I’m generally too busy writing to check it.  I do respond to email if I can.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Sherri L Smith] Thank you, Julie!  It was fun.

You can purchase ORLEANS or any of Sherri’s other novels from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

About the book:

First came the storms.
Then came the Fever.
And the Wall.

After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.
Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.
Sherri L. Smith delivers an expertly crafted story about a fierce heroine whose powerful voice and firm determination will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page

Review: Redemption Erica Hayes and Giveaway! Win a Kindle Fire!

 

 

 

 

Title:  Redemption

Author: Erica Hayes

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Japheth the Tainted is on the hunt for a mysterious demon vampire. But meeting her face-to-face might disarm his warrior spirit—and spark an unquenchable passion with apocalyptic consequences.

As a fallen angel, Japheth is determined to make his way back to heaven by staying pure and slaying hellspawn. With a new scourge of vampires unleashed by a blood-drinking demon, the Prince of Thirst, there’s plenty to be done. But Japheth is after one vampire in particular—the one they call the Angel Slayer.

Rose Harley never wanted to be a vampire, but the Prince of Thirst can turn even the kindest soul into a soldier of hell. Feeling abandoned by God, she stalks the West Village taking revenge on his angels—until she meets her match.

When Japheth and Rose encounter each other, the battle is fierce and charged with desire. But when they discover a common enemy—the Prince of Thirst himself—they form a dangerous alliance that could either cost them their eternal lives, or spark a love more powerful than heaven or hell


Review:

I don’t read many paranormal romances, and I’m not sure why.  I enjoy them on the odd occasion when I do pick them up, and Redemption was no exception.  This is the second book in Erica Hayes’ The Seven Signs series, and I didn’t have much trouble figuring out what was going on, even though I haven’t read the first book, Revelation (which has a zombie virus, so I will be reading it, hopefully soon!).  The series features the war between angels and demons and the prophesied end of the world.  I enjoyed how the angels were portrayed in this story; just because they are angels didn’t mean that they were “good.”  What was even better; Japheth, a Tainted angel, is working tirelessly for his redemption, so he can return to Heaven.  His fellow Tainted behave like fraternity boys; drinking, chasing women, and partying in between missions slaying demons and hellspawn, and trying to stop the Apocalypse from happening.

Michael is in charge of the angels, and he’s a ruthless jerk.  I hated him.  He’s power hungry and cruel, and he doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice his angels if it will fulfill his ambitions.  He sends Japheth to kill Fluvium, the Prince of Thirst, and recover the vial of wrath in his possession.  Japheth doesn’t know why Michael cast him out of Heaven.  He’s always been brave, righteous, and dedicated to serving God.  All he wants is to be let back into Heaven.  He lives a life a purity, distaining pleasures of the flesh, and obeying orders to the letter.  What does he get for his sacrifices?  A never ending hard-on and no sense of humor.  Poor guy.

Rose Harley is Japheth’s unlikely match.  Like Japheth, she’s been tricked, and now she’s a vampire, the slave of Fluvium.  He’s ordered her to steal Japheth’s soul, or he’ll throw her into Hell.  Terrified of the never-ending agony of Hell, Rose is determined to carry out his commands.  She’s killed angels aplenty – they don’t call her Angel Slayer for nothing.  When the two meet, however, they both discover that they have clearly met their match.  They are both fierce warriors, they are both driven to carry out their mission at all costs, and they both have preconceived notions about the other that are wrong, wrong, wrong.  Circumstances have fooled them both, and robbed them of their dreams.  Rose has lived through the horror of being a demon lord’s plaything, and Japheth is the casualty of another’s powerful ambitions.

I enjoyed the world building in Redemption.  I loved how the lines between the hellspawn and the angels blurred, leaving me wondering who was good and who was truly evil.  There is a large cast of characters, and I want to know more about several of them, both angels and demons.  I’m sure they’ll be back for future installments of the series.  What I really want is to see the characters I dislike meet their comeuppance.  There are several who deserve the wrath of both heaven and hell.

The pacing is blistering.  After all, Japheth is racing to complete his mission and put a stop to the Apocalypse, all at the same time.  He’s saddled with Rose, a vampire he doesn’t trust, but is forced to rely on.  He has nothing but contempt for Rose, and he won’t even consider that there might be more than he realizes about her turning into a vampire.  Nope, she’s hellspawn scum, and the sooner he finishes his mission, the sooner he can put an end to her cursed life.  Nice guy!  Maybe he’s not so righteous after all?

Though he took a while to warm up to, I did come to like Japheth.  His fall from grace was only possible because he couldn’t see the evil in those he served.  He was the ideal warrior – fighting for the faith he believed in with all his heart, making his betrayal that much more bitter.  It takes him a long, long time to come to terms with what he believes his fellow angels should be, and the reality of what they are.  I wouldn’t want to have to trust any of these guys, because I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them.

The action is intense, and the sparks between Japheth and Rose are blinding.  As they begin to trust each other, their attraction for each other blazes out of control.   If only Japheth wasn’t trying to stay so pure! 

Redemption is a fun, action-packed romp through a nightmarish vision of the Apocalypse, where the lines between good and evil aren’t all that clear.  The romance between Japheth and Rose, two strong and noble characters who have had their faith and trust shattered, is hot and steamy and will leave you believing in their HEA.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours

GIVEAWAY!!

Enter the Tour Wide Giveaway for a Kindle Fire or if the winner lives outside the US they will receive an equivalent value Amazon gift card!!

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More about the book:

Redemption
The Seven Signs, Book 2 by
Erica Hayes

Publisher: Berkley Sensation

ISBN: 978-0425258385

Number of pages: 330

Cover Artist: Kris Keller

Paperback: Amazon BN Book Depository

Ebook: Amazon BN iTunes

About the Author:

Erica Hayes was a law student, an air force officer, an editorial assistant and a musician, before finally landing her dream job: fantasy and romance writer.

She writes dark paranormal and urban fantasy romance, and her books feature tough, smart heroines and colourful heroes with dark secrets.

She hails from Australia, where she drifts from city to city, leaving a trail of chaos behind her. Currently, she’s terrorizing the wilds of Northumberland.

http://www.ericahayes.net

http://erica-hayes.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/ericahayes.author

http://www.twitter.com/ericahayes

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2922003.Erica_Hayes

Cover Shot! Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

Ah! This cover is so awesome! Look at that bulldog!  And Clover is autistic?  I can hardly wait to get my hands on this book!

 

 

After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.

Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.

When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined… and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.

Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Title:  Breathe

Author: Sarah Crossan

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe . . . The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

Alina has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.

Quinn should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Bea wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?


Review:

The premise of Breathe hooked me and made me what to read it.  I am a huge fan of dystopian fiction, and though I have been disappointed by many of them lately, Breathe kept me completely engaged in the plot.  That’s not to say that there weren’t any flaws, because there were quite a few, but I was so caught up in the story that I overlooked most of them.  One that was hard to overlook was the personality reversal of Petra, the leader of the Resistance.  When the chips were down, she went from being tough as nails to completely caving in and giving up.  I don’t understand how she was the leader of this rebel group for so long, how she sent her people out on dangerous, life-threatening missions that lead to many of their deaths, when she couldn’t even find it in herself to fight back when she’s confronted with a war.  Yes, the odds were so against her people that it didn’t look like they had a chance in Hell of winning, but just rolling over and giving up without a fight made me dislike her even more.  How she ever became the leader of the resistance in the first place is beyond me.

When Bea and her best friend, Quinn, head out of the pod for a short camping trip, their plans are disrupted by Alina, a member of the Resistance, who is fleeing from the Ministry.  Alina’s crime? She stole some plants.  Yup, in this horrific vision of the future, all plant-life has been destroyed, the oceans have been polluted, and as a result, there isn’t enough oxygen left in the atmosphere to support life.  The oppressive Breathe, the corporation that developed the pods and the life giving machines that fill them with breathable air,  making a fortune selling air to the citizens of the pod.  If you think having a gas meter or an electric meter is a pain, imagine having a monthly bill for the air you breathe.  The poor struggle to make ends meet, while the wealthy have so much money they can splurge on personal air tanks so they can jog or play sports.  Stewards patrol the streets, punishing those who walk too fast, or carry burdens without a permit.  In the public areas of the pod, there are strict rules dictating how quickly you can move or what you can do because you are sucking up all of that valuable free air into your lungs.  I love the concept behind this story!

After Bea and Quinn help Alina, their lives are thrown into chaos.  Quinn’s father holds a high ranking position in Breathe, and as a Premium, there is little that Quinn has had to do without.  Bea, on the other hand, has parents who are working themselves to death to pay for her air.  As she attends school and works hard to be promoted, Bea is consumed with guilt.  Her parents are always so tired, and always so worried about everything.  When she fails to secure a spot in the Breathe Leadership Program, she is devastated.  That was going to be her ticket to an easier life for her and her parents, and she blew it.  So a trip outside, to the Outlands, sounds like just the thing she needs to clear her head and forget her disappointment.  Quinn is providing everything she needs for the trip, so she might as well go and enjoy herself.  And she is, until they run into Alina.  Quinn, a very clueless, privileged young man, sees Alina, finds her beautiful, and immediately falls for her.  He’ll do anything in his power to help her.  Even hurt his best friend, Bea, who has loved him forever.

The love triangle did get a little annoying, because I didn’t think Quinn was worthy of Bea’s unyielding devotion, and Alina wasn’t my favorite character.  While I thought that Quinn and Alina deserved each other,  I didn’t want to see Bea hurt, because she is so kind.  She is willing to risk herself for others, without hesitation. Neither Alina nor Quinn have her best interests at heart when they both have the power over her to keep her from harm.  That was disappointing, because after everything that they had been through together, I expected better behavior from both of them.  Plus, Bea would have put herself in harm’s way to protect both of them, and they didn’t deserve that.

The ending is one of those non-endings that seem inevitable in YA books, and it left me disappointed.  I have been trying to resist starting new series until most of the books are out, but this was sitting on the library shelf, and despite a few reservations, I checked it out.  Now. When I knew the next book won’t be out until later this year.  Ugh.  I am glad that I read it now, but I worry that I won’t be in the same frame of mind when Book 2 hits shelves.

If you are in the mood for a fast-paced dystopian with a compelling premise, give Breathe a try.  I gobbled it up in a few short hours, and was engaged in the plot the entire time.

Grade:  B

Review copy obtained from my local library

Interview with Elizabeth Richards, Author of Black City and Giveaway!

 

Elizabeth Richards recently stopped by the virtual offices to chat about her new release, Black City.  After the interview, you can enter for a chance to win Black City and Phoenix, the next book in the series!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Elizabeth Richards] Sci-fi/fantasy and horror loving geek girl. Wants to be a Gryffindor, but knows in her heart she’s a Hufflepuff. Four is my book boyfriend.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Black City?

[Elizabeth Richards] Here’s the official blurb, which sums it up best!

A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable — they fall in love.

Bonded by a mysterious connection, that causes Ash’s long dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught they’ll be executed —but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Elizabeth Richards] It all started with Ash. His character came to me, fully formed, while I was watching a movie one night. I just couldn’t shift this idea of a drug-dealing, supernatural boy who gets a heartbeat when he meets his true love. As soon as the movie finished, I wrote a scene between Ash and his best friend Beetle. Everything else fell into place organically after that. I’ve always been drawn to the gothic and dark, and many of my all-time favorite books have dystopian settings, so it was inevitable this would be the world I would put Ash and Natalie in.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Ash?

[Elizabeth Richards] Dark, sexy, dangerous.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Natalie had a theme song, what would it be?

[Elizabeth Richards] Girl by Tori Amos.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Natalie won’t leave the house without.

[Elizabeth Richards] Her bodyguard (but that’s not her choice).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Ash’s pocket?

[Elizabeth Richards] Anything silver (he’s allergic), gum (it gets stuck in his fangs), girls’ telephone numbers (it’s illegal for him to date humans).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Elizabeth Richards] I’m at my most creative when I’m staying in my family’s home in Co. Sligo, Ireland. Our home is in a beautiful fishing village, which has stunning views of Donegal Bay and Ben Bulben (the mountain referenced in W. B. Yeats’ poem ‘Under Ben Bulben).The place just has a wild, gothic, and romantic feel about it, and there’s a lot of rich history and folklore around there, which I find very inspirational. Plus there’s no cell-phone reception, or internet connection at the house, so it’s very peaceful. I wrote the first draft of Black City there, actually!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Elizabeth Richards] Laptop, Pepsi Max, solitude.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Elizabeth Richards] Divergent by Veronica Roth. It was utterly superb. I devoured the book in a few hours, and then immediately re-read it. The characters were brilliantly developed, the world was fresh and exciting, the action was thrilling, and Four…oh, Four! *swooooon* I think my faction would be Dauntless, or possibly Candor, given that I’m a terrible liar.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Elizabeth Richards] To be honest, I don’t recall one specific book as a kid that got me into reading—it just seemed to be something we did in our family, and was always a big part of my life. But the most influential and life-changing book I’ve ever read was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I’m a huge fan of the series, and it’s been a big part of my life for all these years.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Elizabeth Richards] I enjoy drawing, watching sci-fi TV shows with my hubbie, and going out for dinner with my friends. Occasionally, I like going to gigs as well, but I haven’t had the opportunity to go to one for a while. Hoping to get to Download next year!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Elizabeth Richards] You can send me a message via the contact form on my website (http://officialelizabethrichards.com), or I can be found on Facebook (facebook.com/OfficialElizabethRichards), and on Twitter (https://twitter.com/theredpenofdoom)!

http://officialelizabethrichards.com

http://theredpenofdoom.wordpress.com

http://www.facebook.com/OfficialElizabethRichards

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5188888.Elizabeth_Richards

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Elizabeth had one more thing to say, and you are going to love it!

One last thing, there will be a tour wide giveaway.  We are offering TWO FINISHED copies of Black City and TWO pre-orders of PHOENIX. So there will be two winners. Those who keep up with the tour and comment as they go (once a day) can enter.

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You can order Black City from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.  You can also pre-order Phoenix, the next book in the series!

Win The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan!

Today I am giving away a copy of Carrie Ryan’s The Dead-Tosses Waves!  Got a hankering for a zombie story?  Enter for your chance to win!

About the book:

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

Want to win? Just fill out the widget below. US addresses only, please.

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Review: London Eye by Tim Lebbon

 

Title:  London Eyes

Book One in the Toxic City Series

Author:  Tim Lebbon

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

The Hunger Games meets the X-Men in an exciting postapocalyptic debut

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers. The rest of Britain believes that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland.

But Jack and his friends—some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday—know that the reality is very different. At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London—and it is incredible.

Because the handful of London’s survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.

Upon discovering that his mother is still alive inside London, Jack, his sister, and their three friends sneak into a city in ruins. Vast swathes have been bombed flat. Choppers cruise the streets, looking for survivors to experiment upon. The toxic city is filled with wonders and dangers that will challenge Jack and his friends… and perhaps kill them. But Jack knows that the truth must be revealed to the outside world or every survivor will die.


Review:

I am a little torn about how I feel about this book.  It was slow to pick up, but once the action started, it didn’t let up.  Until that ever unpopular with me brick wall of an ending.  This one screeches to a halt, without even the slightest hint of resolution or completeness.  Even worse, the ending opens up multiple story threads that need to be explored in the next installment.  While I don’t mind series, I do not like all of these non-conclusions.  Nothing is wrapped up, and the story lurches to a stop just as things were getting really, really interesting.  It’s like waiting in line at Cedar Point to ride the Gatekeeper, getting to the front of the line, and being told that the ride has to close due to inclement weather.  Come back next year for your anticipated thrill ride.  I am so not a fan of these kinds of endings.

London Eye is being billed as Hunger Games meets the X-Men.   Once Jack and friends enter the forbidden, toxic city of London, they are met with one life-threatening misadventure after another, and Jack is willing to risk his own life to discover the fate of his parents.  They were in London during the terrorist attacks that left it an empty husk of itself.  The only people left alive, everyone is told, are horrible monsters. The city has been completely shut off, with no electricity or access to fresh food.  People can not travel in or out without being picked up by the Choppers.  When Rosemary, an old woman with healing abilities, offers to sneak Jack and his friends inside, he jumps at the chance.  He needs to know what happened to his parents, and he won’t rest until he finds out the truth.

Beside the ending, my biggest complaint with London Eye is the pacing.  It is much slower than I’ve become accustomed to in YA dystopian novels.  If I didn’t like Jack and his younger sister Emily so much, I don’t think I would have stuck it out.  The story doesn’t pick up until about mid-way, and it ratchets up to crazy sauce (in a good way), the last 25 pages.  Which made the non-ending even more of a let-down.  I am getting to the point that I don’t even want to start a series until most of the books are already out, due to my ever growing levels of impatience.  With the deluge of titles hitting store shelves every week, I sometimes feel that my reading needs would better served if I held off on series until they are complete.  I am still stinging over the increasingly long wait times between GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels. Yes, I am one of those entitled readers who expects closure from every book I read.  I like endings, and I need closure. 

Jack and his friends don’t believe the government’s spiel about what happened in London the day the terrorists attacked, releasing Evolve, a biological weapon that sickened and killed most of the city’s residents.  Those who survived were changed, turned into dangerous monsters.  Jack knows in his heart that his parents are still alive, and he just wants to find them and bring them home.  He has been struggling to raise his younger sister, and he knows that they both need their parents.  His friends Sparky and Lucy-Anne also want to discover the fates of their relatives who were in London during the attacks.  When Rosemary shows up, they throw caution to the wind and agree to make the dangerous, forbidden journey into London with her.

As far as the world-building goes, I found it a mixed bag.  I liked the idea of a deserted London, where enhanced humans hide from the vicious Choppers, a government body that captures and dissects the Irregulars in a vain attempt to discover what makes them tick.  As Jack and his small party infiltrated the empty streets, however, I didn’t get a sense that it was all that dangerous to sneak from safe house to safe house.  It wasn’t until the end, during a bloody encounter with the Choppers and the terrifying Superiors, that I felt invested in the danger of the story.   Prior to that, it seemed to me that if you just kept your head down and crept around like a mouse, you wouldn’t draw much attention to yourself and you could just lay low, so I didn’t buy into the hazards of being trapped in the ruins of London.

While I didn’t feel completely engaged in the plot until the end, I am invested enough now that I want to see what happens next.  A sense of urgency and a clear and present threat to Jack’s continued survival was finally, firmly, engaged at the end.  I wonder how he will save all those he cares for, and fend off the Choppers and the terrifyingly powerful Superiors.  I do feel, though, that this book and next could have been combined for a more complete and finished story.  Your mileage will more than likely vary.

Grade:  C+/B-

Review copy provided by publisher