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

Excerpt: Nights of Steel by Nico Rosso and Giveaway!

 

Nico Rosso’s latest release, Night of Steel, is in stores now.  This is the 4th book in the Ether Chronicles, which is a collaboration with Zoe Archer.  I have an excerpt to share, as well as a chance for you to win a copy of the first 3 books in the series.

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

The remote hills south of Thornville, California.

“The only good place for a man is on the other end of my gun.” Anna Blue cocked the hammer of her .45, keeping the green dot of her prismatic sight hovering over “Dirty” Danny Malone’s heart. His partner in crime, Ron “Rat” Welles, stood on the other side of their little dead campfire. Anna had heard Malone was fast, but she had no doubt she could put a bullet in him before he reached the pistol on his hip. And he knew it, too.

Instead, Malone shot off his mouth again. “You ain’t too plain. Wash some of that trail dust off and you could be a pretty little flower.”

She kept her gun steady. The sun was high, but her tinted spectacles kept the glare down, as well as letting her see the green dot of her pistol’s sight. “I know you boys are stupid, but do you really think you’re the first to try to use what’s in your breeches to distract me from taking you in?”

Malone spoke up, thumbs casually hitched in his belt, but ready to draw if he had to. “Might want to reconsider that, sweetheart. A lot of things a man can do for you. A man like me.”

She laughed, but it didn’t break the tension in her body. She’d done this a hundred times—more, even. No one was better than she was at running down bounties. The image of a man with intense eyes, broad shoulders, and a two-gun rig flashed through her mind. Maybe one man was as good as she was.

“That’s right.” Welles’s nasal voice seemed to rattle in the pine needles around the campsite. “Laugh a little. Live a little. Got a bottle of corn liquor we could all share.”

“You boys could never earn the right to drink with me.” She hadn’t had a drink with a man in years. Something like that, sharing the heat of whiskey, the calm it soaked into her nerves, was more intimate than the tumbles she’d had with strangers.

Malone sucked a breath, shaking his head in disappointment. “Never met a more ornery woman.”

“That’s your problem,” she said. “Gotta stop thinking of me as a woman and start realizing I’m the bounty hunter who’s bringing your sorry hide in.”

Malone’s eyes narrowed. She saw the tendons twitch on the back of his hand. Welles shifted his feet in the dirt. Now they were serious. Even the horses that were tied on the edge of the campsite had the sense to paw at the ground and nicker nervously.

She kept the green dot on Dirty Danny’s chest. “What’s your play, Malone? Boxed yourselves in. You can’t run north. Up that way is Thornville, and everyone knows the law doesn’t even let mosquitos bite in that town. The ocean’s to the west, hunting parties to the east, coming up from New Mexico where they really want you dead.” Malone glanced in all the directions she mentioned, a tic developing at the side of his eye. She didn’t let up. “I imagine you wanted to run south, but I’m standing here.”

Welles’s nickname of “Rat” became abundantly clear when he showed his sharp front teeth in a mean sneer. “Not for long.”

Read more

This Week’s New and Notable Releases–Part 1

There are a ton of awesome releases this week, so I split the adult list into two parts. First up are the PNR/UF and Fantasy titles. So many of these are on my wish list! What’s on yours?

Check back tomorrow for new romance releases.

Click on the covers for the Amazon product page.

 

Dark Currents: Agent of Hel by Jacqueline Carey (Oct 2, 2012)

Daughter of the Sword: A Novel of the Fated Blades by Steve Bein (Oct 2, 2012)

Death’s Rival: A Jane Yellowrock Novel by Faith Hunter (Oct 2, 2012)

Ember’s Kiss: A Dragonfire Novel by Deborah Cooke (Oct 2, 2012)

Ghosts of Memories: A Vampire Memories Novel by Barb Hendee (Oct 2, 2012)

Ironskin by Tina Connolly (Oct 2, 2012)

London Eye (Toxic City Book One) by Tim Lebbon (Oct 2, 2012)

Mate Claimed (Shifters Unbound) by Jennifer Ashley (Oct 2, 2012)

Mortal Ties (Lupi) by Eileen Wilks (Oct 2, 2012)

Phantom Shadows (Immortal Guardians) by Dianne Duvall (Oct 2, 2012)

Revelation (A Novel of the Seven Signs) by Erica Hayes (Oct 2, 2012)

Savage Hunger by Terry Spear (Oct 2, 2012)

Skarlet: Part One of the Vampire Trinity (Vampire Babylon Trilogy) by Thomas Emson (Oct 2, 2012)

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (Oct 2, 2012)

Werewolf in Denver: A Wild About You Novel by Vicki Lewis Thompson (Oct 2, 2012)

Wicked Whispers (Castle of Dark Dreams) by Nina Bangs (Oct 2, 2012)

Courting Trouble by Jenny Schwartz (Oct 1, 2012)

Mark of the Witch (The Portal) by Maggie Shayne (Oct 1, 2012)

Wild Hearts in Atlantis by Alyssa Day (Oct 2, 2012)

Review: Playing with Fire by Tamara Morgan

 

 

Title: Playing with Fire

Author: Tamara Morgan

Publisher:  Entangled Publishing

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket—even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhuman abilities. Fiona’s powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won’t be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant…and she’s hurt enough people already.

Including herself.

But when the man behind her conversion returns to blackmail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona’s M.O.

Ian is convinced Fiona’s dangerous, convinced she’s Fireball, and convinced he’ll damn himself if he doesn’t resist a heat that’s always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame—but Ian has his own secrets.

And he’ll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.


Review:

I am a huge fan of superheroes, and when I saw that Entangled was publishing a series of novellas about super heroes, I had to read them. It was a little scary at first, because I was afraid I’d be disappointed, but Playing with Fire by Tamara Morgan is a fun, action-packed introduction to the Holding out for a Hero anthology series. I loved this story, and it even featured one of my favorite tropes – the second chance.  This read kept me entertained from the first page to the last, and I can hardly wait to read more of the anthology.

Fiona is a character I could immediately sympathize with.  She has the ability to hurl fire balls, but it comes at a steep price.  When her emotions get out of control, her powers do too.  She’s afraid of getting close to anyone because she is terrified of hurting them, and her last, failed attempt at intimacy ended disastrously, with her lover being badly burned.  To make this situation even worse, she didn’t even want the superhuman abilities to begin with.  Her manipulative boyfriend coerced her into it, and now she’s resigned herself to a sad and solitary life.

Into her life steps Ian, her childhood friend and the boy who broke her heart.  He was also responsible for her being bullied at school, so I did have a few issues warming up to him.  To be fair, Ian tried to rectify his past mistakes, but there were times when I felt that he didn’t do enough.  When it was his friend taunting Fiona, he quickly tried to put an end to the hurtful name calling, but when all Fiona wanted was for Ian to trust and believe her, he fell a little short.  In the end, he does gallantly redeem himself, but of the two of them, Fiona is obviously the more heroic. 

I enjoyed the world building, and am interested to see how other authors tackle a new world where superheroes , and super villains, could live next door. 

If you are looking for a fast-paced read with gobs of action, romance, and danger, look no further.  Playing with Fire was quickly gobbled up, followed by a “Please, sir, may I have some more?” plea from me.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

New and Notable Releases Week of August 6 – Part One

Here are some new and notable books that are releasing this week:

Check back tomorrow for YA and MG releases

(Please hit your refresh button if the images don’t load)

 

Sweet Deception by Heather Snow

Kiss of the Moon by Lisa Jackson (eBook)

A Woman Made for Pleasure by Michele Sinclair

 

 

The Spymaster’s Daughter by Jeane Westin

A Lady Never Lies by Juliana Gray

The Black Isle by Sandi Tan (Kindle eBook is 4.99!)

Contemporary

 

Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood

One Night Rodeo by Lorelei James

White Hot by Nina Bruhns

 

Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann Walker

The Grass King’s Concubine by Kari Sperring

Libriomancer by Jim C Hines

 

Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway

Time Untime by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Biting Cold by Chole Neill

 

Master of Darkness by Angela Knight

Desire After Dark by Jo Carlisle

Kept by Seduction by Jaymie Holland

 

Lover’s Instinct by Katie Reus (eNovella)

Mina Wentwork and the Invisible City by Meljean Brook (eNovella)

Originally Human by Eileen Wilks

 

 

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

A Wolf at the Door by K A Stewart

Two Weeks’ Notice by Rachel Caine

 

Seawitch by Kat Richardson

The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

Soul Weaver by Hailey Edwards

Heart of Darkness by Kira Brady

Fragile by Shiloh Walker

A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious by Mary Wine

Are any of these on your to buy list?

Interview with Lisa Stasse, Author of The Forsaken

Lisa Strasse is the author of The Forsaken, the kick-off to her new dystopian trilogy.  Lisa dropped by the virtual offices to introduce herself and to chat about her new book.

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

[Lisa Stasse] Arty. Writer. Reader. Caffeinated. Photographer. Librarian. Obsessive. Passionate.

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

[Lisa Stasse] It’s a dystopian thriller about a girl named Alenna Shawcross who fails a government personality test (she’s diagnosed with subversive tendencies and a capacity for brutal violence) and gets banished to a mysterious prison island called "the wheel." She has to learn how to forge alliances among the wild tribes that control the island, and also avoid government machines that kidnap kids. She and some friends finally mount a risky escape attempt.

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

[Lisa Stasse] It was a merger between a dream I had (about being stalked on an island by men in robes with knives) and a friend’s sister worrying about taking the SAT. That was the seed of the idea for "the wheel"–a horrific place you got sent if you failed a mandatory test at school. I guess it’s a nightmare version of the SAT and other similar tests.

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

[Lisa Stasse] Perseverant. Smart. Fighter.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Alenna would never have in her pocket?

[Lisa Stasse] Money, bullets, matches.

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

[Lisa Stasse] "Get Free" by Major Lazer (a side project of the producer Diplo–if you haven’t heard the song it’s really awesome. check it out on iTunes!)

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

[Lisa Stasse] I’m really influenced by books, music, and movies. Other writers are probably the biggest influence on me, from Stephen King to Suzanne Collins to JK Rowling to Margaret Atwood and Orson Scott Card. I always listen to music when I write too, so that’s a huge influence. Right now I’m listening to the new album by the Dirty Projectors (a great indie rock band) and also some stuff by Florence and the Machine. As for movies, I’m beyond excited to see The Dark Knight Rises! I also just saw The Cabin in the Woods, which was great and had one of my favorite crazy endings of any movie this year (Joss Whedon is an influence for sure).

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

[Lisa Stasse] Music, coffee and my laptop!

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

[Lisa Stasse] Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans (I read it as an ARC last week–it’s fantastic).

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

[Lisa Stasse] Where the Wild Things Are (I loved it as a little kid and I still do!) Also love Pride and Prejudice and Lord of the Flies.

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

[Lisa Stasse] Well, I’m a digital librarian at UCLA so I’m usually working on that. I love my job there–it’s a really cool environment to work in. I’m also a photographer, and I’m working on a screenplay with a friend of mine just for fun.

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

[Lisa Stasse] I love hearing from readers! Here are all my links. They can also send me email anytime at lmstasse[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Website: www.lisamstasse.com

Official Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtIwks26SZU

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12987192-the-forsaken

Twitter: www.twitter.com/lisamstasse

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisamstasse

{Manga Maniac Café] Have a great day!

[Lisa Stasse] YOU TOO! Thank you so much, I had a blast stopping by! :)

 

Check out the trailer for The Forsaken:

You can purchase The Forsaken from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below:

Check out The Forsaken on Goodreads!

Cover Shot! Midnight City by J Barton Mitchell

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?

Ever since I read The White Mountains by John Christopher when I was a kid, I have loved alien invasion books.  None of them have been able to stand up to The Tripods series, though.  Perhaps Midnight City by J Barton Mitchell will finally satisfy my craving for an incredible, impossible to put down read with defeated teens attempting to gain freedom from their alien oppressors?

In stores October 2012

 

 

 

In a post-apocalyptic world controlled by alien invaders, two teens and a young girl with mysterious powers embark on a dangerous journey. What they find will change everything…

Earth has been conquered. An extraterrestrial race known as The Assembly has abducted the adult population, leaving the planet’s youth to fend for themselves. In this treacherous landscape, Holt, a bounty hunter, is transporting his prisoner Mira when they discover Zoey, a young girl with powerful abilities who could be the key to stopping The Assembly. As they make their way to the cavernous metropolis of Midnight City, the trio must contend with freedom fighters, mutants, otherworldly artifacts, pirates, feuding alien armies, and perhaps most perilous of all: Holt and Mira’s growing attraction to each other.

Midnight City is the breathtaking first novel in the Conquered Earth series, and a stunning work of imagination from debut author J. Barton Mitchell

Subscribe in a reader

Review: Desert Blade by Elle Drake

 

 

Title: Desert Blade

Author: Elle Drake

Publisher: Carina Press

ASIN: B0070XZYXI

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

In the post-apocalyptic Midwest, now a ravaged dust bowl, former guardsman Derek Covington must find help for a sick boy. With nothing but memories of all he lost, Derek crosses the desert alone in search of the doctor who saved his own life ten years ago. Drifter gangs who loot and pillage don’t dare come near, for Derek has a formidable weapon: a prosthetic arm with a deadly blade.

For a decade, Dr. Lidia Sullivan has fantasized about the handsome guardsman who’d been in her care. And now she can’t deny his dangerous request. But as they make the treacherous journey back to Old St. Louis, they must contend with much more than fierce desert winds and their unthinkable attraction. A fearless gang has spotted Lidia—a rare woman—and will fight Derek to the death to get her. And though he risks his life to save her for the sake of the child who needs her, she fears there’s one thing Derek will never risk: his heart.

27,000 words

Review:

I love post-apocalyptic stories, so when I saw this novella on Netgalley, I immediately requested it.  The setting is a devastated Midwest, which has been turned into a lifeless desert.  Small settlements scrabble to make a living amidst the desolation, preyed upon by vicious drifters who kill anyone unlucky enough to wander across their path. 

The story starts with Lidia, a young doctor, helping to save the life of Derek, a Guardsman who has been wounded in the violent and fiery riots sweeping across Chicago.  In an effort to improve crop yields, scientists instead unleashed a virus that killed most of the plant life, setting off riots as desperate people, starving and panic-stricken, lashed out in bloody uprisings that left death and destruction in their wake.  When the staff from her hospital is evacuated, Lidia and Derek are separated during the ensuing chaos to stop the convoy and secure the valuable supplies being transported with the medical personnel.

Ten years later and now practicing her valuable medical skills in a small oasis amid the dust bowl that surrounds her small but thriving community, Lidia is shocked when Derek re-enters her life. Taking her from her safe haven and promising to protect her on a journey to his settlement, he needs her to help save the life of a friend’s young son. The resulting journey is both dangerous and exciting, as Lidia confronts the sizzling attraction that she still feels for the brooding, lethal man.

I love the premise for this story.  The Midwest has been turned into a desert, murderous bands of roving killers menace anyone stupid enough to travel beyond the guarded walls of the small communities that are slowly rising up out of the ruins of society.  Lidia actually lives a fairly comfortable life; she’s a doctor, and her life-saving skills are highly valued in her community.  She has enough to eat, she is safe within the walls of Leavenworth, and she is content with her life.  Right up until Derek re-enters her life, destroying her contentment and making her re-evaluate her present, and more importantly, her future.  He is like a raging inferno, and she is helpless against the force of her attraction for him.

While I found Derek to be a complete jackass at first, his stubbornness did grow on me.  He is aggressive, decisive, and once he sees Lidia again, he decides that he wants her.  All to himself, even if it means putting her in danger as he escorts her to his outpost near what is left of St Louis.  They have no doctors there, and they need one desperately.  Everyone in this ruined America needs a trained healer, so I was appalled that Derek would put Lidia’s life in danger and attempt to take her through the desert all by himself.  Ugh!  Derek!!  What were you thinking, other than that you wanted a chance to get into her pants?  I really wanted to hate this guy because that behavior was about as selfish as it got, but, gosh darn it, I couldn’t!  He’s so cocky and self-assured, and that held a certain amount of charm for me.  But still!  Dude! You almost got her KILLED!

Desert Blade is a fast paced romp through world on the brink of complete ruin.  It’s a fun popcorn adventure, with lots of action, fighting, and Derek and Lidia running for their lives. The world is interesting, the attraction between the protagonists is red hot, but there is a lack of depth due in part to the short length of this story. If you enjoy sci-fi romance or stories with post-apocalyptic settings, you will like this quick read.

Grade: B-

Review copy provided by publisher

 

 Subscribe in a reader