Monthly Archives: December 2012

Review of Laura Brewer’s Selarial’s Song

I grabbed Laura Brewer‘s Sci-Fi novel Selarial’s Song (The Songs of Talmanor, #1) off of the KDP free list a few months back.

Long description from Goodreads:
Selarial, a Singer of notable telepathic ability, is Chief Engineer aboard the Equinox. Few outside the other Sorthians aboard her ship are aware she is also the daughter of Sorth’s Ambassador. She, like all Singers, is mind bonded with two of Sorth’s other sentient species; Kirrlea, a sisha (feline) and Roth, a lidan (raptor). Both are known for their independence, loyalty and ferocity in a fight. As strange as it appears to outsiders, both Singers and sisha are often skilled healers as well as fighters. 

Alcar Trent is Captain of the Ventura and native of Tarrel, another of the Founding Worlds. His only home has been his ship for two decades. He is uncertain of the talents of the Sorthians on the Equinox, but regards them as strong allies that he trusts to watch ones back in a fight. Not all of his crew agree with that. However, he comes to rely on Selarial’s abilities and to discover some of his own.

When Selarial and Alcar’s ships are assigned to border patrol together, they know it is likely to get rough. It had been eight hundred years since the war with the Thess’n Empire. The Coalition’s relations with their old enemy had always been strained, but now the Thess’ns are raiding again. The Coalition forces on the border know war is on the verge of breaking out again, but most of the leadership is too concerned with political maneuvering to take the threat seriously. The notable exceptions are the worlds that founded the Coalition, including Sorth and Tarrel.

As incidents increase, Selarial and Alcar begin to see that Sorthians are high on the list of targets. Selarial also appears to acquire the personal enmity of one of the Thess’n Warlords. When ancient weapons, long thought destroyed, begin to appear in the hands of their enemies, Selarial wants to know why. On Sorth, the Singer Council delves into ancient records for answers, but uncovers more questions and an urgent warning.

Review:

I really enjoyed this book in a mellow sort of way. I like the story and the characters a lot, but it  moves fairly slowly. This encourages the reader (or at least me as a reader) to slow down too. Brewer spends a lot of time describing history and/or the use of one’s psychic skills. This is interesting but slows the action down. It also makes the book feel like it is probably part of a much bigger story. Otherwise the story couldn’t afford to dedicate so much time to non-events IMO. What the book lacks in heart-racing, page turning action it makes up in carefully considered spiritual awareness though. The Sorthians are a model of what humans should and could aspire to. Well maybe not the whole psychic linking part (though that would be pretty awesome), but certainly the environmentally, socially and spiritually cognizant part.

I have to admit that Alcar and Selarial’s bonding did smack a little bit of the insta-love that is so frequent in YA books. It always irks me and here is no exception. I would have liked them to have gotten to know each other a little bit. I get that there is probably supposed to be a certain amount of providence or divine intercession going on, but that feels like a necessary assumption that I would rather not have to make. Either way I enjoyed the book enough to race right back to Amazon and buy the second (Dream Song). 

Roark’s Cove

On a more personal note, I discovered from Brewer’s Twitter page that she is from (or at least in) Monteagle, Tn. This  is pretty close to my home turf. I was born in Alto, which is just down the mountain. This will mean next to nothing to most people, since both Alto and Monteagle are  pretty small towns. But it gave me a small personal thrill. As a result, while I would never be so arrogant as to presume to know any author’s inspiration, I have completely re-visualized The Vales on Sorth as Roark’s Cove. I just can’t help it. The Cove is one of my favourite places on earth and I think it is every bit as beautiful as the Singer’s haven is said to be. 

Review of P.L. Parker’s The Chalice

Some time ago I won a copy of P.L. Parker‘s The Chalice from Laurie’s Thought and Reviews.

Description from Goodreads:
Decimated by the savage Deg’Nara and teetering on the brink of extinction, the last surviving males of the once great Chiagan-Se embark on a quest to salvage what is left of their civilization. They send their remaining seeker ships into the void, searching for genetically compatible females. Time is running out, but in the far reaches of the universe, on an obscure and primitive planet, a match is discovered.

One thousand panic-stricken women awaken two hundred years in the future, captives aboard an unmanned alien spacecraft bound for parts unknown! How had they gotten there and why? 

The males thought they came willingly. The females believed they’d been kidnapped. Full of hopeful expectation, the Chiagan-Se prepare for the arrival of their new mates. Terrified and furious at the inexplicable abduction, the women prepare for combat! And when the two sides meet, the battle commences.

Even though I won a copy of The Chalice way back in June, I put off reading it because I honestly hate the cover. It makes me think of bad Swedish porn. (No offense against the Scandinavian porn industry. I’m sure they have some good porn too.) And come on, lets face it, the plot-line of a ship full of females bound for a the arms of a wholly male populace is rife with the possibility of cheap bow-chica-bow-wow moments. It could easily go bad very quickly. But I wanted to support the author and appreciate the winnings so I gave it a chance.

I made it 45% into the book before there was even a hint of a kiss and a good 250 pages before there was a sex scene. (It was only the first of two and fairly mild to boot.) Relief, not porn then. What it was instead was funny. Now, I don’t mean the trying to take itself too seriously, forcing you to laugh derisively at it funny. No, I mean the genuinely and intentionally humorous type of funny. Danesha, or ‘Dread’ was a whole ball of fun all by herself. Never have I encountered such a bitter and pessimistic character that makes you love her so much. No matter how dire the circumstances you could count on her to think of something worse and lighten the mood. Then there was a little bit of slapstick and all of the basic misunderstandings that one would expect to encounter when two sentient species are forced to interact. I laughed out loud a lot.

Some of the characters were a little stereotypical. Dread was after all a foul mouthed African American from the Detroit ghetto who was always ready for a fight. Then there was the stiff lipped Englishwoman who always kept her cool, the whinging Irish woman who kept wailing ‘I dinnae nooo,’ the busty blond Swede, and the placid Japanese ninja-type. They were a lot of fun though. A little more thought seems to have gone into the male cast. Parker painted them as contradictorily strong, hot-blooded warriors who also happened to feel like lost little boys. I really enjoyed seeing the women take charge. I also enjoyed that there was a plot outside of the romances. In fact I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the smoldering bits. I especially wanted to see how Shagal won his mate over…or was won over. Hard to tell on that one.

On the downside, to say the book head hops would be an understatement. It not only leaps unexpectedly from one person to the next, but from one scene to the next. One moment you are in Kara’s head on a transport shuttle, then the next you are with Tegan on the bridge of the ship, with nothing to indicate you have moved. I often had to reread passages or just keep going until I found a clue to reorient myself by. It was a challenge. Despite this I was pleasantly surprised by the book and look forward to reading more of Parker’s writing.

Review of Darkness Falls & Darkness Breaks

 

Way back in June I won an ecopy of Jessica Sorensen’s Darkness Falls from Mostly Reviews. I finally got around to reading it.

Description from Goodreads:
When the disease spread through the world, people had no choice but to go into hiding. The Colony is hidden deep underground, far away from the vampires—humans that were transformed by the disease. The vampires are hideous, starving, and they will kill any human they come across.

Seventeen-year-old Kayla is a Bellator, a warrior that protects The Colony. In order to survive, there are three rules she must follow:

Rule #1—Never go out after dark.
Rule #2—Always carry a weapon.
Rule #3—No matter what, never EVER get bitten.

But what happens when the rules Kayla has always lived by can no longer apply? The Highers run The Colony and accept nothing less than perfection. One slip up can mean death. Kayla has always worked hard to follow the rules and strive for perfection. But during a moment of weakness, she lets her imperfections show. Her punishment is worse than death. She is chosen for The Gathering and is thrown out into a world full of starving vampires.

No one has ever survived The Gathering, at least that’s what Kayla’s been told. But when she runs into a group who insist they were once part of The Gathering, Kayla discovers the Highers have been keeping secrets. Secrets that could lead to a cure

Review:

Ok, so that was a long description but there is a lot going on from page one of this book, maybe too much. Honestly, I spent at least the first third of it confused. But when you are reading a first person, present tense account of something from a narrator who is suffering gaps in her memory I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising. She’s confused too. It took me a long time to get used to the narration style. I just generally dislike both first person and present tense. Once I acclimated, however, it was fine. I didn’t hate it too much. I did enjoy Sorensen’s writing style though. The use of frequent short sentences often gave the narration a curt feel that fit the main character, Kayla, really well.

Kayla is thrown into a world where everyone seems to know more than her and everyone seem intent on keeping it that way. She is one tough cookie, though. She keeps right on trucking no matter what fate throws at her, even when it is an unusual number of amorous men. Tristan, Aiden, Sylas…it kind of felt like she must have been the only available woman in the Colony or something. Of the three I have to admit to leaning toward Sylas. I’m a sucker for a broken bad boy. What can I say?

On a completely unrelated note, was anyone else bothered by the fact that she carries a katana on the cover, but doesn’t use a sword in the book? I’m just saying. All-in-all I enjoyed it and quickly grabbed book two (Darkness Breaks) to see what happened next.

Description from Goodreads:
Kayla made her choice and now she has to live with it. She stays with the Day Takers, hiding in the city, staking vampires. But fighting vampires as a human is difficult.

Sylas constantly pressures Kayla to choose the life of a Day Taker. But until Kayla knows what Monarch is planning, she can’t make her choice. Plus there’s Aiden. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t stop thinking about him. 

As Kayla’s memories resurface, the pieces of her history unfold. She learns of Cell 7, a place that Kayla believes holds the answers to the creation of the virus. But getting to Cell 7 is a dangerous mission. And with Kayla’s strength weakening, it’s one mission she might not make it through alive. 

Review:

Darkness Breaks picks up just after Darkness Falls ends and is worth reading for Sylas alone. I adored him and am keeping my fingers crossed for his speedy return in book three (Darkness Fades). I found the juxtaposition of him and Aiden interesting. While one openly declares himself evil and the other tries ardently to do the right thing, you are still left wondering which on is really working for the forces of good in the world. Sometimes the ‘right’ thing isn’t always the RIGHT thing to do. It’s all yet to be seen though. I think I had as many questions at the end of the book as I did at the beginning.

I did start to think that maybe Kayla was a little too perfect. I realise, of course, that she was designed to be that way, but surely she needs a weakness somewhere. Her perfection started to strain the confines of credibility a little. I also started to wonder about the rest of the world. Kayla is on about saving it, but  there is no indication beyond assumption that the virus has spread worldwide or that this is the last enclave of humanity. It’s just a niggle, but it is there in the back of my mind.

I eagerly await the next book in the series. I enjoyed the characters and the hint of a romance that is so much more than a rushed lust-based affair. A worthy continuation of the series.