Book Review: Borne of Sand and Scorn

reviewcover-borne of sand and scornTitle: Borne of Sand and Scorn [Forgotten Lands 0.5]

Author: Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Steampunk, Western, Novella, Romance, Post-Apocalyptic

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Death favors no one.

In the bustling industrial cities of Victorian America, soot clouds darken the skies, plaguing citizens with black lung. Rich or poor, young or old, no matter their station, no one is able to escape the life-threatening disease, and the West family is no exception.

Overcome by death and sickness, the Wests flee to the New Territories for refuge, only to discover more devastation. Wind and drought ravage the land and no one is safe. No place on earth is untouched by the Shift.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I loved Borne of Sand and Scorn by Lindsey Pogue for what it was – a prequel to the Forgotten Lands series. Here’s the thing: I’m not a fan of novellas. I think they’re too short to enjoy, and because they’re so short, authors often try to do too much too quickly. Unfortunately, this book didn’t live outside that realm – the romance between Lizzie and Brandon moved far too quickly to be realistic, and as an avid romance reader, that bothered me. That being said, I can understand why it was done that way, I just don’t like it.

Aside from this, the only other complaint I have is that I caught a few typos, but nothing so bad as to ruin the book for me. I think, for the most part, the story was well written, and it has that same atmosphere and description to it that Dust and Shadow has that I absolutely adore.

I think my favorite part though, as odd as it will sound, was the opening scene. As awful as it was for the character, it was certainly impactful, and it really set the stage for the type of storytelling the author is so good at.

If you enjoy westerns or post-apocalyptic stories, I’d certainly recommend this – but I would throw in the caveat that you should read the first book of the series before you endeavor to read this prequel. You’ll understand what’s going on a lot more, and you’ll get more enjoyment out of meeting the characters.

Book Review: Her Wicked Stepbrother

cover-her wicked stepbrotherTitle: Her Wicked Stepbrother [Nolan Bastards 0.5]

Author: Amy Olle

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Novella

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

My stepbrother hates me.

That’s fine, because I hate him too.

I hate his crooked smile and the way he looks at me, like he’s a sugar addict and I’m the last cupcake on earth. I hate that he makes me feel like I’m more than that lost little girl whose mom didn’t want her, then leaves and doesn’t come home again for days.

And I really, really hate that he flirts with other girls.

A lot of other girls.

But it’s fine. Really, it is. Soon, he’ll be leaving to attend university on the other side of the world, and I’ll only have to see him on holidays and at the rare family get-together. It’ll all be just fine.

As long as I don’t fall in love with him.

WARNING

I don’t usually read novellas, and had I realized this book was so short, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up — but I’m glad that I did. Despite being short, this book didn’t read like the usually rushed novella – it felt like a full-length novel up until it ended.

Despite the title, it wasn’t thinly veiled erotica either. I am intrigued to read on in the series and continue the character’s stories further. The romance and tension between the main characters were well executed and the family dynamics between the teens and the parents was handled realistically. The characters felt real – which is an amazing accomplishment for a novella.

I look forward to more!

– SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Book Review: Jake’s Redemption

review-cover-jake's redemptionTitle: Jake’s Redemption [Angel Eyes 0.5]

Author: Jamie Schulz

Genre: Dystopian, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

An imprisoned cowboy. An empowered woman. When true love is forbidden, opening their hearts could destroy them both…

Chained and enslaved, Jake Nichols is convinced he’ll die alone. In this new order where men are stripped of all power, he endures brutal torture at the hands of his female captor. But when he’s hired out to build a ranch home for an outspoken beauty, his dreams of escape transform into visions of passion.

Monica Avery struggles to fill her heart in a loveless society. With marriage outlawed and romantic partners reduced to pawns, she’s given up hope of finding her soul mate. But the rugged rancher building her shelter awakens her deeply buried desires.

As the project comes together, Monica discovers a kindred spirit in the tenderhearted Jake. But despite their growing attraction, he still belongs to a cruel woman who’d rather see him dead than free.

Can Monica save Jake, or will their love lead to a tragic tomorrow?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings about Jake’s Redemption by Jamie Schulz. I’ll be honest, when I first picked up the book, for the first chapter or two, I hated it. I found it hard to accept the world that was built for this series – because I simply can’t make myself believe that given the advantage of strength, womankind would overtake men and start treating them like slaves. The way the men in this story were treated was depraved, and I’d like to think that having been oppressed and mistreated for thousands of years, surely women would do better.

The feminist in me loathed the way the women’s strength was named “Hysterical Strength”. It brought up bad images in my head of women being confined to insane asylums because they were “hysterical” which just meant they were women that were too outspoken, or simply too inconvenient for the men in their lives, and needed to be discarded. I cannot describe how much this simple phrase bothered me. I understand why it was chosen, but I didn’t like it.

Then, the book moved on. The book morphed into a story about trauma and love, and two people trying to overcome their personal and societal issues – and it was sweet. I liked the characters. I liked their romance. The writing was easy to sink into. All of these things made me forget how much I hated the beginning of the book. I very nearly gave this a 4-star rating because of it.

…and then the end came. Chapter after chapter of time jumps, hinting that soon everything would be relieved, relationships would move forward, and things would be resolved… but they weren’t. The book ended still unfinished. The last few chapters broke this book for me. I don’t know what happened to the structure – but it just didn’t work for me.

Overall, the book was okay. Thought he cover at no way hinted at this being dystopian, the story structure was a bit off, and the world-building at times was problematic, I still enjoyed the story for the most part. It’ll be interesting to see where the series goes from here.

Book Review: End Dayz

review-cover-end dayzTitle: End Dayz [The Hitchhiker Strain 0.5]

Author: Kellie Sheridan

Genre: Horror (Zombies), Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Short Story

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It’s month after the dead first began to walk. The miracle vaccine that was supposed to save us all has failed.

Now, four teens fight to stay alive as a stronger, smarter breed of zombie begins to appear, threatening to end humanity for good.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about End Dayz by Kellie Sheridan. I came upon this book as part of a larger series on NetGalley—in fact, the Hitchhiker Strain series in its entirety. Going into it, all I knew was that it was a three-book set. It wasn’t until I started reading End Dayz that I discovered that it wasn’t so much the first book in the series, as a prequel set of letters and diary entries. I wasn’t aware that it was a set of four short stories to begin with, so take that into context as you read this review. I kept waiting for the actual story to begin, and instead I was reading abandoned letters and diary entries from a bunch of kids trying to survive the apocalypse. The narrative I was expecting never came, and the longer the letters went on, the more I was starting to think that this “prologue” was going on way too long.

That’s okay though. To be honest, the letters were really interesting. It was entertaining to see how the different teens dealt with the horrors of a zombie apocalypse and how they conveyed those horrors to the reader. It managed to keep my interest despite being about something entirely different than I expected, and I would have given it five stars… except, the letters and diary entries weren’t written like letters and diary entries. The entire time I was reading I kept thinking to myself, “No one writes letters like this.” The amount of detail and blow-by-blow accounts of zombie battles that the author put in weren’t true to the format of letters. I can’t think of a single person who would write their dad a letter that gives a blow-by-blow account of what a person was thinking, feeling, and what actions they took while some survivor tries to kidnap her. It just isn’t going to happen. That doesn’t make it any less interesting… but it didn’t stick to the format in which it was meant to be written. It was a problem for me.

Does that mean I didn’t like it? No. I liked it tremendously—even more so once I started reading the actual first book Mortality and realized that the letters tied into the greater story. Had this series of four short stories been about separate, random survivors, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. Overall, I gave this four stars. The stories are good, but it’s hard for me to give them full credit when they didn’t stick to the format in which they were presented. Had they actually sounded like letters and diary entries I probably would have liked them more. Still, it was a good read, and if you plan on reading further into the series, I’d recommend you have a go at End Dayz first. It helps to bring some context to what’s going on as Mortality starts.