Book Review: Into the Fire

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Title: Into The Fire [The Ending 2]

Author: Lindsey Fairleigh, Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Adventure, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

In the wake of destruction left behind by the Virus, it took Dani and Zoe months to find each other. But their reunion was short-lived. Dani has been taken, and though little distance separates them, they might as well be worlds apart.
From the moment she hears Dani’s scream, Zoe’s only goal is to save her best friend. She and her companions scramble to come up with a rescue plan, but when a ghost from Jake’s past reappears, lines are blurred, decisions become harder, and secrets are revealed…and some secrets are best left buried. To keep heartache and fear from consuming her, Zoe must cling to her determination. She WILL see Dani again.
Dani awakens inside the final hold-out of civilization: the Colony. Remnants of the former world surround her—electricity, safety, social order—but all is not what it seems. As she faces her most manipulative adversary yet, she loses sight of who she is and who she can trust. Friends become enemies, enemies become allies, and allies will betray her. Dani will have to decide what she’s willing to do and whose lives she’s willing to risk if she is to have any chance of breaking free.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Another solid cover and solid book from Lindsey Pogue and Lindsey Fairleigh. It’s been some months since I read and reviewed the first book of The Ending series, but when I was given a chance to take a look at the sequel, I jumped at the chance. Like it’s predecessor, Into the Fire didn’t disappoint.

The story at it’s heart is about two friends, Dani and Zoe, as they both try to survive the apocalypse with their band of supernaturally-powered refugees. Unfortunately, not only do these two girls have to survive the day-to-day of living in a post-apocalyptic world with no electricity or running water, but there are also crazy cannibalistic creatures, roving bands of thugs and bandits… some with their own unique powers, and last, but not least, so-called scientists and officials who think it’s their god-given duty to experiment on the survivors in an attempt to make a perfect society. These girls have it rough.

Personally, going into this story, it was a little bit of a difficult read. Not because the story was ill-written or slow-paced, but because it had been such a long time in between the books for me (I read them both before they were officially released), it became a push in the first few chapters to remember what had happened in the previous book, and catch up to the story. Which is the main reason I marked this story down to 4 stars rather than 5. Though this is an obvious sequel, and I was warned before-hand that this was not a stand-alone book, I do hold a firm belief that even in a series, there should be some re-telling to help ease readers into subsequent books in a series. This installment to the series, had no re-telling what-so-ever. Books are generally released with large (sometimes a year or more) gap between them, and if you’re like me and you read several books a week, it’s easy to lose track of where you were in a series during that down-time. It would have been nice to have a few hints here and there to remind me of where I left off.

Still, by the third or fourth chapter (minus some momentary lapses where I couldn’t remember who certain characters were), I fell back into the story like clock-work. The book was well-written, fast paced, and the characters were genuine. Before I realized it, I was done, and wishing there were just a few more chapters to enjoy. Alas, I’ll have to wait for the next one. My only true negative complaint, or rather, I’ll call it an observation, was that while present, the romance really took a back-seat in this installment of the story.  I certainly wouldn’t place this firmly in the romance category (I’d tag it as an action/adventure this time around), but there’s still some tidbits in there for people who enjoyed the romance from the first book—Just don’t get your hopes up and skim for the sexual tension.

Overall? I’d recommend it to anyone who liked the first book of the series. It was a fun, action-packed read, and it didn’t let me down. If you enjoy Post-Apocalyptic, Fantasy, or Sci-Fi adventures, you’ll probably like this book, and love the series.

Book Review: Breathless

cover-breathlessTitle: Breathless [Blue Fire Saga 1]

Author: Scott Prussing

Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis: College freshman Leesa Nyland has been fascinated by vampires since she was three years old. That’s when her mom started acting weird, refusing to go outside during the day and insisting the sunlight hurt her skin because she had been bitten by a one-fanged vampire…

But fascinated doesn’t mean Leesa believes—any more than she believes in blue fire, people who live for centuries, and kisses that can kill. When her beloved older brother suddenly disappears, she is forced to confront all these and more.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I really wanted to like this book. The cover was gorgeous, the writing was clear, and easy to follow… and the author obviously took their time to really explore the lore and world-building behind this series.  It had a down-to-earth but intriguing plot. Unfortunately, the characters had the depth of a half-mopped spill. Their actions in this story were so utterly unbelievable that I was actually angry by the time I finished the book.

It’s not that I didn’t like the characters. I found Leesa’s shyness endearing. Stefan and Rave were a gorgeous mix of masculinity, kindness, and brooding predator. Even Leesa’s almost-non-existent friends had great personalities… but that’s pretty much as far as they went. There was no back-story to any of the characters except to mention Leesa’s part-vampire mother, and we rarely even saw her in the story. Most of the narrative consisted of Leesa going to class, hanging out in her dorm room with friends, or awkwardly wandering around campus.  It was mostly mundane tasks and conversations and very little action, intrigue, or suspense… which… given the plot, should have been present.

The most infuriating part of this story, however, was the wishy-washy nature of all the characters… and complete lack of common sense.  Vampires, Volkaane… all the immortal beings were perfectly fine divulging all of their secrets to the human populace despite the fact they frequently talked about how they wanted to stay under the radar.  It was a good thing though – because Leesa couldn’t keep her mouth shut. She told all of her friends, her family, even the enemy of her “boyfriend” everything there was to know about everyone else’s business. She couldn’t keep a secret to save her life–not that anyone seemed to mind. Also, despite the fact that Rave and Stefan were supposedly mortal enemies (though it was never explained why), Leesa was magically able to tell them to quit fighting… and they listened. Suddenly everyone was behaving as though they had no choice. Hello? These two immortal beings are centuries older than this shy little mouse of a college student, but they were both willing to do whatever she asked.  In fact, by the time I was half-way through the story, the two men were so completely smitten with her they were more than willing to marry her.

W. T. F.

Between her selfishness, stupidity, and inability to keep her mouth shut… I just couldn’t understand the appeal.

Another oddity was that despite the fact that these two immortal species were supposed to be “secret”, the minute Leesa informed everyone (and I do mean everyone) that they existed… no one questioned her. Everyone took it at face value and went “oh.. okay. cool!”  and we’re not just talking about her close friends; I’m talking friends, family, even her teacher. No one questioned it. No one thought she was crazy, no one seemed to be frightened either. How does this happen? I’m still trying to understand.  There was a complete lack of any sort of tension or mystery to this story. Everyone… got along in a sort-of saturday morning cartoon way, and the one or two “fights” that were presented were easily dissolved away once Leesa stepped into the middle of them. She’s like a magic tranquilizer in human form.

The frustrating part of it was that there were so many instances where tension and conflict could have been introduced. I would have killed to have Edwina show up and harass Leesa, or to have seen the Volkaane lead an assault against the Vampire coven. They never did. Rave wouldn’t even fight to keep Leesa. At the final moment when Leesa revealed her plan to sacrifice herself for her brother, he pretty much stepped aside and agreed with her. He didn’t try to stop her or rescue her… there were no daring plans to steal her brother back.  The ending was wrapped up in a shiny little perfect bow, and no one got hurt, or angry, or swore retaliation. Nothing.

I am completely baffled.

The one truly redeeming feature of the story was the lore/world building. It was obvious the author had taken a lot of time to research vampire lore and adapt it to their own unique version. The concept of the Volkaane was interesting and unique (though now that I think about it, the moodus noises never were explained…), and a bit of a neat twist on the usual immortal beings we find in these kinds of stories. The only area that lacked in their development was an explanation of WHY the Volkaane fought the Vampires at all. I knew they hunted the vamps, but never why. The vampires didn’t seem all that evil to me. A total of.. what… 3 people were murdered during the entire book? Considering their food source and the circumstances they were in… I’d consider that pretty damn nice of them.

In the end, I just couldn’t enjoy the story. It wasn’t a bad idea for a novel, and there were certain aspects of it that were done very well, but in the end the execution was more of a “limp rag” than a “taunt bowstring”. It lacked any sense of immediacy, action, tension, or suspense. The pieces fell into place easily and without effort… to the point that the narrative became mundane and unfulfilling. Would I recommend it? No. I don’t think I would. If I had one way to sum up how ill-written this book was, it would be to quote the first line of chapter 33:

“It was a dark and stormy night.”