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: The Darkest Winter

reviewcover-the darkest winterTitle: The Darkest Winter [Savage North Chronicles 1]

Author: Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Post Apocalyptic, Horror

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The Virus spread. Billions died. The Ending began.

A group of orphaned misfits.

The wild lands of the last frontier.

Superhuman abilities, harrowing adventures, and heartbreaking secrets.

Elle – Haunting shadows are nothing new to Elle St. James, she’s been running from them all her life. But since the outbreak spread from the lower forty-eight, new monsters lurk in the darkness. After Elle wakes from The Fever, capable of horrific deeds, she fears she’s one of them. When she stumbles upon four orphans, Elle’s forced to discover what happens when her greatest fear becomes her darkest secret and her only hope of surviving.

Jackson – After the world goes mad and takes his family with it, Jackson decides a bottle of bourbon and the depths of despair are preferable to any semblance of living. But when Jackson wakes from the black hole of oblivion with a gun in his face, he must choose whether he wants to die or fight to find something worth living for.

Brought together under the worst possible circumstances, Elle and Jackson must face the inexplicable realities of the new world. Their past lives are over, and the arctic isn’t all that’s savage anymore.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

The Darkest Winter by Lindsey Pogue was an absolutely stunning work of fiction. The author is amazingly skilled at letting the reader feel the urgency and fear of the situations the characters are in throughout the book. I’d endeavor to say that they mastered what it is to be human, and the connections we build with one another.

I absolutely loved the characters – especially little Thea, who was a little ray of sunshine. The writing was flawless and flowed effortlessly. I was drawn in by the characters, the plot, and the extensive world-building, and honestly, I didn’t want it to end.

If you love post-apocalyptic stories that are heavily lead by the characters in them, this is an absolute gem, and I would highly recommend it to you. You don’t have to have read The Ending series to enjoy this book, but if you have, this is certainly another offshoot of the saga, and you’ll run into a lot of similar themes.

Book Review: Dust and Shadow

reviewcover-dust and shadowTitle: Dust and Shadow [Forgotten Lands 1]

Author: Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Eleven years ago, my mother was murdered, and still, her killer lives in plain sight.

In Sagebrush Canyon, thirst rules, ignorance is power, and nothing is as it seems. It’s been two centuries since the boom of the Industrial Revolution sent the Victorian world into a devastating climatic shift. Now, chivalry is dead and the frills and frivolities of the romantic era are no more than a fading memory.

Jo has kept to the safety of her family’s farm, desperate to forget the horrific day that took her mother and left Jo battered and broken. But the marshal of Sagebrush is everywhere–he controls everything–and for years Jo has had to stomach the false pleasantries and knowing glint in the eyes of the man who killed her mother.

When Jo discovers how deep the marshal’s seedy dealings run she decides that fear will no longer keep her silent. But just when Jo plans to expose him for what he really is, the marshal plays a card of his own—his notoriously scandalous son, Clayton. As Jo and Clayton are thrust together, lines become blurred, truths are revealed, and Jo must decide what she is willing to sacrifice in exchange for retribution.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’ve read several books by Lindsey Pogue, and I have to say, Dust and Shadow is by far my favorite to date. There’s something about the mix of the historical Victorian era and post-apocalyptic world-building that drew me in.

The writing itself was stunning – the narrative flowed effortlessly, and there weren’t any major grammar or punctuation errors. The dialogue felt real the characters were complex.

I adored the romance between Clayton and Jo. Though both of them were terribly flawed in a lot of ways, both Clayton and Jo were trying to do the best with the lives they were given. It wasn’t an easy task for either of them, and there were a lot of ups and downs as they figured things out.

The book is filled with deception, murder, past events that are having consequences in the current time – and tiny bits of hope sprinkled throughout. The world-building was by far my favorite part of this book. There was something so compelling about the dust-blasted landscape of this small Victorian town, dealing with massive storms and a lack of water. It was this fantastic mix of Victorian-era clothing and Etiquette, post-apocalyptic scenery, and a very old-west drama feel.

I would highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys westerns, historical romances, or post-apocalyptic settings.

Book Review: Nothing But Trouble

review-cover-nothing but troubleTitle: Nothing But Trouble [A Saratoga Falls Love Story 2]

Author: Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Holiday (Christmas)

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Most small towns have stories and their fair share of secrets. Saratoga Falls is no exception—my family is no exception.

Six months ago, my life was simple. I went to work and to my brother’s hockey games; I made sure my dad’s diet consisted of more than crap food and that the house didn’t smell entirely like a jockstrap. But one cool, miserable morning, a stranger walked into my life. It’s surprising what a pair of piercing, judgmental blue eyes will do to a girl who’s all but sworn away from men. But that wasn’t the only curveball. Whatever happened to living in blissful ignorance? Just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, you realize just how clueless you really are.

I was wrong . . . about everything.

The first time Colton Hayes meets Mac, half-naked and swearing at him, he knows she’s nothing but trouble. But despite their efforts to dislike one another, Colton and Mac are more alike than they think—stubborn, scarred, and full of surprises. This is a story about first loves and second chances, about the power of friendship and seeing life outside the shadows of your past. Join Sam, Reilly, Nick and the Carmichael crew in this heartwarming story of life unexpected. Nothing But Trouble is Mac and Colton’s story.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Nothing But Trouble by Lindsey Pogue was yet another solid romance, and a sweet Christmas read. Colton and Mac weren’t your normal romance couple—almost having switched the tradition romance roles, with Mac being the dirty-mouthed, outgoing tomboy, and Colton being the quiet, more reserved single-parent. Their relationship was fraught with numerous misunderstandings and deeper past prejudices, and it led to a sometimes awkward and off-kilter relationship as they worked to sort things out.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. There were less than a handful of typos, and nothing I found jarring enough to pull me out of the text. The characters were at times sweet, funny, infuriatingly stubborn, and silly, and I enjoyed their odd dynamic. My only true complaint as that the first half of the book was rather slow—but that may be in part due to the fact that I’m in a bit of a time crunch to finish up some books/reviews before the new year, so I’m not comfortable laying all the blame on the writing.

I think if you’re looking for a sweet holiday read, this may be the perfect book for you to pick up in between the chaos of the holiday season.

Book Review: Whatever It Takes

review-cover-whatever it takesTitle: Whatever It Takes [Nothing But Trouble 1]

Author: Lindsey Pogue

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Four years ago, I thought my life was pretty normal for a teenager. Three years ago, my world was shattered, and now I’m just trying to hold the pieces together.But regret and anger aren’t so easy to ignore.

I just need to catch my breath … For it all to go away …

I thought I might finally be ready to move on from that horrible night, but then he decided to come back.

He can’t come back … he’ll ruin me completely.

One horror-filled night changes the course of Samantha’s seemingly normal life. She’s ruined everything. Despite her determination to keep the family ranch up and running, her guilt makes it impossible to completely move on or forget.

Sam takes comfort in her quirky, endearing friends as she tries to balance between the girl she was and the woman she wants to become. Just when she thinks she’s finally making amends with her past, someone she never thought she’d see again returns, and Sam’s life is once again turned upside down. Both her head and her heart want different things, so she’s lost when, once again, she’s forced to make a decision that will inevitably change her life.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Whatever It Takes is the first contemporary new adult romance I’ve read by Lindsey Pogue, but certainly not the first book of hers I’ve delved into. I wasn’t initially sure how I was going to feel about a change of genres from the author because some authors simply don’t write well in several genres, so while excited to read another book by a favorite author of mine, I went into this book with a healthy dose of trepidation.

Luckily, it was unwarranted. This was a solid romance read. The characters were full of depth and likable, the narrative was well-written and only contained a few typos (though to be fair, I got this book as an ARC pre-publication, so there’s a chance those typos are probably fixed by now). The pace was steady, the sentence structure flowed well… I have nothing to complain about. It was a good book.

If I had to pick out one thing I questioned about this all around well-balanced read, it would be the ending. I don’t know what I was expecting (okay, that’s a lie, I was expecting the usual trope-y romance ending where the couple got married and had a pregnancy prolog)—and for a while that seemed like what I was getting… but it wasn’t real clear. The book ended with a strange extra scene between Mac and Sam that was obviously meant as a teaser for the second book in the series, but to me, it felt a little out of place. It wasn’t a big deal.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I wasn’t sure I’d like it. I’m a huge romance reader, so when an author switches from dystopian to a flat out romance genre book, I’m a little nervous that it isn’t going to meet my expectations, but I liked it. It turned out well, it met my overall expectations, and I’m happy that I read it. I did knock it down 1 star because of the strange vague ending but don’t let that discourage you. If you like contemporary new adult romance, I recommend you give this a try.

Book Review: Before The Dawn

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00037]Title: Before The Dawn [The Ending 4]

Author: Lindsey Fairleigh & Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Post Apocalyptic, New Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Dystopian

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

A year ago, the Virus killed off most people in the world.

A year ago, strange things started happening to those who survived. Some of them transformed into something dark and sinister, while others evolved, becoming something more, something beyond human.

A year ago, Dani and Zoe were lost. They traversed the country to find one another, losing some of the people dearest to them along the way. They fought for their right to simply live, uncovered long-buried secrets, and discovered irreversible truths. And after everything Dani and Zoe have been through—even with the battle wounds that they bear—they’re still not safe.

It’s time for the struggling to end, for survivors to take back their lives, their families, their safety. It’s time to really begin to live, and to do that, they must wait for the first rays of dawn.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I can honestly say that I was somewhat surprised by this book. I’ll admit, the third book in the series was probably my least favorite, and reading the third and fourth book in the span of just a few days had me a little burned out. I went into the fourth book full of trepidation that it was going to be yet another long drag through a narrative where very little happened. Luckily, that wasn’t so.

Let me first say that the writing in Before The Dawn was pretty damn flawless. I didn’t notice any obvious typos, awkward sentences, or grammatical errors. Not a single one—which is pretty amazing. The narrative flowed smoothly at a nice pace throughout, and other than a few short moments at the beginning of the book (Anna’s sections of the book weren’t my favorite), I didn’t feel the need to skim.

The characters were unique and complex, and though I sometimes had difficulty throughout the series telling Dani/Zoe and their respective J-named boyfriends apart by tone, I enjoyed their company. Their world was rich, fraught with danger and uncertainty, and unlike the previous book, had some pretty great action oriented moments. This was probably one of my favorite books in the series thus far—it may even be my favorite. The story felt wrapped up by the end, and though it had it’s stab at an HEA ending, it wasn’t perfect—which kept it from falling into the familiar romance genre trope that often ends with everyone pregnant, married, and all the bad guys defeated. Okay, so maybe there’s a smidgen of trope involved, but it was pulled off really well.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and I think it was a fantastic ending to the series. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s been following the series thus far—including those who, like me, may not have enjoyed the third book quite as much.

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.