Book Review: Bargain in Silver

reviewcover-bargain in silverTitle: Bargain in Silver [Solis Invicti 1]

Author: Josie Jaffrey

Genre: Paranormal, Dystopian, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

A deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience. It’s not a deal that Emmy’s willing to make, but as her world burns around her she finds herself in the arms of the enemy and the line between oppressor and saviour begins to blur.

After an attack by the infected, Emmy is rescued by the handsome Drew who introduces her to the world of the Silver. Desperate to escape subjugation and confused by her attraction to him, she gathers what remains of her surrogate family and plans to make a break for freedom.
But despite her efforts to resist, she is drawn further into the intrigues of the mysterious Silver through the agency of their ruler, the Primus: Solomon. Emmy refuses to submit to the cold and detached Primus and an attempt on her life makes it clear that he is unable to protect her from the political machinations of his race.

As the connection between them deepens she must choose between her desire and her will to rebel, but can she trust his intentions when everyone is after her blood?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings about Bargain in Silver by Josie Jaffrey. I liked the narrative voice and Emilie – even if she sometimes made poor decisions that often left her in danger. I liked the world-building, the concept of the weepers, and the story flowed easily throughout. For the most part, I was entertained and never felt the need to throw the book across the room – even when it was being overly dramatic.

That being said, it wasn’t perfect. The entire opening sequence of the story didn’t need to be there and had no impact on the story other than to turn the entire thing into one long flashback. On top of this, the characters were often needlessly dramatic, sometimes going into rants that didn’t even fit the scene at hand.

Worst yet, the romance between Emilia and Drew was terribly contrived, moving way too fast to be reasonable (especially on Drew’s end) given the circumstances.

The book, overall, wasn’t great. It wasn’t awful by any means, but it clearly needed more polishing. It’ll be great for a short time-waster, but nothing I’d keep on my shelf in the long run.

Book Review: The Hitchhiker Strain Box Set

cover58140-mediumTitle: The Hitchhiker Strain Series Box Set

Author: Kellie Sheridan

Genres: Horror (Zombies), Fantasy, Young Adult, Anthology

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Description:

END DAYZ

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.

MORTALITY

After surviving a deadly plague outbreak, sixteen-year-old Savannah thought she had lived through the very worst of human history. There was no way to know that the miracle vaccine would put everyone at risk for a fate worse than un-death.
Now, two very different kinds of infected walk the Earth, intent on nothing but feeding and destroying what little remains of civilization. When the inoculated are bitten, infection means watching on in silent horror as self-control disappears and the idea of feasting on loved ones becomes increasingly hard to ignore.

Starving and forced to live inside of the abandoned high school, all Savannah wants is the chance to fight back. When a strange boy arrives with a plan to set everything right, she gets her chance. Meeting Cole changes everything. Mere survival will never be enough.

DUALITY

The end of everything came quickly, but the road back is endless and full of heartbreak.

After months of only death and loss, Veritas may be the answer everyone has been searching for—a cure. Savannah wants nothing more than to begin rebuilding, but with both the Initiative and the United Militia vying for power, there are no easy answers. Ending the threat for good could mean becoming something far worse than the monsters she is fighting against.

The infected will not go quietly. For Chelsea, the choice to step back into the world of the living is anything but simple. No miracle can erase the memories of the things she saw or the people she killed. While the girl she was struggles against the beast she became, Chelsea must make a choice—succumb or fight.

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Review:

This is hands down, one of the best zombie-based book series I’ve had the privilege to read. The Hitchhiker Strain Series revolves around a small group of teens that are trying to survive the post-zombie infection world. It is a tale of lost futures, lost families, and lost innocence. The stories are told from multiple viewpoints and over a series of months between the first sign of an epidemic, and a year later when the world has collapsed and the first signs of a cure are starting to surface. The books are filled with clean, YA romance (though that is by far not one of the main themes), action, adventure, mystery, and horror.

The characters are wonderfully fleshed out and very human in the way they are written—imperfect, fallible, and struggling to come to terms with the way the world has changed. The real strength of this series, however, is the way the zombies were portrayed, and the way the author used their viewpoints to show the struggle for humanity that everyone—zombies and survivors alike—had to deal with. One of my favorite moments in this series revolved around the heartbreakingly tragic moment when I sat back and tried to imagine what it would be like to be one of the second generation zombies. I sympathized with Chelsea and Zarah more than almost any other character in the series.

The writing itself was beautifully done. The narrative was engaging, clear, easy to follow, and fast paced. I never got bored or confused, and there were very few technical errors.

Overall, I loved the series. I am so incredibly glad I read it, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a good YA Zombie-based series. This box set is going on my keeper shelf.

Book Review: Duality

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This texture may not be sold without permission from the authors.Title: Duality [The Hitchhiker Strain 2]

Author: Kellie Sheridan

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror (Zombies), Apocalyptic

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The end of everything came quickly, but the road back is endless and full of heartbreak.

After months of only death and loss, Veritas may be the answer everyone has been searching for—a cure. Savannah wants nothing more than to begin rebuilding, but with both the Initiative and the United Militia vying for power, there are no easy answers. Ending the threat for good could mean becoming something far worse than the monsters she is fighting against.

The infected will not go quietly. For Chelsea, the choice to step back into the world of the living is anything but simple. No miracle can erase the memories of the things she saw or the people she killed. While the girl she was struggles against the beast she became, Chelsea must make a choice—succumb or fight.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’ll admit it; this is one of those books that I picked up and got so sucked into that I forgot to leave myself any notes to fall back on for the review I knew I’d be writing. It was that good.

As far as the technical side of things go, there were very few errors. I found two. Not only is that acceptable for a published book, it’s pretty damned impressive. The narrative was clear, easy to read, and moved at a pretty decent pace. I never felt like it was dragging or moving too fast. Overall? I have no complaints.

As far as the story itself goes… this was a good addition to the series, and a solid continuation of the story set up in the first book, Mortality. Once again, the narrative was split between a small cast of characters, the main two being Savannah (from the first book) and a new player: Chelsea. To be honest, I like Savannah and she works well to tie all the books together, but she definitely isn’t my favorite character. In the first book, Savannah was a bit self-centered and all-over-the-place. She got herself and a lot of other people into danger with the poor snap decisions she made. She waffled on her romances, and in the end, I wasn’t a huge fan of her. It seemed like in Duality at least, she’d settled down and found herself. There was a lot less ‘obnoxious teenager’ to her character, and a lot more of a girl who was just trying to make the best decisions she could and save as much of humanity as she could muster. I ended up liking her more in this book than the first—she’s still not my favorite though.

That distinction fell to Chelsea. One of the best parts of this book and the series as a whole, is the way the author portrayed the zombie characters. In this book, that role belonged to Chelsea Zimmerman—a sixteen year old girl who finds herself trapped and sharing her body with the zombie virus that she refers to as “the beast”. She’s completely awake—aware of what she’s doing as an infected second-generation Zombie, but can do nothing to stop it. She spends her days sitting in the backseat of her mind, keeping a running death toll on how many survivors she’s killed and doing her best to keep the zombie part of her brain from walking itself into dangerous situations. Seeing the post apocalyptic world from a tragically aware zombie girl’s point of view was both fascinating and equal parts horrifying.

And that’s the great thing about this book, and indeed, this series: it tells the very human story of what the world is like after a zombie apocalypse… but it doesn’t restrain the point of view to just the human survivors. The author delved into the heartbreaking idea of what would happen if a person became a zombie, but was fully aware… just unable to stop themselves.

If you’re looking for a good zombie series, look no further. This book was fantastic, the series is probably one of the best zombie themed series I’ve read.  There are some elements of romance (though not enough to make me squee in joy), horror, friendship, thrills, action, and adventure. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good zombie read. This one is going on my keeper shelf.

Book Review: Mortality

review-cover-mortality

Title: Mortality [The Hitchhiker Strain 1]

Author: Kellie Sheridan

Genre: Horror (Zombies), Young Adult, Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

After surviving a deadly plague outbreak, sixteen-year-old Savannah thought she had lived through the very worst of human history. There was no way to know that the miracle vaccine would put everyone at risk for a fate worse than un-death.

Now, two very different kinds of infected walk the Earth, intent on nothing but feeding and destroying what little remains of civilization. When the inoculated are bitten, infection means watching on in silent horror as self-control disappears and the idea of feasting on loved ones becomes increasingly hard to ignore.

Starving and forced to live inside of the abandoned high school, all Savannah wants is the chance to fight back. When a strange boy arrives with a plan to set everything right, she gets her chance. Meeting Cole changes everything. Mere survival will never be enough.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I was a little hesitant going into Morality by Kellie Sheridan. I was just coming out of End Dayz, which was not at all what I expected, and stepping into book one of the series… I was cautiously optimistic. After all, the prequel was well written—it just hadn’t been what I’d expected. There was an audible sigh of relief when I found Mortality wasn’t another bunch of letters, but an actual narrative story.

All was not well in the world, however. The book had this odd habit of switching back and forth between present-day post-apocalyptic drama with Savannah, and then after two or three chapters, switching to Zarah, who was dealing with the initial outbreak some months before. To say that I was confused about where the story was heading would have been, to put it mildly. I was probably on chapter 15 before I realized that Zarah’s chapters weren’t written from Savannah’s POV. I honestly thought they were flashbacks to begin with. As you can imagine, this lead to all kinds of misconceptions and confusion.

My stupidity and inability to read chapter headings aside, the stories of the two girls themselves, were great. The writing was moderately well done. The sentences flowed easily, it wasn’t bogged down with a ton of exposition, the sentence construction was easy to follow, and the girls’ stories were engaging. My only nitpick would be that there were a few typos. Not big ones. Usually a letter left off a word, a space missing, or more commonly: a missing line break between actor and speaker when they were not the same individual. None of these errors were book-breaking though.

I loved the characters in this book—Zarah and Savannah especially. Each had their own very distinct set of thought processes, emotions, and personalities. Zarah was in love and a little doe-eyed about life in general, but she wisened up a lot as the story went on. She became practical, frustrated, observant. Savannah started out the story pretty gung-ho and fiery, but throughout the story learned to be more cautious and to stop and weigh her options a little. The dichotomy between the two girls and their struggles in the post-apocalyptic landscape was fascinating. I got sucked into their stories right away, and as the book wore on, I was avidly waiting to see where their stories would eventually meet up.

I really don’t want to give away any spoilers to this series—it was that good—but I honestly can’t praise it enough. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up liking this story, and I’ll definitely be moving on to read more in this series. Thank goodness the second book is already sitting on my Kindle waiting to be opened. If you’re looking for a good character-driven zombie story (and probably one of the best zombie transition sequences written) you should definitely check out this book. I highly recommend it—and it’s odd little prequel.

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.