Wednesday, May 30, 2012
The way Lori Foster weaves this series together is through constant interaction between her characters. The main characters from each book make frequent appearances throughout the whole series, which leads to some intricate storytelling. So before I go on, let me set the stage. The series revolves around 3 friends, Dare, Trace, and Jackson (Spencer doesn't enter the stage until later obviously) who work as mercenaries to stop human trafficking.
Things get a little personal in When You Dare, book 1, when Dare must save Trace's sister, Alani, who has been kidnapped while on vacation. Trace's cover is blown since he is related, so Dare goes in. When he goes in for Alani, he ends up rescuing another woman that had been kidnapped too. Severely beaten, Dare can't help but admire Molly's fighting spirit and against his iron rules to not mix business with pleasure, he reluctantly agrees to help Molly track down the men who kidnapped her, not counting on falling in love along the way...
Fueled with fire after almost loosing his sister Alani to the very monsters he hunts down, Trace of Fever, book 2, focusing on Trace going undercover. Pretending to be a bodyguard for Murray Coburn, Trace knows the wealthy businessman is corrupt and intends to find proof to put him away. What he doesn't count on is Coburn's long lost daughter, Priss (short for Priscilla), waltzing in with her own agenda. With Dare and Jackson for backup, Trace has his hands full with keeping focused on the mission while trying to protect Priss from letting revenge get the best of her. He also can't seem to keep his hands off her lovely assets....
Trace doesn't seem to get a break because in Savor the Danger, book 3, instead of fighting human traffickers, he has to fight his brotherly instincts when his little sister, Alani, ends up in bed with Jackson. Jackson has been flirting with Alani for what seems like ages, but has kept somewhat of a distance out of respect for her brother, Trace. After Alani's kidnapping, the girl just doesn't seem the same, aloof and skittish. Finding any excuse possible to get her alone, he convinces her that his place needs a makeover-- and Alani is one hell of an interior decorator. But things go south when he wakes up the next morning...with a naked Alani in his bed and absolutely no memory of how it happened! He knows he has to have been drugged-- there is no way in hell he would forget a whole night of lovin' with the woman of his dreams-- but convincing Alani of this is a whole other matter. On top of that, Jackson has a few secrets of his own...such as one rainy night when he comes across men throwing a body bag into the river. Jumping in after it, he ends up saving an abused girl who is a victim of sex slavery. Jackson helps her rebuild her life by giving her an education, a new identity, and sort of adopts her as his little sister-- and that is how we come to know Arizona. We learn at the end of book 3 that there is a connection between the people that drugged Jackson and those who were responsible for Arizona's years of hell as a sex slave, and Arizona is out for revenge, to make them pay. Spencer is a bounty hunter who meets Arizona in a bar while on a hunt. He is first blinded by her beauty, but he soon realizes the little minx is a magnet for trouble. And he can't help but go with his instincts and follows her into the fire-- which is how he ends up meeting Jackson, Trace, and Dare...
This brings us to A Perfect Storm, book 4. Arizona doesn't trust any man except Jackson but with Jackson setting up house with Alani, the only person she feels she can turn to is Spencer. Yeah, she knows she can probably trust Dare and Trace, but they would only run back to Jackson, and that would just kill her plans. Besides, even if she won't admit it, there is something about Spencer that attracts her, that causes her womanly instincts to flare up, and it scares the living daylights out of her. But she knows she needs someone to partner up with her so that she can expose a smuggling ring and Spencer is the perfect man for the job. But Spencer doesn't quite play fair and before she knows it, the whole family is involved-- Dare, Trace, and her annoying adopted brother Jackson. Can they all work together to help Arizona realize her self worth and how much she means to them all, especially Spencer?
Lori Foster did a great job with the main theme that runs through this series which is human trafficking. Is it going to meet everyone's approval? Probably not since it is a sensitive topic. But I think she handled it with care and respect. Although When You Dare, book 1 is my favorite in the series, what sets A Perfect Storm apart is the realism. In her previous books in the series, we experience the fear of being kidnapped, beaten, almost being sold-- but just in the nick of time, Molly and Alani are rescued. This is a popular formula that is used in many romances. But in A Perfect Storm, Arizona's harrowing experience is the real deal. She was sold by her father at the age of 17 and experienced the many horrors of sex slavery. She was later able to escape and had to cheat, lie, steal, and learn how to use weapons in order to survive.
After all, in the real world, we don't always have white knights in shining armor to come save us. Arizona didn't have anyone in her corner for the majority of her life. Instead of staying the victim, she chose to fight, to take matters into her own hands as I mentioned above. Jackson saves her that fateful night when she is thrown into the river and like any good man, he wants to wrap her up in a security blanket and fight her battles for her. But that isn't how Arizona rolls and for her, trying to make her forget is not always the best way to conquer her fears. She reminds me so much of another amazing female survivor, Lisbeth from Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Like Lisbeth, Arizona doesn't really trust any man, can never let her guard down, and the only way to truly feel justice is to make those monsters pay personally, rather then send someone in to do it for them.
Do I like Arizona? Yes, I do. Was she a little annoying? Yes. Was it because of her age? No. I'm pointing this out because I know some people didn't like Arizona. Some people felt she was immature, tried to be too hardcore, that her cursing and her use of slang was unnecessary. Umm...did they skip the part where it's mentioned that she came from a poor area and that her daddy sold her into sex slavery? What, do you think that spending a couple years at a ritzy school that Jackson paid for is going to "tame" and turn her into a proper young lady? PUH-lease!!!! I give Lori Foster a lot of credit for breaking away from the normal romance formula. I felt that Arizona was very authentic, especially based on her experiences. Just like Lisbeth in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Arizona is a woman that is a product of her environment and those survival instincts just don't go away over night. Keeping active and involved is her way of keeping sane.
I enjoyed Spencer and appreciated the fact that it didn't take him long to realize he had to accept Arizona for who she is. Yes, he had a hell of a time fighting his alpha male tendencies, and maybe there was a time or two that he couldn't help himself. But I liked Spencer because instead of trying to change her, he worked on helping her come to terms with her power as a woman. Yes, Arizona knows that men like to look at her, but she doesn't realize how beautiful she truly is and it's not until Spencer that she is appreciated for what's in her head and her heart. He also helps her discover her own sexuality. Before she was sold into sex slavery, she was a virgin. This is a girl who only knew the brutal side of sex, the disgusting and selfish depravity of men. Spencer is the one who brings out these female urges and it scares and intrigues her at the same time.
My favorite part of the book is when Spencer takes Arizona to Dare and Molly's for a party to celebrate her birthday. I love this part because this really shows how much the whole gang loves and accepts her as part of the family. And how Dare, Trace, and Jackson trust Spencer enough to offer him a position as a mercenary for their company. This is where Lori Foster really shines as an author, at least in this series because I absolutely enjoyed every moment when the main characters from the other books got their moment to shine.
And this is a perfect segue into my only 2 issues with this book and series. One of these characters that I love is Chris, Dare's best friend (who happens to be gay) and assistant who lives in a small house a short distance away from Dare's home. Chris is a minor character that has played a pivotal part in all 4 books. He sort of serves as the comic relief is many situations, but in no way does he fit into the stereotype that most gay assistants fall into. Chris is not flamboyant, nor does he do hair or makeup, and no he doesn't have a crush on his best friend. In fact, from the very beginning I got a sense that Chris is another Alpha male that just so happens to prefer men instead of women.
While I am satisfied how things got wrapped up with Spencer and Arizona, I think there is still one more story that needs to be told. That just so happens to be about Chris. I don't want to spoil anything, but let's just say another gay character was introduced earlier in the series and in A Perfect Storm, when Arizona mentions this character to Chris, he gets a little prickly, like maybe there are feelings there that are yet to be explored... Why would Lori put that small detail in if she wasn't considering weaving a story for Chris?
The reason I am annoyed is not so much with the author, but with popular mainstream publishing companies and the way they treat gay characters. Or should I say, the lack of gay romances put out by big publishing companies? Yes, gay romances are becoming popular BUT they are usually put out as e-books first, more then likely labeled under "erotica", and are published by smaller, independent companies like Ellora's Cave, Dreamspinner Press, Samhain Publishing, etc. And when these books do become paperbacks, the prices range from $12.99 on up to $17.99! I just feel that popular publishing companies that focus on romance need to get with the program.
Another HUGE injustice that I know many fans are frustrated about is the gay characters Qhuinn and Blay from J.R. Ward's insanely popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Where is their book??? There is all this speculation that Ward is putting their story in an e-book. WHY??? Why don't they deserve their own book? I think it's the publishing company that is pushing Ward to do this because they are too scared to make that leap.
Wow, I totally went off on a tangent! But this is something I am extremely passionate about. Chris deserves his own happy ever after. I think Lori Foster knows it too. I just hope she can find a way to make it happen.
My only other complaint about A Perfect Storm goes back to the heart of the story, Arizona. At the end of Savor the Danger, book 3, it is revealed that Jackson has helped Arizona create a new identity to protect her from those that may still be out looking for her. Arizona is not her real name and is a part of this new identity. I totally get that. It's cool. But I figured that in this book, with the "threat" now out of the way, Arizona's real name would be revealed. You know, maybe Spencer would be curious and want to know what her birth name actually is. Umm...well, this totally doesn't happen. In fact, this is never even brought up in the whole book! Maybe I am just a stickler for detail, but this annoyed me. I'm not sure if it totally skipped Lori's attention or if she meant for it to be that way. Maybe Arizona's new identity is symbolic for a fresh start and that she had such a crappy upbringing prior to being sold by her father that she doesn't want to retain anything from her previous life, including her real name. So I tried not to let it bother me too much, but I'm a little surprised that Spencer didn't pursue that aspect of Arizona.
It has been an absolute pleasure reading Lori Foster's The Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor series. I couldn't have asked for a better set of hot, protective alpha males to warm my heart and insides for the past year (umm, yeah, let's not tell my boyfriend about that haha!). I pray to the gods that Lori changes her mind and pumps out 1 more book so that Chris gets his own story. And if it's not her but the publishing company that has the issue, I hope they get off their high horse and take a leap of faith.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
I recently noticed that my blog is only a few shy of reaching 200 followers. What better way to celebrate then to host a quick Giveaway!
Since I've recently read and reviewed The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda, my ARC paperback copy is just sitting on my shelf, collecting dust. Well, not anymore! One of you lucky Muses is going to get a chance to win it! Here is what my copy looks like as well as links to a book blurb and my review:
This is a stock photo of what my copy looks like, but don't worry, it's been lightly used, in great condition. Oh, and you will also notice that it features a different cover art then the final artwork they went with, which you can see below! I guess they decided to change it after the ARCs were distributed. So, this ARC copy is also a collectible!
Below is all the information you will need to enter. Giveaway ends at midnight on Saturday, June 2nd (Saturday night into Sunday).
1 (ONE) winner will be chosen. The winner will receive my ARC paperback copy of The Hunt!
Please read the following rules/instructions carefully. All responses must be left in MY comment section of this post.
2. Leave your name and email address in the COMMENT section of this post. (DO NOT leave your mailing address in the comment section. I will contact the winner afer the giveaway has ended for further instructions.)
3. Must answer this question: Why do you want to read The Hunt?
Optional/Bonus: Add/Follow me on Twitter and Facebook! :)
For any comments, questions, or concerns about this giveaway, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, May 28, 2012
I know this post is a bit late but I just got back from spending the weekend at the shore. I still wanted to post the new releases coming out this week, so here it is!
Closing out the month of May in Adult books, I have my eyes on the sci-fi novel Harmony by Keith Brooke. In Young Adult, my pre-order for Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London is on its way and I am looking forward to checking out No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz.
In movies, Coriolanus, Goon, and We Need To Talk About Kevin all are being released in a blu-ray-dvd combo pack. In TV Series, I'm happy to see season 3 of Drop Dead Diva being released on dvd and still going strong. But I would be lying if I didn't say how excited I am for the release of True Blood Season 4! Season 4 of True Blood is also being released in a blu-ray-combo pack which is a new thing companies are going to be trying out in the future.
I hope everyone is having a great memorial day weekend. Enjoy!
A Blood Seduction (Vamp City, #1)
by: Pamela Palmer
Vampires live only for lust and pleasure in the eternal twilight of Vamp City. But the city’s magic is dying. The only person who can restore it? A beautiful woman from the mortal world...one who knows nothing of the power she wields.
Quinn Lennox is searching for a missing friend when she stumbles into a dark otherworld that only she can see—and finds herself at the mercy of Arturo Mazza, a dangerously handsome vampire whose wicked kiss will save her, enslave her, bewitch her, and betray her.
What Arturo can’t do is forget about her—any more than Quinn can control her own feelings for him. Neither one can let desire get in the way of their mission—his to save his people, hers to save herself.
But there is no escape from desire in a city built for seduction, where passion flows hot and blood-red. Welcome to Vamp City...
Darkness Becomes Her (Offspring, #6)
by: Jaime Rush
They live ordinary lives, but they are extraordinary.
They are the Offspring, children of a mysterious experiment gone awry—and they are in terrible danger.
Power Junkie: Lachlan McLeod spent wild years astrally projecting himself into other times and places. But he doesn't get out much anymore—not after the fatal mistake that cost him a precious loved one.
Pixie Fugitive: Jessie isn't having a bad day. She's having a bad lifetime. After the terrifying act of supernatural violence that destroyed her family, she's been on the run for years. But now her ruthless enemy is drawing closer . . . and her own powers have finally awakened.
They're two people who don't play well with others. But they're going to have to learn to, and quickly. Because they're the only two people in the world who can save each other — and their passion is the only thing that can save the world.
by: Keith Brooke
The aliens are here, all around us. They always have been. And now, one by one, they’re destroying our cities.
Dodge Mercer deals in identities, which is fine until the day he deals the wrong identity and clan war breaks out. Hope Burren has no identity and no past, but she does have a multitude of voices filling her head.
In a world where nothing is as it seems, where humans are segregated and aliens can sing realities and tear worlds apart, Dodge and Hope lead a ragged band of survivors on a search for sanctuary in what may be the only hope for humankind.
Hot For Fireman
by: Jennifer Bernard
Ryan Blake got suspended from the San Gabriel firefighters a year and a half ago for a daredevil act that nearly killed someone. Now he’s back in San Gabriel, fighting to return to the force. He takes a job at a local dive, the Hair of the Dog, while he studies for the test that will get him his job back.
But the real test comes in the form of Katie Dane, bar manager. Katie got stuck running the family bar when her father had a heart attack. The place is losing money like crazy and the insurance is about to lapse. Her desperate solution? Burn the place down, collect a million dollars. The only problem--little does she know, her new bartender is actually a firefighter.
Can a professional fireman and a wannabe firebug ever manage to get along? More importantly, can they stay away from each other and/or keep from ruining each other’s careers? Not likely. This is San Gabriel, after all.
Seeker of Shadows (Moonlight, #6)
by: Nancy Gideon
Shifter club owner Jacques LaRoche is fiercely protective of his freedom. Stripped of his memories of his former life, he longs for the love that was stolen from him until a seductive scent stirs desire in the heart he thought belonged to another.
A good deed erupts into deadly confrontation, forcing a choice between the renewal of their forbidden passion or the fate of an entire species. Secrets and lies have kept these lovers apart. Can they prevent a battle of their different worlds to stay together?
Burning Emerald (Cambion Chronicles, #2)
by: Jaime Reed
Coping with loss, keeping secrets from friends, and juggling
classes has kept Sam Marshall busy in her senior year. She
finds comfort in her unlikely companion, Caleb, as their
connection grows to where one cannot survive without the other.
But Sam’s biggest problem is a powerful enemy that wants
her for himself and to destroy Caleb and his family.
Determined to keep Caleb safe, Sam fights a battle where
she is both the enemy and the prize, but victory will come
at a deadly price.
Darkness Before Dawn
by: J.A. London
This electrifying new trilogy blends the best of paranormal and dystopian storytelling in a world where the war is over. And the vampires won.
Humans huddle in their walled cities, supplying blood in exchange for safety. But not even that is guaranteed. Dawn has lost her entire family and now reluctantly serves as the delegate to Lord Valentine, the most powerful vampire for miles. It isn’t until she meets Victor, Valentine’s son, that she realizes not all vampires are monsters....
Darkness Before Dawn is a fresh new story with captivating characters, unexpected plot twists, a fascinating setting, and a compelling voice. Written under the name J. A. London by a talented mother-son team, the trilogy is perfect for fans of True Blood and the House of Night and Morganville Vampires series.
Dreamless (Starcrossed, #2)
by: Josephine Angelini
Can true love be forgotten?
As the only Scion who can descend into the Underworld, Helen Hamilton has been given a nearly impossible task. By night she wanders through Hades, trying to stop the endless cycle of revenge that has cursed her family. By day she struggles to overcome the fatigue that is rapidly eroding her sanity. Without Lucas by her side, Helen is not sure she has the strength to go on.
Just as Helen is pushed to her breaking point, a mysterious new Scion comes to her rescue. Funny and brave, Orion shields her from the dangers of the Underworld. But time is running out—a ruthless foe plots against them, and the Furies’ cry for blood is growing louder.
As the ancient Greek world collides with the mortal one, Helen’s sheltered life on Nantucket descends into chaos. But the hardest task of all will be forgetting Lucas Delos.
Josephine Angelini’s compelling saga becomes ever more intricate and spellbinding as an unforgettable love triangle emerges and the eternal cycle of revenge intensifies. Eagerly awaited, this sequel to the internationally bestselling STARCROSSED delivers a gritty, action-packed love story that exceeds expectation.
Keep Holding On
by: Susane Colasanti
A romantic and empowering book about bullying
Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.
No Safety In Numbers
by: Dayna Lorentz
Life As We Knew It meets Lord of the Flies in a mall that looks just like yours.
A biological bomb has just been discovered in the air ducts of a busy suburban mall. At first nobody knows if it's even life threatening, but then the entire complex is quarantined, people start getting sick, supplies start running low, and there's no way out. Among the hundreds of trapped shoppers are four teens.
These four different narrators, each with their own stories, must cope in unique, surprising styles, changing in ways they wouldn't have predicted, trying to find solace, safety, and escape at a time when the adults are behaving badly.
This is a gripping look at people and how they can--and must--change under the most dire of circumstances.
And not always for the better.
Directed by: Ralph Fiennes
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler
Caius Martius 'Coriolanus' (Ralph Fiennes), a revered and feared Roman General is at odds with the city of Rome and his fellow citizens. Pushed by his controlling and ambitious mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave) to seek the exalted and powerful position of Consul, he is loath to ingratiate himself with the masses whose votes he needs in order to secure the office. When the public refuses to support him, Coriolanus's anger prompts a riot that culminates in his expulsion from Rome. The banished hero then allies himself with his sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) to take his revenge on the city.
Directed by: Heitor Dhalia
Starring: Amanda Seyfried
In the new suspense thriller Gone, Jill Parrish (Amanda Seyfried) comes home from a night shift to discover her sister Molly has been abducted. Jill, who had escaped from a kidnapper a year before, is convinced that the same serial killer has come back for her sister. Afraid that Molly will be dead by sundown, Jill embarks on a heart-pounding chase to find the killer, expose his secrets and save her sister.
Directed by: Michael Dowse
Starring: Seann William Scott, Liev Schreiber
Not content with his job as a bouncer at a local Beantown bar and a bit of an embarrassment to his accomplished family, Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) dreams of the kind of success enjoyed by minor league hockey goon Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber). When a chance encounter with an on-ice thug leads to a bloody fist fight that Doug easily wins, the coach of the Halifax Highlanders sees potential in this mammoth sized man who is only hampered by his lack of any hockey playing ability and his brother's old figure skates. Standing up to the taunts of the other players, Doug manages to join the team, and with the encouragement of his hockey obsessed best friend (Jay Baruchel) quickly becomes a rising star. Soon he'll have the opportunity to face off against Ross "The Boss" Rhea and perhaps finally land a girlfriend. Now - all he needs is to learn how to skate.
House of Boys
Directed by: Jean-Claude Schlim
Starring: Layke Anderson
A colorful and raw coming-of-age story set in the emerging gay dance club scene of Amsterdam 1984. House of Boys tells the story of Frank, a high school kid who leaves home and falls into the exciting new world of free sex, music and dance. When Frank's new world is suddenly turned upside down, his struggle for courage in face of the unknown gives him a new and deep understanding of the true meaning of love.
Man on a Ledge
Directed by: Asger Leth
Starring: Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell
In the film critics call a "white-knuckle action thriller," ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington, Avatar & Clash of the Titans) escapes from prison to plan the ultimate heist: steal a $40 million diamond from cutthroat businessman David Englander (Ed Harris), and in the process prove his innocence. From the ledge of the famous Roosevelt Hotel, with the whole world watching, Cassidy plays a clever game of cat & mouse with the NYPD while his dutiful brother Joey (Jamie Bell) works against the clock to extract the diamond and clear his brother’s name.
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Directed by: Lynne Ramsay
Starring: Tilda Swinton
A suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller, Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin explores the factious relationship between a mother and her son. Tilda Swinton, in a bracing, tour-de-force performance, plays the mother, Eva, as she contends for 15 years with the increasing malevolence of her first-born child, Kevin (Ezra Miller). Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, We Need to Talk About Kevin explores nature vs. nurture on a whole new level as Eva's own culpability is measured against Kevin's innate evilness.
Drop Dead Diva: Season 3
Starring: Brooke Elliot, Margaret Cho
Praised by critics and loved by fans, the one-hour, comedic drama tells the story of a shallow wannabe model who dies in a sudden accident only to find her soul resurfacing in the body of a brilliant, plus-size and recently deceased attorney, Jane.
Rookie Blue: Season 2
Starring: Missy Peregrym, Gregory Smith
After seven months on the beat, these five rookies have kicked in doors, taken down criminals, kept people safe and saved each other in the process. Now they'll do it all again, but only better.
Royal Pains: Season 3, Vol. 2
Starring: Campbell Scott, Mark Feuerstein
Return to the Hamptons with "concierge doctor" Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) as he works to balance the medical needs and frivolous whims of the very rich, sometimes famous and always demanding. The second half of Season Three features six episodes on two discs. Summer may be over, but the doctor's as hot as ever in this witty comedy that critics are calling, "A show you shouldn't miss".
True Blood: Season 4
Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard
True Blood is the sexy, scary, wildly entertaining drama series from Oscar®- and Emmy®-winning Alan Ball (HBO’s Six Feet Under), and based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. Mixing romance, suspense, mystery and humor, True Blood tells the continuing tale of Sookie (Anna Paquin, Golden Globe-winner for this role), a human waitress with telepathic gifts – and a so-far irresistible attraction to 174-year-old vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). Surrounded by familiar faces – including her brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten), shape-shifting boss Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell), soul-searching pal Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley), Tara’s cousin Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis); police chief Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer), vampire suitor Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård) and teen vamp Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) – Sookie faces some new otherworldly threats in this season – as if vampires, werewolves, werepanthers and shapeshifters weren’t enough!
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Summer is right around the corner and while others rejoice with the return of warm days and hot fun in the sun, this is usually around the time I start getting depressed. Why, you ask? Because I actually HATE the heat. Yes, that's right, I am a fall and winter kind of girl. But I do have a few things that I enjoy in the summer that helps me get by. One is my birthday which is next month (June 27th). I also love going to BBQ's and eating BBQ food. Nothing can beat the taste of grilled food! And my last saving grace just so happens to be...SUMMER MOVIES!
This summer there are going to be some great new movies hitting theaters, big budget blockbusters and independent films alike. I wanted to share with everyone my most anticipated summer movies, starting with June. Below are my top five, in order by release date. Are any of these movies on your list to see?
Friday, May 25, 2012
As everyone heads out to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend, I wanted to post the new cover art for debut author Jay Kristoff's Stormdancer (The Lotus War, #1). It's been circulating around the blog world for a few days now, but I couldn't help but post it here as well. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, and the story sounds so unique and fresh, described as a Japanese steampunk novel-- I'd probably do some illegal things to get my hands on an ARC! But as they say, all good things come to those who are patient... Stormdancer hits bookshelves on September 18th, this fall. What do you think?
A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium is verging on the brink of environmental collapse; decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshippers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, land choked with toxic pollution, wildlife ravaged by mass extinctions.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of the imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary beast, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows thunder tigers have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a hidden gift that would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Author: Andrew Fukuda
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Horror Paranormal YA
Theme: Vampire, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian
Binding: (hardback; my copy was a paperback ARC)
Length: 304 pages
Published: 8 May 2012; St. Martin's Griffin
Synopsis: Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.
Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.
When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?
My Review: I was super excited when I won an ARC copy of The Hunt from LibraryThing.com. There had been a lot of buzz before its release, some calling it the male version of The Hunger Games, only with fangs. With so many YA vampire books out there, finding something that stands out in this genre is like searching for a needle in a haystack. I really wanted to love The Hunt, and while it does delivery some chills and some nail biting suspense, the story somehow falls short and is riddled with plot holes.
The Hunt does have an interesting premise. Vampires are now at the top of the food chain and humans, now called "hepers", are obsolete...until the dictator comes on television and announces that there will be a lottery. The lucky winners of this lottery will have the honor to participate in the last "Heper Hunt", and it is revealed that several humans have been raised and groomed specifically for this event. Gene, one of the winners, should be ecstatic that he will get the chance to hunt down the last "hepers", to taste fresh blood and tear through human flesh. But no one realizes that he is actually a human and has spent his whole life pretending he is a vampire. Talk about living in a pit of snakes, right?I do like that the story was told in a male's point-of-view. There are so many books out, especially in the vampire genre, that are targeted for girls. While the book is girl friendly (there is a romance that develops), I think The Hunt will definitely appeal to boys. The vampires in this book are not romantic nor are they particularly attractive. They have long fingernails, eat raw meat along with the blood drinking, and go into some sort of drooling trance when they either think, see, or smell "hepers". Yeah, they definitely aren't your Twilight or Vampire Diaries bloodsuckers. In fact, they sort of remind me of zombie-vampires since they will devour a whole human, not just drink their blood. I'll come back to that in a minute.
I have to give Fukuda credit where credit is due. The man can build suspense. Gene is a human, living as a vampire. Ever since he could remember, his father taught him that he had to suppress his natural human reactions and urges-- no sweating, no laughing, no shivering, no goosebumps, no squinting, etc. There were quite a few scenes where I felt my heart pounding in fear for Gene. One that comes to mind is when he is in class (at night) and the teacher calls on him to read something off the board. Because they are vampires and have sharper eyesight, they don't need a lot of light. Gene can barely see and he knows if he were to squint his eyes to try to make out what's on the board, his cover would be blown, especially when all his vampire classmates turn to look at him when he doesn't speak up right away. Then he starts to sweat which is another no-no. There are quite a few tension building, nail biting scenes like this, so I can't take that away from the author.
There is a lot of controversy over how Gene acts towards the other humans once he comes face to face with them. Some readers were outraged at his behavior, that he had a superiority complex and was more worried about his own survival than warning or helping his own kind formulate a plan. I actually liked this twist and whether others want to admit it or not, this course of action is quite realistic. Gene has been literally raised with vampires. Other then his father drilling the do's and don'ts of survival in his head, Gene knows no other life. He doesn't even understand what his father meant when he would say, "Never forget who you are." Those words would haunt him even years after the death of his father. He knows more about vampires then he does about humans, and everything that has been taught to him about humans seems distorted. But even he doesn't realize what's true and false about his own kind. After all, books, videos, photographs have all been destroyed. So in my opinion, Gene thinking he is smarter then the humans that were raised in the Dome is not a farfetched idea. And maybe in a way he is in the sense that his survival skills are unmatched since he literally has been living with the enemy without them knowing. But that doesn't mean the humans in the Dome are stupid or without skill. I think one thing they teach Gene is loyalty. I won't say any more for fear of too many spoilers, but hopefully it will help you keep an open-mind while reading.
Here are my issues with The Hunt. The one that drives me crazy the most is their means for transportation. HORSES. Really??!!! Are we living back in the 1800's??? I am not a horse hater; in fact I love horses. But this doesn't make sense. Vampires have taken over the world (well, at least in Gene's world). They have the technology to build the Institute and create the Dome, which has the ability to close once the sun goes down to keep the humans inside and the vampires out (because vampires can't control themselves around humans, which I will get to in a minute). So, they have all this technology and the only reason they don't use cars (as far as I could tell) is because they think it is safer to ride in a carriage being pulled by a bunch of horses than in a car. God forbid if a car should run out of gas or blow a tire and they get stranded as the sun comes up. Umm...ever hear of tinted windows for vampires??! You're telling me with all the technology out there, the best they could come up with is horses??? Oh, I guess they never thought about all the things that could go wrong with a carriage, or the fact that the horses throughout the book seem skittish because they can sense the vampires aren't quite normal. Maybe because they are predators??? Okay, I need to get off this topic before I start throwing something >=(.
My next issue...why is there no backstory in The Hunt? I get it is going to be a series. I don't need everything spelled out for me. A little bit of mystery is good. But freakin' come on! Throw a dog a bone! And this is going to lead me right into my next issue that I sort of alluded to above. We have vampires that are sort of like zombies in that they not only drink blood, but will completely devour a human. When I say devour, I mean they will eat skin, internal organs, bones, EVERYTHING. Remember me saying that they go into this weird, creepy drooling trance when humans are mentioned or seen on television? They are worse if one is in close proximity. They literally lose control, go mad, all thinking ceases to exist. The humans don't have to have a fresh cut in order to set them off; vampires CANNOT control themselves AT ALL if one were to walk in a room. That is why the Dome was created by the vampires, so that if by some chance they lost control, they wouldn't be able to get to them. So...here is my problem with that. If these vampires can't control themselves at all, how did so many people "turn" into vampires without being eaten??? This is why backstory is so vital to a new series with new mythology. I mean, how did these vampires come into existence? Did it start out with a virus? The only thing Gene does mention is his fear of getting scratched or bitten. But considering how vicious and strong these vamps are, I can't see too many humans being able to get away without getting devoured.
Here is my last big issue (I have quite a few more, but those would only cause spoilers). While I loved the premise of the story, and started to realize that Gene might not be the only human pretending he is a vampire in order to survive, I find it a bit unrealistic. The vampires have no inventory of families? So if a whole family is thought to be vampires and say 2 family members disappear--they just stop going to school or don't show up for their job-- you're telling me that the vampire authorities wouldn't get curious? They wouldn't approach the other family members and ask where they are? In the very beginning, a little human girl shows up at school and falls asleep (another no-no). The vampires eat her once they realize she is human. So...they didn't put 2 and 2 together that if a human child was sent to school pretending that she was a vampire that maybe her parents could be human as well? Or that other humans are doing the same thing? Yeah, so many plot holes!
Andrew Fukuda's The Hunt started off strong. It was refreshing to read a vampire book through the eyes of a teen boy and I have no doubt that this will be a book that will even appeal to reluctant readers. It's bloody, gory, and pays homage to the vampires of old while still retaining some originality. Fukuda shows skill at writing suspenseful scenes and more then once I found myself holding my breath in anxiety. But what hurts this story severely is the plot holes. Lack of backstory is the biggest issue. While this may be Fukuda's plan since The Hunt does end on a cliff hanger and book 2 is in the works, I think giving his reader a little more information in book 1 wouldn't have hurt. When I finished reading it, I was so annoyed that my original rating was actually 2 out of 5 stars. But after a few days of reflection as I started making my list of likes and dislikes, I came to realize that I genuinely liked the main character and had no major issues with the writing itself. It was the holes in the story I had issues with. So my final, upgraded 3 out of 5 star rating is because I want to remain optimistic that Fukuda did this on purpose and he has some brilliant plan to fill in the holes in book 2 by giving us some awesome, original backstory. One can hope, right?