Review: ‘Badlands’ by Seleste deLaney



Author: Seleste deLaney

Format: galley (available for purchase as an audio book at or as a Kindle ebook)

Publisher: Carina Press

Release Date: 2/28/2011

Length: 104 pages

Acquired: from the publisher via NetGalley



.Publisher’s summary:

After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation’s border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union.

Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen’s assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever’s reluctant ally.

As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands— if death doesn’t find them first…

My thoughts:

The idea of an America forever divided by Civil War was intriguing to me and along with the seriously cool cover art was what prompted me to request the galley for review. I assumed upon reading the summary that romance of some sort would enter into the story but even a few dozen pages into the book, it became evident to me that the romance was the prominent plot factor and the cool, post-Civil War storyline was mere background noise.

The idea of Ever charging into battle topless is not a wholly unreal development. I’ve read books which feature warriors, male and female, who were made all the more fierce and deadly by their willingness to leap to the battle clad in naught but their skin. The fact that Ever remained topless for over a third of the rather short story took it a little far though, I think. Still, once she was clothed, I enjoyed the book much more.

My biggest complaint is that the story felt much too rushed. It seemed to take place over just a few days and I felt that it could have taken longer. That it should have taken longer. There could have been much more explanation to the scenes than a few paragraphs and not only would doing this have made for a longer book, but a more fleshed out and enjoyable book. A bit less of the main characters staring at each other with longing and/or tortured expressions and a bit more background and descriptive text would have made me like the story a lot more.

That being said, I felt that deLaney did a fine job of fleshing out the characters in such a short time. I came to like and care about almost all of them more than I thought I could, considering the length of the story. I think I was especially impressed with the way she wrote Henri. I wanted to loathe this character but found myself rather liking her instead, in part due to the way she performed her medical duties so capably despite very obviously not liking Ever in the least… but even more so because of her care for her crew mates when she herself was betrayed and injured.

Ever had a hell of a temper and seemed to let it cause her to lose sight of her goal in the story, which was a bit surprising, as duty-oriented as she was. I was left wondering what it was that caused her to express so much rage than was warranted at certain moments in the story.

While I can’t find any information regarding a continuation of this story, I’d most likely be interested in reading one were it written. I’d like to see what happens next, now that all of the yearning and denial is over with! I’m mostly curious about what, if anything will happen in the Badlands in regards to their resources and the state of the Monarchy (also how women became the dominant sex in that society), who will be the president of Texas (*wink*) and whether the Civil War was actually our Civil War and this reality is what came of the Union losing.




Review: ‘Savannah Grey’ by Cliff McNish


Savannah Grey

Author: Cliff McNish

Format: galley (available for purchase in hardcover or for Kindle)

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books

Release Date: 4/1/2011

Length: 266 pages

Acquired: from the publisher via NetGalley




Publisher’s summary:

15 year old Savannah Grey has never felt she’s belonged. She keeps her distance, so she’s surprised by her attraction to the new boy Reece.

Then strange things begin to happen: nature, it seems, is exerting an overpowering force on the world. Birds behave strangely; gusts of wind blow leaves so fiercely they seem to lure people away. And Savannah learns she has supernatural powers.

Nature has a purpose for Savannah and her friends. For they are on course to meet the vile and evil Orcrassa, who wants to destroy the world by corrupting nature. And it wants Savannah Grey to help realise its savage intent.

My thoughts, which will definitely include some mild major spoilers:

While I’m not exactly within the target audience for this book, I requested the galley and did my best to find something good in it. I have read and enjoyed many YA books and then recommended them to teens and adults, alike. That won’t happen with this book. Aside from asking my 16 year old daughter to give it a try, that is. I wanted the opinion of someone actually in the target audience to see if perhaps she had a different impression of it. Upon finding out why I wanted her to read the book, however, my daughter declined. She said that if I didn’t like it, she wouldn’t like it.

The book blurb, while short, sounded interesting to me, hence my request for the galley. Even now, I think that something good could have been done with this story idea but as it’s written? No. It just doesn’t work. I’ll give a quick run-down of the story and then explain why.

Savannah Grey, the main character, is a hapless orphan who moves from foster home to foster home, never truly feeling at home. She’s had the same best friend for years and Nina is the only person in Savannah’s life that she feels a real connection with. Until she meets Reece. She feels a kinship with him that she can’t explain, she feels drawn to him.

Then she discovers that they both appear to have the same affliction in their throats and realize that it’s a weapon that they’ll need to fight a monster. In order to protect this weapon until it’s ready to fight the monster, Savannah can and will attack anyone who gets near her. Rather, her body will attack them, since she can hardly maintain control of her extremities or her voice if her ‘weapon’ feels threatened in any way.

Also, interspersed with Savannah’s point of view chapters were sections from the point of view of one or another of the monsters in the story, namely the Ocrassa, an ancient entity with no earthly predators. Some reviews I read enjoyed the inclusion of the monster POVs but I found them distracting and perhaps a bit overkill because in light of the ending of the book, it seems that the Ocrassa’s power and infallibility were trumped up.

Okay… there’s really not much more run-down to cover. Unfortunately, I have more to say in picking it apart though I really feel the need to explain why I didn’t enjoy this book. Again, spoilers will abound so if you have any  desire to read this book, consider yourself warned.

First, I need to cover how awkward it was to read about the main character’s throat trying to attack people. I felt from the get-go that it was her voice that was the weapon and while there was something in her throat that was causing her voice to create monster-killing sounds, it was not her throat that was ‘attacking’ people. It was her voice and every time I read something about her ‘throat’ feeling threatened, etc., it just resonated poorly with me. Further, the idea of a sound, a ‘detonation’ according to the story, from one’s throat literally knocking them to the floor was a bit over-the-top for me.

My second biggest problem was with the inconsistency of the writing. At this point, I don’t recall precisely everything that I found so off-putting but there are a couple of instances that spring to mind. At one point, Savannah was testing her newly developed powers that she assumed would assist her in the fight against the monster and she realized that while her vision was greatly enhanced, she was unable to see in the dark. A few pages later, she mentally lists night vision as one of her powers. Later in the story, Savannah was looking through a window into a parking lot and then a couple of sentences later, she “ran to the window” to look out. Of course, this is an uncorrected galley so my hope is that the published book will have taken care of inconsistencies like this.

Savannah’s connection with Reece was understandable, especially considering the twist at the end of the book, but to chat for a few minutes and then simultaneously realize that this weird growth in their throats is a weapon that’s getting ready to fight a monster? It seemed like quite a stretch and I had to check to make sure the galley wasn’t missing a page or three of dialogue in which they’d had an involved discussion or perhaps saw or discovered something that made them realize that a horrible, nightmarish creature was after them and that it was their duty to fight it with their throats. Of course, that intuition could possibly be explained by the aforementioned big twist but it still lacks believability. One plus I saw with the twist that McNish added was that it would at least explain why Savannah’s ‘throat’ wouldn’t even allow her to kiss Reece.

The rest of it, though? Why the monster allowed her to live while researching her weaknesses? Knowing that a weapon is gaining strength to kill it, it rings hollow to me that an ancient and intelligent force would bother with research. When it kills anything that might be construed as a threat and it knows that Savannah is a threat, why would it go to great lengths to gather information about her? It wants to be sure this strip of a girl is a worthy opponent before it killed her? In a book full of hard to swallow occurrences, that one took the cake for me.

Finally, the coup de grâce on my unfortunate reading experience was the ending.

The very.



Review: ‘Equations of Life’ by Simon Morden


Equations of Life

The Metrozone Series #1 (aka The Petrovitch Series)

Author: Simon Morden

Format: galley

Publisher: Orbit Books

Release Date: 4/01/2011

Length: 296 pages (Amazon states length of paperback to be 400 pages)

Acquired: from the publisher via NetGalley


NetGalley’s summary:

SAMUIL PETROVITCH = A SURVIVOR. He survived the nuclear fallout in St. Petersburg and hid in the London Metrozone – the last city in England. He’s lived this long because he’s a man of rules and logic. For example, getting involved = a bad idea.

But when he stumbles into a kidnapping in progress, he acts without even thinking. Before he can stop himself, he’s saved the daughter of the most dangerous man in London. And clearly: SAVING THE GIRL = GETTING INVOLVED.

Now, the equation of Petrovitch’s life is looking increasingly complex: RUSSIAN MOBSTERS + YAKUZA + SOMETHING CALLED THE NEW MACHINE JIHAD = ONE DEAD PETROVITCH.

But Petrovitch has a plan. He always has a plan. He’s just not sure it’s a good one.

My thoughts, which might be considered somewhat spoilerish by some:

A quick blurb from Publisher’s Weekly before I get on with it:

In a dark near future, the U.S. has become a theocracy, Japan has been destroyed, and the U.K. has devolved into near-anarchy. Ph.D. student and Russian expatriate Samuil Petrovitch, living in the decaying London Metrozone, foils an attempt to kidnap a mysterious woman called Sonja and finds himself caught up in a war between Russian mobsters and a ruthless tycoon. As things escalate, Harry Chain, an enigmatic cop, and Madeleine, a sexy, violent nun, are also caught up in the war. Morden occasionally gets too cute and there are a few moments that border on deus ex machina, but Samuil’s mix of action and research makes him a fresh and engaging character, and the escalating scale of danger and violence moves the plot along briskly. Though pitched as the start of a trilogy, the book stands nicely alone.

I agree that it stands alone nicely. Wait… except for that whole cliffhanger at the end of the book thing! I had a couple of other upcoming releases in my reading queue that I intend to read before book 2 in this series, ‘Theories of Flight’ (which is due for a May 1 release), and I had to talk myself out of starting Theories as soon as I’d finished Equations. I restrained myself, however… mainly because I didn’t want any impressions of the beginning of book 2 to cloud my review of book 1. Which I am getting around to discussing, I promise. Still, I very much look forward to continuing Petrovitch’s story in the next book, which I have waiting for me on my e-reader. Calling my name… taunting me.

The covers of the books in this trilogy really caught my eye, and nearly gave me a headache. It’s just really hard not to stare at the covers, you know? All joking aside, the cover art combined with the story description were what prompted me to request the galleys of these books from Orbit. The publisher’s site has an interesting little article regarding the covers of the books in the trilogy and the cool factor helps with the headache-inducing factor. ;o)

And so we meet Samuil Petrovitch, twenty years after Armageddon. 22 year old Samuil is a refugee from Russia, living in the London Metrozone, the last city in post-Armageddon England. Young Sam is somewhat brilliant and is a post-grad working on some heavy-duty science, and doing it quite well. He generally keeps to himself though he has a certain air about him… he’s hiding from something and so he keeps his head low and minds his own business.

Until, that is, he foils a kidnapping and nearly dies in the process. Why would he risk himself, his health and his work to save a stranger? Especially when doing so not only put his health at risk but indebted him to a crime lord and placed him smack dab in the cross hairs of the Russian mafia! Neither situation is one that Sam wanted to find himself in and to complicate matters, the police are now hounding him.

Everybody wants to know why he saved the would-be kidnap victim and everyone thinks he has ulterior motives. So rather than sinking back into comfortable obscurity, Sam finds himself at the center of attention. When treachery strikes and the entire Metrozone is in danger of obliteration, Sam realizes that he’s the only one who can stop it, with the help of a seriously ass-kicking nun who may be the only person Sam can trust. Madeline saved Sam’s life when he rescued Sonja and ended up nearly dying in her church. Now they share a connection that will cause her to drop everything to help him save the girl once more, save his incredibly important work and hopefully, save the entire Metrozone. But will they be on time?

The whole concept of Armageddon and the world moving on afterward is fascinating to me. I enjoy apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic books though they admittedly depress me from time to time. This book was in no way depressing and kept me interested straight through to the end where my first thought was, “What? That’s the end?! NOOO!!!” And then I remembered that  I have book 2 waiting for me and I stopped whimpering.

Morden sucked me right into the world of the Metrozone and kept dangling the carrot representing the story of Armageddon before my nose without letting me have more than a nibble at a time. So while the story and the way it played out were in themselves satisfying, I was definitely left wanting more and wanting it now. Probably more than Samuil’s fate, as I can make assumptions regarding that, I’m anxious for more back story. What happened to start Armageddon? What happened to Samuil in St. Petersburg that caused him to recreate himself as a refugee in the Metrozone? Will we get more of the history of this fascinating post-apocalyptic world? I certainly hope so. I’m definitely in for the whole series and will discuss the next books here as I read them.


Fave quotes:

“I’ve walked into someone’s private crusade. So what did they do to you? Kill your rookie partner, blow up your car, boil your pet rabbit?” ~Petrovitch to Detective Inspector Chain

‘He decided to put a brave face on the situation. It might be his last few minutes on the plant, but he was determined to go out with his middle finger extended in salute.’

“Good morning, this is Samuil Petrovitch. You might remember me from such incidents as hunted like a dog through the streets’ and ‘kissed by the boss’s daughter’.” ~Sam