Thursday, September 27, 2018

"The Unwanted Bride
and her Desolate Suitor"
by Florence Linnington

13 year old MJ has a crush on Jasper Chapman. He however, doesn’t seem to know that she exists, which at this point in their lives is understandable as he is 10 years older than she is. As a grown man, he rarely runs into her and barely knows her name. Shortly after accidently discovering that Jasper doesn’t seem to consider her attractive, a heartbroken MJ and her family move to a farm in the town of Concord.

10 years later, following the death of her grandfather and learning that he had signed a document that gives ownership of the farm to someone else, MJ and her grandmother make arrangements to return to Pathways. They will be staying with a farmer by the name of Michael Samson, who will be marrying MJ and providing the two women with a home once again. He is a good deal older than she is, but not having any other options, what else can they do?

Before this happens, MJ again meets Jasper. She is no longer a child, and he is quickly infatuated with her. But being an honorable man, how can he even consider trying to win a woman who is promised to someone else? And why is it that she seems to dislike him so when they haven’t even run into each other in the past decade?

The most recent book in the Seeing Ranch series, this book is as entertaining as it’s predecessors. I would have liked to see it run through one more round of editing, to try and catch a few more of the typos I ran across, but the story itself was one I greatly enjoyed. It wasn’t your typical mail order bride story, but I found that to be part of the appeal of this book. I enjoyed the twist of seeing MJ as a girl who is infatuated with Jasper and then seeing their roles reversed when she is an grown woman who does not appear to like him, let alone still have any sort of feelings for him. I enjoyed this book just as much as I have the previous books in this series. I think others will as well. I would recommend reading it if you enjoy mail order bride tales.

Monday, September 24, 2018

"Scarlet" by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother has been missing for several weeks. No one seems to know where she is or what happened to her. To make matters worse, the police have decided that there isn’t enough evidence of foul play and thus are ending their investigation. They seem to believe that Michelle Benoit has left of her own free will and there is nothing that needs to be done about it. Scarlet feels otherwise, but before she can go down to the station to try and get the case reopened, things in her daily life explode with other problems. Her father has returned after a long absence and Scarlet learns that he had been held in Paris and tortured by the same men who have kidnapped her grandmother.

Elsewhere in the world, Cinder is making her escape from prison before she can be handed over to the Lunar Queen for execution. In the process, she is joined by a Captain Carswell Thorne. His attitude on life is quite different than Cinder’s and he doesn’t seem to realize who she is, but being a gentleman, he seems to almost feel a need to help her. He also has a ship that they can use to escape once they have made it out of their prison cells.

Like the first book in this series, I enjoyed this one. There were a few small typos, but the intertwining stories of Scarlet, Cinder, Captain Thorne, and the others who join them along the way were something I enjoyed reading. In this book we learned more about Cinder and her history, as well as about those who helped to hide her and why. I look forward to reading the next book in this series to find out what will happen next.

Monday, September 17, 2018

"Catwoman: Soulstealer" by Sarah J. Maas

Selina Kyle and her younger sister Maggie live in the slums of Gotham City. Their mother has been a mostly absent part of their lives, and the few times she is around she is usually drunk or on drugs and often with a new lowlife boyfriend who is supplying those drugs. Maggie suffers from cystic fibrosis, an incurable genetic disorder that is slowly killing her. As a member of the street gang known as the Leopards, Selina fights in underground fighting rings to earn the money needed to pay for medical tests, medications, food, and rent money to keep them both going. At least, it does until the night their mother is arrested and a woman from social services arrives with two police officers to take the girls into custody and place them in foster care.

The foster homes are usually overcrowded group homes, infested with bugs, and won’t be able to provide Maggie with the care she needs to try and survive having cystic fibrosis. The care she needs is expensive and unlikely to be provided even if she were lucky enough to wind up in one of the better foster homes. The girls both know that this is essentially a death sentence for Maggie, but what can they do to escape it?

When Selina is arrested for assaulting the police officers who came to take them away, she learns that at nearly 18 and with two previous strikes against her, she won’t be going to a juvenile detention center. She’ll be sent to prison instead. When a woman offers her an alternative, one that will see Maggie placed in better care and will erase Selina’s criminal record, she realizes that she really has no other option. For her sister’s sake, and understanding that she likely won’t see Maggie ever again, Selina accepts Talia al Ghul’s offer.

I have long been a fan of the DC comics Catwoman character and have seen numerous origin stories describing how she started out and how she became one of the more recognized of Batman’s foes. Those seeking a book that follows the traditional DC comic book origin story for her probably won’t appreciate this one. While all the expected characters appear in the book, Catwoman’s origin story as told here is rather different than what one would expect, and it is certainly different than what is told in the various comic book versions.

Personally, I loved it. This book kept me so entranced that if there were any typos, I never noticed them. (Any book that can keep me that interested in just reading & not watching for errors is a rare thing these days.) Parts of this story even had me tearing up and wanting to cry. I am very glad that I picked it up. I will definitely be reading the other books that are out about the DC comic book characters and hoping they are just as amazing as this one. I strongly recommend reading it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"Cinder: The Lunar Chronicles Book 1"
by Marissa Meyer

Cinder works as a mechanic out of a small booth in the market, usually with the assistance of the family’s android Iko. Her stepmother and legal guardian Adri has two daughters that she favors and spoils, excluding Cinder from virtually anything and everything that she can, believing Cinder to be the cause of all her troubles.

Besides being an exceptional mechanic, Cinder is a cyborg. She hates this fact as it seems to be source of all the hardships in her life. Most people don’t seem to even think of cyborgs as people. Shortly after she is hired to fix Prince Kai’s non-functioning android, Cinder’s younger sister Peony comes down the the plague that has been tormenting the empire. There is no known cure for this fatal disease, and upon learning that Peony has been diagnosed with it, Adri volunteers Cinder to be a test subject for the doctor searching for a cure. Thus far, none of the cyborgs used as test subjects have survived, so Cinder expects this to be her ending as well.

This was a very unique retelling of the Cinderella story. I enjoyed it well enough that I only put the book down to sleep at night. Virtually everything in this story is completely unique, from the setting to the fact that the main character is a cyborg. It was well written, well edited, and very fun to read. If you like unique twists on familiar fairy tales, try this one. I know I really enjoyed it.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

"Lake Emerald Chronicles:
The First Summer" by Melissa Adams

Trigger Warning: This book containers a rape and a lot of sexual activity. It is definitely not a book for younger readers.

Clary is getting ready to leave for summer camp at Lake Emerald and is looking forward to spending the summer with her best friends Brie and Hazel. All three girls are very excited to be spending the summer away from their parents. The girls are all 16 years old this summer and Clary has “filled out” over the school year and is hoping that the counselor she has had a crush on for the past several summers will finally notice her.

This is a reverse harem book involving Clary and several other men. It could have used another round of editing as there were a number of typos and other errors within. It did improve in the second half of the book, and I noticed far fewer errors once the sex scenes became more prevalent.

I have to admit that I didn’t really like this book. I don’t have an issue with the reverse harem aspect and wouldn’t have had much of an issue with the large amount of sex going on in the story. But as the mother of a teenage daughter, what I had a problem with included the truth or dare game with underage campers drinking alcohol during the game with the adult counselors. In most places, providing alcohol to minors should have gotten them fired, if not worse.

I also had a very serious problem with the 16 year old main character and the 20 year old counselors she becomes more than mildly involved with. With her being underage, that sort of thing is considered statutory rape. It doesn’t matter if she is a willing participant or even if she is the one instigating things. The 20 year old men, who are supposed to be the responsible parties here, should be pushing her away for at least another 2 years. Being only 16, she is still a minor. What is happening in this book between her and the men in question is still illegal. And as they have made the decision to not hide their relationships, someone working in the camp should have put a stop to things. Yet not even the slightest warning was ever given to anyone involved.

The things going on at this camp were noticed by other responsible adults at the camp, yet not one of them ever does anything to stop it. Instead they almost seem to be encouraging it. I’m sorry, but this book hits on some issues that truly disturb me. Because of this, I’m afraid that I just cannot recommend it.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

"Spectrum" by Samantha Mina

Scarlet was born in the small nation of Conflagria. The people living there are mages, born with powers and named by “the system” to match the color of their powers. Scarlet was expected to be the most powerful of red mages, but when she went to begin her training, she was told that there was no one who could teach her to use her magic, Because of this, she was declared one of the useless and would receive no training whatsoever. Eventually she was banished from her homeland while still a child and deported to the nation of Nuria.

Alone and penniless in Nuria, Scarlet must find a way to survive. Nuria is unlike anything she has ever known in Conflagria. Here, the people do not have magic. Instead they have very advanced technology. Scarlet spends her first days eating out of dumpsters, and spending large amounts of time in libraries, seeking to learn all she can about her new home.

I greatly enjoyed reading this book. The author has successfully created a very unique world where both magic and science exist separately. In a purely reasonable way, we are able to understand why and how each of these nations are limited to only one or the other but do not even attempt to use both. Watching Scarlet, a girl from the mage nation learning about technology and life in Nuria where she must hide the fact that she was born a Conflagrian mage, was well worth the short time it took me to read this book.

There were a few problems with typos here & there, but the story itself was well told and hard to put down at night. I’m glad I picked this one up recently and am looking forward to finding out what will happen in book 2 in this series. I would definitely recommend giving this book a chance.

"One Can Heal" by Clara C. Johnson

I’m not usually much of a reader of poetry, but this was an emotional collection of poems that seem to highlight the high and low point...