Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review: Wanted: Dead or Undead

Wanted: Dead or Undead
Book 1 of The Zombie West Series
By Angela Scott
Published by: Evolved Publishing March 18, 2012
Formats: eBook, Paperback
~220 pages

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Trace Monroe doesn’t believe in luck. He never has. But when a fiery-headed cowgirl saunters through the saloon doors, wielding shotguns and a know-how for killing the living dead, he believes he just may be the luckiest man alive.
Trace wants to join "Red’s" posse, but she prefers to work alone—less messy that way. In order to become her traveling companion, Trace has to agree to her terms: no names, no questions, and if he gets bit, he can’t beg for mercy when she severs his brain stem. He agrees, knowing only that Red is the sharpest shooter he’s ever encountered. The fact she’s stunning hasn’t escaped his attention either.
What he doesn’t know, is that Red has a very good reason to be on top of her game. She not only has the answer for how they can all outlive the plague taking over the wild, wild west, she is the answer.

The Cover: The cover looks  just like any other Western. Save for a few blood spatters, this looks like it could be another Louis Lamour book. Nothing screams or even whispers Zombie. This is why book descriptions are so important and why one shouldn't just write off a book because it isn't "pretty" like other books on the market.

My Thoughts: Let me start by saying zombies aren't usually my thing. I have read a few zombie books, but they are just usually lacking for me. Thankfully, this was not the case with Wanted: Dead or Undead. Within the first few pages the author, Angela Scott, is able to describe, in detail, the horrors of being eaten by a family member. I was impressed...and grossed out. Sometimes when authors write, they get a little wordy with their descriptions and the showing turns to telling and the reader gets bored. That never happened to me once while reading this book.

I would say that there are two main characters and a sidekick - Trace "Cowboy",  Elisabeth "Red", and Wen, an Asian man they find along the way. The POV switches from Trace to Red which I like because I can see what is happening inside each of their heads. The banter between them is hilarious, mostly because Trace is a smart ass. I seriously wanted to smack him, especially when he tries his macho "I'm a guy, I will protect you" bit. Red on the other hand is a tough, independent girl and will shoot you if you look at her wrong.

As the story progresses, Trace and Red assembles a motley crew along the way. This group forms a family of sorts and bonds together to face the threat of the diseased undead. I think the time period and location is perfect for this book. There aren't any modern conveniences which makes the idea of a zombie Apocalypse more terrifying. How do you find help? And traipsing the desert and vast plains of emptiness? No thank you. They are only able to survive by learning how to protect themselves. Red, uses her guns flawlessly as does Trace and Wen. And if anyone has seen the movie Zombieland will recognise the Double Tap method of zombie disposal. If you prefer hands-on decapitation, there is also some sword and machete action. 

Another thing I found interesting, was the descent of Red's mental stability. Her secret takes its toll and as her encounters with the zombies increase, the cracks in her tough demeanor start to show. Trace on the other hand, starts to find that looking after more than yourself can be a liberating thing. In Trace's case, he found his moral compass.

Wanted: Dead or Undead's ending had some finality to it, but also had a beginning within the ending that leads into the second book Survivor Roundup coming fall 2012. I can't wait to get my hands on the second book and find where the story will lead.

Favorite Quote: "Shoot me in both legs if you must, but I'm telling you right now, I'll find a way to crawl after you."

Favorite Description: "Her blood-soaked nightgown clung to her tiny frame like a second skin, as droplets ran down her arms and dripped from her elbows to pool at her side."

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Zombies, guns and swords oh my! Zombieland meets Tombstone!

FTC Advisory: I was given a copy of this book from the author for an honest review. No backroom deals or whispered promises were made.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Feyland: The Bright Court

Feyland: The Bright Court
Book 2 in the Feyland Trilogy
By Anthea Sharp
Published: May 21, 2012
Formats Available: Kindle, Nook(EPub), Paperback: 340 pages

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Jennet Carter escaped the dark faeries of Feyland once. Now, fey magic is seeping out of the prototype game, beguiling the unwary and threatening everyone she cares about.
Tam Linn may be a hero in-game, but his real life is severely complicated. Still, he’ll do whatever it takes to stop the creatures of Feyland, even if it means pushing Jennet toward the new guy in school—the one with an inside connection to sim-gaming…
and the uncanny ability to charm everyone he meets.
Despite the danger, Jennet and Tam must return to Feyland to face the magic of the Bright Court—and a powerful new enemy who won’t stop until the human world is at the mercy of the Realm of Faery.                                                   
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The Cover: Another beautiful cover for the second book of Feyland. It is similar to the first cover, but is now reflecting a blond girl in gold hues – representing the change of courts from the Dark to the Bright Court. I think the girl on the cover represents Jennet, but I could be wrong. I am curious, though, to see what the third book’s cover will show for the Twilight Kingdom. I wonder if it will sparkle…sorry I couldn’t help myself.

My Thoughts: The Bright Court starts out right where the first book ended. Tam is now out of the hospital, but still not in the best shape and Jennet’s hands bear the scars of her last Feyland encounter. Their friendship is still strong, but the romance between the two wavers – mostly because of Tam’s insecurities. Jennet on the other hand, knows she wants Tam and tells him just that. I love a strong female character that doesn’t need to wait for the guy to make the first move.

Just as in the first book, the POVs switch between Tam and Jennet. In The Dark Realm we saw inside Jennet’s head for the majority of the book, but in The Bright Court we get to see more of Tam’s insights. He lacks self-confidence and is uncomfortable in his own skin. Not to mention that his home life is always on the verge of imploding. Not many YA books delve into the male’s insecurities so it is a nice change to see that not only the female characters have warring emotions and self-esteem problems.

A new character, Roy Lassiter, the son of VirtuMax’s CEO, is introduced into the equation. He has also played Feyland, but has had very different experiences then Tam and Jennet. I immediately disliked him and continued to dislike him throughout the entire book. He is the quintessential pretty-boy who gets off on the admiration of others. And everyone is charmed by him, except for Tam and Jennet. What I really hated was that he caught the eye of Tam’s friend Marny, the big girl who always tells it like it is, suddenly turns into a Roy lemming - I wanted to scream. Although, she does appear to know, at certain moments, that he is not what he seems; that what glitters is not always gold.

The idea of fate was used heavily in The Bright Court; that each character – even some of the minor ones, have a part to play. That one could try to fight fate, but it will always find you – even in your dreams.

There are great battle scenes, romance, friendship, and loyalty – what more could you ask for? The only thing I didn’t like was the actions of Jennet’s father. I am not quite sure what he is thinking or  what his intentions are, especially at the end of the book, but I have a feeling he will be finding himself in a dangerous place if he doesn’t start listening to his daughter.

There are a lot of questions left unanswered, but I am hoping the answers are revealed in the third book, Feyland: The Twilight Kingdom, which will be available fall 2012.

Favorite Quote: “We must go where fate sends us, and do our best. Even if we do not understand the purpose, or feel strong or wise enough to play our part.”

 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Awesome Sci-Fi/Fantasy book! Recommend to anyone who likes faeries, gaming, and a little romance.

*I was given an eARC copy of this book from the author for an honest review. No backroom deals or whispered promises were made.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Review: Feyland: The Dark Realm

Feyland: The Dark Realm
Book 1 in the Feyland Trilogy

Feyland is the most immersive computer game ever designed, and Jennet Carter is the first to play the prototype. But she doesn’t suspect the virtual world is close enough to touch — or that she’ll be battling for her life against the Dark Queen of the faeries.

Tam Linn is the perfect hero — in-game. Too bad the rest of his life is seriously flawed. The last thing he needs is rich-girl Jennet prying into his secrets, insisting he’s the only one who can help her.

Together, Jennet and Tam enter the Dark Realm of Feyland, only to discover that the entire human world is in danger. Pushed to the limit of their abilities, they must defeat the Dark Queen… before it’s too late.

The Cover: I am a sucker for beautiful book covers. I know, "Never judge a book by its cover," but I am easily lured by pretty things. This cover is beautiful and made me want to open the book and find out who the picture was depicting. Also note that this cover is a revamp of the first, which still can be seen on Goodreads if you are interested.

My Thoughts: I love the idea of playing a game that is able to affect real life. I have always been interested in the idea of Virtual Reality games or the idea of being sucked into a game. It reminded me of one of my favorite movies from the 90's - Arcade.

In Feyland: The Dark Realm, playing the game is called Simming. However, Feyland isn't just a game; it is the 'inbetween' place between reality and the faerie world. The basic plot of the book is that Jennet and Tam must venture into the game and battle through various levels and villans to save Jennet's mortal essence that was taken by the Dark Queen when she lost the game initially.

Jennet, the protagonist, is the daughter of a VirtuMax employee; the company that created Feyland. She lives in The View, a exclusive community for VirtuMax employees. However, she attends a regular high school instead of a prep school, which she did purposefully to find someone to help her. As a former mean girl inside school and a loner at home, she was used to doing what she wanted. But when she lost her essence to the Dark Queen, Jennet became vulnerable and had to learn to rely on others for help.

Enter Tam - the reluctant hero. Where Jennet was rich, he was poor. Tam lived in the Exe - a destitute, dangerous part of the city. Tam's homelife is also rough. He has to take care of his little brother because his mother has issues and is never home. He is a really good gamer and even won a simming competition and recieved a game console as a prize. But when his little brother dismantles the system, he has nowhere to go to play. When Jennet approaches him, I think he was more interested in the challenge of winning a new game than actually helping Jennet. Especially because it took him getting hurt and then some for him to really believe her.

The relationship between Tam and Jennet is slow romantically, which I find refreshing. They didn't fall in love at first sight. They became friends and learned to trust and care for each other naturally.

What made this book really special is that I felt it when Tam and Jennet were in the game, I was there too. Then, when they stopped gaming and were thrust back into reality, it was like a splash of cold water. Yes, they could be harmed in the game and it could be permanent, but it paled in comparison to what kind of damage their real lives, especially Tam's could inflict. Both characters grow and learn about love, friendship, and sacrifice and what it really means to live.

Anthea Sharp does an amazing job of describing the scenery and the action. Her knowledge of Faerie lore was extensive and her ability to put you in the game was superb. I had chills, my adrenaline was pumping, and I could not put this book down. Fantastic for fans of the science fiction/fantasy genre. Can't wait to read the next book in the trilogy!

Favorite Quote: "Games weren't fun if you couldn't turn them off."

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For those who have read The Forbidden Game series by L.J. Smith will love this book.
*I purchased this book. I was not given anything in exchange for this review.

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