Monday, 26 June 2017

REVIEW - CONCEALED - VIRUS BY RJ CRAYTON

Title: Concealed
Series: Virus
Author: RJ Crayton
Genre: Sci-Fi, YA, Dystopian
Publisher: Ericella Press
Release Date: 26th May 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
They said it was extremely hard to get. They said it wasn't airborne. They said there was nothing to fear. They were wrong. Seventeen-year-old Elaan Woodson was supposed to be one of the lucky ones. She got one of the few spots in the subterranean protection unit designed to keep select scientists, military officials and their families safe from the deadly virus ravaging the world above. But, how lucky are you really when the people in charge and those you love keep secrets from you? While Elaan has heard that what you don't know can't hurt you, she's beginning to think otherwise. And she should...


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I had seen this series before and had kept meaning to read it. After enjoying my previous read to this, which was also from this genre, I fancied another post apocalyptic/dystopian read and chose to begin this series.

I find the cover quite striking, from the dark blue stone like colour, hinting at the darkness and sparseness within the world Concealed is set in. Then there's the red image, logo or however you would personally describe it, which I'd say represents the virus. The byline of "They said we were safe. They were wrong"  fits the book perfectly and certainly draws you in wanting to know more. 

When you begin reading the book you are kind of on edge and unsure whether to believe the government rather like the characters in the book. It is a missionary, Mark Dayton who brings the mutated airborne version of the Helnoan back to the US. Sadly Mark is a "carrier" and is spreading Helnoan B far and wide with anyone he comes across in his day to day life dealing with parishoners etc. The general society are told everything is under control, whilst behind the scenes scientists, and certain members of the military, etc, are being gathered together and being placed underground, in either a Scientist Protection Complex or Special Protection Unit.  

There are two types of the virus the Helnoan and Helnoan B which is airborne. Both types Helnoan, and it's mutated Helnonan B make victims initially suffer, from a general feeling of being ill, followed by a fever. Victims of the original Helnoan virus rapidly become seriously ill, with symptoms such as vomiting, blood loss, bleeding from eyes, nose, ears and mouth. This is how the virus is so easily spread within the body fluids. The bodies of those who die from the virus need to be hermatically sealed and cremated to "kill" the virus.

 Not every single person is able to catch either virus. There are "immune's" who are totally safe from the virus and become a sought after commodity by those who wish to experiment as well as those who want to recreate a new world and re-populate it. Then there are "carriers" where the virus lays dormant until it comes into contact with someone else who has the virus and then they become "carriers" and actually unknowingly spread the virus to anyone they then come into contact with.

The main characters we follow in Concealed are 17 yr old Elaan Woodson, her 19yr old brother Elijah Jacob Woodson and their father and lead scientist Dr James Woodson. Another scientist, in fact the second in command is Dr Kingston Wells and his son Josh Wells and they all live alongside other lab workers, military personnel and their families in the smallest Scientist Protection Complex (SPC) with only 42 occupants and space left for others to join them. Though no one from "outside" or "above" ever comes inside the complex. It would be far too dangerous as they could be infected with either of the strains of the Helnoan Virus. Due to both men having lost their wives, Dr James Woodson and Dr Kingston Wells are determined to do their level best to protect their children no matter what.

Both scientists work well together and are equally eager to find the elusive cure or vaccine. 
This battle is quite personal for both the Woodson family and the Wells family as both have lost the mothers in their respective families. However they are completely different characters with Dr Kingston Wells, seems quite matter of fact about his wife's death, and having a "get on with life now" attitude. He is also forthright, at times both ignorant and somewhat arrogant, so not the best scientist to be working with or to be a lab technician for. Dr Kingston Wells also seems to have a rather strong disliking to Elaan. Could it be Dr Kingston is doesn't want his perfect boy fraternising with the likes of a mixed race girl such as Elaan, but then that can't be why, when he seems to have taken Lijah under his wing and regularly has Lijah help him in experiments as an unofficial lab technician/assistant.
Whereas Dr James Woodson is still deeply affected by Shonda Woodson's passing, he was a quieter man to begin with but now he is even more withdrawn, prefers to be alone in his grief for his wife. He is excellent at his job but at times fails to turn up to work and curiously Dr Kingston Wells covers up for him. If it is revealed James Woodson is falling behind on his important work both he and the remainder of his family would be thrown out of the SPC and be at the mercy of the virus.

There's so much going on in this book, both within the lines you visibly read to the possibilities of what could happen that you create yourself as you read the book from "between the line" using the actions and and the nuances you have already learnt about the individual characters and their unique personalities. Then there's all the things going on in the background that begin so tiny you don't notice the hints to them, that build up, become bigger and clearer and eventually unfold or in some cases burst free, and you literally say "wow didn't see that coming" or "hey, I thought that might happen!"
I am finding it really difficult to prevent myself from slipping and giving away any spoilers as well as trying to remember where one book ended and the other began as I read the whole series back to back, which is highly unusual for me to do! To say I was "gripped" or  "pulled" and "held" by this book (in fact the whole series) is a bit of an understatement. RJ Crayton really has you become attached to the characters, even the ones you enjoy dis-liking like Dr Kingston Wells. Something I don't usually do until I have finished a book is checkout other peoples opinions and/or reviews on it. I saw a lot of low star reviews for this one and I seriously have to say I totally disagree! The pace in the book is fast enough for you to read it and not become bored, yet slow enough to give you some "on the edge of your seat" moments.

Favourite characters are naturally the three teens, Elaan, Josh and Elijah. If I had to pick just the one I'd say Elijah, or Lijah as his family call him. I loved the way he was determined to protect his sister from getting hurt by Josh. Lijah knows something about Josh, that he has promised not to reveal, he thinks it's not his place to do so and that either Josh should not pursue a closer relationship with Elaan or he reveal the secret and let Elaan make an informed decision on whether to go ahead in a relationship with Josh. All this time (you realise later in the book, and most certainly in the series) that Lijah only ever has Elaan's best interests at heart. Elaan goes from thinking that Lijah is jealous as she has a love interest and there is no one suitable in the SPC for him. To thinking he doesn't want to see her happy again after losing their mum. At one point she also thinks that Lijah is gay and wants Joshua for himself!!! This is something I won't reveal as the whole story, misunderstandings, reasons for secrecy etc all unfold bit by bit in the book and end up totally explained within the series. The place this book finishes really has you sitting at the edge of your seat and perplexed at what will happen.

This book really had me thinking and asking questions all the way through as you can see in my Goodreads "diary" log, they ranged from: What is the secret that Josh can't tell Elaan that Elijah discovered?, What could be so bad that would make Elijah want Josh to stay away from Elaan? Could Elaan really be right about Elijah that he is gay and that he may have accidentally found out Josh is gay or bisexual too?" My immediate thoughts upon finishing Concealed BK1 in the Virus Series were . . A really good start to a possibly great series! Can't believe how it ended. Definitely left me with plenty of questions that need answering in the next book.  The most imminent question being Will “Boxcar-Willie” double cross the teenagers?  

Monday, 19 June 2017

REVIEW - DAY 7 - CELL 7 BY KERRY DREWERY

Title: Day 7
Series: Cell 7
Author: Kerry Drewery
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: 15th June 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
The tense and thrilling companion to Cell 7.

Martha Honeydew has been released from the terrifying Cell 7. But despite her new freedom, the corrupt judicial system is still tracking Martha's every move. And Isaac, her only trusted friend, is now imprisoned in the very same cells she was. Isaac saved Martha's life, it is only right she now saves his. 

But with Martha still a target, her chances of saving Isaac are remote. Martha begins to question whether it is ever possible to escape government scrutiny. 

Will Martha and Isaac ever reunite? 

Will they ever live in a better world?


PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

REVIEW
As I really enjoyed Cell 7 back in October 2016 and had read there was to be a follow up book by the name of Day 7 I had been excitedly awaiting it. I found Cell 7 to be really different to the other dystopian books out at the moment. In fact the society is quite futuristic but totally believable that there is a possibility that our own world could one day have a court and prison like the one featured in this book series. I'm eager to know where the book will pick up, where is Martha now? Can anyone help Isaac? Will Isaac be denied the one small concession of a human counselor or will he be one of the first to have to talk to a fully computerised counselor? 

The cover is as eye-catching as Cell 7, though this time the colour is green. In the centre of the "eye" or maybe a "camera lens" there is a tree. . . could that tree be a reference to the tree Martha used to try to catch a glimpse of during her incarceration. Maybe the tree represents the growth of something? Perhaps a banding together of those against this present justice system.

There is a brief prologue which picks up right where Cell 7 left off. Martha is being escorted from the studios after been let out of her cell. There's photographers flashing cameras and people taking pictures on their mobile phones and all Martha wants is for them to leave her alone to get her breath as she is naturally still stunned at being freed. She frantically grips the ring that Isaac gave her. Martha is now scared that Isaac will be given the death sentence and if that happens Martha feels part of her will die along with him too.

The TV programme set up is still fairly similar to that in Cell 7. They use the same "Buzz for Justice" eye logo. The audience seats are as usual full to capacity already. There is a slightly raised witness box as well as an area for three panelists, each with their own large blue buzzer in front of them. 
The first offender is brought in, Gus Evans, who was previously given a second chance. Gus has only been free for 7 days! Kristina the presenter in her perfect grey pin stripe suit and pale blue blouse introduces Gus, then shows some CCTV footage that firstly shows him holding a banner saying "one person, one vote" then it shows the demonstration getting out of control and shows Gus with his hands on an overturned car. Once CCTV footage is seen by the audience at home and in the studio along with the panelists Gus is given 30 seconds to protest and say why he is innocent, but 30 seconds is not very long and it seems by the time Gus works out something to say his time is up! Kristina reads out what punishment Gus will have if found guilty and then goes straight to the three panelists who decide whether Gus is guilty or not. The first panelist is Ava, a pensioner who has always wanted to appear on TV,the second panelist is Sadiq, a male interested in getting into the music industry and finally Candice who wants to become an actress. So all panelists are really there for their own purposes and agenda, irregardless of the case they will vote on. How fair can a trio of panelists be if one of them can be swayed by the offer of an audition in return for a press of the guilty buzzer?!

So as you will have read the last book you will know that it is Isaac in the Cells. Martha has been released and gone with the only people she knows and trusts, Eve, Cicero and Max but it soon has to come to an end as the government, in particular Prime Minister Stephen Rennard want Martha locked away in some sort of institution where she will not have a voice. In fact in some parts of the book you realise that the Prime Minister will stop at nothing to shut up anyone that speaks out against any of his policies or ideas. The Prime Minister is very crafty and can spin things to suit his own ends. 
A character I really loved is killed in this book and though the Prime Minister didn't wield the knife that killed her, he may as well have. It seems in this book that no one is safe!

Whilst Isaac is going through exactly what Martha did. He has to endure his own experience and think of how did Martha cope. Isaac has no outside contact at all, he doesn't have Eve as a counsellor like Martha. The new counselling is in effect so Isaac has to speak to a computer. When he asks questions he is warned that he will forfeit is right to counselling. 

Once again it is Eve, Cicero and Max trying to help Martha get Isaac out. Max tries the ways he helped with getting the public on board. They think it will be easier to get people on their side because of them showing the video and paperwork that belonged to Jackson which showed corruption by many celebrities and officials. Unfortunately, all the evidence has been disposed of and removed from the internet. Also the way Max hacked into the system has been made more secure. Not only are they up against that but the media is determined to discredit Martha saying she should not be free even though she was proven totally innocent.

Isaac is subjected to the whole voting for justice and along with his supporters come up against the whole Guilty/Black or Not Guilty/White, there is no grey in between. Even though Isaac only shot his father because Jackson was putting the young woman he loved in danger. Jackson would have killed Martha, had Isaac not shot him. But as the TV programmers promote their show as an eye for an eye no one seems to want to hear the reasons behind Isaac's actions. In fact, the TV programme became so popular in the first book of this series, that there is both a daytime and nighttime edition.

I feel like its two steps forward, then one step back for those helping Martha. They have to be extremely careful as they are being watched and anything that could be classed as or turned into a possible crime is! At times in the book Martha and her group feel like the whole world is against them, and I certainly felt that way when reading the book. They do have some mystery helpers a couple of times in the book.

Of course there are still the 'haves' and 'have nots'. The have not's live in the Rises where Martha comes from and the haves live in the large posh houses such as the one Isaac comes from. There is still the injustice that not everyone can afford to vote, though the Prime Minister has come up with the idea of giving every person living in the Rises a mobile phone so that they can vote on the show that forms this societies legal system. I honestly had a similar reaction to a certain character in the book. How can those in the Rises vote, even if given a mobile phone it will still cost them money to vote. a mobile phone with no credit is no good! Then later in the book, you discover the actual real reason that the Prime Minister wants everyone to have a mobile phone.

The end of the book is good, not what I expected. I obviously can't say the ending as that would be a big spoiler. How the book ends it could be the final ending, but personally I think there is so much potential for a spin off series maybe, or a continuation of this series where those characters still alive could form some sort of rebellion against the black and white law rulings on TV. The other small thing that irritated me a little was the Prime Minister's surname being Rennard, as I was watching the Grimm series on TV and one of the characters in that has the surname Rennard. I know, total weird coincidence, but every time I thought of the Prime Minister I thought of the character in Grimm too. The strange thing is I kind of have a dislike for both characters.

My favourite character in this book just has to be Mrs Lydia Barkova, the lady who lives next door to Martha in the Rises. The one with all the superstitions and sayings and has ended up being a substitute mother to Martha after her own mother was killed in a hit and run accident. I felt sorry for Mrs Barkova as it was her son, Oliver that was blamed for the hit and run. He was tried on the Death Is Justice TV show and found guilty and killed. Martha, Mrs Barklova and many people from the rises knew it wasn't Oliver but he was the one that the police and authorities wanted to pin it on. In fact we found out in Cell 7 that it was Jackson Paige who killed both Martha's mother and Isaac's mother. This man has quite literally gotten away with murder on numerous occasions.

The other character I ended up quite liking even though when you read the book yourselves you may not necessarily like her much to begin with was Sofia. She wasn't mentioned as much as some of the other characters were, but she does play an important part in this book and could become a more central character if there is a book three - which I hope there is. I want the society in Cell 7 and Day 7 to realise neither the old judicial system was right but that neither is the present one.

I totally loved every page of Cell 7, and I really enjoyed this one too. The beginning of the Day 7 felt a little slow paced for my taste, especially in comparison to Cell 7. Day 7 has the tension builds up more gradually. Once the tension built a little more I began to be pulled into the plot more. Day 7 gives a little more background on some of the other characters, such as TV presenter Joshua Decker. In fact his character did surprise me a little towards the end of the book.

My thoughts as I finished reading Day 7 were: Could there be a book three? Please tell me there's more to come from this dystopian/futuristic society? There's so much more, there has to be!



Thursday, 15 June 2017

REVIEW - MOTHERHOOD MARTYRDOM & COSTCO ADS BY WHITNEY DINEEN

Title: Motherhood, Martyrdom & Costco Ads
Author: Whitney Dineen
Genre: Humour, Parenting & Families
Publisher: 33 Partners & Publishing
Release Date: 15th May 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Join bestselling romantic comedy author, Whitney Dineen, as she discovers the three Es of parenting:
• Exhilarating—when you first discover you’re pregnant.
• Exhausting—when you realize you’ll most likely never sleep again--like EVER.
• Explosive—OMG these kids spew from both ends!
And that’s just the beginning. Whitney shares the ridiculous highs and excruciating lows of her catapult into motherhood. Enjoy the ride as this new mom vows to give up profanity while falling in love with… you guessed it, Costco. Be careful, because if you’re anything like Whitney, you may just pee a little.
Motherhood Martyrdom & Costco Runs takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotions as Whitney plummets into postpartum depression, desperately tries to get her kids to stop yodeling in public restrooms, and comes to terms with the fact she’ll never quite be queen of her own kingdom. Get ready to laugh, cry, cheer, and pat yourself on the back for the sake of mommies everywhere. And while you’re at it, stop by Costco for a case of toilet paper and a Very Berry Sundae. You won’t regret it!
 


PURCHASE LINK

REVIEW
I was looking forward to a fun, light hearted read with this book. After reading the blurb I was interested to learn how Whitney coped with the "the three Es of parenting.

I think the cover really sets the fun tone for the book. It shows Whitney dressed in her business suit with a pair of goggles and a cape whilst posing as a superhero! The background is a Costco store (not that I have been in one) though I know it is a trade warehouse store.

The genres on Netgalley for this book are humour, and parenting & families, and I think the book fits those genres perfectly. Its the kind of book you can shove in your handbag and read as you travel to work on the bus or train. The anecdotes and stories are presented as chapters/vignettes so it is all delivered in fairly small bite sized pieces. 

So Whitney Dineen is a "normal" everyday person like you and I. Whitney had suffered miscarriages before the birth of her daughter Margery, and then once again suffered a miscarriage before having her second daughter called Hope. There is a little more background about Whitney where she discusses miscarriage, pregnancy tests such as amniocentesis, disabled children and abortion. I found myself engrossed in her opinions and I totally agree with them, The medical profession seriously takes your opinion for granted, they presume far too much for liking! I think Whitney is the sort of person I would certainly be a friend with! Whitney actually says in the book that she hopes we enjoy the laughs, tears, and eye-rolls her stories will give us. So as i have already said Whitney suffered miscarriages so ended up being a middle-aged mum rather than the hip young mum that all her children's friends would love too! Instead she ended up being a mum for the first time at age forty. Whitney was scared she would be labelled an old mum or may even get mistaken for her off-springs grandparent at the school gate. As it turned out her children's parents vary between age 32 to 52 and no matter the age they still have the same issues. Lets admit it we all dream of a clean spotless, nothing out of place home, we can all feel over tired and end up screaming at the children when they don't do as we ask within the first three times of asking!

I guess I should share a couple of her funny situations. . . I loved how when she tried to explain the 70's and 80's to her young children saying there was no dollar store (pound shop for us in the UK), no home computer, no games or apps etc. The first thing her five year old daughter says is If there's no home computer how did you print off colouring pages!

Another thing I can totally empathise with Whitney on is when she talks about 'finding the balance' she estimates her real needs such as needing 36 hours per day, and 9.7 days in a week to be the type of wife, daughter, mother, writer,and friend successfully. It's either that or she needs two clones, a cleaning lady and a cook!

A couple of phrases she uses which made me smile and think yes I totally identify with were 'If you do touch much for others and don't do for yourself, you'll wither on the vine'
and 'Me time is mythical like unicorns and fairies'. Like all mums Whitney has realised she can only do her best.

Another major part in the book that made me laugh was the different upbringings herself and her husband had. Whitney basically calls it like it is, whereas her husband is more reserved and refers to 'girls parts' and 'boys parts' , her children have decided on using "front door" or "back door". Then whilst out one day one of the children refers to cleavage as a "book crack". 

This book really does have you giggling and literally laughing out loud. I really don't want to share anymore of the stories or expand on the ones I have mentioned as I think it would spoil your own reading experience. There is so much more in the book.

My first thoughts on finishing this book were this book was such fun to read, it felt more like having a chat with a friend! It really does have you laughing out loud. It is a very easy book to dip in and out of so great for journeys to and from places. The perfect book to have in your handbag (as a paperback) on your kindle, or on your phone. You certainly won't be bored with this book ready to whip out and read as much or little as you wish. 




Monday, 12 June 2017

REVIEW & AUTHOR INTERVIEW - THE HUMAN WILDERNESS - NEW AMERICA TRILOGY BY S.H. LIVERNOIS

Title: The Human Wilderness
Series: New America Trilogy
Author: S.H. Livernois
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror
Release Date: 5th March 2017

Blurb from Goodreads
Would you face monsters for the ones you love? 

There are no people left on Earth, except Eli Stentz and seventy-five others. They hide within the steel walls of a settlement called Hope, tormented by a horde of soulless, mutated humans who howl at their doorstep day and night. The survivors call them zombies, but the name doesn't quite fit. 

The world belongs to them now -- the Parasites. 

One day, a stranger emerges from this void with tales of survival and horror. Eli can't believe his eyes -- this man shouldn't be alive. Six years ago, humanity succumbed to a mysterious epidemic and civilization collapsed. Society never recovered, leaving the post-apocalyptic landscape a barren, dangerous wilderness. 

So why would this stranger kidnap one of Hope's children? And why Lily, a girl Eli loves like a daughter? Plagued by these questions, he has no choice but to face the monsters outside Hope's walls to rescue her and bring her home. But he doesn't expect the mystery lurking in the wilderness. 

For the world isn't empty after all -- there are more settlements. Most have abandoned American democracy, embracing a more dystopian way of life. And they are connected by a disturbing conspiracy. 

But Eli has other monsters to fight. For outside Hope's walls are the memories of his violent past. After all, no one lives through the apocalypse without getting blood on their hands. Eli knows that better than anyone. 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
As I said at the end of my review for Among The Monsters, I picked this book up and read a couple of chapters straightaway. The prequel had certainly pulled me into the book setting and made me want to read more about it's characters.

I think the cover of this book is really good how it is showing "sides" for the characters contained in the book. On one side or above there are some survivors within the wilderness in silhouette. One of the silhouette's is a woman, the others I'd say (after reading the book) are male. In fact I think the humans on the cover are Eli, Frank and Jane as they do go on a "missions" together in the book, outside the safety of their settlement. Below are silhouettes of broken, deformed humans that have become infected and transformed into parasites.
In my opinion the prequel book cover and the cover for  this book fit well and certainly gel together as a series. 

The byline/beginning of the blurb really sums up the society we are about to read about in a few sentences. "It's a dangerous world. No laws. Few People. Herds of the infected. Among them; one missing child and one man who'll do anything to rescue her". It really is a fantastic description in a nutshell of the book.

As this book is part of a series, of course it is labelled similarly to Among The Monsters, as Horror and Zombies on Goodreads. However I would add this book/series to the following genres, Post apocalyptic, and Dystopian.

As I've said it was quite late at night when I finished the prequel but couldn't resist starting this one. Originally my intention was to read one chapter. . . I ended up reading two!
I did find this book a slightly slower read to get into to and was initially really disappointed that it didn't pick up where the prequel ended, or follow the main characters featured in Among The Monsters. I do feel that the prequel set the scene and background for the rest of this series, but there was the niggle I wanted to know what had happened to Rebecca, where Martha had taken her.

The first characters we meet in The Human Wilderness are Eli Stenz and Squirrel (Allen James Twoomie) both are residents in a settlement called rather ironically "Hope". Eli and Squirrel are out hunting for meat for the other people in Hope. Everyone that lives in Hope has a job to do, Eli's and Squirrel's jobs are to hunt for food and to kill parasites if they see them too. They usually keep fairly close together as two sets of eyes and ears are better than one for hearing any approaching parasites. As one bite or scratch from a parasite is enough for you to become infected and turn into a parasite yourself. This is also the reason both men have every inch of their skin covered with thick material or leather strapping to protect their skin from coming into contact with anything infected. Strangely as Eli is checking out the deer they have killed for the 6 year anniversary celebration of Hope being created but Squirrel seems to have disappeared. The men meet back up but before they can quickly retreat to Hope, unfortunately Squirrel ends up being caught by the parasites, Eli is close by and attempts to kill the parasite before it bites Squirrel but he is a second too late. Now Eli faces returning to Hope, having to tell Squirrels family and the other residents what happened, that though no one from Hope has been infected for two years, Squirrel has and is dead! People are busy with preparations for the anniversary celebration, and don't take the news very well. In fact some of the residents of Hope blame Eli.  They were already wary of him as compared to everyone else as Eli is still considered a newcomer. As Eli is a bit of a loner it gives people an excuse to think the worst of him and view him as an outsider. The people Eli does get along with are Jane, the Doctor who nursed him when he first arrived at Hope with numerous gun shot wounds. Eli also gets along well with Frank, his wife and their adopted family. 
As the community is grieving, once again Eli feels guilty as though it should have been him scratched or bitten, not Squirrel aka Allen James Twoomie who has a wife Lauren and family. The community rally around Lauren but its clear to see that they wish the one infected and dead is Eli, the quiet loner who's past they don't know. Instead of an original founding resident of Hope, that Allen James Twoomie was.
Later in the book we learn that Franks adopted daughter Lily has disappeared. Naturally Franks first thought is to go after her and he asks for people to go with him. Sadly the community attitude is if Lily is on the outside of Hope's walls if she isn't dead already she will be soon! In the end it's Eli, Frank and the Doctor Jane that go in search of Lily. They come across parasites, and even survivors pretending to be parasites, trying to steal what little food and weapons they are carrying.

So we follow Eli, Frank and Jane as they try to follow the tracks left by Lily and whoever the larger footprints belong to. Lily is quite clever as she leaves strands from her friendship bracelet for her family to find and to help guide them to her. 
We learn about Eli's dark and violent past. How he has killed when ordered to. Eli is determined to get Lily back even if it means allowing the inner monster that he has pushed deep inside himself to hide it, out once again. Eli is prepared to do whatever it takes. He has killed before and is willing to kill again if it means getting Lily back.

After a turbulent journey Eli finds out who Lily is being taken to, a woman called Olive who lives in Grants Hill. However Olive is only collecting the girls and supposedly keeping them safe for "the saviour". By this time in his arduous journey, and having a little more insight into what the girls are being used for by Olive and her army of men, Eli is determined to save all the girls or as many as possible.

The Saviour turns out to be a face from the past that Eli would really rather have not seen ever again. The Saviour is from Eli's past when he killed to order with no question. Will the Saviour recognise Eli? and take this opportunity to have revenge?

There's so much happening in this book, it's action packed really. I found this book to be a fast read. Seriously I read this one late into the night, I didn't want to put it down. I still have questions from this book about exactly what the Saviour intends to do with the girls as it certainly seem it isn't the same as what Olive has used them for. I am also looking forward to delving even more into Eli's history. I hope the next book tells more of the girls stories and we catch up with the girls we met in the prequel. Other things I'd be interested in knowing are related to the the questions the characters ask each other about the parasites. I'd like discover if parasites have any senses left such as smell and touch? Do they remember who they were before? Do they have emotions? Do they feel pain? etc

My immediate final thoughts upon finishing this book were that this book was a great dystopian/post apocalyptic and I am already looking forward to reading bk2 when it's available.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Could you tell us a little about The Human Wilderness Bk1 in your A New America Trilogy?
This is the first book I've written, and I began developing it in 2014. That year I decided to try NaNoWriMo (an annual writing competition that challenges new writers to write a book in a month) and I wrote and finished a post-apocalyptic novel that will never see the light of day. It wasn't very good, and I actually lost my original manuscript (which was probably a good thing) when my portable hard drive up and quit. That inspired me to rethink the story completely. Around the same time, I finally started watching The Walking Dead, and after a couple months serious binge-watching, I decided I wanted to write my own zombie apocalypse story. But I wanted to do it better; I just didn't think the "Walkers" were very threatening.  So I began brainstorming. It took a few incarnations before I came up with the story that became The Human Wilderness. I basically learned how to write a novel, while writing that book, so it took a while. Thank God for patient editors.
I am yet to watch The Walking Dead, I keep saying I am going to then getting distracted by other things instead.

Was the prequel “Among The Monsters” written before Bk1 in your A New America Series? Will there be any more novellas to go with this Trilogy?
The prequel was actually written after I'd finished The Human Wilderness. I wanted to create a story that could act as an invitation into the world I'd created, with the hope that it would encourage readers to pick up the book. I'd brainstormed many different prequel stories -- one from the perspective of a Parasite, another featuring Quinn -- but I kept going back to Rebecca. She's an interesting character and one who will be more prevalent in book two as a formidable antagonist, which is why I wanted to feature her story in the prequel.
Yes, I hope to write more short stories/novellas for this trilogy. I'd like to write something that can be published between book one and two, and also between book two and three, as a way to both offer readers different perspectives into the story and to keep people entertained while they wait for the second book.
I was wanting to read The Human Wilderness but the reason I read Aomng The Monsters first was so I could get a feel for the society etc.

Would you also tell us a little bit about the A New America Trilogy as a whole?
I don't want to give away too much, but the trilogy is meant to explore the idea of what happens between the end of civilization and its rebuilding as a dystopian regime. So many post-apocalyptic movies and novels envision the America of the future as being a dystopia. I wanted to write a story about how society gets to that point.

Where did you get your book plot ideas from for the A New America Trilogy? What/Who is your inspiration?
I'm not really sure where my ideas come from, honestly. I do a lot of brainstorming and really try to logically work out where a story will go next. I follow my instincts and ask questions, and see where that leads. But the initial story idea, for the most part, seems to just arise into my mind without much work. This story was a little different. I set out to specifically write a post-apocalyptic story, because the genre is fascinating  to me. That's where I started, and I just asked questions and brainstormed until I had a plot.

Do you basic plot/plan for each individual book in turn through the series before you actually begin writing any of it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story on a book by book basis?
I outline extensively before I write a single word. I actually consider the outline a first draft, because it's so detailed, and this is always reviewed by an editor. That way, the story is pretty much complete by the time I start writing; I cannot write any other way. If there are problems, rearranging a story is far too difficult after the story has been written. When I wrote Book One, I had a pretty solid idea of what I wanted Book Two to be like, so I could outline and write accordingly. And now that I've pretty much finished outlining Book Two, I have a solid idea of where I want Book Three to go. And I know how the entire trilogy will end. I think many people misunderstand outlining and think that it stifles creativity, but I feel it's just the opposite. Outlining is fun because it's so free. I let my ideas take me where they need to flow in the outlining stage. When the writing starts, there's still a lot of improvisation, because the characters start taking on their roles and moving across the page, and though they have specific steps to take, they still follow it in their own way.

How did you come up with the Title’s and Cover Designs for your A New America Trilogy (including Among The Monsters”)? Do you have a lot of input into the process?
I tried to come up with a title in a methodical way, but it didn't work at all. Eventually, like my writing process, the title just popped into my head. The cover for Among the Monsters was my own design, and I had a vague idea of what I wanted it to look like. Same with the cover for the book -- I had vision of what it would look like. However, the cover was too important to tackle myself, so I reached out to a cover designer; the cover was pre-made, but for extra cost I could suggest tweaks, which I did. The final product is the result.
I love both covers!

Could you give a rough release schedule and titles of the other books in the A New America Trilogy?

I just finished the outline for Book Two and it's with my editor. Depending on how many changes she suggests, I'd like to start writing it next month. It could take me four months or so to write (I do have a full time job). Hopefully that puts me on track to have Book Two done by the end of the year. I'd expect a similar schedule for Book Three -- published by the end of next year. However, that's a very loose schedule, and there's another project I'd like to start during that time as well.
I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the rest of the New America Trilogy series, as I loved both Among The Monsters and The Human Wilderness! Thankyou for taking the time for take part in this Interview! ~Jeanz






Saturday, 10 June 2017

REVIEW - AMONG THE MONSTERS - PREQUEL TO THE HUMAN WILDERNESS - NEW AMERICA TRILOGY BY S.H. LIVERNOIS

Part psychological thriller, part soft horror, with a touch of near-future science fiction and the supernatural, 
Among the Monsters is a prequel to the novel The Human Wilderness, 
the first installment of the New America Trilogy.

Title: Among The Monsters, Prequel to The Human Wilderness
Series: New America Trilogy
Author: S.H. Livernois
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Release Date: 1st March 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
"You're going to save us all." 

The apocalypse stole everything from Rebecca. Normal life. Her friends and family. Her sense of belonging. Now, she lives with a handful of fellow survivors — mere strangers — eking out a meager, dystopian life behind steel walls. 

The only other people on Earth are mutated humans, living like a horde of animals in the wilderness beyond. Some people call them zombies, but the name doesn't quite fit. These monsters are much more enigmatic and terrifying than that. 

Then one day, Rebecca's life changes when a kindly old woman emerges from the wilderness with amazing yet impossible news: Her little brother and sister survived the plague that destroyed the world. 

Three years ago, a mystery epidemic brought humanity to its knees, and the collapse of civilization followed. Her family's survival through that unspeakable horror never crossed Rebecca's mind. Will she really see them again? It's what she's longed for: a normal life, friendly faces, the comfort of family. 

During the harrowing journey that follows, Rebecca uncovers a harsh truth about post-apocalyptic society, its survivors, and the disturbing conspiracy that links them all. Even more surprising is the role she may play in their plans. 


PURCHASE LINKS


REVIEW
I had originally about to read The Human Wilderness, and within the very first pages it is stated there is a prequel novel available. So I went on amazon to find it and it was free! 

The cover is a pale faded green which represents the post apocalyptic genre of the book well. The world has become a wilderness as you can see on the cover, trees and weeds and grasses have become overgrown. My favourite aspect of the book cover is the faded silhouette of a young girl/woman on it which makes total sense when you read the novella.

The genre labels on Goodreads for this prequel are Horror and Zombies, but in my opinion you could easily add it to Post Apocalyptic. I'd also say the prequel has hints at dystopian elements to come later in the series.

The "normal" world has ended, those that have survived being infected and turned into parasites are living in small settlements fortified with anything they could find strong enough to keep the parasites out. These walls/fences are also patrolled as the parasites are continually attempting to get inside the settlements to the human survivors within.

The main characters featured in this novella are sisters Rebecca aged 10, and Abby aged 6.
The two girls are at the grandparents playing out, whilst keeping away from their grandparents hostile neighbours. Abby has spotted some kittens under the neighbours home and nags and nags until Rebecca "rescues" them for her to play with. Rebecca braves the neighbours wrath and crawls in amongst the dirt and spiders to reach the kittens. Its an indication how seriously Rebecca takes looking after her sister and trying to give her things she'd like. 

We then skip forward in time to Rebecca who is now alone, it's been a long time since Rebecca lost her family so when a woman called Martha tells them they are alive and she can take them to them, of course the girls go willingly.
It's a decision that she will come to regret quite quickly. It seems Martha is collecting girls from the different settlements and taking them to an apparently amazing place and to "the saviour".

I have read The Human Wilderness now too and would say I was glad I read this prequel as the characters from this novella are referenced in the first book. I think reading the novella before or after book one would work. I enjoyed the prequel as we got some background of the area and type conditions would be in the rest of the series.

My immediate thoughts when finishing this novella was to start reading The Human Wilderness as soon as possible. So I ended up reading a couple of chapters straight away.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

REVIEW - THE SHIP - THE SHIP SERIES BY ANTONIA HONEYWELL

Title: The Ship
Series: The Ship
Author: Antonia Honeywell
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: 25th April 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
The Ship is a luminous and genre-defying debut novel that follows a young woman's coming of age in a world where she has no future.

London burned for three weeks. And then it got worse...

Lalla has grown up sheltered from the chaos amid the ruins of civilization. But things are getting more dangerous outside. People are killing each other for husks of bread, and the police are detaining anyone without an identification card. On her sixteenth birthday, Lalla's father decides it's time to use their escape route--a ship he's built that is only big enough to save five hundred people.

But the utopia her father has created isn't everything it appears. There's more food than anyone can eat, but nothing grows; more clothes than anyone can wear, but no way to mend them; and no-one can tell her where they are going.
 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I actually had this one on my kindle quite a long time as Netgalley had given me an e-arc but I hadn't gotten around to reading it, and then I had seen it on Amazon UK when it had officially been released I also bought and e-copy on 17th September 2016. So some thing was telling me I had to read this one! I'd been having problems with my kindle app on kindle and when I got them sorted out this book popped up on my carousel, so I saw that the latest version was due to be released on 25th April and decided to read it. As most of you will know I love the dystopian and post apocalyptic genres so felt drawn to read it. 

So as there are a few different versions/editions of this book there are also three different covers that I have come across. I have featured them below in a cover compare feature. To some degree I like all the covers. I'm not sure if its the fact it was the cover on the edition I finally read but I really like the one I have featured above. The murky blue waters of misunderstanding and disagreements, the fog depicting mystery around the almost mythical ship that turns out to be very real and perhaps the very last hope for humanity. I feel drawn to this cover, it makes me want to find out more about the ship, partly hidden by the fog and its passengers. As well as if there is a good or bad ending for it's passengers. So I guess you'd have to say that this cover certainly fulfills its purpose to get. The font and style of the title as it seems to be rising out of the murky waters of the vast ocean. The authors name, Antonia Honeywell is placed deeper under the ocean, which when you read the book could very well represent the undercurrent or what is hidden beneath the surface of the "happy ship", but I'll discuss that further on in this review.

The main character featured throughout the book is Lalarge (Lalla for short) is only seven ears old when London goes through an enormous change and ends up being what I'd describe as an apocalyptic London, with Oxford Street burning, and camps for the poorest of society being in Regents Park, which now looks like a city of tents. The British Museum has less and less artifacts to look at and learn about and more poor people taking refuge and squatting in it.  Lalla is relatively lucky in that her father Michael Paul invented a system called Dove which is supposed to prevent any person going without their "rations" be it food or clothes etc. Michael Paul had foreseen this world of chronic shortages and invented an Identity card system, which to begin with seemed fair, but you needed to register for the Dove programme and carry their own card with them at all times. Children under sixteen are allowed to give their card to a parent for safe keeping. If you lose your card you lose your right to be informed where the food drops are so you go hungry. Also you must be available to re-register your card when necessary, again if you don't you go hungry etc. This card really is your lifeline, without you are nothing to the government, you do not exist! Although all items are in short supply, some items are always available for the right price! Fresh food items have disappeared, such as a fresh apple. Lalla the main character this book centers on has never seen an apple. Apples are frequently mentioned in the book to represent something unobtainable, or something impossible to do. For as long as Lalla can remember her father has disappeared for days on end apparently gathering items for a "Ship" and when he is at home he is usually talking to strangers, people Lalla has never seen before in their home. Lalla's mother, Anna seems somewhat skeptical about the need for the "Ship" at all. Things in London get worse everyday, to the point the only time Lalla leaves her home is to go look through the British Museum with her mother. Lalla's mother teaches her about history and about all the artifacts in the different cases. Though even the exhibits in the glass are disappearing, although little cards are put in the empty cases explaining they have been taken for cleaning. Though the exhibits seem to be going down as quickly as the people living in the museum is going up. Anna and Lalla take any food they can spare and distribute it to those in the museum.

It's really quite difficult to say some of the things I want to without revealing too much, so if in places I seem a little vague please forgive me. Eventually, though Anna still protests, the day to go to this almost mythical ship suddenly arrives. 

The Paul family, consisting of Michael, his wife Anna and their now 16 yr old daughter Lalla travel in haste to the ship. Representatives from the government try to stop the ship leaving, and a fracas ensues when Lalla throws her ID card into the mob that want to board the ship. Within the confusion and because Michael has crossed every t and dotted every i where the legislation is concerned, the government representative leaves the ship and it sets off though not without casualties.

Life on board the Ship is in stark contrast to the world the 500 passengers had previously been living. To try to sum up life on board the ship in just one word it would be "plenty". Plenty of food, leisure activities to take part in, clothes to wear,as well as a sense of freedom.
The passengers have all been hand picked by Michael, from Roger the ships Doctor who is so grateful to have an infirmary that is stocked with an abundant supply of drugs, medicines etc. so that he can actually help and treat people.

These people are so grateful to Lalla's father Michael, they all have awful pasts, which he has rescued them from and given them a place on this ship. They are happy to have three meals a day to eat, and the chef has copious supplies to create luxurious feasts. There seems to be a endless amount of leisure activities available to the passengers too, like wool and needles for those who wish to knit or learn to, footballs for those who wish to learn to play, or the bounty of books available on the portable, tablet like devices, Michael has procured for every passenger on board. The people on the ship end up looking up to Michael as a father/leader, it's almost cult like the way they call him Father.

The ship seems to be the ultimate perfect place to be, it's as though Michael has thought of everything, for example an abundance of artificial flowers for celebrations. Clothes to fit each passenger throughout their life on the ship and for every occasion they may be involved in from one extreme to another, such as black clothes for a funeral, or the selection of wedding dresses, and baby items for those on board who may wish to get married and start a family. Yet there still seems to be a shadow hovering over the ship. All those on board have left people behind and worry about those people left in the chaos. Those people living in the museum or in a tent outdoors without the relative safety of an ID card, not knowing where their next meal is coming from, or if they are even going to get one. It's whilst watching the news bulletin one evening that everyone is quite cruelly reminded of what is still going on in London that it is decided that the past should be left behind now and everyone should live in the present only. This all seems relatively feasible, naturally some find this an easier to achieve and live by than others.

Somewhat disturbing for Michael is the one individual who is finding leaving the past behind is his own daughter Lalla! Lalla is not only seemingly incapable to leave the past behind her, she is also asking lots of awkward questions about the future and exactly where the ship is going.

So there's lots and lots going on in this book, I found it both interesting and thought provoking. There is a kind of Q & A at the end of the book, where one of the question/tasks is to put yourself in the place of one of the main characters and think about what you would do in their position.

My favourite character is Lalla, she isn't afraid to question those around her, or ask the awkward things that are whirling around her head. Lalla is also not happy to just enjoy the present, she wishes to know What is going to happen in the future? Where the ship is taking them? Will there be enough supplies on the ship for it's present passengers? What happens if the passengers have children, will the Ships resources still be enough?

I don't know what other people will think to Michael and it's tough to explain what I think about him without giving any spoilers, but I'll give it a go. I really didn't like him, he was, in my opinion rather a domineering character with his wife Anna. I know some people will disagree saying that he did initially pander to his wife's whims, but then you will discover he seems to have engineered a lot more of what happened prior to getting on the ship. I also thought in parts of the book he is actually pleased and enjoying the chaos all around him. As he feels vindicated and righteous as he had previously warned the government all this would happen. He is also disappointed that his invention called Dove (the ID system) was not the problem solver he designed it to be. Then when Michael is on the ship he is the one everyone looks to for guidance on how to act and live. When the depression over a new bulletin threatens the happiness on board the ship he declares they should all leave their pasts behind them and live for now. Those on board the ship seem to blindly follow him as if he is some sort of cult leader! Or the leader of a new religion! On one hand he is a genius to have come up with the idea's of firstly Dove then coming up and executing the whole idea and then the reality of the Ship. 

I really enjoyed how the chapters had not only numbers but titles/headers that were sort of hints to what the chapters contained in them. If you are worried these small headers at the beginning of the chapters are spoilers, they aren't, they are merely little teasers of what is to come in that specific chapter. I really ended up loving them as I worked my way through the book. 

I think where the book ends and how it ends will have a "marmite" reaction with readers, in that you will either love it or hate it. Initially I freely admit I hated it and was frantically flicking forward through my kindle hoping for an epilogue or some mention of a novella or even a book two. Then when I thought about the ending, and the more I thought about what I had read, the ending seemed quite fitting. the reaction of some of the main character shows how different they are, and how different their thinking about the present and the future are and the difference in their ideals are. 

My thoughts upon finishing the book were that it is a deeply thought provoking book. The type of book that stays with you quite a while after finishing reading the book.



DIFFERENT COVERS
I've shared within my review which is my favourite and why I think that is the case so now it's over to you, Which is your favourite and why?