Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Storm that is Sterling by Lisa Renee Jones

I really enjoyed reading this book. The book follows its two main characters, Rebecca and Sterling and there journey together. Rebecca is a brilliant scientist who worked for NASA, and Sterling is a special operations soldier who is trying to find and way to stop an evil man’s plan to essentially enslave humanity with an alien made drug. Sterling needs Rebecca to help combat this new drug, only it turns out that Rebecca and Sterling have a history together, and as it turns out they still have chemistry together.

Part of the reason I really enjoyed this book is the unique premise. I read a lot of paranormal romance and urban fantasy books, and most of them focus on some type of paranormal creature or person. This book really does not rely on those at all. In fact the only other “non human” people are people who have been injected with alien DNA which alters their own DNA structure and gives them “powers” or special abilities. But the reality of it is almost everyone in this book was born human. Even though everyone was born human, it still felt like a paranormal romance book.

The book is really fast paced; in fact I am pretty sure the entire book takes place in at most a week. This basically translates into a lot of action, and not a lot of down time for the characters or the reader. This certainly helped to keep me engaged in the story, and is probably why I read the book in one sitting. That is not to say that the characters did not have any down time, Jones did a good job at slowing the book down and showing the reader the more personal side of the characters.

Another thing I really liked about the book is that the relationship between Rebecca and Sterling was really well written. The intimate scenes did not feel cheesy or contrived, they all felt really natural to the characters, the plot, and well written in such a manner that made them believable.

If you are looking for a good paranormal romance then this is for sure a book for you, especially if you are looking for a new take on the paranormal element. If you aren't looking for a story with a strong romantic element then maybe this isn't the book for you. But that being said I would highly recommend this book, I thought it was great read, very fresh and inventive, and highly enjoyable; I couldn't put it down.

Lisa is also giving a way a goodie bag with bath and body products as well as some other items including an eBook copy of Hot Vampire Kiss to one commenter!

Lisa Renee Jones Interview!

I was lucky enough to be able to interview Lisa Renee Jones as a part of her blog tour (which I also reviewed The Storm That is Sterling and the review will be posted shortly). I myself am a new reader of her's but I must say after reading this book and having this interview with her, I can say that I can't wait to read more of her work!
1.     If you had to pick a theme song for your book, what would it be?
LRJ: For Sterling I always hear Tim McGraw’s – I MIGHT BE REAL BAD BOY BUT BABY I’M GOOD MAN in my head.  

2.     What is Rebecca’s favorite movie?
LRJ:Sleepless in Seattle. She’s a romantic at heart but always too busy in the lab to make romance a priority

3.     What scene in this book was the hardest for you to write and why?
 LRJ:It’s hard to name a scene without giving away anything BUT Sterling has a lot of pain in this book. He is so afraid of not being good enough, or strong enough, to save the people he loves. I think this is something we’ve all experienced on some level and to write this kind of emotion you have to dig deep and touch those feelings in yourself. They are hard to face because in life there are things we can’t protect those we love from enduring, and those are the most intense and painful.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ghost of a Tired Universe by Jonas Samuelle

Synopsis: There are worlds where passion means more than action. There are places where time has no meaning, and anything is possible. When a heart-broken sculptor seeks them out, existence itself may crumble under the weight of his pain.

Review: This is very philosophical book outlining the journey of two friends, Dormius and Charles, although Charles is clearly the focal point of the book. Both men are artists, and as they say great pain breeds great art. Charles is in love with a woman named Mira, who is brutally raped and as a result of that assault loses her mind. This drives Charles into himself more than ever before.

Of course there is more to the story than that. Both Charles and Dormius are both gifted, Charles with the ability to see the universe both past and future, and Dormius is able to look into peoples minds. A man with Charles's talent and the kind of pain that he was in after what happened to Mira ends up being a recipe for the extreme.

I don't want to go into a lot of detail about the path that Charles ends up on, mainly because it would give away to much about the ending, and it would rob you as the reader from going on the journey of discovery that Samuelle takes you on to explain what has occurred. What I will say is the Charles spends a lot of his time exploring what makes the world what it is, and that his journey ends up being more of a philosophical journey for the reader.

I myself, tend not to enjoy books that get overly complicated, or that are hard to follow. This book had moments of being hard to follow, but I think that was intentional by the author, the confusion I felt as a reader was parallel to the confusion that Charles was going through, and when Charles made revelations so did I.

Samuelle has a lot to say about the world, and offers a lot of commentary to a wide range of topics, the greed of humans, organized religion, and so much more. Ever though Samuelle has a lot to say, it never comes off as preachy. There were times I agreed with what was on the page and times when I didn't, but I always understood where Samuelle was coming from and was able to make up my mind as to how I felt about the topics at hand.

The book is written very intelligently and the intricacies of how the plot is revealed are complex. There is no doubt that this is quality writing.  While there are some paranormal elements within the book (both Charles and Dormius have a power, as well as some other elements that are revealed as the story progresses) the book is primarily a philosophical one. If you are looking for a book that makes you think and makes you questions why the world is the way it is then this is most definitely your book. I can say I enjoyed the read and it really did make me think.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Would Satan Do? by Anthony Miller

***Cross posted at The Literary Mind Blender, you should check out the site, it's great with a wide range of reviews and books alike!***

Synopsis: Disgusted with God’s plan for Judgment Day, Satan has quit his job and abandoned Hell in favor of a quiet retirement in Washington, D.C. But life on Earth is tricky for an ex-angel with a short fuse and no impulse control. When a parking attendant mysteriously bursts into flames and a weight-challenged woman somehow ends up in low-Earth orbit, Satan finds that he has attracted the attention of several meddlesome federal agencies. Even worse, there are signs that the governor of Texas has somehow gone ahead and started up the end of the world without him.

Review: The title of this book most definitely is striking, and my first thought upon seeing it was “oh boy this title is going to get a reaction”. However after reading the synopsis I decided it was worth a read. I haven’t read a lot of comedic books, so my only hope going in was that it maintained the same level of funny that the synopsis has. Thankfully, Miller delivered, and the book was hilarious.

Satan as a character is really amusing to me. The book starts off with Satan already abandoning hell to live on earth, and it turns out Satan is passing his time, or rather amusing himself, by being a professor teaching Introduction to Religion. To say Satan’s take on religion is interesting would be understating it.

The Satan we all know about is the one who wants to bring about the end of the world, but not Miller’s Satan. Satan has got it all figured out, if he starts the apocalypse, he loses, so Satan says screw it and goes to earth. Turns out someone else had other ideas, and starts everything without him.

Throughout the book Satan is trying to figure out what is going on and essentially how to stop the end of the world from happening. Although you shouldn’t go thinking of Satan some great guy looking out for humanity, Satan often leaves bodies and more than one fire in his wake. Satan does everything with his own flare.

The book includes a lot of interesting and amusing characters, a ex-CIA guy, a “dirty” hippie, a hot FBI agent, a power hungry governor, and of course a televangelist. Miller’s take on how the world works is a hilarious commentary on our society. As a native Texan myself I also love how so much of the story takes place here in Texas; there were so many instances of me thinking to myself, “I know exactly what he means”.

Overall, this book is great fun read. And while there is of course the humorous element, there is a lot of great commentary on our society. The writing is smart too, which is a huge plus. I think this is a great read for anyone who is wanting to escape the world for a little while and have a little fun, it will definitely make you laugh.

Anthony Miller Interview

***Cross posted at The Literary Mind Blender, you should check out the site, it's great with a wide range of reviews and books alike!***

As a new book reviewer, I can’t tell you how excited I was to be interviewing an author for the first time, and Anthony Miller was a great first interview. His book What Would Satan Do? is both a funny book but also provides a great satire to today’s society. The following is the interview I had with Anthony over the past couple of days.

1. If you had to pick a theme song for your book what would it be?

Anthony Miller: I'm not sure there's a song that fits. The main themes of the book are (1) identity, and (2) self determination. (Yes, it's a silly book, but there are some deeper themes if you're in to that sort of thing.) Satan realizes he's nothing more than a pawn created to fill a role in a divine plan, i.e., he's the mythical equivalent of a straw man, which sucks, so he decides not to play along, leaves Hell, and tries to create a new life as a human. But that leaves him with a problem -- which never quite occurs to him, but I hope will be apparent to the reader -- that of who he is once he decides to cast off his pre-determined identity. There's actually a chapter that alludes to a scene in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man -- which is my way of highlighting an idea that otherwise takes a back seat to the silliness. I don't know any songs that quite fit those themes.

There are some songs that come to mind immediately, however -- mostly because I listened to them repeatedly while writing the book. These are: (1) West Coast, by Coconut Records (this is just Jason Schwartzman, the actor who played the lead in the movie Rushmore), and (2) most of the songs off of the Silvesun Pickups' album, Swoon.

2. What is Satan's favorite movie?

AM:Star Wars -- Episodes IV, V, and VI. It's actually part of the plot. Satan watches the movies, struggles to figure out whether he identifies with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, or the Emperor, and sets out to find George Lucas in an effort to show the man a thing or two about mythic storytelling.

This is a great question, in part because Satan actually likes movies a lot. He writes a blog where, among other things, he reviews movies: http://www.robotsandlava.com

Monday, October 3, 2011

Samsara by Sara E. Collins

Samsara has all the elements you could want in a fantasy romance novel. There's a love triangle, werewolves, vampires, finding lost love, tragedy, and so much more. The novel follows a girl named Summer, who has experienced enough tragedy for a life time and is really just trying to start her life over. A mysterious man comes into her life, Boden, and a whirlwind romance ensues. Of course as with any fantasy book, nothing stays all sunshine and roses for long, conflict soon occurs. Summer has to contend with her ex-husband, friends who aren't so sure about this new romance, and then of course with finding out the truth about her not so human lover. And then of course there is Samsara, Summer finds out she is Boden's reincarnated fiance from over a hundred years, it's enough to make a girl lose it a little.

Sara Collins has a very well written book on her hands, the descriptions are solid, the book flows organically throughout most of it, great grammar, and the ability to keep the reader wanting to know what is going to happen next. There were several points through the book where I kept thinking the book was going to go one way only to have Collins take it a completely different way.

I must confess I had a strong reaction to this book, or more specifically to the characters. In many ways I wished that Summer had been a stronger character, but given all the events of the book I understand why she wasn't a kick ass heroine, it wouldn't have made sense if she was. And while I enjoyed the beginning of Summer's relationship with Boden, about half way in I started thinking Boden's over protectiveness was bordering on creepy.

When the love triangle appears later on in the book, I have to admit I was rooting for the guy who didn't get the girl. I could easily see how the readers of this book could place themselves on the team of either of the two guys, almost reminiscent of the Team Jacob, Team Edward, mentality.

I do feel like the ending of the book was a little rushed. Collins wrapped up all the story lines, and left it open enough for a sequel if she chose to do so, but the last chapter kind of felt like a mad dash to close out the last remaining story line. I could elaborate more, but I would give the whole story away and I don't want to do that.

Overall, I would have to say that even though for about half the book I was rooting for the plot to take a different turn then it did, I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen. As a reader I don't have to always agree with what direction an author takes a book, the key for me is that when I book goes a way I didn't want it to, do I still want to read it. The answer in this case is overwhelmingly yes, and for me I think that is a sign of a good writer and a quality book. I think this is a good book for anyone looking for a good romantic fantasy book.
Click to buy Samsara on Amazon!