I would never accept money for a review. I purchase the books on my own, and these are my own thoughts.
by Jenycka Wolfe
Book: 'First Possession – Prequel to Wildlanders’ Woman'
Author: Jenycka Wolfe
This is the first time I’ve read any kind of erotica labeled book, and as such it was a great introduction. What especially intrigued me was the setting; a fantasy world combined with the erotica genre. Fantasy has always been one of my favorite genres, so it seemed like a very special kind of match.
Jenycka Wolfe has a very good language which I enjoyed, and her characters are nicely portrayed. It was interesting to get so many different point of views, not only from the lead character, but also from the Wildlanders’ themselves, amongst others. This gives the short novel extra depth.
I really enjoyed the different worlds that are described; the almost Victorian setting in Arcadia contrasting the more free, but also more dangerous, world of the Wildlanders.
The lead character is not a ‘perfect heroine’ which I liked. It was easy to sympathize with her and understand how vulnerable she and all other young women in this society are, as well as getting the feeling of ‘Oh, come on now, sharpen up!’ when she was overwhelmed by her own fear. What I really liked was how she unconsciously fights against the chains that ties her down in Arcadia, and that she longs for something more, something else, than what her somewhat boring, but safe, life offers her.
The erotica part did make me blush a lot, and even though it involved a lot of bondage and the take away of the free will, it was still a matter of thoughtfulness and respect towards the lead character from her new clan. It is hard balancing that specific part, but Jenycka Wolfe did a great job with this.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this books is a great introduction to the erotica genre, but what is almost more important, in my point of view, is that it raised the interest of reading the first book, since you want to know how the lead character will develop in this new and unfamiliar environment.
If you are curious about this genre and you also happen to like fantasy, give it a try.
THE ALECTO INITIATIVE
by Owen R. O'Neill and Jordan Leah Hunter
Book: ‘The Alecto Initiative’
Author: Owen R. O'Neill and Jordan Leah Hunter
I read the ‘Alecto Initiative’ without having any expectations about it, since I didn’t really knew what to expect. Sci-fi is not the genre I go to as my first choice, and honestly, I can’t recall if I’ve read any sci-fi-related books since ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’.
“The Alecto Initiative’, however, did intrigue me since it was promoted as a novel based in a gritty reality with a strong female lead. I overall find it rare with strong female leads in these kinds of genres, so this book caught my interest.
I like the main character, Kris, a lot. She’s been through tougher times than most of us would even like to think about, and even though she’s been damaged by her experiences (naturally), they’ve also made her strong. In fact, as with most traumatic experiences, you have to both bend and be strong, to not break. This was definitely portrayed in a believable way. What I really liked with Kris is that she is not always a likeable person; she has her faults and her weaknesses, which makes her even more realistic. There were two scenes that especially caught my liking: a scene where a young military officer describes how he found Kris and in what state she was in (and I won’t give away any spoilers here), and the scene where she gets to show off her exceptional intelligence and math skills, without even knowing that that is what she does.
The other two characters that we get to follow: Raphael Huron and Mariwen Rathor, are also very interesting, as well as totally different personalities than Kris. Huron is nicely portrayed as a military veteran with upper-class ancestry that opens doors which would otherwise be closed for him. He is a man who tries to stay within the rules, but don’t mind bending them if it suits his interests. Mariwen, on the other hand, is harder to get a grip on, but I have a feeling that is on purpose. She is the beautiful celebrity with so many masks that people have a hard time getting to know the ‘real’ Mariwen. When Kris gets to know about how celebrated Mariwen is, her doubts about if their friendship is true, is a very nice touch.
I liked the gritty details of the book, from the small homestead in the beginning, to the slavers’ quarters, to the pirate ship and the military spaceship, as well as the dips in the different areas of the city; from military to personal homes.
Honestly, I’m not a fan of too much politics and mechanical and mathematical sequences, but except for one scene, I have to admit that where they appeared in the book, they worked out quite nicely overall.
Overall, I was positively surprised by how much the characters, and especially Kris, dragged me in and made me worry about them. At the end I still hadn’t gotten all my questions answered – don’t get me wrong, there was no cliff-hanger involved – and I left the book with an anticipatory feeling that I wanted to know more about where the characters are heading in their lives.
As a reader I am very interested in character description and character development, and I have to admit that I had wanted more in-depth description of the characters, as well as more focus on Kris’s background to get to understand more of who she is. On the other hand, I see ‘The Alecto Initiative’ as a door, a stepping stone, to later books, and I look forward getting my thirst for more information satiated. I did have a feeling though, that the authors were a bit in a hurry to get to the next scene and to the next. The novel would overall have benefited from a slower, more in-depth, pacing. As I have glanced at the next book in the series, “The Morning Which Breaks’, I’ve seen that that book is at least double the pages, so I have a feeling that this will be looked to in that one.
As a finishing note I’d be happy to recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a female lead who isn’t your average damsel-in-distress. Kris finds herself in distress time after time, but she’s definitely not waiting for someone to come rescuing her. She takes her life and her fate in her own hands and does the best she can with the cards she’s been played.
THE SCARY GIRLS
by JD Kaplan
Book: ‘The Scary Girls’
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Author: J.D Kaplan
I love colors. Colors have always been a huge part of my life and I usually identify myself through them. That’s one of the reasons I became a photographer, to be able to catch them in a frozen moment of time.
This is also true for Trick MacKenzie, a guitarist in the rock-band Fishmonger, but instead of trying to freeze the vibrant colors he experiences when he’s playing, he lives fully through them and this is also the only moment when he feels truly alive. Otherwise he walks through the world more like a spectator than a participant. When he unexpectedly gets involved with a girl band this starts to change and suddenly Trick finds himself a participant in a world more terrifying, more passionate, and more compassionate than he thought existed.
The first lines in a book are crucial for me. If they don’t hook me I usually have a harder time coming around to actually reading the whole story. This book’s first lines intrigued me a lot, urging me to go on and find out what Trick is experiencing with ‘the Scary Girls’, the band members in Ex-Sanguinaires that he hopes to join after difficulties arise in his own band.
The text runs smoothly all through the book and I really enjoyed the way J.D. Kaplan formed his words and sentences. They flowed beautifully and worked well together without any resistance and they kept me immersed throughout the whole novel. J.D. Kaplan’s own love for music clearly manifests in the text through the eyes of Trick.
I also enjoyed the fun chapter names. Instead of calling them Chapter 1, 2, 3, etc., he gives them unexpected names such as ‘Phone call from my mother’, etc.
Nothing in this book is written without a thought. Characters that we get to meet briefly in the beginning have importance later, often in the most surprising way. Speaking about surprising, I didn’t figure out what really was going on until the last two or three chapters. This I think, is one of J.D. Kaplan’s finest talents as an author, to be able to reveal something totally different than the reader expected and to be able to carry that out in a way that makes total sense. I can tell that I did not see this end coming.
To go back to the characters, J.D. Kaplan manages to create characters that are interesting and believable as well as having strengths and weaknesses and a will of their own. Sometimes, however, the individual voices between them get a bit muddled. This, together with a few typos and a formatting that sometimes did not work out well, (I read it on a Kobo, which might explain the formatting problems), are the only things I’d complain about. Otherwise it is definitely a great story; intriguing, well-written and well-weaved. The plot is catching and you keep wondering what’s going on all the way until the last chapters.
I would definitely recommend this urban fantasy novel. It is well worth your time.
by Charles Hash
Book: 'Nascent Decay'
Author: Charles Hash
It doesn't happen that often nowadays that I read a book in one sitting, but even though I thought the beginning of it was a bit difficult to relate to and I clearly had troubles relating to the main character as well, the story soon had me in its grip and I couldn't put the book down. After a beginning that seemed to be more regular sci-fi than fits my taste the book really developed into an enthralling tale of broken people, of power, of regrets, and of confusion about what to do when everything falls apart around you. Even though I never was really fond of the main character, probably because I never got to know her properly before she changed, I enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes and I enjoyed the way she interacted with it and the decisions she made. What I really liked was that she is definitely not perfect. She has lots of flaws and she makes decisions that both she and others suffer from. The world itself was thoroughly described and there weren't any plot holes that could destroy the experience. Overall the book was a great read with a language that developed together with the story, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys sci-fi that rips apart the box and venture outside.
DIM SUM, DEAD SOME
by EM Kaplan