Author: David Meredith
Genre(s): Science fiction; Young adult; New adult
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Review: Aaru is absolutely riveting. Every human on this planet has wondered and questioned if there is life after death. David Meredith has created a compelling idea in which modern science is able to create an afterlife utopia that is tangible and known. Through this story, we follow Rose and her family as she fights an illness that eventually takes her life. The first few chapters raised goosebumps on my skin and brought tears to my eyes with David's description of the pain and suffering that Rose endured, as well as the grief that her parents and sister experienced while watching her demise. Rose is soon gifted with the potential of one last chance at surviving, but in a way that she could never imagine. Once she enters into the world of Aaru, readers witness the agony that her younger sister, Koren, experiences with the loss of her older sister and best friend. Rose's family soon learns about her experience after death and that she is still able to communicate with them. Although they are very skeptical of the situation, Koren especially, they agree to partake further and Koren takes on the responsibility of speaking with the public about Aaru and all of its wonders. The scene that David unveiled where the family met Rose after her death for the first time is exactly what I envision when thinking of a private corporation creating a blissful afterlife. The facility is high-tech, but cold and sterile; the individuals partaking in Aaru's creation are reflective of their environment. It was chilling to read about Rose's family meeting the creators. As the story develops, we learn that the world of Aaru is not exactly as the creators painted it out to be; we follow the characters down a rabbit hole of deception and intrigue as they navigate what this novice situation brings them. Once I began reading, it was terribly difficult to put this book down. I also began to wonder what I would do in a situation where I could still have a tangible relationship with a lost loved one. What would the costs be? David Meredith created a work of art and I am incredibly thankful to have witnessed it.
Book Description: "Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear. She is sixteen years old. Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model. Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale. What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed."
Author: R.A. Salvatore
Genre(s): Science fiction & fantasy; Fantasy; Dragons & mythical creatures; Sword & sorcery
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Review: I purchased this book on recommendation from my husband because I was looking for something that was similar to Lord of the Rings. Homeland puts us in a world that has dark elves, fairies, orcs, dwarves, and other mythical creatures. However, the society that Salvatore created for the dark Drow elves is quite captivating and downright evil. Shortly after the introduction, we begin to follow Drizzt who is the son of Matron Malice. He goes through intensive training to become a Drow warrior and although the training is meant to help harden his soul, so that he can better serve the Spider Queen, he learns to despise the Drow society and wishes for escape from the torment. There were times while reading that I thought Drizzt may have become interested in the Drow ways, but I was pleased to discover that he keeps his strong and good heart all the way through the story. Homeland leaves a lot of room for storyline development and I can see the plot going in many different directions over the series. This book is filled with tales of action and betrayal that will leave you yearning to flip the page. I also found hope in this story that Drizzt will some how be able to show the Drow the error of their ways. Salvatore's scene descriptions left me fantasizing about the Underdark and what it would be like to exist in that world. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys good fantasy!
Book Description: "Drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden, first introduced in The Icewind Dale Trilogy, quickly became one of the fantasy genre’s standout characters. But Homeland first reveals the startling tale of how this one lone drow walked out of the shadowy depths of the Underdark, leaving behind a society of evil and a family who want him dead. It is here that the story of this amazing dark elf truly began."
Author: Sylvia Day writing as S.J. Day
Title: Eve of Darkness
Genre(s): Science fiction & fantasy; Fantasy; Paranormal & urban; Epic
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Review: Sylvia Day is truly the master of adventure filled romance. In the first installment of The Marked series, we follow Evangeline who was captivated by a dark stranger. After a night filled with passion and lust, her life was transformed forever after bearing the Mark of Cain. Evangeline soon realizes that the world she once lived in is completely different; it is filled with demons and sinners who are called on to fight the ever nearing evil. She later comes to learn about Cain's brother, Abel and she quickly develops intense feelings for both brothers. In the midst of fighting evil, Evangeline also fights against her attraction for the brothers since they each provide her with something different. This book is filled with lust and action; it keeps you turning the page for sure. Day has a keen ability to transport her readers to the settings described in her books. Eve of Darkness is no different; I could picture every scene with incredible clarity due to the descriptions. However, this book is not overrun with details that seem to drag on. It contains the perfect amount that kept me interested and involved. I recommend this to anyone looking for a great adventure/action, as well as a hot tumultuous romance triangle.
Book Description: "Years ago, Evangeline Hollis spent a blistering night with a darkly seductive man she can't forget. But that evening of addictive pleasure has become a disaster of biblical proportions: She's been branded with the Mark of Cain. Thrust into a world where sinners are marked and drafted to kill demons, Eve's former one-night stand, Cain, is now her mentor--and his equally sexy brother Abel is her new boss. Now Eve has become the latest point of contention in the oldest case of sibling rivalry in history... Cursed by God, hunted by demons, desired by Cain and Abel... All in a day's work."
Author: Sylvia Day
Title: Reflected In You
Genre(s): Romance; Adult fiction; Erotica; Contemporary
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Review: This is the second book of the Crossfire series that follows Eva and Gideon. This installment really illustrated their desire for one another despite the difficulties that their relationship endures. We get to know more about the demons that they both face alone that leads to the jealousy that festers in their relationship with one another. I think that this book in particular illustrates how dangerous intense passion can become when there is jealousy and envy dividing the persons within the relationship. Although I think this series has so much to offer, I honestly enjoy reading it for its high level of steaminess and the lust that Eva and Gideon have for one another. I also enjoy the fantasy of the high income life style and all of the luxuries that it can bring. I think that Day portrays this lifestyle in a very alluring light as she creates a world where neither one of her characters want for anything. However, it doesn't matter that they both have all of the materialistic items they want because their personal problems keep them from having a healthy relationship. The connection that these two characters have is unbreakable though since they fight so hard for one another. I recommend this to anyone looking to obviously continue the series because it only gets better, as well as to anyone looking for a hot romance with great characters.
Book Description: "Gideon Cross. As beautiful and flawless on the outside as he was damaged and tormented on the inside. He was a bright, scorching flame that singed me with the darkest of pleasures. I couldn't stay away. I didn't want to. He was my addiction... my every desire... mine. My past was as violent as his, and I was just as broken. We’d never work. It was too hard, too painful... except when it was perfect. Those moments when the driving hunger and desperate love were the most exquisite insanity. We were bound by our need. And our passion would take us beyond our limits to the sweetest, sharpest edge of obsession..."
Author: Portia Moore
Title: He Lived Next Door
Genre(s): Literature & fiction; Romance; Family saga; Inspirational
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Review: I love everything about this book. It has the perfect amount of romance, character growth, and suspense. Chassidy is a representation of so many women who struggle to conceive. Fertility problems seem like such a taboo subject and I have not encountered this difficulty in a novel until now, and I am very glad that Moore decided to make it part of this novel. I cannot imagine what kind of struggles a couple would go through after losing a child, but I think that Chassidy and Bryce's journey displayed an accurate portrayal of what some people might go through. While reading their story, I could feel the pain radiate off of the page; I could also sense the joy that the characters once had for each other. This story, at some points, is so incredibly devastating and I had to take some moments to reflect about what I was feeling. I think it's amazing when novels force you to reflect because it indicates how much the story is relatable. He Lived Next Door also uncovers how easy it can be to fall into temptations, especially when we are struggling with those we love. There were so many times when I wanted to yell at Chassidy and tell her what mistakes she was making, but her journey really shows how much hindsight is 20/20. This book reminded me to fight in my own marriage when things get tough. I also really enjoyed the spiritual journey that Chassidy and Bryce went on. I think that faith is something that everyone has or will struggle with at some point in their lives and to find that faith (in whatever you believe) brings such a peace and wholeness. Moore is clear that her spiritual beliefs came through in this book, but she did so in such an elegant way. A reader can always tell when they are being actively preached at, so it's refreshing when an author can write about their beliefs without telling others how to believe. This book would most definitely have received 5 stars from me, but there was one glaring error that I have a hard time handling only because it is a huge pet peeve of mine. Moore writes a line where Chassidy is considering someone to have Bipolar Disorder because of a fluctuation in the character's mood. As a doctoral student in clinical psychology, it bugs me to no end when anyone uses a mental disorder as a slang term to describe someone's behavior. Moore could have used the word "moody" and it would have been completely accurate of what she was describing of the character, but instead she used a diagnosis that was completely off base. With that rant over, I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for incredible character development, romance, struggle, suspense, and a little bit of heat.
Book Description: "There are ugly truths and pretty lies. When I lost them I chose neither. I wrapped myself in silence. My husband, my best friend, became a stranger who gave up. Then....He moved next door, and everything changed. You think you know this story, but you don't. Be careful what you ask for because the answer may not come the way you think."
Author: Sylvia Day
Title: Bared to You
Genre(s): Romance; Adult fiction; Erotica; Contemporary; Adult
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Review: If you were a fan of the 50 Shades of Grey series, then I promise that you will fall even more in love with Eva and Gideon in the Crossfire series. Bared to You is an incredible beginning to a steamy and sexy romance that is filled with drama and lust. What I enjoyed most about this book is the revelation that each character has major flaws, yet their attraction to one another blossoms into passionate love that helps them to defeat their demons that they suffer from individually and as a couple. Day does an incredible job at setting the scene by teasing the readers just enough prior to giving us the full picture...if you know what I mean. As a strong woman, Eva's attitude and dominance was refreshing to read about since a lot of romance novels, especially erotica, paint the heroine to be extremely dependent and lustful after the male lead. In this book, we definitely get to witness a strong female who has experienced some pretty terrible things come to bare a love that is overwhelmingly intense. I think this novel really sets up the series nicely in that we get to take our time to learn about the characters. I really dislike it when I know everything there is to know about a character within the first 100 pages (especially if the book is an installment of a series). In Bared to You, we get to learn more about Eva and Gideon just as they get to learn about one another in the real time of their relationship. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a novel that will certainly make you blush, but that also has a great plot and amazing characters.
Book Description: ""Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness." "He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I'd never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily. Gideon "knew." He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each others most private wounds and desires. The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn't tear us apart""
Author: Carol Maloney Scott
Title: Love Pixies
Genre(s): Science fiction & fantasy; Fantasy; Women's fiction; Magical realism
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Review: This book is like a modern day fairy tale. Scott's way of writing brings me back to the days when I read "Once upon a time..."; it was very refreshing to read a story that had such a different writing style from what we see in contemporary romance and women's novels, yet it was sweetly familiar and made me reminisce about my favorite princess and fairy stories. I think the relationship that the three young women have with one another makes this story even more special. Heather, Tiffany, and Amanda are all unique characters that have strengths and weaknesses that contributed to the plot and I enjoyed reading how each of them worked through their difficulties to grow. The concept of these young women becoming love pixies was really interesting and it was cool to see how it all played out. However, I think the way that they became love pixies was a little off kilter for me; I would have liked to see a little more skepticism or something from modern day women. It just seemed like the girls who already had very fruitful journeys lined up, decided to believe in magic without much thought. I also had a difficult time with one aspect of Scott's writing style in that she often left sentences of character's thoughts unfinished using dots (...). I found this extremely frustrating because I would some times know where the sentence was going, but other times I got lost in the sentence just dropping off. I understand the purpose of utilizing the dots sometimes, but it occurred much too frequently. Overall, I think this book is very sweet, magical, and fun. I recommend it to anyone looking for a charming read that will take you into a very different setting and thought process.
Book Description: "For three lifelong best friends, a college graduation trip to Ireland is supposed to be their last hurrah before starting their jobs, and taking on the stresses and responsibilities of adult life. Heather, Tiffany, and Amanda are on a mission to turn the Emerald Isle upside down…or at least wreak a little havoc, drink a wee bit too much, and kiss hunky Irish boys…before returning to their hometown of Chicago. When Rhiannon, a powerful fairy, pays a surprise visit to their adorable, thatched-roof rental cottage in County Clare, and persuades them to sign one-year Love Pixie contracts, their lives are drastically altered. Newly armed with fantastical superpowers, charmed necklaces, and the ability to turn ordinary substances into enchanted pixie dust, the girls join together to fight ‘love crime’ and help assigned couples on the brink of disaster build bridges back to happiness. It all sounds quite exciting, until they realize that learning how to use powerful magic is not only time consuming, overwhelming, and confusing – it’s not easy to hide from their family, co-workers, and most importantly – potential love interests. To complicate matters even more, the trio is repeatedly tempted by the fairy’s rebellious sister, Aideen, who challenges them to break the rules. Perhaps if they listen to the ‘bad fairy’ they can finish their assignment quicker...and get back to work…and play…before anyone is the wiser. However, the girls were raised to know that there are consequences to bad behavior – at least in the non-magical world. Afraid to ask if there is such a thing as magical jail, the two more sensible Pixies hope to rein in their most wayward partner - before their contracts are terminated...and their couple’s relationship implodes into a pile of ordinary dust."
Title: Return to Earth
Genre(s): Science fiction; Fantasy; Time travel; First contact
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Review: Aithal delivered another intriguing installment of The Galaxy Series with Return to Earth. This book continues the journey, but on an Earth that is riddled with devastation, torment, and despair. This novel paints a picture of what Aithal believes could occur in future years if humanity continues to destroy itself and its habitable planet. Again, I think that the concept of this series is very interesting and it seems to reflect the author's passion for critical thinking when it comes to human introspection, as well as care of the environment. However, there were times when I felt I was reading someone's tirade regarding their personal views instead of a science fiction novel. I think that Aithal's points would have been established just through the basis of the plot, therefore making the long dialogue unnecessary. The writing of this novel was easier for me to digest than the first installment, therefore I found this one to be a quicker read. Although there was still too much focus on setting details that became repetitive, the character and plot development for this book seemed more developed than the first one. Overall, I enjoyed this book as a quick read despite some of the perceived flaws. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a passionate story-line regarding global concepts that all humans and our planet face.
Book Description: "After their shuttle meeting with an accident and accidentally landing on a strange planet, the three astronauts return to Earth with the help of the aliens. However, they end up returning in the wrong time—in the future. What they experience truly shocks them. They return to a time when separation, division, and hatred rules. Indeed, they return to Earth. But is it really home? What has happened to their beloved planet? And what has happened to their country, the most powerful nation on Earth? Is it still the most powerful country on Earth? Whose doing is it? In a place where a human sees and treats a fellow human defines his existence. In a time when survival is the most important thing, the human spirit of endurance and sharing shows how life can be when things become dire. In this second book of The Galaxy Series, join the adventures of the three astronauts and an alien on Earth. Take an emotional rollercoaster ride as they travel through America, see what they see and ask yourself—‘is this what I want to leave my next generation?’"
Title: Beyond the Milky Way
Genre(s): Science fiction; First contact; Alien invasion
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Review: As a native Floridian, I really enjoyed the descriptions of how the community comes together during a NASA launch. It is such a special moment in history and Aithal was able to capture the essence of a NASA launch very well. Overall, I really enjoyed the concept of this novel, especially with the underlying messages regarding our earth and even the potential for life beyond what is sustained on our planet. I also think it was a cool idea to utilize the knowledge base that most have regarding our current space navigation systems and merge that with more advanced technology that has not yet been produced. The characters in this book were engaging, but I wish there was a greater depth to them. While reading, I had a difficult time feeling like I was immersed in the story and I think this was due to the lack of character development. I think we only saw the surface of each character. For me, the female lead was especially frustrating, but that is likely due to my preference for a strong minded heroine. Aithal's writing style is also different from what I normally read as I found a bit of the descriptions to be repetitive. If there was less repetition of the setting descriptors and a greater amount of character information I would have enjoyed this read a lot more. Overall, I think that Aithal presented a really interesting plot and concept that left me thinking about the greater problems of our planet. However, I think the writing could have been improved. I recommend this to anyone looking for an intriguing and quite unique science-fiction novel!
Book Description: "Are we alone? Three astronauts go to space in search of a planet that probably has water—one of the basic elements for humanity to survive. Do they find it? What else do they find? They encounter something—something strange—beyond their wildest imaginations, and their mission-to-explore becomes a mission-to-survive. They experience something that makes them question their beliefs. All the things they had taken for granted, everything they had seen and learned, don’t seem to apply any longer. Something happens along the way that makes them yearn to come back to Earth. After all, home is where the heart is. This is not just another science fiction. Rather, it will make you question your own beliefs—may they be scientific, religious, political, or something else. In the first installment of The Galaxy Series, find out about the strange world they discover."
Author: Chris Patchell
Title: Dark Harvest: A Holt Foundation Story
Genre(s): Mystery, thriller, and suspense; Crime fiction; Crime; Serial killers; Kidnapping
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Review: Dark Harvest provides everything you could ever want in a story. This psychological thriller and mystery contains in depth scene descriptions, as well as incredible character development. Unlike a lot of novel's Dark Harvest provides nuanced details of every character through first person point of view. I think it is incredible that Patchell was able to create unique backstories to every character that was introduced. Although a tricky task, she was able to accomplish this without leaving me feeling bored and ready to move on. All of the characters played an intricate role in the plot and story development. Although this falls into the thriller genre, there was an adequate amount of romance that kept my need for love and lust peaked. This novel contained a lot of scientific and medical information and Patchell hit the nail on the head with accuracy; you can tell that she definitely did her research. I really couldn't put this novel down and I will definitely be purchasing the first installment from this series, In The Dark. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a captivating page turner that will keep you up at night.
Book Description: "Becky Kincaid ventures out in the middle of a snowstorm to buy a car seat for her unborn baby and never makes it home. When a second pregnant woman disappears, Marissa Rooney and the team at the Holt Foundation fear a sinister motive lurks behind the crimes. Lead investigator, Seth Crawford, desperately searches for the thread that binds the two cases together, knowing that if he fails, another woman will soon be gone. While Seth hunts for clues, a madman has Marissa in his sights and she carries a secret that could tear her whole world apart. Can Seth stop the killer before he reaps his..."