I received this audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.
Rhiannon Frater has done it again! She has totally sucked me into her zombie-infested world!!
The Last Bastion of the Living: A Futuristic Zombie Novel is a post-apocalyptic story, where zombies (now named “Inferi Scourge” because they were infected by the Inferi Scourge Plague Virus or “ISPV”) have taken over the world. About 40 years prior to the current setting of the story, a walled city was established and Earth’s remaining survivors were flown there. The bastion was capable of housing 2,000,000 people and included a valley for cultivation so that the residents could be self-sustaining. The valley also included the city’s water and power sources. An immense 10-story wall, which was 12-feet thick, encompassed the fortress to protect the city from the Inferi Scourge (aka “scrags”). Due to what was believed to be a mechanical malfunction, the gate to the wall in the valley was opened and the scrags overtook the valley.
The residents of the bastion are prisoners. Because they no longer have access to the resources in the valley, their supplies are dwindling. To conserve power, there are nightly black-outs. There are some people, like Special Sergeant Maria Martinez, who have never known life outside of the walled city. She is a constabulary officer, and she is a part of the army that is responsible for protecting the city from the scrags. They keep watch atop the walls for any breaches in the perimeter. She had participated in a previous mission into the valley to try to rid the valley of scrags, but the attempt failed. She sustained critical injuries, but she survived. She dreams of life outside the walls, but she fears that it is an unattainable fantasy.
When Maria is summoned by the Science Warfare Division of the government to a top secret meeting, she is informed that the Division has developed a serum that will enable her to walk among the scrags undetected so that she can neutralize them. Desperate to make her dream a reality, she agrees to the assignment. Maria soon discovers, however, that she has not been told the entire truth.
Frater’s sci-fi element adds something different to the typical zombie story. I was worried that the story might be too similar to her other zombie series, As The World Ends trilogy, but the futuristic components gave this book a fresh feel. Maria is a totally kick-ass heroine, and I loved her right from the get-go. Her strength and bravery are limitless, and I love her devotion to her family notwithstanding being shunned by her mother because she fears for her daughter’s safety. Frater makes us sympathetic even to Maria’s mother, whose husband was also a constabulary officer who was killed by scrags. She cannot bear to lose her daughter as well. The romance between Maria and Dwayne, an officer who is nearly twice her age, had the right combination of passion, vulnerability, and sweetness.
Narrator Kristin Allison is new to me, and I quite liked her portrayal of Maria. Her pace was excellent, and I found her reading to be enjoyable. You could hear the different ranges of emotion in Maria’s voice, and Allison held my attention.
I have to add that the cover is totally hot! Whoever designed it did Maria justice! She manages to look both kick-ass and wickedly hot at the same time!
I have no idea if this is a stand-alone or if there are plans to continue he series, but I want more! Frater is my favourite author that I have discovered this year, and I can't wait to read more of her work!
I had planned to listen to this audiobook during the holidays, which I had borrowed from the library. When I received a free gift from Audible to download this latest version narrated by Tim Curry, I chose to listen to this edition instead.
Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserable old skinflint who runs Scrooge & Marley, a counting-house firm in London, England. His business partner, Jacob Marley, passed away seven years before, and Scrooge runs the firm with an iron-first. His employee, Bob Cratchit, is given a hard time when he asks to have Christmas Day off to spend in celebration with his family. Cratchit maintains that it is only once a year, and Scrooge's retort is that it is "a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!" Although Scrooge reluctantly agrees, he demands that Bob come in the following day extra early to make up for it!
When Scrooge returns home on Christmas Eve, he is startled to see that the brass knocker on his door has turned into a likeness of Jacob Marley. Later that evening, he is visited by Marley's ghost. At first, he refused to believe that Marley was real. Marley's ghost is covered in chains attached to cash-boxes, padlocks, and ledgers. Marley warns Scrooge that he is destined to the same fate if he does not change his ways, telling him: "I wear the chain I forged in life...I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and my own free will I wore it." Marley foretells of the three ghosts that will visit Scrooge.
I read A Christmas Carol way back in high school, so this is a re-read for me. This classic still hasn't lost its charm. It is a heart-warming story of second chances and redemption, which makes it a perfect holiday read! One of my favourite parts of the story is during Stave Three, when Scrooge sees Tiny Tim's crutch and asks the Ghost of Christmas Present whether the boy will die. It is already apparent that the events of the evening have begun to thaw Scrooge's hardened heart.
When I saw that Tim Curry narrated this version, I was immediately intrigued because Curry has such a big personality with a booming voice to match. He didn't let me down! Tim Curry's narration was fantastic! He does an amazing job of bringing Scrooge's personality across in his narration, and I highly recommend this rendition!
I received this audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.
Frater brings the darkness back to vampires! The story is a bit gory at times, which serves to remind us that vampires are lethal beasts.
Amaliya Vezorak, a 24 year old woman, is a bit of a loner and social outcast. She dyed her blonde hair black, and she is covered in tattoos and piercings. She feels like she has never really fit in anywhere, and her appearance only adds to the problem. Her mom was stricken with cancer when Amaliya was a young girl, and her father started an affair with Amaliya’s 18 year old cousin before her mom had even passed away! Amaliya’s cousin eventually became her step-mother. All Amaliya wanted to do was to go away to college and get away from her family. However, when she received the shocking news that her younger sister, Rachel, was terminally ill, Amaliya left college to return home to take care of her.
After her sister dies, Amaliya returns to college and enrolls in a psychology class that is being taught by a prestigious professor from England. Unbeknownst to Amaliya, the Professor is not just a vampire but also a necromancer: He can control the dead. He bites Amaliya but, just before she dies, he gives her some of his own blood and then buries her in the woods. After she awakens, she is mad with the hunger. She crashes a dorm party and slaughters them all, and she realizes that she cannot stay. She sets out to try to find others of her kind and to learn to survive. She eventually meets up with Cian, who was also created by the Professor, and he agrees to help Amaliya learn some survival skills.
Underneath her tough persona, Amaliya is just like anyone else and wants to fit in. She longs for that acceptance of self and peace in her life. I liked her character, and I was amused by her cheekiness. I wanted Amaliya to find that happiness that she was seeking. My favourite character was Amaliya’s grandmother, Innocente: Who wouldn’t want a kick-ass grandmother like that?! She is tough as nails, and I love her unconditional acceptance of Amaliya. I enjoyed the ending of the book, and I can’t wait to read more about Amaliya and Cian in the next book in the series, Pretty When She Kills.
I really enjoyed Kristin Allison’s narration. I thought she did a great job of capturing the essence of Amaliya, with just the right amount of attitude. Her pace is excellent, and her subtle characterizations worked well.
The Age of Miracles is told from the perspective of a girl named Julia, who reflects back on the time when she was 11 years old. She relates the details of her life and the events that took place back then, focusing primarily on a phenomenon known as "The Slowing," when the Earth began to rotate more slowly on a continuous basis. Minutes and hours continued to be added to each day, and it affected daily life on every level. Society became separated between the "real-timers" who woke and slept to the Earth's natural rhythms and who believed that their bodies would adjust just as the Earth had; and the "clock-timers" who still lived by the 24-hour clock and woke and slept no matter whether the sun or moon was shining. The "real-timers" became ostracized by the "clock-timers," who felt threatened by them. The "real-timers" eventually established communities of like-minded folks, so there was a complete segregation of society. As the days stretched longer and longer, it also had an impact on the crops which could no longer be sustained because of the lengthy periods of darkness. People began to stock-pile and hoard canned food and other non-perishables in the event of a global famine. Some forms of wildlife begin to die off. The change in gravitational pull wreaked havoc on airplanes, the tides, and just about anything in motion. As people faced what they feared was the beginning of the end, divorce rates and suicides sky-rocketed. For the rest that remained, they battled to fight depression and the many other symptoms that plagued them as a result of the change in gravity.
Walker spins an eerily believable tale of what would happen if The Slowing ever did take place. Her style seems more literary than dystopian to me. Although there are many long narratives, Walker's beautiful prose still held my interest. Here is just one example:
"And it seems to me now that the slowing triggered certain other changes too, less visible at first but deeper. It disrupted certain subtler trajectories: the tracks of friendships, for example, the paths toward and away from love. But who am I to say that the course of my childhood was not already set long before the slowing? Perhaps my adolescence was only an average adolescence, the stinging a quite unremarkable stinging. There is such a thing as coincidence: the alignment of two or more seemingly related events with no causal connection. Maybe everything that happened to me and to my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It's possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much."
Narrator Emily Janice Card is new-to-me, and I thought that her voice was perfectly suited for young Julia. Her tone has an ethereal, dream-like quality, which I really enjoyed.
This is Walker's debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from her!
MY RATING: 4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your "To Be Read" list.
After gobbling up the entire Black Dagger Brotherhood series last year, I hungrily waited four whole months for the next installment that was due in 2012. I was really ambivalent about Tohr moving on with another woman after Wellsie, and only a superb author like Ward would have me rooting for the next female to win Tohr’s heart!
Since Lassiter brought Tohr back, he has been little more than a shell of himself. He will not feed from a female, not even a Chosen one, and his body is so weak that he has dizzy spells. To top it off, his grief and loneliness have him turning to the bottle.
**MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!
In Lover Reborn, we learn from Lassiter that Wellsie is not in the Fade. Rather, she is in the “In Between” and unable to move on because Tohr’s love is holding both her and the baby there. Tohr is appalled to find out, and he even doubts whether Lassiter is actually telling the truth.
Because of their past, No'One feels indebted to Tohr and Lassiter makes her swear to him that she will do anything to save Tohr. She vows that she shall give her vein to Tohr if he comes to her.
Tohr decides that Lassiter is right and that he must move on if Wellsie is ever to enter into the Fade. He goes through the motions, not only feeding from No'One but even going so far as to become intimate with her though not making love to her. While No’One is certainly falling in love with Tohr, he is not allowing himself to fall for her! He cannot let anyone into his heart. At this point, I felt sad for Tohr and was rooting for No’One to win his heart. I shed so many tears while listening to this audiobook. It is, by far, the most emotional installment of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
Afraid to face his developing feelings for No’One as she enters into her Needing, he tears into her, rips her heart out and stomps on it!! I felt so angry at his shabby treatment of No’One that I thought Tohr could not be redeemed. But, alas, Ward does not disappoint: Not only does she redeem Tohr, but she manages to bring Tohr and No’One back together. Tohr’s process of letting Wellsie go was so bittersweet. It was a necessary part of the grieving and healing process for Tohr to do everything that he did, but it was so emotional!
Meanwhile, John Matthew and Xhex are still trying to work though their differences. Sadly, things get a whole lot worse through Lover Reborn for the couple before they get better! Their story really tugged at my heart-strings, and it was plain to see how miserable each one was without the other. I simply loved how Xhex finally warmed to No’One, and I loved seeing No’One’s transformation as a result of Xhex’s influence on her.
I was completely blindsided by Layla’s Needing, and her coupling with Qhuinn. Their relationship makes sense, though. Their friendship is genuine, and neither is fooling him/her-self that this is more than it is. They each feel lonely and want a babe of their own to love and share their life with.
We learn more about The Band of Bastards and their plan to squelch Wrath. I was surprised to see that Xcor and Throe might have some redeeming qualities! I can’t wait to learn more about them.
For me, the star of this book is Lassiter. I know, I know...this is Tohr’s story – but Lassiter steals the show over and over! For example, take this conversation between Doc Jane and Lassiter:
“Lassiter. I want to see the front of you.”
“That’s what all the girls say.”
“Do you expect me to roll you over? ’Cuz I will.”
“Your mate’s not going to like this.”
“As if that’s going to bother you?”
“True. It actually makes it worth the effort.”
With a groan, he shoved his palms into the shimmering silver pool of blood beneath him, and flopped over like the side of beef he was.
“Wow,” she breathed.
“I know, right? Hung like a horse.”
“If you’re really nice—and you live through this—I’ll promise not to tell V.”
“About my size.”
She laughed a little. “No, that you assumed I’d look at you in any fashion other than professionally."
Wasn't that a hoot? LOL!
I also thought this comment from Lassiter to No'One was interesting:
“My name's Lassiter, and I'll tell you all you need to know about me. I'm an angel first and a sinner second, and I'm not here for long. I'll never hurt you, but I'm prepared to make you pretty goddamn uncomfortable if I have to, to get my job done. I like sunsets and long walks on the beach, but my perfect female no longer exists. Oh, and my favorite hobby is annoying the shit out of people. Guess I'm just bred to want to get a rise out of folks—probably the whole resurrection thing.”
Hmmmm, what does this mean? I really hope that Lassiter gets his own book soon! I have come to really love this guy! And what he does at the end of Lover Reborn?! Oh, my! He so deserves his own HEA!
What can I say that I haven't already said about the always-fabulous, Jim Frangione? I cannot help but have a perma-grin pasted on my face when I'm listening to Frangione narrate the Black Dagger Brotherhood! Frangione *is* the BDB, and I cannot imagine anyone else narrating this series! I don't think that I can ever read these books because Frangione's impeccable narration has spoiled me. I will continue to buy each book in audio format, and that is the biggest compliment that I can give to Frangione!
Word is out that the next installment will be Qhuinn’s and Blay’s story, due in 2013. How will I ever make it until then?!?
MY RATING: 5 stars!! It was superb! I loved it, and I will likely re-read it again in the future! You should definitely read it!
This book is bittersweet for me: Another superb book by Ward, but I am also sad that I am now caught up in the series and have to wait just like everyone else for the next installment slated for March 2012!
I listened to the last three audiobooks in the series in quick succession. Because the last two ended on cliff-hangers, I could not wait to find out what happened next!
At the conclusion of Lover Mine, Wrath and Payne were sparring and she appeared to have broken her back. This book picks up right where we left off, and The Scribe Virgin allows Wrath to bring Payne to the “other side” to the Brotherhood's mansion. There was a feeling of excitement for me while listening to this because Wrath (being blind) does not know that Payne is the twin sister of Vishous. There is anticipation as Doc Jane is summoned to examine Payne, and she takes one look at Payne’s face and realizes she is looking into the face of someone with the same features as her Hellren, Vishous.
Ahhhhh, Vishous! He is one of my favourite bad boys. He figures prominently in this book because he is Payne’s twin.
Doc Jane soon realizes that the damage to Payne’s spine is beyond the scope of her expertise and that there is only one person that can help Payne: Manuel “Manny” Manello. But how will Doc Jane be able to persuade the doctor to come with her?
The reunion between Doc Jane and Manny is pretty emotional. Let’s not forget that Manny thought that Doc Jane was dead and that he also admitted that he had feelings for her. Well, she did die but not in the way that he thinks she did. And she still lives but not in the “normal” fashion. Understandably, Manny is confused and angry with Jane. However, not one to turn his back in a crisis, he agrees to help Jane.
You know what is coming...Manny takes one look at Payne and feels an instant connection with her, much the same way that Jane felt about Vishous. Payne, too, feels things for Manny that she has never known before. He insists that he can only operate at the hospital and that he wants access to the MRI machines. Vishous relents, and Manny operates on Payne with Jane’s assistance to repair the damage. However, it is uncertain whether she will ever regain the use of her legs. Although Manny’s memory is wiped, he is drawn to Payne’s room and knows that something has happened but he is cursed with searing pain whenever he tries to recall what it is.
Back at the Brotherhood's mansion, Payne is in recovery but making little progress. Payne makes Vishous promise that he will not let her live a life where she is imprisoned in her own body, and Vishous painfully vows he will end her life if that is her desire. Jane does not want Vishous to have to live with that on his conscience for the rest of his life, so she agrees to humanely help Payne end her life with an injection. Meanwhile, Vishous has tracked down Manny and realizes that he may be the only person who can give Payne the will to live. As Manny’s memories come flooding back, he knows he must get to Payne before it is too late. Vishous walks in on Jane holding the needle intended for Payne, and he cannot forgive her for what she was about to do.
The conflict between Vishous and Jane was really heartbreaking. You know what Jane was going to do was wrong, but she was going to do it for the right reason. Wow, Ward really knows how to get you right in the gut! I also like that Ward doesn’t paint the couples as picture-perfect. In Lover Mine, we saw the marital problems between Wrath and Beth. Now, it is Vishous and Jane. Life isn’t all roses, and Ward reminds us that commitment takes hard work. Conflict also generates a reader’s interest, and this is what makes us fall deeper and deeper in love with the BDB!
Manny not only helps Payne to see that her life could still be fulfilling even from a wheelchair, but they discover that there is something about Payne’s feelings for Manny that has a profound effect on her!
Jane's betrayal is the impetus to Vishous' downward spiral, and the only person who can help is Butch. The scene with Butch “breaking” Vishous is utterly raw, and you can feel their pain. I shed quite a few tears. Butch handled his task brilliantly.
This book will be one of my favourites in the BDB series. We get to know Vishous, Butch, and Jane on a deeper level. I enjoyed this parallel sub-story just as much as Payne's and Manny’s story. I love that Ward’s characters are so complex.
A secret regarding Manny is revealed, which affects both Butch and Wrath.
This is the first book that makes no mention of Lash! No doubt he won’t stay away for long and, when he resurfaces, it’s going to be big. The Lessening Society has been inducting hordes of recruits, so that can only mean that a big battle is going to come.
I nearly forgot to mention another sub-story: The Band of Brothers, who come to Caldwell to try to overthrow Wrath as the king. Their plan is to take care of the Lessers and play on the fear of the Glymera and show that they can take care of business better than the Brotherhood. Of course, Xcor has a “score” to settle with Payne because she killed The Bloodletter. Ward introduces an interesting ménage à trois with two members of the Band of Brothers and a prostitute. It was a little shocking as it was something that I totally did not expect to see in a Ward novel, but she pulls it off!
I musn’t neglect to mention Qhuinn and Blay. I like that Ward is giving Qhuinn a bit of a rough time! He so deserves it! It will make him appreciate Blay all the more, and it shows that our boy is growing up a bit. I wonder how long Ward is going to make us wait for Qhuinn to admit his feelings to Blay? And what’s with Qhuinn’s premonition? Will he be mated with Layla?
My only complaint is the ending: The story between Payne & Manny and Vishous & Jane comes full circle and ties up nicely, but the ending felt too rushed for me! I had to check my iPod twice to make sure that a part wasn’t missing!
Ward's prose has me laughing so hard that I'm crying one moment...
Butch, while on the phone with Vishous: “Butch tightened his grip on his cell and wished there were an app that let you reach through a phone and bitch slap someone.”
and sobbing the next...
Vishous to Jane: "You’re the reason I get out of bed every night. And you’re the reason I can’t wait to come home every dawn. Not the war. Not the Brothers. Not even Butch. It’s . . . you.”
Ack! How am I going to make it until March 2012 when the next in the series will be released?? Ward, this is pure and utter torture. Lover Reborn (Book #10) is going to feature Tohr, and I think that Xhex’s mother, No’One, is going to be his love interest! I don’t know how I feel about that! I can’t picture Tohr with anyone but Wellsie. I hope that also means that Xhex and John Matthew will figure prominently in the story. And, if Xhex and John Matthew will play key roles in the book, perhaps Murhder will resurface and make trouble for the two of them?
If you love paranormal romances and you haven’t yet read this series, you must! Go online right now and order the series! Don’t get them one at a time because you won’t want to wait between the books! They are so hard to put down!!
Unlike the last two in the series, there weren't any technical issues with this audiobook. Frangione, as always, is an absolute delight!
MY RATING: 5 stars!! Superb book! I could not put it down!!
After reading Left to Die, I could hardly wait to find the sequel. This book starts off with the ending of the first book, so it picks up exactly where the other one left off. I thought the sequel was great, and the storyline hooked me from the first book. I had hoped the sequel would be narrated by someone other than Alan Nebelthau, whom I thought was terribly boring to listen to, but unfortunately he is also the narrator of this one. The third book in the series comes out in August 2011, so it will be interesting to see how the series continues.
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