PJV Quickie: Sticky on the believability factor but high on the entertainment scale, VARIANT by Robison Wells had me engrossed from the beginning. But, I’ll admit I was cross comparing it to a few other Young Adult Dystopian novels as I read.
Benson Fisher, the main character of Variant is your typical lost boy. He is a product of foster care, doesn’t fit in at any school he goes to and is resigned to the fact that his life is messed up before it has even begun. Until he gets a scholarship to Maxfield Academy. Which, is surprising since his grades aren’t that good and he lied on the application. But, who cares about that. He’s about to go to a great school.
He is all excited, until he is dropped off at the front gates and his ride high-tails it out of there without a backwards glance. Maxfield Academy isn’t a school, it is a prison, with no guards but the children within the walls. There is no way out and the people within can’t be trusted. There are rules on top of rules to be followed and if you break those rules…you are never seen again.
Sounds exciting right? It is. The book keeps going and going, it sucks you in from the beginning and has excellent pacing in the beginning. I enjoyed Benson and the way Robison Wells developed his character, in the beginning. He was likable, even in a very tumultuous plot. The story was filled with suspense and hidden compartments which kept the book interesting. But, what I keep mentioning is…in the beginning. Then it gets to a point where Benson just turns into a very dumb character, his actions are dumb, selfish and illogical. Because of his actions the plot progresses, but it is obvious that his actions were written to carry the plot instead of a logical character reaction.
Then you are hit with the big surprise of the plot, which I won’t reveal because of spoilers, but with the reveal, the main character again reacts differently then I would have expected. Everything does seem to converge in the end — but then that is it, the end. Most of the plot is still unresolved with the ending of this book, so while exciting, it left me with a feeling that I put a book down in the middle and then lost the book…or forgot about it. Which isn’t that favorable a feeling for me.
I would recommend this more for younger boys, instead of the usual Young Adult fans. In fact I would probably put this in categories of Middle Grade instead of YA, just because of the similarities in crafting. The male lead and the sketchy plot will probably leave the usual young adult dystopian fans lacking. They might also find the strong resemblance to THE MAZE RUNNER also a bit on the distasteful side. Fans of Middle Grade, male leads, ages 11 – 15 should enjoy.
Similar Young Adult Dystopian Novels & 3 Star Ratings:
The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1) by James Dashner
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1) by Patrick Ness
I'm a HUGE fan of Karen Marie Moning and Phil Gigante's narration. I went to the signing and bought the book - but quickly succumbed and bought the audio book also and then listened to it. I wasn't disappointed. I'm not a huge Natalie Ross fan and she did the majority of the narration. But, Gigante and his grasp of different accents and the growl tones of the Alpha males in this series eclipsed it.
I was worried about Ross' narration of Dani because her tone in the Shadowfever books was very juvenille, but she did soften Dani in ICED and I was pleased with the turnout. The story is also top notch. I was also worried about how Karen Marie Moning would handle this Dani spin-off and I was pleased. KMM is a genius. Please go back and listen to the Fever series books first though. While this is a spin-off and could technically be read without partaking in Mac & Barron's story - you don't want to miss out on it. The Fever Series is on of the best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy series I've ever read.
PJV Quickie: I highly enjoyed TOUCH OF POWER from Maria V. Snyder, but what else can be expected with this author. Synder has a way of building tension, creating characters and painting a picture with every sentence.
Review: Avry of Kazan is a healer, by placing her hands on an injured or sick person she assumes their sickness, and her own advancing healing system heals her. It was once a respected profession, until the plague. Now, because of the devastation of the plague assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Avry is left to live a half-life, where she has to hide what she is and watch as people die around her. Unable to watch the young die from something that she could save, Avry gives in and the parents of a girl she saves turns her in. Healers are hated and feared. The regent of the territory has also put a big reward on a healer’s capture. But, before she can be killed she is “saved” by a group of men, who insist that she has to save their “friend.”
TOUCH OF POWER was a fun and fantastical listen. The narrator Gabra Zackman was very talented and unobtrusive. The book was classic Synder. Both Avry and Kerrick were characters that will resonate with me for a long time to come. The most poignant point of the novel is the transition of Avry, she is a great character. She goes from scared but still courageous to empowered and willing to take on the world for her new friends.
Then there was the world-building, a fantasy mixed with a dystopian, it was great. Plague destroyed world with rogues and magic. I was also a big fan of the relationship dynamic between the characters and the mystery surrounding the mission of the rogues and Avry. Everything was laid out perfectly. From Avry’s point-of-view the information was revealed as she discovered it and any withholding made sense and was expected.
How can I describe this perfectly? The story just unfolds as you read it. It lays before you, every little piece something to be appreciated. Kerrick the secondary character is the puzzle that is most intriguing and his character’s transition within the eyes of Avry is the reason I read books. I read to experience characters like this. But, don’t take my word for it. This is a highly recommended book and I urge you to experience it for yourself.
But, I know what you are thinking. Why only 4.5 stars PJ? Where did the but…come in? And quite frankly, it is because I read POISON STUDY. One of my all time favorite books. And in fact, I read POISON STUDY right before listening to TOUCH OF POWER. It is one of my favorite books to re-read and I wanted to experience it on audiobook, so I downloaded both POISON STUDY and TOUCH OF POWER. Because of this, I noticed similarities between the characters of Avry and Kerrick and Valek and Yelena. Mostly in the transition of the characters. While the similarities were annoying it did not distract from the overall story.
Recommendations: Recommended for Young Adult fantasy and lighter fantasy fans. Fans of POISON STUDY should really enjoy. This is a more mature young adult so it is recommended for older teens and in fact I would think of this more of an adult novel then young adult. I highly recommend to my readers that you pick up a Maria V. Snyder book if you haven’t already – they are truly an experience.
PJV Quickie: Welcome to ‘Grimspace’ a crazy, fast-paced, science fiction ride that made me think “Why did I wait this long to read this particular series?” I’m so glad I “read” this audiobook.
In ‘Grimspace’, the genius that is Ann Aguirre (Enclave), introduces us to a science fiction world in which people with a rare J-Gene are able to travel through Grimspace, the new navigators of the future. Their rare ability is sought after far and wide. Sirantha Jax is a carrier of the gene. She knows the more she jumps, the closer she is to her body wearing down and imminent death, but there is nothing like grimspace and the connection she has with her pilot while transporting her ships. But, Sirantha’s latest jump didn’t go as planned and a crash landing killed her pilot and lover and left her with no memory of what happened and in some kind of Corp reconditioning/interrogation area.
On the brink of a breakdown because of the interrogations a strange man breaks into her cell and offers her freedom. March’s breakout comes with a high price though, she must join a small outlying community and help them break-up the Corp’s monopoly on grimspace travel.
This was a very exciting book. Jax and March are great characters and their interactions are priceless. Sirantha has a witty humor, with that sharp-edged sarcasm that I really enjoy in a character. I enjoyed every minute of this book. Aguirre has become one of my favorite authors with her quirky plots and over-the-top creativity. The women definitely has an imagination and that seeped into every aspect of this audiobook / novel. The far-reaching aspects of the science fiction might be a little much for some more down-to-earth readers, but I do believe if you are a fan of the genre, or an Urban Fantasy reader, you’ll really enjoy. I also have to relate that this book is not a “tell-me” science fiction tale. Aguirre introduces you to the world in a very creative and easy to follow way, it is not page after page of technogarbage forced down your throat that can bog down a lot of science fiction novels. Aguirre just tells it like it is and you get it, you understand what is going on. This is a rare talent in an author and I believe this is why I really enjoy her books.
Adults-only read, this is a science fiction novel and fans of the genre will be elated with the space travel and broad political schemes. This is a good transition for Urban Fantasy fans also, because it is very reminiscent of that genre. Ann Aguirre fans will not be disappointed, this is one of her best series.
And now all I can focus on, is getting more of this series…
Want some more Science Fiction Audiobooks? Check out…
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Narrated by Stephen Fry
The Host: A Novel, by Stephenie Meyer, Narrated by Kate Reading
PJV Quickie: Please pause while I fan myself…this audiobook was smoking hot. Karen Marie Moning’s swoon-worthy heroes, paired with Phil Gigante’s sexy voice makes for an epic listen.
‘Kiss of the Highlander’ was a little bit funny, a lot of fun and very sexy. Our smoking Scottish laird is trapped in a very long sleep in a cave, just like 500 years, when a woman literally falls on top of him and awakens him. Believing he is still in the sixteenth century, a girl on top of him in only a pair of shorts is basically a written invitation. Gwen isn’t having it though, Drustan MacKeltar might be sex-on-a-stick hotness, but he’s stubborn as hell and very frustrating. The problem is, how is she supposed to get out of this cavern? Then, as she realizes his story about how he is from the sixteenth century has to be true — how does she get him back to his home?
It of course has a lot of romance, a lot of sexy and some very fun moments. My favorite had to be the changing room scene when she was trying to get him in some jeans. I was laughing out loud and wishing that I could fall into a cavern on top of a Scottish laird…
Repeat after me… “Swoon-Worthy Read.” If you have partaken in Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series, get your petunias to the book store.
You can start the series at this book without a backwards glance. Drustan MacKeltar starts the MacKeltar books and the next one is Dageus MacKeltar, which is Drustan’s twin. Also a great book. Adults only of course. Time travel romance, a good Paranormal romance cross-over. Fans of Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series should read these since some of the characters cross-over. Fans of authors like Nora Roberts should also enjoy. (Sorry these are my first Highlander books so I don’t have others to compare them too).
PJV Quickie: I have never felt so moved by a main characters — and I still do not know his name. The Day By Day Armageddon series is a must read series for fans of Zombies!
Rock my world! Zombies, Marines in Light Armored Vehicles rolling over them and a clinically precise Naval Officer documenting the whole shebang. The Day by Day Armageddon series is a wet dream for zombie fans that don’t want to be distracted by things like romance or fuzzy bunny non-realistic turn of events that some authors think will happen if zombies happen to pop into existence. So, what does J.L. Bourne think is a realistic outcome if a zombie outbreak does occur? Nuked cities, irradiated dead, rogue military operations, roving bands of marauding humans…and survivors that will do whatever it takes to stay alive.
In the second book of the Day by Day Armageddon series, ‘Beyond Exile’, we are still in the head of our nameless officer, who continues to recount his experience in a very militaristic style. By the end of ‘Day by Day Armageddon’ he had somewhat relaxed his rigidity and his “civvie speak” was showing a bit more in his writing, but in ‘Beyond Exile’ the USMC makes an appearance and our narrator is brought back into the fold of the military. The narrator falls back into his clinical approach of narration style as he is sent on missions and takes command of the operation he started at Hotel 23. Things are actually starting to even out as the base brings in more military personnel and civilians from other safe zones. A lot is accomplished within the span of the novel, the narrator brings in more survivors and starts to recruit military personnel to improve his situation. But, like all good things, they literally come crashing down and the narrator finds himself alone in a world where the dead want nothing more than to feast upon him.
I think for some these novels might be a bit too much, especially if you need a lighter side within the gore. This novel did not let up and emotional conclusions were not at the forefront of the authors intended accomplishments. The emotions explored in the novel are all mostly fear based. The narrator of the book does so within journal entries and a lot of his writing is done while hunkered down and hiding from the dead, which the author accomplished almost perfectly. You can almost feel the anxiety, tension and fear radiating off the pages all within the macho package of our hero. But, I do believe the author used his real world experiences as a military officer deployed in the Middle East as inspiration. Sometimes brainless zombies would be easier to face then thinking, calculating, human enemies with guns pointed in your direction.
Why the four star? For one the novel did drag at parts, when he was alone and just when I thought we might see his more human side emerge again the novel took a quick veer to the right which had my head spinning and thinking I might have skipped a chapter. But, still a favorite in my book.
This is a must read recommendation from Parajunkee’s View! It is not recommended that you read this novel first, while not entirely needed, I think you will establish a better emotional connection with the hero if you read the first novel. Fans of zombies will eat this one up. There is violence, but I wouldn’t see anything wrong with giving this to your mature teen. With the militaristic style and male POV this might be a good novel to coax your teenage boy into reading.
Other Fiction you might enjoy:
The Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry
‘I Am Legend‘ by Richard Matheson
PJV Quickie: My initial thoughts with ‘Beauty Queens’ were, of course, captivation with the cover, but the concept threw me through a loop. I hadn’t read Bray before, so I wasn’t familiar with her writing style or sense of humor. This led to an initial trepidation, satire is not always my cup-of-tea, along with force-fed cultural messages, but I think I made a wise choice in partaking via audiobook. Libba Bray did her own narration and the added benefit of some extra “special effects” made ‘Beauty Queens’ via audio a pleasure to experience.
The descriptor, Lord of the Flies with Beauty Queens has been touted around a lot in regards to this book. And while on a base level, yes the two novels can be synonymous with the coming of age on a deserted island motif, but I think it is doing ‘Beauty Queens’ an injustice to be described as such. The novel is basically about the pressures of the teenage years in a materialistically saturated environment and how this crash landing actually enables these girls to shrug off the yokes their parents and society have placed upon their shoulders and become the women they can be and should be. But, in a fun and sparkly way of course!
In ‘Beauty Queens’ we meet a host of larger-than-life characters, like Miss Texas, Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins, who is a card-carrying member of Femmes and Firearms and practically worships LadyBird Hope, one of the corporations Big Wigs and presidential hopeful, a former Miss Teen Dream winner. Then there is Adina Greenburg, Miss New Hampshire, who is actually on an under cover mission from her schools newspaper to expose the Miss Teen Dream for what it is, a subversive instrument of female repression. Or there is Mary Lou Novak, Miss Nebraska, who comes to the island wearing a purity ring, but later realizes her inner wild girl needs to roam free…
I could go on and on about the sheer hilarity of this novel and the great characters that Bray created. Even her villains were brilliant, MoMo B. ChaCha, is the leader of the Republic of ChaCha and is obsessed with American Reality television and Elvis. I was thinking Gadhafi every time his character came to the forefront. Bray paired Momo and Ladybird together and I was literally gagging imagining Sarah Palin (Bray used a nasally northern accent to represent Ladybird which had Sarah Palin written all over it) and Gadhafi going at it in a heart-shaped hot tub. Yeah — sorry for the mental image.
Take all those great characters and weave within it, off-the-wall marketing schemes, hilarious product placement and just brilliant, brilliant story creation and you’ll have an almost perfect read. Then trump that with the audiobook, which had Bray as the narrator (She did like a million different voices impeccably!). It also had sound effects with the footnotes (when the characters would mention products a footnote would appear) and commercial breaks which would have me laughing out loud and then the finale of a great interview with Bray herself – this is one I highly recommend grabbing up in audiobook form.
You don’t want to pass up this novel. Nope. Don’t do it.
This is for a more mature teen audience, sexuality, violence and cultural stigmas, along with alternative lifestyles are all covered. Fans of more wittier satires should really enjoy. It is sometimes described as a dystopian and if you are looking for this genre, I wouldn’t call this title a dystopian. The world, is a satirical depiction of our own society and while yes, it seems more nefarious then our own society, it was pretty much on target. I would not put this one in the dystopian category, more of a modern commentary.
Other AudioBooks You Might Enjoy:
Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin by R. L. LaFevers
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
PJV Quickie: Other than Ian, Vlad was the one I most wanted to find true love and to turn into a blithering love-struck fool and Frost…well she dangled it merrily in front of our faces. She is quite an evil author, but boy did I enjoy this book.
I have to preface this review to state that personally I am not a fan of this narrator’s interpretation of Bones. She is the same one that did the Night Huntress series and she just makes Bones sound, well so effeminate. And while Bones only had a small cameo roll in these books, I just cringe with his voice. But — and yes but, she was perfect with Vlad. Obviously she does Wallachian a lot better than Cockney. So, I do recommend partaking in this particular audiobook and aforementioned narrator has redeemed herself.
Let us move away from accents though and focus on the book, which as you might know, is our favorite Wallachian Prince’s story. The character that Frost mentions over and over again in interviews that she never wanted to write, because of how cliche’ he is. And within the book, she even had a few slap-stick moments when the heroine thought he was just being dramatic because he was a vampire named Vlad. It was rather funny. Frankie [aka Leila], the main character is actually aware of vampires before the novel begins, because she is a member of a traveling carnival and her partner is a dwarf vampire. After being in a terrible accident her body actually became charged and she can barely touch anyone without killing them, or at least giving them a nasty shock. Along with that shocking touch, she can read a person’s deepest thoughts and secrets. Usually their sins are at the forefront of what she sees. Frankie becomes a bit of a star when she accidentally brushes against a man and then his wife, and then “sees” the man has the wife’s murder all planned out because the woman is cheating on him. Not being able to keep her mouth shut, Frankie draws a crowd and brings attention to the stash of “incriminating evidence” that is in the man’s trunk.
Quickly the news is ripe with talk of the Frankie girl’s ability and a few bad vamps believe this is their ticket to take out a few of their enemies. Frankie is kidnapped by two nasty vamps and asked to locate a certain surly Wallachian by her unusual ability of remote viewing from touching an object. Nasty vampire hijinxs ensue, stunningly executed by Frost in her fun and breathless manner of writing. I am truly impressed with these spin-off series that she has created. While, yes, I have become rather bored with the path of the main series (even though I love Cat & Bones) I really enjoy the world and all the other great characters that she has created and I can see numerous books for all the wonderful characters. They can also be read as a stand-alone, but I would recommend at least reading four of the Night Huntress books so you can get to lurve all over Vlad before you get to meet him in these books. And plus those books rock.
The only flaws that I noticed in the book was just some slight plot-points and maybe inconsistencies with Frankie’s powers. I couldn’t understand if it was just Frankie’s right hand that was charged up or her whole body, because at different times it seemed to be either or. That was really the only thing though. Well, and a rather embarrassing fact is that Frost has gotten me to expect a certain WOW factor with her sex scenes and I didn’t have that WOW yet…we can only hope in book two right? But, then again, Cat & Bones are hard to overshadow. Other than that, rock on, with Frost’s bad self and another fabulous addition to the Night Huntress World series of books. I can’t wait to read the second Vlad book.
Adults-only, for paranormal romance fans. This book is choked full of vampires of full stereo-typical variety, castles, servants, masters, Vlad the Impaler – the whole nine. Yes, Vlad still likes to impale. Again, recommended that you read some of the other books in the series before you read this one, but of course it is not required. I wouldn’t think this is cross-over genre book either, I think you need to really want a paranormal romance to appreciate this one.
Other Paranormal Romance Audiobooks you might enjoy along with Other 4 Star Reviews:
Pleasure Unbound (Demonica, Book 1) by Larissa Ione
The Highlander’s Touch (Highlander, Book 3) by Karen Marie Moning
PJV Quickie: I went to an all girls Catholic High School that was run by nuns. I can readily believe that they could have been assassins in hiding. This is why I have an innate fear of nuns and the nuns of ‘Grave Mercy’ were scary as Hell. And then of course, what a good story!
The book starts off immediately with anxiety galore. Ismae has been forced into an arranged marriage that she knows will only end tragically. When her husband forces her to disrobe and views the scars that are an obvious sign of her heritage, he is both scared an enraged that he has been tricked into this marriage. Ismae just manages to escape by the assistance of an unknown force, which leads her to the convent of St. Mortain, the sisters that serve the old god, now known as St. Mortain, formerly the god of Death.
Ismae is taught the ways of an assassin and is given her first assignment that will lead her into the high courts of Brittany. Yet, the deeper she becomes embroiled in court politics and the lives of the aristocracy, the more she is confused as to each persons intentions, especially the person that was thought to be a suspect from the beginning.
‘Grave Mercy’ was a very rich novel, full of a fantastical world, court intrigue and tragic romance. I was instantly drawn in, especially with the voice of the narrator Erin Moon. I was highly pleased with this audiobook, with the characters, with the plot. The mystery and the politics of the world, while not over-the-top and drawn out, was well done and deep. Another great novel that you should sink your teeth into!
Fans of young adult fantasy should really enjoy.
While the character is shown first as a 17 year old, I didn’t really view this as a young adult novel. It is labeled young adult fantasy, yet I found the elements have a more adult theme. Yet there is hardly anything inappropriate in the novel, so it is acceptable for teens. I think I’m just over thinking the classifications.
Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder
The Queen’s Bastard (Inheritors’ Cycle #1) by C.E. Murphy
PJV Quickie: One of the most UNIQUE angel centered novels I’ve read, Angelfall was both creep me out awesome and full of angsty teen time. I’m in book love and Susan Ee has a new fan girl.
Six weeks of Hell on Earth. Six weeks since Angels, supposed beings of God, have descended and decimated the human population. Penryn, who was already living a hard life, with an unhinged mother and younger sister in a wheel chair, is left to defend her family in a world where chaos rules. Yet, as she fights to survive, the unthinkable happens, her sister is taken by angels and Penryn is left on her own. She is unwilling to let her sister just disappear, so she embarks on a very dangerous quest to retrieve her sister…luckily during the scuffle which ended in her sister’s kidnapping, another angel was injured. Fighting fire with fire, Penryn kidnaps the angel, she believes he is the only one that can help her save her sister.
Holy Mother of All Young Adult Awesomeness! If you like things freaky, if you like to be scared, if you like gritty and chilling young adult, download Angelfall by Susan Ee right now. There were parts in this book that I swooned over, like chillingly handsome angels, there were parts where I was freaked out and then there was most of the time when I was just straight up riveted. The story was original, the characters were well flushed out, the plot was high intensity and flowed from scene to scene never letting up. By the time I got to the climax I thought I was going to have double up on my blood-pressure medicine. (Complete farce, I do not take blood-pressure medicine)
As far as the Audiobook, I enjoyed the narration by Caitlin Davies, it seemed realistic and nothing jarred me out of the book with her accents or “man voice”.
Fans of darker Young Adult novels should enjoy. Horror fans and fans of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction should also enjoy. There are some darker themes and violent scenes within the book, so I recommend for more mature teen audiences.
Similar Darker Young Adult Novels & Ratings
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
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