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Valerie

Valerie

All you need is kill vs Edge of tomorrow

All You Need Is Kill - Hiroshi Sakurazaka

I decided to read the book after seeing the film last week. Both have the same premise but they are different in treatment and ending, in a way I prefer the Japanese version. It could easily have been presented in a graphic novel format (which exists) than the prose it was written in.

I have a little issue about time travel and the mechanism of it because, in all the novels I've read, it was never explained to my satisfaction. It can't be with a 230 pages book so I decided to suspend disbelief and concentrate on the character's struggle and interactions.

So this story is a take on the old Groundhog Day movie where you wake up and re-lives the same 24hrs over and over again. Keiji Kiriya does a rince and repeat of his first day as a soldier on the muddy battlefields of Japan and learns something each time he goes through the loop.

Mimic are alien invaders trying to exterminate mankind for a good 20 years. The army always needs fresh meat so Keiji goes on a little island near the coast of Japan on his first battle with the enemy. He is scared shitless and gets killed right as the battle starts...to wake-up in army base 30 hours before the strike. He quickly realizes that he's trapped in a time loop but no matter what he does...he still ends up on the battlefield and dies. Again and again.

One of the interesting part of the story is all the little things, how he decides to shave off time on his unending routine to train his body and brain. The only thing he can take forward is his memory so the body stays the same, he does not build muscle. There is an old samurai principle mentioned in the book: ‘Kiri-oboeru’ which roughly means strike down your enemy and learn. This completely disappear in the movie but it's the focal point of even the name of the book. How he learn to appreciate his comrades in arm and his commanding officer that he originally hated...even if everybody else experience his day for the first time and don't share the deeper connections he makes. How excellent food becomes awful after 100 repetition...

In all Keiji's struggle there is one constant: an American female soldier named Rita Vrataski. She has more Mimic confirmed kills than anyone on the world and is known as the Full Metal Bitch. Funnily enough, none of the main characters are even remotely close to the movie actors....well maybe the action figures described in the story are a very close match (yes, they made a movie about Rita in the story and action figures, it's a Japanese novel after all).

Another point in it's favor (and because I've read too many american novels lately) is that ending is bittersweet. If you like video games and first person shooter....you might appreciate the irony of this book. 

Written in Red - Anne Bishop

It's my first book from Anne Bishop and I must say that I love the world she creates with this tale of human controlled/hunted by the Others (vampires and shifters). 

The Others have custody and possession of the lands, allowing the human to settle and live while they consider them more like clever monkeys. It is refreshing to have a story where humans live in fear of the Others and are not in control. The Others would sooner eat them than trade with them. This creates an interesting dynamic governing the exchange between races.

The main human character, Meg Corvin, is a cassandra sangre or a blood prophet. Prophesies are generated when the skin is cut. Meg fled her Controller where she was kept imprisoned in the only place where the human law does not apply: Lakeside Courtyard, business district operated by the Others. She finally gets a job as a human liaison from Simon Wolfgard, a shifter.

One of the many charms of the story is the way Meg interact and relate to the Others. She was razed in a closed environment so when she escaped she had no frame of reference for the outside world. She didn't know how to cook, how to dress, how to drive. She could identify many objects but have no clue as to their use because she was only shown pictures...knowledge of the world just enough to identify things in a prophecy but not how to survive alone in the world.

Meg did not know how to behave with Others or humans and made her way as much as she could figure it out....and the Others were puzzled because she was not acting like a typical human as much as they could guess (they prefer to eat them, not converse with them) nor was she acting like an Other. It led to some pretty endearing moments.

Another aspect that I liked was that Simon and Meg did not instantly like each other, this love at first sight that is sometimes overused. They got to know each other slowly and by the end of the book you might say that there is the beginning of a romance.

The only downside to the story was that the 'villain' was quite vain and petty....but the inevitable end was satisfying.

Is it March 2014 yet? 

SPOILER ALERT!
Tempt the Stars - Karen Chance

The heroine Cassie has always played catch up a bit in this series but now that she was deprived of her two main supporters...she really grew, made proactive decisions as best she could and I was proud of her considering that she is not a fighting amazon and mounting a rescue mission like she did with her motley crew (on a side note, I still don't like Casanova but I feel sorry for him a bit).

It's also one of the series that can pull off a love triangle and still make it work. I'm team Pritkin all the way but with the Dorina series I learn to be fond of Mircea also.

 

 

 

***spoiler***

 

- Cassie shifting in her sleep to see Pritkin again, is it not love?
- The ending! I was bawling my eyes out when I read that! 
- Are we going to have the witches finally teach Cassie to do magic...it's about time!

Ember's kiss...not catching fire for me.

Ember's Kiss - Deborah Cooke

Since it's the 8th book of the series, it's impossible for me to write a review without spoilers so, be advised.

The Dragonfire series has seen many couples formed of shape-shifting dragon warriors (the Pyr) charged with protecting the earth and humankind. If the dragon is very lucky he will find his destined mate during a firestorm. The dragons that go against this ideal turn to selfish and destructive goal and are called Slayers.

Here we have Brandon Merrick, professional surfer trying to divorce himself from his dragon nature. He is young and stupid to realize that his quest has less chances of success than winning the lottery or a leopard changing his spots. His destined mate is Liz Barrett, marine biologist fleeing from her past.

Brandon has convinced himself that his dragon half is evil since her mother threw him out and his father was never a permanent fixture in his life. He wants to become wholly human and befriend Chen, an evil and ancient Chinese Slayer, who has great plans for him in the form of a very dead Pyr.

Liz Barrett has a lot of issues as well since she is a Firedaughter in denial caused by a traumatic childhood incident. I did not particularly liked the witchcraft/wicca introduction in the series because it emphasized how little the Pyr, as a magical species, had forgotten over the centuries about magic. It kind of cheapen the world-building of the 7 previous books. So, Firedaughter have an affinity to fire given by the hawaiian Goddess Pele. 

The premise looks interesting and the story was good but not great. Whenever there are two main characters in their late 20's in complete denial of their fundamental nature, the easy option is to regress ones actions to the level of a teenager. Brandon, with his surfer playboy persona could maybe be excuses but Liz with a university degree took the cake. The good thing is that Liz did not scream and run for the hills when she figured out what Brandon was, being herself not stickily human. 

The saving grace was that the previous characters like Erik, Sloane, Quinn and their children played a large part in the story that balanced and helped the story move along. 

I'll continue reading the series because I can rarely give one up but it has become a bit formulaic and could use some more darkfire. 

Kinked (Elder Races Series #6)

Kinked - Thea Harrison

Aryal is convinced that there is something sinister about Quentin, panther shifter, now a new sentinel for Dragos. Aryal, a harpie, has focused all her investigative skills and considerable hate on him while he tries to let go of the past and be forgiven for his sins.

Their hate for each other and constant fighting get them kicked out of New York and instructed to work out their differences because everyone has had enough of their destructive obsession.

Their hate/hate relationship slowly transforms to a courtship of negotiating bargains for sexual favors. It is especially funny to read those two strong dominants give an inch or two. 

Archangel's Legion - Nalini Singh

Archangel's legion was even better than the previous books of the series. While Raphael and Elena has always had a steamy relationship, Nalini Singh really outdid herself in the intimate scenes and managed to flesh out those character even more.

Another conflict is evident with the members of the Cadre and Raphael and Elena must plan for war while forgotten elements of Elena's past and her father's are brought to light. It helped Elena gain some closure with her daddy issues while providing interesting back story.

I especially liked that the 7 were not just window dressing but really participated to the story and I'm eternally hoping for Bluebell's book.

Perdition - Ann Aguirre

Since I really liked the author's Razorland series I decided to start the Dred Chronicles. I did not realize that it was a spin-off of the Sirantha Jax series, fortunately I have read the first two books so not all the references escaped me I hope. 

The premise of a prison ship with no guards, no hope of escape leads to territory wars and scarcity of resources. The writing was well made in such a way that it was mostly believable that the female lead could keep a group of bloodthirsty criminal under her command. I would have liked to explore a little bit more the other factions in Perdition...especially the aliens.

The supporting characters, Dred's advisors, were a great addition from the enigmatic past of the spymaster, the crazy soothsayer...but the lead male character was a bit too perfect. 

In a close environment like the prison the plot is pretty predictable but the court politics and the fights scenes made it worth reading. 

Dystopia by Daadaa from DeviantART
Dystopia by Daadaa from DeviantART

Demon Revealed (High Demon #2)

Demon Revealed (High Demon #2) - Connie Suttle In order for me to even read this series, it is imperative to read the previous series (Blood Destiny). Re's story mirrors Lissa's in the way that she is used and abused repeatedly. There is no shortage of action and betrayals aplenty...but it's addicting.
A Kiss of Blood - Pamela Palmer This book is less grim and with more romance elements compared to the previous book. While Vamp city is still a disturbing place, the story centers more on the main characters this time around. I liked to despise Arturo but it was a nice change to make him seem more approachable. Quinn really grew as a character and seemed more secure in her role and I can even stand her brother now. I was really curious to see where the author would go from the first book being very dark and develop the DC Vamp city and try to justify why Quinn should not let it die out.
Affliction - Laurell K. Hamilton The story started on a very good note: Anita get's a call from Micah's mother informing her that his father is dying of an unusual preternatural infection. Since the attack came from a zombie and it's Anita stock and trade....it really looked like something I would love to read.

Since there is travelling involved, it's the perfect time to perform the info dump and discuss in details all the intricacies of Anita's relationships with everyone in her life. This plot device has it's use but after 22 books it paints Anita as being dumb about supernatural politics, slow to analyze people's feelings and downright whiny. Fortunately after the 1/3 book, every feathers are back into place and all the lengthy discussions have taken place while Micah's father is dying in a few hours but certain conversations cannot be rushed...

Once this unpleasant business is done the rest of the book is mainly centered on the action. Anita is in her element and is actually hunting the killers. Edward enters the scene and it's great fun when he's around....especially when he get's to use his flamethrower (Edward is many things but only a friend to Anita so don't get ideas).

As Edward so aptly put it: "You have a zombie apocalypse and you don’t invite me." ...so that Anita can respond: "I didn’t know it was a zombie apocalypse until we were in it, and for the love of God do not say the phrase zombie apocalypse where the media can get hold of it."

I liked the take on the flesh eating zombies and the fact that the story is Asher-free for once.

It is one of the better books since the series took a left with the ardeur, while it's still present it does not dominate the story. It's a nice change.
Undertow - Andrea Speed I don't know why but I always feel good after reading about Roan and his major anger management issues. This installment has more dark moment of despair and the lion always surprises me.
Wanderlust - Ann Aguirre The events of Wanderlust picks up right after Grimspace. After the collapse of Farwan there is bound to be a period of unrest. Jax has the dubious honor of becoming an ambassador to visit the Ithiss-Tor and build diplomatic relations with the Conglomerate.

Jax, as a character did grow in this book to become more caring and less selfish. This transformation takes place over the book but is a good start from an uncaring, suicidal jumper.

The downside of a first person narrative bothered me a bit because some important actions of battles would take place but since Jax was not there...it was passed as unimportant. It is a bit strange because those events involves March therefore the romantic angle in the story. It would have been real anticlimactic to have March die or hurt horribly while Jax was somewhere else.
Black Lament - Christina Henry This installment is action-packed with Maddy picking fights with bigger and bigger adversaries. While I like seeing Maddy struggles with her life I have a real problem is that she ignoring politics, politeness, and any form of good judgement to just go hack her enemies to death...the fact that those are general fallen angels and beings millennia old (and armies) is hard to believe that they could be bested by a twenty something half-human.

Basically you have a heroine with major anger management issues and no regards for her friends that she drags into every conflicts. How does she sleep at night? Killing is too exhausting I guess. Let's not forget all the holes in the plot big enough to navigate a ship through.

Nevertheless it's still quick and fun to read...and yes I'll read the next one because I want to see how low Nathaniel will have to prostrate himself.
Red Seas Under Red Skies - Scott Lynch I only discovered this series this year so I did not have to wait years to read both books. This has the advantage of having fresh memory of both main characters but it has the downside of making comparisons too.

We start to story with our two remaining Gentleman Bastards: Locke and Jean. The first book was rife with emotional heartbreak of the downfall of the Gentleman Bastards in Cammorr. The build up of the attachment to the characters in the first book was well done because it had multiple flashbacks to watch Locke and company grow. This time around the book takes place only over a 2 year period and I did not feel as engaged emotionally. In some respect the Gentleman Bastards have hit rock bottom and it takes time to climb back up to your former glory. The first half of the book is concerned about info dump, multiple seemingly unrelated plots...which I'm sure will come handy in the coming installments. It was a bit tedious and dragged a little but the second half made up for it quite well.

As Locke and Jean are getting their feet under themselves with a new scheme...their quiet operation is hijacked and they are thrown, quite literally, as the cover suggests...on a ship. Now the Gentleman Bastards are superb impersonators but they never lived on a ship other than as a passenger. They are so out of their depths and lying left and right to keep their heads above the water that it's nerve wracking. To add some spice, the prologue is of Jean betraying Locke...which is shocking and keeps you reading to see how those two could ever do that to each other.
Stray - Rachel Vincent It wasn't a great book to say the least. Faythe was a very difficult character to like because she was rather immature for a mid-twenty person...it's as if she waited until 18 to get her teen rebellion going and has not gotten past that stage yet. Couple that with running from her problems instead of fighting the shifter system.
The shifters society is still living under the radar so some elements and rules of the shifter society was different a bit from other novels in the genre.
The story only got interesting halfway through the book, for a 600 pages book it's a long time to persevere on my part.

It is understandable that tabbies being in short supply, arranged marriages or matches are to be expected...and many werecats to stay single for life. This problems leads Faythe to be captured, brutalized and a buyer waiting for the delivery of his ordered kitty cat. It is unfortunate to say that's when the book started being interesting because Faythe spent less time being annoying and be proactive about her life. There was quite a bit of gory scenes but they did not bother me.

It is very hard to make love triangles work but this one is not on a good start. Or should I say love rectangle? Faythe left her current boyfriend like he was a used tissue but still calls him, a old friends that she clearly takes advantages of his feelings for her and the old boyfriend turned rampaging wounded party when he smells something not to his taste.

I always try to read the second book before giving up a series but it will take some time before I even try on book two.