Category Archives: Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian

Justice Ascending by Rebecca Zanetti

For former hacker, Sami Steel secrets are a way of life and the best part about playing soldier is anything involving medic Tace Justice, especially their late night sparring sessions. Since he recovered from Scorpius, the smoldering Texas cowboy’s different. He’s harder and more predatory. Tace was done wondering if strength, speed and cunning would be the only changes, he wondered about Sami.

Sami knew she couldn’t keep acting indifferent toward Tace to her friend, his latest bedmate and the world when he set all her parts fluttering. They couldn’t happen and after last night’s session she wanted to tell him everything. Their sparring also left Tace rattled so he jumped at an assignment away from camp. Unaware of their changed status, Jax assigned Sami as Tace’s back-up.

This busy outing teased out several meaty threads including secret alliances, resolving three overlong pieces, uncovering a traitor, smacking own major enemies in stellar skirmishes and gaining an ally. The tired ‘we’re marooned on an island so let’s fall in love’ vibe made favorites Tace and Sami’s romance fall a bit flat in places for my taste before finding its footing in this satisfying read.
Rating:4.5stars

Nicolae by Tim LaHaye

nicolae

The Tribulation Force has lost the valuable Bruce Barnes to the bombings and they’re shaken. As they crawl in the snarled Chicago traffic to reach the church and spread the news, Nicolae summons Ray to his side and Amanda stays glued to her husband. Chloe and Buck listen to the New York status reports with trepidation as they scramble to do what they can with the Chicago flock and Buck’s office.

The loss of Bruce hurt but didn’t cripple the team as they received the help they needed from various sources. Earl leaves a powerful legacy in Ray’s charge while Hattie isn’t s predictable as Nicolae thought and he calls on Ray. Ken Ritz returns lending his services to TF’s cause through Buck, Mac’s loyalties are still hidden and the extension of a helping hand threatens to do more harm than good.

After watching Nicolae charm the masses for two years, the un-enthralled note the calculated manipulation of people and circumstances as well as the devastating attacks across the globe as Nicolae remains safely a step ahead. While Ben Judah’s fortune takes a severe downturn Chiam’s unshakable loyalty to Nicolae grows, though it’s not returned in kind.

For most of this read, Nicolae himself was not on the page but the many moving pieces seemingly unconnected directly to Nicolae were and the theme was power. The abuse, orchestration, manipulation and concentration of power was clear as Nicolae played with the strings. A nit not to my taste was the repetition of certain pointless or past scenarios which aggravated this reader’s desire to skim.

This entertaining fiction was lighter on romance than its predecessors and much heavier on action and suspense. The installments should be read in order as it builds on previous outings and they are all biblically themed. If is not a genre that holds your interest, this may not be the read or the series for you.
Rating:4stars

Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti

mercury-striking

After reading the series prequel, I was excited to get to this read and Ms. Zanetti doesn’t disappoint. Months after a virulent spore from a rock confounded the vaunted CDC, it’s grown into an epidemic. The world is in a post apocalyptic state, people are scrambling to stay alive and safety is a vague memory. It’s more dangerous for Dr. Lynne Harmony, a scientist working on a cure and the first virus survivor.

Escaping from the DC-CDC where Rippers (survivors that became insane and obsessed) ruled, Lynne’s reached Los Angeles where she hopes to find information on the cure. Meanwhile, POTUS has become obsessed with Lynne and is intent on tracking her down. Engaging the entire population in his search, POTUS offers a bounty and a rumor putting Lynne’s life in danger.

What used to be neighborhoods and cities are now gang territories of varying brutalities. Lynne’s goal is to reach Vanguard, a gang rumored to be led by a strong ex-soldier defending the weak and especially women. Lynne knows she’ll need protection as she searches for notes and works on a cure to stay out of POTUS’s clutches. Enter ex-SEAL Jax Mercury.

Jax protects and strongly leads a rag-tag group struggling to survive. Unfortunately, Jax’ ex-gang is a neighbor of Jax’ Vanguard group and its leader covets Jax, Lynne and whatever else Jax has. Agreeing to protect and help Lynne, Jax tries not to let his growing affection for the little brunette cloud his judgment as he weighs POTUS attempts to gain Jax’ allegiance and what is best for his people.

Lynne and Jax had plenty of chemistry and gave new meaning to the phrase power couple. The supporting characters and those in different threads did their piece to keep the pace of this exciting read as several layers were neatly added. The highlights of the prequel are here but the prequel itself does add depth and good back-stories for Lynne’s involvement, POTUS and the Brigade.
Rating: 5stars

Shadow Falling by Rebecca Zanetti

shadow-falling

POTUS, Bret Atherton, is seething over losing former FBI profiler, Vivienne ‘Vinnie’ Wellington and more furious Lynne Harmony escaped again. Bret’s obsession, ingenuity and resources didn’t show profit in his alliance with Twenty against Jax and the Vanguard but helps put new schemes in play to strike at the heart of Vanguard and return the women under his thumb.

Vinnie fell hard for Raze Shadow when he rescued her and isn’t exactly like other girls but insists she isn’t the psychic POTUS believes her to be. As a Scorpius survivor Vinnie has flashes of insight that she doesn’t always understand but is fitting into Vanguard and building a new life there. Not only is POTUS plotting her return, one of the local gangs is determined to have her delivered to them as well.

Ex-Special Forces soldier, Raze’s secrets are wearing on him as he becomes closer to people and the life that is Vanguard; consumed by Vinnie; works to find a way to keep a vicious rival gang from blackmailing him and a close personal call. He has no choice but to trust and open up to the people around him. Another player has entered the game with an end game our heroes can’t figure out easily.

Definitely not a sophomore slump but this outing didn’t seem as fresh though the characters were just as vivid as the initial outing. For my taste, Vinnie annoyed and was the weak link of the read. Also, there was chemistry and smexy between Raze and Vinnie but they seemed to lack heat. Neither these minor quibbles nor a cliffhanger ending can stop me from panting for Tace’s star turn.
Rating: 4.5stars

Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson

elysian fields

In post Katrina NOLA the separation between the human world and the pretes is just plain thin. For this outing a serial killer seems to have come from the past unless it’s a copycat. Either way it falls to DJ to put him back in his place but she’s also drawn wolf-sitting duty to make sure Jake’s coping with being turned. DJ’s plate begins to overflow in this adventure the moment she and Jake get to the scene of the crime.

Not only is the latest murder scene gruesome, it ends up being prete crime, which means DJ has to act as sentinel and get to the bottom of it. But who has the time. A glance tells her she’s going to have to rack up more debt to Jean. It’s too similar to the original Axeman killings to not be authentic. She’s still attracted to both Alex and Jake. There’s smexy time if she can make a decision. Jean’s creepier than usual.
Rating: 4stars

Marked In Flesh by Anne Bishop

marked in flesh

Others sympathizers find their homes, livelihood, and families at risk as battle lines are drawn between HFL (Humans First and Last) and the Others (terra indigene) with Thaisia as the prime bone of contention. The impact of the Human pack’s choices and options have a ripple effect as they are folded into the courtyard become more integrated and comfortable in their new lives.

The Elders (Namid) are watching Lakeside to determine ‘how much human is needed’ as they prepare to rescind the leases. Simon struggles under the weight of leadership demands as the courtyard undergoes a rapid growth spurt. Meg has difficulty being ‘the Trailblazer’ as she tries to come up with methods to make communication easier for her and her sister prophets.

The Others and the Intuits in the courtyard and settlements visit each other for support and preparation in the upcoming retaliation effort and band together for a new normal based on Hope and Meg’s visions. Nicholas Sparks retreats to the background but continues to whip tempers and tensions to frenzy levels.

Fear and wariness mount as the HFL are more aggressive in their attempt to wrest control from the Others, unaware of the consequences. An inevitable face-off gives the reader a semi-graphic battle with both sides girding for the unknown. Several new characters are introduced throughout the settlements while Simon and Meg’s feelings toward each other deepen more openly..

The installment is more sedate and wordy than its predecessors but picks up the pace about midway. It also has a bit more suspense as the Others and the HFL circle each other, move and counter-move with the backdrop expanding far beyond the courtyard. While this reader thinks the information might’ve been easier absorbed over two installments its necessary to show the ripple effect of one person.

Rating:4.5stars

Rebel Heart by Moira Young

rebel heart

SEQUEL: A continuation or conclusion of a literary work. This reader wanted, expected and was excited by the prospect of more Adventures with Saba and the Sidekick’s Rebel Quest. Unfortunately this outing was more a different book rather than a sequel. However in middle book fashion, it brought characters and baggage forward and doesn’t end the tale.

Big sister Saba left Emmi since the bonding was over; little sister Saba was absent since Lugh saw her differently now (’nuff said); Warrior Saba is searching for wurms, cages, female warrior gangs and treacherous crossings. Girlfriend Saba was missing in action and boyfriend Jack was ‘away’ though there were other candidates aplenty. Emotionally messy Saba was present and accounted for.

The names remained but not the characters this reader painstakingly invested in. This outing is the emotional balance to all that came before and hints of what is to come. Saba learned what she already knew … that actions have consequences, people change and today will not be the same as tomorrow or yesterday.

Though technically fast paced, this reader was bogged down with plot gaps and mis-matched holes from previous events, introspection, new characters and relationships, unwieldy threads and the obligatory geometrically shaped romance. Though consequences are a valuable lesson to learn, for my taste, there wasn’t enough ‘payoff’ for all the busy-ness of the read. This reader felt betrayed.
Rating 3.25stars

Transcendence by Shay Savage

transcendence

Caveman/Neanderthal Ehd’s been alone and struggled to survive since his tribe died more than a cycle of seasons. Weak from hunger and desperate to eat, he knows missing another meal means he won’t survive the harsh winter. He’s lost hope. After a successful food hunt, he finds a strangely dressed female caught in his animal trap and quickly sees the benefits of taking her home to his cave.

After a brief tussle the woman allows Ehd to help her out of the trap. Standing on solid ground again, the woman looks around at the rude wilderness and has no clue how she got to this time and place. She has no idea who or what this man-like creature is or his plans for her. Why won’t he answer her?

Ehd’s incapable of ‘human’ speech and comprehension. His communication skills are limited to grunts and gestures. None of that means Ehd’s incapable of caring or of reason, he just can’t express it. The sounds the woman makes are only so much noise. They give him a headache. Ehd’s thoughts and reasoning are simple.

It’s getting dark. She’ll be safe with him. He won’t be alone anymore. She’ll be his mate and he will put a baby in her belly. The child will look like him and her. Their family will be the start a tribe as soon as he can make her like and accept him. She’ll see he can provide and protect her. He’ll have to get more food. She’ll need furs. His cave has fire. Ehd thinks he has too many things to think about now that he has a mate.

After a fashion the woman accepts shelter but frantically looks at her surroundings as if she’s never seen them and Ehd remembers the feeling from losing his own tribe. The woman tries to explain her name is Elizabeth and Ehd grunts his own name sound. Just because she accepts his shelter and he is her best bet for survival doesn’t mean that Elizabeth easily accepts Ehd.

Settling into their life it’s apparent they are the last two people in a hostile world and dependent on each other. Both characters are charismatic and easy to invest in as they struggle to connect and communicate what they want and need from each other. This reader is simultaneously captivated and appalled by the visualization of a prehistoric hunter’s life and the lack of dialogue in this single PoV read.

Captivated that I was more engrossed by the page of the creative ways Ehd and Beh (Beth) had of making themselves understood. Ehd’s consuming desire to provide, protect and care for his mate is sweet and pure. As his joy at making Beh part of every thought. Ehd’s fumbles and frustrations and lack of understanding Beh is endearing enough to make the reader smile.

I’m appalled by the hard and rugged life a prehistoric hunter led because this reader is definitely a modern city kind of girl. A proud carnivore that doesn’t want to slaughter the cow or turkey, just enjoy the burger. More than once I thought ‘there’s nothing new under the sun and; ‘the more things change the more they stay the same.’ Sometimes dialogue is just so unnecessary.
Rating: 4.5stars

Left Behind by Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins

left behind

 

Pilot Rayford Steele’s mind is not on flying the plane. Instead, he’s thinking of how to get gorgeous senior flight attendant Hattie Durham out of her clothes and in his bed. Then the unthinkable happens. Instead of a knock signaling an assignation, the knock signals the world has changed. Over 100 people are missing from a flight in progress.

After landing the plane, Rayford is concerned over his inability to reach his family but gets Hattie settled to find her way home. At home, Rayford quickly remembers his wife’s constant conversation of the Rapture when he finds her nightgown under the sheets as if she melted. He begins to frantically try to locate his daughter, Chloe, who he finds has also been left behind.

People all over the world are confused, the only traces left of their loved one are their belongings. Abandoned buildings and vehicles; scattered and separated families and family try to determine, locate and reunite with each other. Spotty telephone service and unreliable transportation thwart efforts as people learn to trust and depend on new friends and strangers in the same situation.

Renowned journalist, Buck Williams, a passenger from Rayford’s flight picks up the mantle to try to explain what’s happened to the world. Rayford seeks solace at his wife’s church and finds Pastor Bruce Barnes. Bruce has a theory that Rayford’s small band of followers adopts as they vow to fight together. Bruce believes the Anti-Christ has arrived in the personage of charismatic Nicolae Carpathian.

Those left behind begin to piece their lives together and ask why. It’s whispered Christianity is the common denominator, that those who’ve disappeared were devout. For those left behind their order of business includes deciding not only what but how to do next as the survivors divide along lines of rejecting or accepting the whispered reason of Christianity or straddle the fence and hope for the best.

Hopefully the interesting characters will become more fleshed as they try to give themselves a second chance at salvation. Dramatic and action set pieces abound to emphasize the choices people are making. While not the best written prose this reader has rolled her eyes across, even at its most ham-fisted, it’s far from the worst. The tale itself opens opportunities for theological debate and discussion.

I read some but not all installments of this popular but divisive Christian fiction series when it was published. Make no mistake this series is a lyrical fiction based on Christian principles and beliefs and holds its own against a Sunday sermon. If that is a topic that goes against the readers personal beliefs this is not a series for you. As with any book the reader accepts what they want and rejects the rest.

 

Rating 3.75 Stars

Hammer Down by Moira Rogers

Hammer Down

Since the Fall, a rude, restrictive existence leads the downtrodden humans and demon-kind is the ruling class in this adult post apocalyptic world. Prequel novella, Demon Bait, introduces the world and takes the reader through several genres. I’d recommend reading the prequel first for more clarity though this installment can be read as stand alone.

Devi, lives topside and ekes out a living leading a tight knit rag tag crew hauling supplies and the occasional contraband over dangerous terrain to other barely human cities. After a meeting with heart-stopping, part human, part demon, all kick-a** alpha warrior, Zel, leader of an outcast underground caste, Devi and her crew run into the kind of trouble they can’t handle on their own.

She seeks refuge for her and her crew with Zel and his people. Torn between staying in the relative safety in the underground city with the sheet burning chemistry she has with Zel against the take lust as she found it and ever dangerous hauls and demon battles on her own. Zel is definitely a game changer for Devi as she wars within herself.

No wimpy romance in an apocalyptic world for this couple, battle is the order of the day. Challenges for leadership, their relationship, betrayal and that chemistry put enough obstacles in the way to keep this fast paced read moving. Techies, Cache and Trip are strong secondary characters in this unique world and just happen to be best friends with the leads and have enough personality for the reader to want to know more about them.

I should’ve left well enough alone but I finally gave in to the pull of this read having read the novella when it first came out and impatiently waiting for more installments because this is a binge worthy world. Alas, there’ve been no more and for my taste, there really should have been.

Rating: 4.5stars

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