Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

cress by marissa meyerFormat read: print book borrowed from the Library
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: young adult science fiction
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Length: 550 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Date Released: February 4, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

My Review:

The Lunar Chronicles are marvelous and suspenseful fractured fairy tales; taking the stories that we all know and love and transporting them into a brave new future with considerably altered versions of the heroines (and heroes).

Scarlet by Marissa MeyerCinder was, of course, all about Cinderella, complete with wicked stepmother and footwear difficulties. Scarlet’s version of Little Red Riding Hoodie was considerably more kick-ass than the original (see review). But Cress takes Rapunzel to new heights–her tower is a satellite orbiting the Earth! She’s so lonely that she programmed a younger version of herself into her computer systems as a companion.

Cress’ purpose on that satellite is both deadly and heartbreaking. It’s Cress’ programming skills that keep the Earthen governments from detecting Lunar ships in orbit. It’s Cress’ hacking skills that let her read the camera feeds from surveillance on all the Earthen officials.

And it’s Cress who was so desperate for approval from her keeper that she allowed the infiltration of Earth by Lunar special operatives who murdered 16,000 people, all to show that the Lunars were unstoppable.

But Cress has been left alone for much too long with only the entertainment and news feeds from Earth to keep her amused, or perhaps that to help her keep her hold on her sanity. She has come to identify with the Earthens, and to see Linh Cinder and her crew of misfits as the only hope for preventing Lunar Queen Levana’s terrifying reign.

And she’s fallen in love with the daring Captain involved in Cinder’s rescue, even though Cress and Carswell Thorne have never met. So Cress uses her programming skills to contact Cinder, to aid and abet Cinder’s continued evasion of the security forces, and to arrange for her own, much needed, rescue.

The rescue turns into a SNAFU of epic proportions. Cress’ evil keeper swoops in at the last moment, and everything goes to hell in a handcart. When the dust settles, Thorne and Cress are left on Cress’ satellite in a dying orbit, Wolf is seriously wounded, and Scarlet is captured. Only Cinder remains relatively unscathed, but it becomes her energy-sapping task to keep Wolf from going on a killing rampage at the loss of his alpha Scarlet.

Cinder still has to stop the wedding of Queen Levana to the unwilling Emperor Kai before she is crowned Empress, while the security forces of every Earthen military and all of Luna are out to find her.

First she rescues Thorne and Cress, then she musters all her available allies for one last chance to save the Emperor, knowing that she will start a war. Leaving Scarlet in the clutches of the Lunars to face a fate that might be much, much worse than death.
As the clock ticks down to doomsday, Cinder takes up the mantle of leadership that she was born to wear.

cinder by marissa meyerEscape Rating B+: While this is Cress’ story, the arc of The Lunar Chronicles series means that it is always Cinder’s story, no matter what else is going on. Cinder has grown a lot from the young, scared, insecure cyborg mechanic we met in Cinder (reviewed here).

It feels important that Cinder is planning to rescue her prince, and not the other way around. This is a story where the females don’t just have agency, but are generally stronger than the males. Cinder rescues Kai, Scarlet is Wolf’s alpha, and Cress, in spite of her awkwardness, is a gutsier person than Thorne.

Not many people would have kept any semblance of sanity under the conditions that were forced on Cress. She managed to keep herself together, and shake off the Stockholm Syndrome of bonding with her jailor and only contact. Her social awkwardness can be overcome, but integrity is forever.

As the story is told, the perspective frequently jumps from one part of the scattered crew to another, from Cinder to Cress to Scarlet and back again. The narrative switches can feel a bit disruptive during the sections where they are all far apart. As the action coalesces into the final plan, the fast changes add to the breathlessness of anticipation.

Poor Scarlet’s fate is still up in the air (or on Luna) but we know where the rest of the crew of leading, even if we have no idea how they’ll make it. We’re left on pins and needles waiting for the final installment, Winter.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.
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Review: Trinity Stones by L.G. O’Connor

trinity stones by lg o'connorFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Angelorum Twelve Chronicles #1
Length: 366 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press
Date Released: April 22, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Anxiety-ridden New York investment banker, Cara Collins, has little to smile about on her twenty-seventh birthday between a hostile work environment and her impossible romantic situation with her longtime friend and first love, Dr. Kai Solomon. But before the day ends, she learns she has inherited $50 million—a windfall that must remain secret or risk the lives of those close to her.

As Cara unravels the truth surrounding her inheritance, she makes a startling discovery: angels walk among the living, and they’re getting ready to engage in a battle that will determine the future of the human race. In the midst of these revelations, she meets mysterious and sophisticated Simon Young, who offers her the promise of romance for the first time since Kai—but when Kai and his daughter are kidnapped by dark forces, Cara must choose: accept her place in a 2,000-year-old prophecy foretold in the Trinity Stones as the First of the Twelve who will lead the final battle between good and evil . . . or risk losing everything she holds dear.

My Review:

Trinity Stones is the first book in what could be a twelve book series. It has a LOT of weight to carry to set up this slightly alternate version of our world where angels walk among us, waiting for the proverbial Last Battle between angels and demons.

Of course, they aren’t just waiting around, sitting on their feathered wings while humanity marches on oblivious. Although most of humanity is oblivious.

Mixed in with the prophecy of that last battle are signs and portents. The story of Trinity Stones is what happens when the first of those portents finds herself part of something that she was never prepared for.

Cara Collins is an investment banker who hates her boss and is in love with a man she can never have. Life sucks, right up until the point where she inherits $50 million and a whole lot of otherworldly trouble.

$50 mil certainly solves the “hate the boss” problem, but doesn’t do a thing for the loving someone she can’t have bit. Although it certainly provides one hell of a distraction–including visits from demons who really do reside in hell.

It’s not just that Cara finds out that her belief in a supreme deity has to expand to encompass more classes of angels than she thought imaginable, but also that she is going to be a front-line fighter in the war between heaven and hell–if she can manage to get out of her own way.

Her new life leads to danger, but also to fantastic new friends and a purpose bigger than she ever dreamed of. She even finds someone she can love, a man who makes her forget all about the one that got away.

Until she finds out that Simon Young is even more forbidden to her than her first love. Simon is assigne to be her Guardian as she fights the demons, and they aren’t permitted to let love get in the way of definding mankind against evil.

Escape Rating B: There were a lot of things to like about this story, and a few that drove me a bit crazy. YMMV.

There are, and there need to be, a lot of explanations for how this world is set up. Cara is supposed to be the first of the “Final Twelve” that portend the upcoming battle between good and evil. Which means there has to be tons of setup for the angels who help in the fight, and the people who are “assigned” to Cara as backup.

The portrayals of the growing friendship between Cara and the people assigned to help her, particularly Cara’s platonic friendship with Michael, are beautifully done. It is terrific to see a friendship between a straight man and woman that is clearly never going to tease at a possible romance. You don’t see that often, and it’s refreshing. Also Michael is just plain a great guy.

But there is a lot of necessary worldbuilding, to explain the angels, the soul-seekers like Cara, and the support network that they need. Occasionally there is quite a bit of info-dumping, and I still didn’t get the relationship between Cara’s “trinity” and the cornerstone, which is a person she needs to save from evil.

The angels are almost a military organization. That Cara wasn’t allowed to be involved with her guardian felt a lot like the military anti-frat regs. They can be involved with anyone but each other, so of course they fall for each other. And there was a bit of fated-mate in the relationship that pushed things along faster than would have happened otherwise.

Trinity Stones is a fascinating start to a series. I’ll be very curious to see what directions it goes in. On the one hand, I liked the fact that any belief system could lead to heaven, as long as the person lived a good, moral life. On that other hand, the story does presuppose acceptance of a lot of other traditional Judeo-Christian concepts, and I want the story to always be of primary importance. So far, so good.

TLC

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.
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The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 4-13-14

Sunday Post

This was a busy week at Reading Reality, and the upcoming week will be too. Especially since next weekend I’ll be at Norwescon for most of the weekend (YAY!)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but my procrastination has bitten me in the butt, and we have to do our taxes this weekend. Even though we know we’ll get a refund, we always wait until the last minute to do the damn thing. It’s hard to believe, but this is the first time in 3 years that we don’t have moving expenses to deduct. We actually managed to stay in one city for an entire calendar year.

For those who are in the same boat we are, good luck with the task. Thank goodness for efiling, the whole line up and wait at the post office thing used to be the perfect ending for a dreadful chore. I don’t miss it at ALL!

Current Giveaways:

Ophelia Prophecy Blog Tour ButtonThe Last Time I Saw You by Eleanor Moran (print or ebook, US/CAN)
Black Chalk by Christopher J Yates (print or ebook, INT)
The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher (print, US/CAN)
2 signed copies each of City of the Gods: The Descendant and City of the Gods: The Betrayal plus 5 ebook copies of the winner’s choice of Descendant or Betrayal from S.J. McMillan

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the $10 Gift card in the Fool for Books Giveaway Hop is Elaina W.
The winner of the paperback copy of Four Friends by Robyn Carr is Natasha D.
The winner of the paperback copy of Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins is Bridget H.
The winners of my Blogo-Birthday giveaways are Ann V., Joy F., and Brittany M.

Blog Recap:

last time i saw you by eleanor moranB+ Review: The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend by Annabelle Costa + Giveaway
A- Review: The Last Time I Saw You by Eleanor Moran
Q&A with Author Eleanor Moran + Giveaway
B+ Review: Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates + Giveaway
B+ Review: The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher
Interview with Author Sharon Lynn Fisher + Giveaway
B Review: City of the Gods: The Betrayal by S.J. McMillan + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (84)

Coming Next Week:

cress by marissa meyerTrinity Stones by L.G. O’Connor (blog tour review)
Cress by Marissa Meyer (review)
Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes (blog tour review)
Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews (review)
Bite Me by P.J. Schnyder (review)

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Stacking the Shelves (84)

Stacking the Shelves

NetGalley is clearly my downfall. Or NetGalley and Edelweiss combined. I like nothing better than to get lost in a good book, preferably with a cat on my lap. What I often get instead is a cat perched behind me, cleaning my hair. Sophie clearly thinks I need help with the job, but it feels very strange when she does it!

For Review:
The Devil’s Game (Reaper’s MC #3) by Joanna Wylde
The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
Hurricane Fever by Tobias S. Bucknell
The Late Scholar (Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane #4) by Jill Paton Walsh
Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman
The Mark of the Tala (Twelve Kingdoms #1) by Jeffe Kennedy
My Real Children by Jo Walton
Night Child (Night #3) by Lisa Kessler
The Night Inside (Creed #1) by Nancy Baker
Out of Control (Babysitting a Billionaire #2) by Nina Croft
Tales of the Hidden World by Simon R. Green

Purchased:
Balanced on the Blade’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker
To Honor You Call Us (Man of War #1) by H. Paul Honsinger

Borrowed from the Library:
Raiders of the Nile (Ancient World #2) by Steven Saylor

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Review: City of the Gods: The Betrayal by S J McMillan + Giveaway

city of the gods the descendant by sj mcmillanFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: fantasy romance, paranormal romance
Series: City of the Gods #2
Length: 322 pages
Publisher: Createspace
Date Released: March 24, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Centuries ago, Damian was betrayed by his best friend, fiance, and the Gods of his civilization. He vowed vengeance against them all. He studied and mastered the dark arts. All he needed after that was patience… Damian’s ex, Vivian, now feels like her world is crashing down around her. His curse is threatening her brother Tristan’s life. The only way to save him is to trust a stranger who saved her from a fate worse than death. Marcus had no idea saving Vivian’s life would put him in the middle of an ancient battle between good and evil. All he has to do is figure out which side he’s fighting for.

My Review:

Saying “The Betrayal” makes it seem like there’s only one. In this second book of the City of the Gods series, (see review of book 1, The Descendant, for more details) there are many, many betrayals. At some point in the past or present, it seems as if every character has betrayed everyone else.

That doesn’t mean that some of those reversals weren’t justified, but right and wrong are often in the eye of the beholder. When your civilization is dying, it can seem like everyone is out to get you, even your friends.

city of the gods descendantThis story picks up where The Descendant leaves off, and it is necessary to read the first book in order for this story to make sense.

What we have are the survivors of the Aztecs hunting for the evil priest who caused most of their problems way back when. In the first book, the lines between friends and enemies are clear-cut; in this new installment, all the relationships blur with the introduction of new friends and enemies.

It started out clearly; Kat was the Redeemer, prophesied to bring the former High Priest to divine justice. Tristan was her fiance, and Sabine and Vivian were Kat’s teachers and guardians. Vivian’s former fiance Damien was the face of evil.

Nothing stays the same. Damien dies, somewhere unknown, and his last magic trick is to force Tristan to live through all his evil memories. Tristan is in danger of becoming the enemy.

Vivian is their healer. She has the power and skill to get Damien out of Tristan’s soul, but in order to do so she needs her tools; special herbs from the nearby forest. Her quest to save her brother leads her to a powerful warlock, and a man bent on killing all witches and warlocks, including Vivian.

Marcus hides both darkness and light. His introduction to the tight circle of Kat, Tristan, Vivian and Sabine leads to both disaster and possible triumph, as he first prevents Vivian from achieving her mission, and then consents to help the group in return for supplies for his own hunt.

But it all goes horribly wrong. As Vivian and Tristan are temporarily overtaken by evil forces, they let the dark half of Kat’s personality, her alternate ego construct Lina, take over Kat, endangering them all. In Tristan’s re-living of Damien’s memories, they discover that Damien has been under a curse for centuries. He wasn’t responsible for all the evil that he did, just as Kat isn’t responsible for the irresponsible acts that Lina commits.

The results of those actions mean that all the players shift position. Kat loses her place as the Redeemer. The ruling council believes that Marcus is better suited to meet the threat of the High Priest. Finally they discover that the warlock Vivian and Marcus first encountered IS the High Priest, still bent on their destruction and conquering the world.

At some point, every single person changes sides on everyone else. At then end of the story, the reader is left with a lot of destruction and only a glimmer of hope that this motley crew will get their acts together, and just plain get together, in time to battle the evil they face.

It’s absorbing, and harrowing, to watch this story unfold.

Escape Rating B: The Betrayal is definitely a middle book. You can feel the story turning darker and darker as every situation goes from bad to worse. To put it another way, “Things are always darkest just before they turn completely black.”

The Descendant was Kat’s story, as she discovers who and what she really is. The Betrayal is more Vivian’s story, both because some of the key betrayals are hers, and because hers is the romance that gets resolved. Also because one of the initial betrayals, all the way back, was Damien’s betrayal of her. She finally gets a somewhat fresh start.

We also get the explanation for why Damien turned to the dark side that I wanted in the first book. It makes more sense now. It doesn’t necessarily excuse everything, but it makes more sense.

It’s also still Kat’s story. Watching her deal with, basically, the nastier sides of her self is something that was left from the first book and needed resolution.

While it was good to see Vivian have some good stuff happen to her, the vehicle for that “good stuff” wasn’t as fleshed out of a character as I’d like for the romantic side of the book. We need to know more about his strengths as a leader and as a hero. He starts out pretty mercenary and single-minded, and I need more to be certain that he really is on the side of the angels now.

The Betrayal was a non-stop thrill ride of a second book. Now that the rollercoaster is plowing down the hill fast, I can’t wait to see how the story gets wrapped. I’d like to see everyone get their “just desserts,” good, evil and mixed-up!

~~~~~~TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

City of the Gods Button 300 x 225

S.J. is giving away a whole bunch of prizes in this tour. Enter the Rafflecopter for your chance at one of two signed print copies of either book 1, City of the Gods: The Descendant or book 2, City of the Gods: The Betrayal. She is also giving away 5 ebook copies of the winner’s choice of book 1 or 2.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.
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Interview with Author Sharon Lynn Fisher + Giveaway

Today I would like to welcome my fellow Seattle-ite, Sharon Lynn Fisher, who recently published the Ophelia Prophecy (reviewed here). It’s an absolute terrific science fiction romance, sort of Frankenstein meets Romeo and Juliet. Only an SF writer could make that combination work, and it so does!

Marlene: Welcome Sharon! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

ophelia prophecy by sharon lynn fisherSharon: Thank you for having me!

Okay, you left that one wide open, so let me see …

Besides being an author, I’m senior editor for SilkWords, a “pick your own path” romance short story site. I’m also mom to a sassy seven-year-old. I live in Seattle. Like any good Seattleite I enjoy doing outside things (hiking, rock climbing, biking). But it rains for nine months of the year so also I love to read and watch movies and good TV. I’m an INFJ, and an Aries. I like cupcakes and shoes. I have a freaky orange cat.

Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

Sharon: Being a half-time single mom and also having another job, there’s really no such thing as a typical day in my life. When I’m writing something new, even less so. Some days I may not write more than a few paragraphs, and others I may write 10 or 15 pages. But I do find I need some dedicated headspace for writing. I need to say to myself, “I’m writing,” and cut off from social media and other unrelated tasks.

I’m a reformed pantser. After having to completely rewrite my first novel from page 1, I realized that fully pantsing things is a form of self torture (at least for me). It leads to writer’s block and panic attacks. I still completely pants my first chapter, but after that I write a one- or two-page synopsis and work from that. Nothing too detailed or it takes all the fun out of the writing.

Marlene: What can we expect of The Ophelia Prophecy?

Sharon: It’s a post-apocalyptic Romeo and Juliet story with exotic locations and lots of action. The romance between the hero and heroine — a human woman who’s lost her memory and a member of a human/insect transgenic race — is a slow burn that boils over suddenly once the substantial obstacles are overcome. I know what you’re thinking: “Insects, ew.” It’s not like that. Trust me.

Marlene: If The Ophelia Prophecy was turned into a movie who would you want to direct it?

Sharon: Hmm, I’ve never thought about that one! Christopher Nolan seems to be the go-to guy for sci-fi these days. Actually, who directed Orphan Black? I LOVE that show. I want that guy. I want that actress, too.

Marlene: What made you choose science fiction as your genre? Especially science fiction with a romantic bent?

Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn FisherSharon: I always answer this question with “it chose me.” And it’s true. I had mainly written fantasy romance up to the point I wrote my debut novel, Ghost Planet. While I did make a conscious decision to try my hand at sci-fi, I did not know it would mark a long-term shift in my writing. I enjoy the research so much, and it really opened up a whole new world for me. I’d been struggling to come up with what I felt like were original ideas for fantasy.

As for blending sci-fi with romance, I don’t think I’ve ever written a story without romance. It may be that I never will!

Marlene: What do you hope to say to people with your writing?

Sharon: Considering some of the social issues I raise in my stories, oddly, nothing. I want my readers to escape to another world. I want them to keep turning pages because they can’t stop. I love this quote from a recent review: “Her books, so far, are the exact kind of high-quality popcorn that I’m looking for when I need a mental vacation.” My work is done here.

Marlene: What projects do you have planned for the future?

Sharon: I have a third Tor book coming out early next year, Echo 8. On my blog I describe it (unofficially) like this: Parallel-universe romantic suspense that explores possible connections between quantum physics and psi (also a Bermuda Love Triangle between a parapsychologist, an FBI agent, and an energy vampire).

I plan to write a sequel to Ophelia based on the other couple, Iris and Carrick, who are set up in this first book. I also have another stand-alone in the works. I don’t want to say too much about that one, but it’ll be my trademark blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and romance, set in modern-day Portland.

Marlene: Because I’m a librarian, I love to ask this question: Who first introduced you to the love of reading?

Sharon: Because I’m an author, I’m embarrassed to say: I don’t know! Ack. Maybe my father? My mother says I learned to read by pointing at words in the newspaper and asking him what they were. I’ve had a passion for reading for as long as I can remember. It could very well be that I introduced myself to the love of reading.

Marlene: What’s the book that you most want to read again for the first time?

Sharon: I think I’d have to say the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask!

Sharon: I sometimes have dreams about things that actually happen. Kinda stupid things. Nothing like winning lottery numbers. One time I dreamed I was walking down the street with a friend and glanced over and saw an alligator walking next to us. The next day I went to a restaurant I’d never been to before — a little bistro that had opened in an old house. I went to use the restroom, and when I flipped on the light, I saw they’d put a large plastic alligator on a pile of rocks in the bathtub. I wrote this rather useless talent into one of the characters in Echo 8.

Marlene: Morning person or night owl?

Sharon: I have an appreciation for mornings. They feel fresh and creative. But they are easily wrecked by other people speaking to me or expecting me to do things. I think I’d better go with night owl. (Especially considering my clock says it’s 10:01 PM as I finish this.)

Ophelia Prophecy Blog Tour Button

Sharon Lynn Fisher Author PhotoAbout Sharon Lynn Fisher

A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, Sharon Lynn Fisher lives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes books for the geeky at heart—sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance—and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. Her works include Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8 (2014).To learn more about Sharon, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

~~~~~~GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

Sharon is kindly giving away three copies of The Ophelia Prophecy, one each to three lucky winners! For a chance to win, use the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review: The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher

ophelia prophecy by sharon lynn fisherFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: science fiction romance
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Date Released: April 1, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Our world is no longer our own. We engineered a race of superior fighters — the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us. In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.

Some of us intend to do more than survive.
* * *
Asha and Pax — strangers and enemies — find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.

Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource — information — viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.

Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.

Neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.

With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other’s secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.

My Review:

Cassandra was right, but no one listened to her. In The Ophelia Prophecy, a lot of people have an interest in making Ophelia’s predictions come true, whether they should or not.

This is definitely science fiction, but of the genetic engineering/biopunk/dystopian type, rather than the space opera version. We don’t travel off-planet, just into a not-too-distant future where the humans have been the authors of their own destruction, something that is certainly not implausible.

In this future, the desire to create “better, stronger, faster” soldiers to use against other humans led to a scientific breakthrough; the ability to splice insect and animal DNA into human DNA in order to create hybrid supersoldiers.

While it sounds like the “not-so-mad scientists” experimented with everything under the sun, by the time the story starts, the dominant hybrids are the Manti; human/insect hybrids. The Manti are not just dominant among hybrids, they have also reduced the “pure human” population to a small handful, using both semi-conventional warfare and bio-terrorism.

There’s an element of “Romeo and Juliet” meets “Frankenstein” in The Ophelia Prophecy. We start the story with a human woman and a Manti soldier in the Badlands outside the last human Sanctuary, waking up from unconsciousness with neither of them remembering exactly how they got there.

All they each know is that the other is supposed to be the enemy. But if it were that simple, there wouldn’t be a story.

Asha is hunting for her lost father. She believes that the Manti kidnapped him, for purposes unknown. And she’s half right.

Paxton is searching for a purpose. His father is the political leader of the Manti government, but the 25 years of unquestioned Manti supremacy have turned him into an autocrat. Pax is looking for a better way.

Instead, they find each other. Pax’ mission is to take Asha back to Manti HQ in Granada, to discover what she knows about how they ended up together in the first place. While at first she is his unwilling prisoner, the more they interact the more they discover in common. And the more that Asha learns about the true state of her world.

Nothing is as it seems. Not for Asha, and, it turns out, not for Pax.

Escape Rating B+: I wanted this to be longer. Or for there to be another book. There is so much more to be discovered in this world, and the place the story ends has the feeling of a new beginning, or the start of another chapter.

Pax and Asha start out on opposite sides. He’s the Manti Prince, and she’s the daughter of a member of the human governing council. What they have in common in that neither of them is content with their society’s version of the status quo. They each want answers.

We see this world through Asha’s eyes. She starts out unhappy with the conditions in Sanctuary, but believing in the version of the world that she has been told. Except that she studies the beginning of the war in the Archives, and things don’t seem to quite add up. Because they don’t.

The more Asha sees of the world beyond Sanctuary, the more her perspective changes. The more she learns, the more we learn. She discovers that not all humans are her allies, and not all Manti are her enemies, through some very hard lessons.

What she discovers is that Pax may be the only one she can rely on, but it’s a lesson that she figures out by trial and error. They are often in conflict because he takes away many of her choices, so she goes down the opposite path just to feel like she is choosing for herself.

The romance is downplayed. There’s an element of fated-mate syndrome, but one that both parties fight as long as possible. Pax because he doesn’t want to be a slave to his biology, and Asha because she has a primary mission to find her father, and becoming too involved with Pax will not get her where she needs to go.

The bits we see of Manti society are fascinating. The politics are cut-throat, and every bit as intimately deadly as The Game of Thrones. I wish we could see more!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.
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