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Book Review: The Diviners by Quinn Robles

Artistic image of light and darkness with book's title on it.Summary:
In a world where the 1% has taken over the government and resources and the rest are left to fend for themselves, the Symmonds siblings seek to keep starvation at bay with their divining abilities.  Everyone knows diviners can find a water source with two rods, but the Symmonds siblings can find much more, including lost people.  When they are asked to find girls most likely stolen by the government for sex slavery, they must face a choice.  Should they risk it all to save them?

Review:
I actually hesitated over whether or not to review this book because it does not appear to be available for sale anymore in spite of coming out just this February.  This shows me that perhaps the author is already aware that it wasn’t quite ready for publication, so why pile it on?  But I did promise a review in exchange for a copy, and I also review everything I read, so I ultimately decided to review.  But I will keep it short and try to offer simply constructive criticism.

There are two issues with the book.  One is some awkward sentence structures and flat-out wrong grammar.  This is something that could be quickly fixed in another editing pass, which I recommend.  The other is larger, though.  The world building is confusing and weak.  It took me until around 75% through the kindle book to finally figure out what was going on in this world, and some of it was still unclear.  For instance, what I think is a branch of the government (still not sure) is called the “Jacobs,” but they are just called the Jacobs for so long with no other information that at first it seems that they are a rival family or something.  The little information the reader does get about the dystopian world is delivered via information dump.  It’s not smoothly written into the story.  It is told to the reader like a confusing history book.  If this wasn’t a review copy, I would have quit in the first chapter, because it’s simply not pleasant to receive information via info dump.  The dystopian world itself, though, is interesting and timely.  It’s based around the Occupy movement’s rhetoric about the 1% with the wealthy ultimately blatantly taking over.  I could see a lot of people really enjoying the mix of that with the more fantastical element of divining.  The characters are also fairly well-rounded and easy to tell apart.

Overall I would say it’s a good idea and a good first draft, but it needs some reworking and editing.  I hope that’s what this author is doing and that she keeps at it, because her ideas are definitely unique.

2 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle copy from author in exchange for my honest review

Currently unavailable to buy, but check out the author’s website

Book Review: Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop (series, #1)

August 17, 2011 7 comments

Girl holding glowing thing.Summary:
In this fantasy matriarchal land, people are ranked by their power based on what color jewels they are mystically assigned to wear when they come of age.  The darker the jewel, the better.  The women all have some sort of witchcraft power, but none have had the power of The Witch in hundreds of years.  Corrupt women have messed with the structure of society turning it from harmony to darkly using the men and women to their own advantage.  Men in particular are used by controlling them via a ring of obedience (placed around their penis).  Into this messed-up society the much waited for Witch is born, but most do not recognize her.  Lucky for her, the demon dead Saetan and his two living sons, Daemon and Lucivar, do.

Review:
This is what I would call high fantasy.  The only thing missing really is knights in shining armor.  A friend gave me this trilogy for my birthday as it is one of her favorite series, and she thought I would like it.  I can see why she thought I would like it.  It’s dark, graphically violent and sexual, and the choice to depict a messed-up matriarchy instead of patriarchy is unique.  Unfortunately I just couldn’t get into it.

First there’s the whole jewels and traveling on webs and wind and speaking on a soundwave that only people with that jewel can hear thing.  None of these things are ever particularly explained.  They just are.  Ok, so that probably works for fantasy fans, but I’m a logical, scifi reading lady.  I want explanations for things.  Also, how society fell apart is kind of massively unclear to me.  I’m not sure how things went from good to bad or what the properly functioning society is supposed to look like.  It’s all very confusing, and frankly, I can’t remember the order of the ranks of the jewels.  I just remember that gray is second-strongest and black is strongest.  But then later in the book some people say they’ve worked their way up to stronger jewels than their birthright.  Um, what?  When did that happen?  How can that happen?  If you can do that then why does your birthright jewel matter at all?  None of this makes any sense. Agh.

Then there’s the ring of obedience.  So they put this on violent males who are now sex slaves, apparently.  They serve witches.  The ring makes it so they can’t get a hard-on without pain.  But they don’t take the ring off for sex, which means these women are using sex slaves but never actually having intercourse. Who would want that?!  How does that make sense?  Also, Daemon can apparently pleasure women and tie them up just with his mind.  He can do this but he can’t get a ring off his dick?  This feels like badly-organized erotica.  Which would be fine if it was erotica, but it’s fantasy, so wtf Bishop.

So then we have Jaenelle, The Witch.  She’s eleven or twelve, I can’t remember exactly which.  Her family thinks she’s crazy because she’s super-powerful and travels around meeting mystical creatures and told them about it, which was a bad move.  She got sent to an asylum then brought home, and she’s been all Miss Mysterious Dark Eyes That Are Actually Gorgeous and Sapphire ever since.  This is the main mystery of the book.  That and the manly threesome trying to protect her from the big bad queen witches who want her dead.  So Daemon is working in her house and basically falls in love with her.  He’s never felt sexual desire for a witch before, but now he does.  He feels horrible that he feels it for one so young and vows to wait until she’s grown up enough to be with him, but he still feels it.

Then we *spoiler alert* find out the asylum is just a cover-up for pedophiles, and of course Jaenelle gets raped, and a good witch saves her, and Daemon and Saetan work together to try to save her, and in her mind she tells Daemon that he just wants her body just like everyone else, and he basically makes out with her in her mind to show her he wants to be her lover not hurt her.  This makes her come back to her body and heal it. Then she escapes to Saetan and Daemon escapes off to a brothel.

Can we just HOLD THE PHONE for a minute.  I am not at all against a pedophilia storyline or plot device.  These things happen in real life, so it’s ok for them to be in a story.  I do have a problem with the “good guy” having sexual feelings for an eleven or twelve year old when he’s literally centuries old.  He himself admits this is bad, but instead of going away from her, he makes out with her in her mind (when she’s in half-horse form no less).  I just….what.  What the what.  What am I supposed to think about this?  How am I supposed to feel about a book written by a woman in which the matriarchy basically abuses everyone and yet the men still wind up with most of the power (the manly threesome) over this young girl who is supposed to become the awesome ruler one day, and one of the guys has pedophilic feelings for her. WTF.*end spoilers*

I suppose it’s possible that Daemon is an anti-hero, and we’ll find that out later in the series.  That Jaenelle will triumph and prevail over everyone and fix everything.  We can only hope.  I do suspect that part of my issue with the book is just point-blank never feeling comfortable in the fantasy world Bishop lays out.  I just don’t do high fantasy.  When will I learn this?

That said, it does seem well-written, and I think if a fantasy fan can handle very dark and graphic violence, sex, and themes, they will probably enjoy this trilogy.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Gift

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Book Review: Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch (Series, #1)

March 17, 2011 1 comment

Man and woman hugging in front of flames.Summary:
Katherine “Kitty” Katt manages to get released early from a dull day of jury duty only to find herself confronted with an angry man who sprouts wings and starts flinging knives from their tips toward everyone in the vicinity.  Kitty attacks and stops him and quickly finds herself sucked into a world she was unaware existed.  A world of alien refugees defending Earth and themselves from a bunch of fugly alien parasites.  She soon discovers her ordinary parents are more involved in this secret world than she would ever have dreamed.  On top of that, she’s increasingly finding herself falling for one of the alien hunks who announced his intentions to marry her almost immediately upon meeting her.

Review:
I received a free Kindle edition of the second book in the series, Alien Tango, last year and read it without realizing at first that it was part of a series.  I immediately fell in love with the world and Kitty and decided I needed to go back and read the first entry in the series.  This reverse approach definitely gave me a different perspective on the story, but it certainly didn’t make me love it any less.

What makes this series epically entertaining is well-established in this first entry.  First, the paranormal element is aliens in lieu of something more widely used.  Everything has the clean, secret government agency tinge to it instead of the dirty mafia feel many other paranormals elicit.  The aliens are aliens, yes, but they’re also a secret government agency.  Imagine Men in Black only the men in black are all aliens.

Second, Kitty Katt is a heroine who clearly epitomizes the modern woman.  She can take care of herself, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t like having a man around too.  She’s smart, witty, sassy, and sexy, but she has her flaws and weak spots too.  She has sex on the day she meets a man, but she’s still aware enough of social norms that she takes care to attempt to hide that fact from the majority of people around her.  On the other hand, she herself doesn’t regret that act in the slightest.  She so clearly reflects what it is to be a modern American woman that I can’t help but applaud Gini Koch.  I hope to see more heroines like Kitty Katt in the near future.

The action itself is vastly entertaining, particularly if you enjoy scifi.  The fugly parasites are imaginative, disgusting, and frightening simultaneously.  The Big Bad is scary and crafty.  The solution to the Big Bad is seriously entertaining.  I honestly cannot say enough good things about the scifi in this book.

Overall, Gini Koch’s Kitty Katt series has not failed to leave me glued to my iPod screen yet.  It’s sharp, modern, unique, and vastly entertaining.  I practically throw copies at lovers of paranormal romance to read, but also highly recommend it to fans of scifi and modern heroines as well.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

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