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Review: Shield of Winter By Nalini Singh – Book 13 Of The Psy-Changeling Series

winter
Thank you to Penguin’s “First To Read” program for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful novel! Click to preorder your copy now.

In the end, they’d all grown up under a regime that attempted to turn them into tools for the use of others—tools meant to be discarded once they passed their use-by date.

 

First, I must confess that this is my first Psy-Changeling book. Ms. Singh’s work has been on my “to read” list for quite some time, but I simply haven’t had the opportunity to read any of her works. When Penguin Books gave me the opportunity to read Shield of Winter I literally jumped at the chance. What a great excuse to move it to the top of my reading pile!

Going into the story I was well aware of the fact that this is Lucky 13 in the Psy-Changeling series, (actually, there are also quite a few “shorts” and novellas also extant in this world) so I feared that I couldn’t expect to really understand what was going on. However, I must say, I was wrong about that. Looking at the long list of characters in the front of the book, I worried that I would be lost or confused, but Ms. Singh is such a brilliant writer that before the first chapter was over I was completely riveted.

This is a deeply layered series, with one of the more unusual premises extant in the UF genre. In the world of the Psy there is no emotion – no love, no hate, only mercilessly unemotional characters, driven a slavish obsession with perfection in all things. There is only The Silence, controlled by the NetMind and DarkMind, the twin entities that knew every corner of the vast psychic network that connected all Psy on the planet

Now, however, that link is broken, the Silence is no more. But all is not well, as the cold, emotionless Psy struggle to live in a new reality, where emotion is not a crime to be punished by devastating psychic brain wipes. Silence was a deeply flawed construct – but a necessary one, as cruel as it may have been. And now a deadly contagion is whipping through the Psy population with deadly result. In order to save the Psy population, changes must be made, and the Empaths, nearly wiped from existence in the past, may be the only beings who can save the world.

The first step is finding and bringing in Ivy, an Empath who, though she was subjected to the brutality of a mind wipe as a child, gives hope that she may actually be a savior. Sent to find her and bring her back is Vasic, a sort of “super soldier assassin” on a par with the Terminator.

Now, I understand that Ms. Singh’s works are based more in the “Paranormal Romance” end of the Contemporary Fantasy genre, and I can work with that. However, I will admit to having an overwhelming problem with Ivy. She was an unpleasant character to my way of thinking. Needy and clinging don’t do it for me in a heroine and Ivy has that in spades. Vasic was a much more empathetic character. He has done horrific things in his life, things he understands to be unforgivable, even though he did these things under the control of a sort of “hive mind. His pain and sense of hopelessness, and his attempts to do the right thing even though he doesn’t feel worthy of living touched me on a visceral level and kept me reading just a much as the amazing world that I was learning.

Unlike other readers of the series (I have read the reviews) I was not as interested in the “romantic” side of the story, so my problems with Ivy didn’t overwhelm my sheer enjoyment of a well built world, a stunning concept, and great writing. Overall, I am looking forward to starting the series at the first book and learning about how this new situation has come to pass.

Review: Malicious by James Raven

malicious
Not recommended

I don’t need my sexuality celebrated, and I certainly don’t need it to be criticized. I didn’t necessarily want it to be observed, but here we are. – Ezra Miller

I think anything that has to do with sexuality makes people very interested. – Catherine Deneuve

Houston homicide cop Robyn Tate has a secret. A deeply personal secret – she is addicted to online porn. With low self esteem and a terrible body image, Robyn spends her evenings alone in front of the computer, surfing porn sites and “self pleasuring.” It seems harmless enough, (although it is quickly becoming an obsession) – but then it all falls apart, as she becomes the victim of a hacker. A hacker with a taste for blackmail. And with footage of Robyn having a “bit o’ fun” her blackmailer threatens to release the video and ruin Robyn’s life. And as a homicide detective, this seemingly harmless little habit could ruin her status in court cases, as well as becoming an obsession that is taking over her life. Especially when Robyn becomes the homicide detective on a case where the victim was being blackmailed in the very same way, by the same blackmailer.

And here is where things start to fall apart. Rather than marching directly into her Captain’s office and laying it all out on the table (well, not literally, but you get the point) she promptly panics and decides that hiding her secret is more important than her murder case. And it apparently never crosses her mind that her actions completely compromise her case!

The book goes downhill from this point into lies, cover-ups, fissures in her moral and ethical framework, and other bits and bobs of complete stupidity that are less than realistic. Don’t get me wrong – having been with police departments and crime labs, I have seen cops do things that are so incredibly stupid that it boggles the imagination. But this degree of stupidity by someone who actually was good enough at her job to earn a gold shield just isn’t really believable. Especially when Robyn the Wonder Cop has so many opportunities to admit her involvement and ask for help. She has no moral ground to stand on. Sure, it will be embarrassing for everyone to know her “little habit”. But to place her own embarrassment ahead of finding the murderous blackmailer made me truly hate her as a character. True, some literary characters you “love to hate” and that is totally acceptable. Robyn? Not so much. She is entirely self-centered, whining, incompetent, and overall strikes me as a caricature of every misogynistic wet dream extant.

Another aspect of the book that I found immensely irritating was that many words and phrases were unforgivably “Britishisms” rather than Americanisms. It reminded me quite irritatingly of that embarrassingly bad bit of writing, “50 Shades of Gray” in that this book is set in Houston, Texas and yet was written as if it were set in London! Yes, English authors can indeed write “American” novels, and often extremely well (Mark Henwick comes to mind). This, however, was not well written or edited. The degree of laziness shown by the writer edges on incompetence. Especially when there are so many sites online that will be happy to indicate what is a Brit colloquialism and what is an American one.

Overall, the mystery was pedestrian, but acceptable. The heroine? She ruined it for me. I am going to have to say that, overall, there are much better books out there with which to spend your precious reading time.

I received this book from the publisher in return for a realistic review.

Yippee! Beta Reading Book Three – The Pierced Series by J. C. Mells

Perfect Cover 2
The cover for “Perfect” – Book three of the J. C. Mells “Pierced” series!

Just finished the Beta and, OMFG!!! J. C. does it again – another brilliant story full of pain and hate, love and understanding and a tremendous cast of characters. Watch here – I will let you know as soon as I know when it is coming out – and you have to read this book! Of course, if you haven’t read the first ones, you have to read those too- – – these are too good to miss!

Thanks, J. C. Mells!!!

 

“Can’t live with him, can’t live without him.”

Never have these words seemed more true to Pierce as she deals with the aftermath of Salt Lake City. She and Lucas can’t seem to stay apart from each other for very long without the night panics happening again – but being together is almost as torturous. Will her past ever allow her to be intimate with him? Can she afford to let her guard down and allow herself to be happy? She’s still suffering from the post-traumatic stress of what happened to her the last time she did that.

But on the plus side, their little town of Nowhere is coming along in leaps and bounds. So much so, that it has appeared on the radar of the wolf community. Or at least Pierce’s presence has.

Suddenly it seems like Nowhere is THE place to be these days..

pierce
Who is Pierce?

______________________________

Keep your eyes open – I will post when the book is published!

TWO Happy Dances!!

wicked
Click the cover to purchase!

The amazing Jillian Klein Der Lowe just shot me an e-mail letting me know that her book, Wicked, just hit the #3 spot in her genre on Amazon!!

applause
Icon courtesy of
http://unf.edu
Thank you!

Click the cover to grab the book from Amazon FOR FREE!!!! Then, of course, after you have read it, I am sure Jillian would love a review. (Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge!)  My review is here in case you want to refresh or haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet.

Congratulations, Jillian!!

Now, for even MORE good news, we turn to another wonderful author, J. C. Mells, author of the Pierced series.

J. C. is happy to announce that her next book in the series, Pinked is nearing the end of editing, and will be out soon! Pinked continues the adventures of Pierce and Mia, a fascinating pair, with a story that is one of the most interesting I have read in recent memory.  Watch for the review here, and for publication at Amazon soon. Until then, you really MUST pick up your own copy of Pierced! Click on the book cover to order. My review is hereIt is only 99c right now, and J. C. is sure to be a wonderful addition to your ‘must-buy-as-soon-as-published’  author list!

Also, be sure to pick up a copy of Escaped, volume 1.5 of the Pierced series! It is also only 99c for a short time at Amazon.

Congratulations, J. C.!

Shrieking and Jumping up and down! J. C. just sent along the cover for PINKED!!!

Drool worthy, huh?  Click on the cover to see the video trailer!PINKED BC3

J. C. just sent me the cover!
Click on it for the YouTube Video
for the upcoming book!
Squeeee!!!!
pierced
For now, Pierced is only 99c at Amazon.
Click cover to order!
escaped
Click to purchase from Amazon!
Only 99c for a short time.
You KNOW you won’t be able to live without it
after reading Pierced!

Review: Pierced – J. C. Mells

pierced

Who knows what true loneliness is – not the conventional word but the naked terror? To the lonely themselves it wears a mask. The most miserable outcast hugs some memory or some illusion.
Joseph Conrad

All universal moral principles are idle fancies.”
Marquis de Sade

This isn’t just a five-star review, ladies and gents. This is a full on, jumping up and down, screaming and squeeing and generally making an ass out of myself I am so excited about the book!

Where do I start? There is just so much HERE. . .

This is, in a way, as Mells describes it, an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance, which is, as everyone knows by now, my favorite genre. However, that “title” doesn’t even begin to delve into the wonder that is Mells writing.

To be honest, when I first started the book, I was hesitant after the first couple of pages. Maybe her particular sort of “crazy” was a little too close to home for me. Memory. Obsession. Horror and fear. All living inside her head, counting steps and tiles and pain pain pain. Then, I kept turning pages. And becoming more and more engrossed into a world which includes, as I said, the UF genre, but is so very very much more.

Pierce is just a very small child when we first meet her. The daughter of an addict, living in a hell of someone else’s making, she is ‘different’ in some way she is not aware of. Different enough that her mother hands her books, and orders her to tell anyone she meets that she has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Never show anyone what you can do. Never. If you slip up and anyone questions you about it, you tell them you have Asperger’s. Do you understand me?”

Here are some books on the subject.”

Seemingly pretty strange for a child of six. But then, when that child can watch a foreign language movie and subsequently become fluent in said language with no training, that in itself is enough to worry that your child might become a pawn in someones perverted chess game. And that is only one of Pierce’s strange and wonderful abilities.

The perversions that flow through this book, and in no way do I mean that in a bad way, are horrifying, painful and yet a loud cry from the depths of the human soul. The strength of the human soul, and its ability to survive what no one should ever know exists, much less be required to survive.

You are strong, you are a fighter, he will not know this, and you will win. Men will always underestimate the supposed weaker sex, even if they suspect them to be dangerous.”

Mells takes the ‘modern fairy tale’ stories of UF and turns them on their heads, giving them a deeper and ‘truer’ view of the creatures of myth and legend. Pierced touches on the twists and turns of the mythological soul – and yet, her grasp on these creatures, no matter how perfect, is outshone by her ability to touch upon the true depth of depravity that the human soul is able to plumb.

Action, adventure, mystery, fantasy, suspense, it is all here. Wonderful and completely and with a raw brutality that sucks in the reader, keeping you on the edge of your seat and drawing you into a world so very like our own, and yet so very strange. The depths of mental illness (or something similar), the terror of living on the run, hallucinations and a really good recipe for steak and kidney pie. I know, weird, right? But so very right.

I highly recommend you take a chance on Pierced. You are in for a book of depth and character I haven’t seen since, well, I can’t really remember off the top of my head. But take a pinch of Othello, throw in a heaping handful of Mildred Pierce and a big splash of Jack Kerouack. Serve with a blast of What It’s Like by Everlast. Stir well and serve with a side of desperate hope. Just read it.

Book courtesy of J. C. Mells, http://www.jcmells.com/

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