Monday, January 27, 2020

January Reviews and Previews

For your consideration:
  • A sweet romance (Second Chance);
  • A military fantasy (Requiem's Reach); and
  • Young-adult science fiction (The Selection).
Hope you find something for your library,

Second Chance: The Conclusion of the Flowers in December Trilogy by Jane Suen

A Bit of Sweet, Romantic Escapism – I just Worry that the Leopard Can’t Change Its Spots 

By luck, or maybe poor planning, I ended up with several horror novels right in the midst of the holidays. So, when I saw Second Chance, I knew it was my opportunity to balance out the unthinkable with the sweet. And even though it is the third of a Trilogy, the author’s synopsis describes it as “… a standalone sweet romance.” That worked for me.

Second Chance finds Connor Norton looking for—you guessed it—a second chance with Mary Ann. They met before the funeral for Connor’s mother but lost contact when Connor went back to the city where he worked. Both main characters are well-developed, although a bit stereotypic. I found Mary Ann quite likable as the plucky, no-nonsense business owner. She had suffered through an abusive relationship with a stepfather, making her slow to trust men (one of the stereotypes). But she was open to taking a chance with the right person if she could find him. Author Suen goes to great lengths to make the setting and Mary Ann’s background wholesome but hard-earned. Sometimes, however, this theme went too far. At one point, for example, Mary Ann is recalling her experiences with her grandfather, who had to live “… through hard times.” And then, we transition to his parents, her great grandparents, who lived during the Great Depression, a further elaboration that didn’t seem to advance the story appreciably.

See the complete review on Amazon:

Requiem's Reach: A Chaos of Souls Novella (Chaos of Souls Novella Series, Volume 1) by R.M. Garino

A Fantasy as Tension-Producing as Any Fiction Set in the “Real” World

It’s difficult for a fantasy to generate any real tension in a reader … at least, until he/she is totally immersed in the story’s make-believe world. Before that, the threat to life and limb (which may or may not include humans) is often met with a shrug, a roll of the eyes, because, of course, the good guys will have another magical spell up their sleeves to save the day. This limitation, however, is not an issue for Requiem’s Reach. Even without a background in author Garino’s fantasy world, uneasiness rolled over me in waves during the action scenes. Perhaps that’s because these chapters have the feel of a military campaign—gains come only with tremendous personal sacrifice; enemies are allies because they’re less reprehensible than the others. It’s the kind of fantasy you could easily imagine in our world, although you’d rather not. And therein lies the tale’s ability to tie your stomach in a knot.

See the complete review on Amazon:

The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1 by Jason J. Nugent

When Humans Take ‘Survival of the Fittest’ in their Own Hands

If The Selection doesn’t remind you of The Hunger Games, then I suspect you haven’t read the books or seen the movies. In both stories, teens from outlying colonies (or districts) are forced to participate in a competition, often to the death. There are, of course, differences. In The Selection, only the males compete and the reason is basically, survival of the fittest. There is an extreme gender imbalance on the planet, with males outnumbering females ten to one. Only if a male survives the process can he procreate. Our protagonist, Eron, sees this devaluation of human life and forced evolution as wrong, instead preferring compromise and letting nature take its course. As the story unfolds, he suffers greatly for these convictions.

See the complete review on Amazon:

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