Sunday, March 01, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - March 1, 2015

Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits! I can't believe its March already! I know it probably doesn't feel like spring is just around the corner for those of you in the States and Canada who have been shoveling loads of snow and freezing as the temperature continues to plummet.  I however, am looking forward to my daffodils coming out and brighter mornings. Anyway enough about the weather what did I read?

I am calling this my unofficial NetGalley week as all the books I read came from the publishers via the site. I started the week with Losing Ground by Sasha L. Miller (Less Than Three Press, March 4, 2015). Carter Bellwood is basically an earth mage whose energy is tied to the earth in his hometown. There is a disease killing all the plant life in the area and Carter and his family are trying to contain its spread. Out of nowhere Tai arrives in town with the ability to cure the disease but he is running from someone. For Carter and his family the cure may not be worth whatever Tai is running from.

I have this technique I use when I give feedback that I employ whether it is at work or writing a review. It is called 'the sandwich' technique - positive - negative/improvement - positive. I always try to follow this technique as there is usually always something positive to say. I am really struggling with the two positive slices of bread in my feedback sandwich.  I guess I could say that one positive is that Losing Ground is really short which was lucky for me as it was also really disappointing.  Very little happens and even the big reveal of Tai's background was dull. Not much of a sandwich here but there is very little I can say that doesn't give the very meager plot away.

I finally finished The Diamond Conspiracy by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris but I am writing a full review which will be posted in time for its release on March 31st so check it out then.

I turned again to another book I received via NetGalley - Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig (Skyscape, January 27, 2015). I think I could describe myself as a 'Wendigian' as I have read all of his books. Some I have liked better than others but I think that Wendig has an amazingly, dark imagination. Unlike his other series Atlanta Burns is set in the 'real' world telling the story of the teenager, Atlanta Burns. Like many of Wendig's characters Atlanta comes from a dysfunctional family and has had to grow up too quickly. Atlanta is back in town. She was sent to a facility after shooting off  'the privates' of her mother's boyfriend who was sexually assaulting her. Atlanta and her mother are poor and she has no friends until she decides to stand up to some bullies. Her life looks like it is taking a positive turn after she befriends Shane and openly gay Chris who are victims of bullying. Tragically, one of her new friends is found dead, a suspected suicide but Atlanta isn't convinced. She stumbles onto an illegal dog fighting ring which has ties to the death of her friend and other teenagers in her community. Does Atlanta have what it takes to make the connections and make them pay?

I can only describe Atlanta Burns as a cross between Miriam Black and Veronica Mars. Atlanta is damaged by the death of her father, an irresponsible mother and the abuse by her mother's boyfriend. Atlanta is a complex character in the same way that Miriam Black is. Life keeps kicking her in the 'ass' but she keeps going and tries to do the right thing. Atlanta also reminds me of Veronica Mars as she is the high school pariah but also the 'go to' for sleuthing and crime solving. Atlanta is great character. She is multi-faceted combination of fragility and toughness. Atlanta Burns is another great story by Wendig and an inspirational tale of one teenager's fight against discrimination and bullying. As with all of Wendig's books this isn't for anyone who is sensitive to violence or swearing.

Finishing my 'NetGalley' week was The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston which is the first book in the Call of Crows series (Kensington, March 31, 2015). While I am reading Laurenston's Dragon Kin series under her G.A. Aiken pseudonym I haven't been fond of her other novels as they seem to favour sex over plot. I think I requested The Unleashing for two main reasons - the plot characters are loosely based on Viking mythology which I think is interesting and .....well.....and the cover! Hubba hubba.

If I apply my sandwich technique here I can say that I liked the main character Kera Watson - former marine who is given a second chance by the goddess Skuld to become a Crow aka a warrior along with her pet pit bull Brodie. Kera was strong and the scenes where she is trying to get her fellow Crows in shape military style were quite amusing. I did find the book tended to ramble in the middle and there were a lot of characters each telling parts of the story from their point of view which seemed to drag it out for no apparent reason. I got the impression that Laurenston was introducing so many characters just to pair them all off in subsequent novels. Overall, I did think that there was more plot to this story and while there was some hot and steamy it didn't take over the story. Do I want to continue with the series? Probably not, but I guess I will wait to make my final decision when I see the cover.

That is it for me this week. I am hoping that next week I make more successful decisions in what I chose to read. As always a big thank you to the various publishers who approve my requests. Until next week Happy Reading.


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