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Monday, January 17, 2011

Irksome Heroines, Beanstalks and Hot Aliens: I'm Exhausted and It's Only Monday

Here's a quickie update on my 3 latest reads.....

This was an ARC....will be released by Carina Press in February. The premise for this story is fantastic. It's a futuristic sci fi take on the legend of Jack and the Beanstalk. I adore funky new twists on fairy tales and legends. Drake calls this book a "twisted fairytale, biopunk romance." What I liked....the sci fi details are awesome. Drake does a tremendous job with her world-building. The bio-engineered beanstalk, the floating "islands," the hovercrafts, the dark, gritty, and desperate feel to life for the poor schmucks left on the surface of the earth, all make for a stunning vision of a world gone awry with technology. I also liked the heroine, Jaq, a lot...she is the quintessential kick-ass heroine, complete with roundhouse kicks, etc etc. The storyline was solid (with bitchy villainess and a-hole villain), had lots of action and suspense, and was extremely well written. Which may have worked against Drake in the end...I wanted more to this story. It was too short for me. The sci fi part worked great, but I wanted more about the characters and their relationship. I tend to gravitate to character-driven stories, not plot-centered stories, but even so....I still was fully engaged in this one.

Grade: B+

Sci fi/futuristic book #2 for the weekend! This one was quite different than the first. Captured was not about the action, it was about the characters. It still had tons of cool details about this alien society, but the real story was about the relationship between the alien hunter and his human cargo. Barrett puts forth an incredible thought-provoking premise for this novel...what if an alien species sees humans as a source of....food? Kidnaps us and treats us like cattle, then auctions us off to hungry aliens? Cripes....gives me shivers just thinking about it. Needless to say, this brings up a lot of disturbing themes, including similarities with Jews in Nazi Germany. Barrett certainly does not shy away from difficult material. The bottom line: the book is very well written, the love story is totally believable and evolves in a very emotional way, and the plot had me spell-bound (if not a nervous freakin' wreck) until the very end. The end was perfect for a sci fi story, although the romance-lover in me wanted an epilogue...hee hee! My only concern with this book (and frankly, all of the sci fi books I have been reading lately) is that I'm not quite sure erotica and sci fi is a great combination. It is sometimes jarring to have hard-core erotica scenes mixed into a sci fi story. I think romance and sci fi would be okay, but erotica (especially the terminology, etc) is tough to blend in with this type of story. Bottom line: loved the premise, the characters, and Barrett's intelligent narrative.

Grade: A-

Mistake #1: I paid a lot of money for this sucker. Mistake #2: It's not the first in the series, and I was completely confused about the enormous number of characters...so many my eyes were crossing. Mistake #3: The heroine was the most irritating, annoying, pinging-off-the-wall, irksome, hyper, basically unlikable heroine I have ever read in my entire freakin' life.

Saving grace: the hero was absolutely adorable...I totally want my own lion-polar bear. Stat! By the end of the book, the heroine slightly redeemed herself by her loyalty to the abused hybrids, and I managed to finish this book, although it was extremely close to being DNFed. Extremely. Freakin. Close.

Bottom line: Start at beginning of series. No more flaky heroines. Get my own lion-polar bear.

Grade: C+

Whew! I'm exhausted and it's only Monday. And I think there's a new book out tomorrow or something like that.....hmmm.....now what is it again? Let me think......



Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Oh wow you had a busy weekend! Thanks for the very sweet review. Yes, sci fi readers do have issues with the blending of erotica and sci fi. You're not alone and it's an issue those of us who write SFR have to deal with. But I bet the first time vampires became good guys, authors worried about acceptance! Well, maybe not, vampires have always been lonely, tragic, romantic figures.

Penelope said...

Hi Julia! I loved your book! I can't wait for the sequel (write faster....:)

My main irritation with splicing together erotica and any action-packed story (which did NOT happen in your book, by the way) is when the characters are running for their lives and they take a break to boink. Ugh! Focus, people, lives in danger!!!! That drove me nuts in the book Surrender by Pamela Clare (a historical)....here's my review of that one....


KB/KT Grant said...

I also downloaded Jac's Harp from Netgalley. Been wanting to read it since I first read the synopsis.

Can't wait :)

Penelope said...

Hey KB...I think sci fi/fantasy romance is the sub-genre of 2011. It seems to be exploding! (In outer space...hee hee!)

Lindsay Kiernan said...

Wow I did not realize that there was such a huge subgenre of scifi mixed with erotica.

Sherry said...

I read Beast Behaving Badly by Shelly Laurenston and really liked it although the heroine did get on my nerves a little bit. Maybe I liked it so much and have reread it a couple of times because I've read the entire series and understood what was going on with everyone and everything.


Penelope said...

Hi Lindsay! Me either. I am still getting used to it!

Sherry....lots of people loved this book. Although I also heard from a lot of folks that they did not love this heroine. I'm going to try Here Kitty Kitty next.