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Category Archives: Post-Apocalyptic

Author Spotlight: Sharon Cameron

Sharon Cameron is a new favorite author!

11733187  The Dark Unwinding

In mid-nineteenth century England, seventeen-year-old Katharine Tulman is orphaned and dependent upon her Aunt Alice for her livelihood. Katharine commonly serves as Aunt Alice’s bookkeeper, but realistically she is her servant as she is expected to do anything Aunt Alice asks of her, with the expectation that one day she will do the same to Teddy, her young cousin, when he comes into his inheritance. However, Aunt Alice is concerned that Teddy’s inheritance is dwindling, being mismanaged by his uncle, and Katharine is sent to have him committed to an asylum. When she arrives at Stranwyne, Katharine is not at all welcomed, finding a drafty, decaying house with only a few close-mouthed occupants, a housekeeper Mrs. Jefferies, her stubborn nephew Lane Moreau, and mute boy Davy with his pet rabbit, who are stubbornly against her seeing her uncle. Still, upon meeting Uncle Tully, as he is known, Katharine discovers there are no shortage of secrets at Stranwyne. Uncle Tully is prone to fits and his own particular way of doing things, but scientifically speaking, he is a genius. He creates “toys” or metal inventions that are motorized animals, people, and other interesting contraptions. In addition to a wide variety of machineworks on the estate, there are also two villages, made up of rescued citizens from England’s workhouses, people whom Uncle Tully is keeping from a harsh lifestyle and who are working toward being self-sufficient making pottery, among other things. Despite these new revelations, Katharine has no personal choice in the matter, it’s either she expose her uncle for mismanagement of the estate or her own future will be on the streets. However, she is able to agree to a month-long trial, as proposed by her uncle’s solicitor, Mr. Babcock. As the time passes, Katharine becomes more and more attached to her uncle and the life at Stranwyne, discovering hidden secrets about her own past and her family while she’s there, until she even comes to believe she might be a little bit mad…

17320980 A Spark Unseen (The Dark Unwinding, 2)

In this sequel, Katharine and Uncle Tully are in a lot of danger. Both the British and the French governments want Uncle Tully’s inventions and the man himself so that they can further their technological warfare, especially since both are currently engaged in the Crimean War. After masked men break into Stranwyne, Katharine, Mary and Mr. Babcock are forced to come up with a plan since defending Stranwyne from potential murderers would be nigh impossible. With the pressure from a British authority, they decide to fake Uncle Tully’s death and tell none of the staff, hightailing it to a family estate in Paris, all the while hiding a drugged Uncle Tully first in a trunk and then in a specially made space of hidden rooms in the city townhouse. In Paris, Katharine has only herself, Mary Brown, her trustworthy and forthright ladies’ maid, and Mr. Babcock, her solicitor. Katharine must also pretend to be the real heiress she is, despite rampant rumours in society of her relationship with a servant, and behave responsibly, which is very hard while hiding Uncle Tully and looking for Lane, whom the British government says is dead after he went to France as a spy to find Ben Aldridge, the man who killed Davy and wanted to steal Uncle Tully’s invention. Luckily or unluckily, an old acquaintance of Katharine’s lives next door and introduces her to the family and friends at a dinner party. There, Katharine meets the ever complimenting Mr. Marchand who comes to chaperone her about the town. Still there are a number of mysteries about the place that remind her of the ever-present danger: a man on the street who watches her house at all hours, her French housekeeper who sells unknown packages at her down, the artist that lived and went missing next door, the probably dead Lane, and the still at large Ben Aldridge as well as the threat of Napoleon III’s and the British military, or any houseguest really, finding Uncle Tully still alive. Can Katharine keep her uncle and his inventions safe, find Lane, and finally get the life she wants back at Stranwyne, or is she in so far over her head that she’s in danger of losing it entirely…

I simply loved this series! I thought the characters were quirky and captivating, the setting intriguing, the steampunkness not overdone but very original. Ingenious. The mystery element was tantalizing and well thought out. The first one finds readers who love a mysterious house with many secrets, and the second, takes them to a new mystery house and adds royal intrigues of Napoleon III and a swashbuckling adventure. By far the thing I was most impressed with in this series was how every time I thought things were getting too impossible for our main character to come out victoriously, she did, with credible believability. Time and again Sharon Cameron wowed me with that, and I find myself missing  the characters long after reading. For a historical fiction, steampunk, romance, mystery mashup, this is a jewel of a read.

23399192 Rook

In a post-apocalyptic Europe where life has seemingly moved backwards as technology is viewed as taboo or artifacts (a Nintendo controller, anyone?), Sophia Bellamy’s family is on the edge of bankruptcy. Though they are Commonwealth, her father has promised her in marriage to the wealthy René Hasard son of a merchant family, native to the Sunken City and therefore an enemy. In what once was Paris, the Sunken City is under the thumb of Premier Allemande and his Protector, the maniacal LeBlanc, who have started a new revolution. Any who oppose are thrown into prison and murdered, except for those whom the Red Rook makes disappear, signified by a red-tipped feather and empty cells. To some the Red Rook is a savior, to others, a criminal deserving of death, and LeBlanc intends to find him, a trail that leads him right to the Bellamy estate where his cousin, René, is celebrating his engagement with wild abandon, charm, and frivolity. Sophia, on the other hand, is continuing to secretly thwart the revolution, until she discovers René is not what he appears, and the danger to herself, her family, and her people can only mount higher before this fast-paced adventure is over.

So, the premise of this novel is very interesting, as it comes off with a historical fiction and science fiction backdrop that is reversed from what we would usually think. The society has embraced (or been forced) into a mostly pre-technology existence, with what little technology they have being historically unusable or hoarded by the government. The problem here is that it just was not explained well enough. Getting an understanding of what this world looked like was next to impossible. For once, it needed more description, but for an already fairly long YA book, maybe they thought it couldn’t be longer. I think the editing for this book was subpar. Sharon Cameron had a fantastic idea, but needed a bit more help fleshing it out to bring it fully alive for the reader, which should have been noticed by the editor(s). The story, though hard to place with setting and backstory, even of the characters, quickly escalates and pulls the reader in, making the problems almost forgettable. Many characters are somewhat flat. However, René with all of his secrets, charisma, and spunk making him a sort of pirate/spy playing the gentleman dandy is sure to delight.

I will surely be reading any future works from this talented author, and I hope you discover something to love about her books too!

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Defiance trilogy by C. J. Redwine

A meld of science fiction, fantasy, and a post-apocalyptic society, the Defiance trilogy is a unique addition to the mass of post-apocalyptic YA fiction. It blends medieval or feudal concepts with a landscape almost out of Frank Herbert’s Dune, and tops it off with a rebellious yet fragile heroine, a tragically burdened and brilliant hero, two outcast siblings who are wickedly deadly, a twisted tyrannical villain with a deep-rooted blood war, and adds the possibility of imminent destruction at any moment. Bits of romance and moral reasoning are interlaced, making a gripping, yet surprisingly thought-provoking series that invites learning and repentance through some tough concepts of life, death, and consequences.

defiance-cj-redwine Defiance

In Baalboden, a city-state under the unforgiving thumb of Commander Chase, Rachel Adams has just lost her father and been entrusted into the care of her father’s apprentice, and former crush, Logan McEntire. Rachel doesn’t believe her father, the best Courier Baalboden has, has died in the Wasteland, the wild land between the city-states scourged by the Cursed One, an underground fire-breathing dragon-worm. She will not rest in attempting to find him despite consequences of treason for disobeying Baalboden’s harsh laws for its citizens, especially its females. Her new Protector, Logan, is unprepared to take responsibility of a girl only a few years his junior, but understands her determination as it mirrors his own. When Rachel attempts to escape Baalboden to find her father, she sets in motion a deal with Commander Chase that changes all of their lives. At her Claiming ceremony, she must give Commander Chase authority over her or Logan will be killed. As it is, her own choice isn’t much better. She must travel into the Wasteland accompanied by one of Chase’s men to complete her father’s mission while Logan is beaten and thrown into prison. Rachel knows she might be rushing headlong into her inevitable death, but for a chance to save her father whom she knows is alive and save Logan from prison and death, she’ll do whatever it takes. Logan, though injured and rotting in prison, is nowhere near beaten, and he will attempt to move earth to save Rachel.

 

deception-c-j-redwine Deception

After Baalboden was destroyed by the Cursed One and Commander Chase is driven off, only a small fraction of its citizens are left alive. Since Logan showed such clear leadership when the city fell, the majority of the group elect him as their leader. Logan, still in possession of the device that is supposed to control the Cursed One, determines to lead the people to the nearest city-state that will shelter them, Lankenshire. Meanwhile, the refugees are fleeing an army led by their former Commander and an unknown assassin. While Logan carries the burden of leading the refugees and struggles with his own morals as well as trying to do everything in his power to protect them, he also battles his own past. Rachel attempts to help him, but her mental state is precarious. Her sins weigh heavily upon her and work to waste her away. It seems an impossible feat to outwit both the Commander and his army and the Rowansmark trackers that are assuredly following them, and convince Lankenshire that they deserve help, but even more so to discover the deceiver in their midst who is killing off their citizens one by one.

 

deliverance-by-c-j-redwine Deliverance

In this thunderous finale, Rachel is held captive by Ian, Logan’s brother who is hell-bent upon revenge, and two of Rowansmark’s trackers. They are taking her to Rowansmark as bait to entrap Logan and convince him to return the device to their leader. Logan, though torn between his love for Rachel and his duty, knows he must use his knowledge to save everyone rather than save one. His new path allies him with Commander Chase, and they team up to convince the other city-states to donate troops to an army. This army, led by Logan and the Commander, will destroy Rowansmark and its corrupted leader. Will Logan save Rachel in time? Will Commander Chase betray Logan’s trust? What other secrets are waiting to come to light?

 

A fantastic read that I couldn’t put down, and one I find it hard to sum up at all because there are so many great details. I loved how Rachel and Logan change throughout the series to become more than the scared, hunted citizens they were from the first book. Their actions change lives, change histories, and bring about a new beginning for the entire country. Though it takes place after great dragon(s?) destroy what used to be the United States, it is a rich imagining that begs to be picked up.

Note: Graphic violence.

 
 

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Angelfall and World After (Penryn and the End of Days) by Susan Ee

angelfall-by-susan-eeAngelfall

What if the angels of the apocalypse were the cause of the ruination of the earth? This is the world Penryn lives in, and when she decides to help an injured angel in an unfair fight, her wheelchair-bound younger sister is carried off in retribution. The hurt angel is the only thing left, and Penryn knows she cannot leave him in the street to be sliced up for black market angel parts. Penryn cares for him, but he is both enemy and bait to getting her sister back. Raffe, the angel, has just suffered the most humiliating thing of his life, as his wings were cut off and he is left at the hands of a human girl. Together, Penryn and Raffe discover that there are faces and emotions and hopes behind the enemy, and they will survive better together. Penryn journeys with Raffe to find and save her sister, and Raffe will do anything to get his wings back.

 

world-after_612x917World After

After the last book, Penryn’s little sister, Paige is not the same girl as before. She is now an impossibly strong little girl with strange monstrous features and appetites. To escape the persecution, Paige runs away, and Penryn is back to trying to find her, wrestling with her own ideas of monsters. Meanwhile, Raffe believes Penryn is dead, and is still trying to find his wings, now a part of the demon Belial, and through a surgical operation hijacked by political treachery, Raffe now wields a deadly pair of demonic bat wings. As Penryn searches for Paige, her life once again aligns with Raffe’s as they learn of a horrifying plot to destroy the world.

I feverishly devoured these books! Though they seem hard to grasp at the start, you can’t help but be quickly sucked in and worried about outcome of Penryn, Raffe, and Paige. There’s 5 books planned in the series and the 3rd one comes out in 2015. Fairly clean despite some gruesome ideas and strong language. Though you might think this series resembles the Mortal Instruments/Infernal Devices with all the talk of angels, but so far, I haven’t read anything resembling this series. Even Laini  Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy is not similar, though of course, all these books borrow from a bit of the same angelic lore. While this post-apocalyptic series was great, it was no Divergent. Just below good enough to be a movie (perhaps because it’s just not filled with enough stuff, IMO, to make a film).

 

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Monument 14, Sky on Fire, and Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne

Are you ready for this? If tornadoes have been happening and you’re wigged out, perhaps it’s best not to pickup this series quite at this time. But seriously? I LOVED these books! A post-apocalyptic/contemporary fiction mash-up that deals with a cataclysmic disaster in the United States.

Monument 14

Monument-14In Monument, CO, fourteen children and teens are left stranded in a Greenway (basically a Wal-Mart) after a chain of weather disasters causes large hail to batter Monument and a nearby military facility to implode, releasing toxic chemical weapons into the atmosphere. Dean, our 16-year-old narrator, finds himself among the eldest of their group of kids, and is automatically thrust into a position of responsibility, especially for his younger genius brother Alex. Their teacher, Mrs. Wooly had left to get help for one of the teens, Josie, who was in shock from her injuries. Meanwhile, the kids must band together to survive, with each of them having their own responsibilities and taking care of the younger ones. However, the release of the chemical weapons makes everything that much more unpredictable as the bio-weapons target blood types and the known but ravaged world turns into a horrible nightmare. Beauty and savagery, innocence and corruption, love and hate, selflessness and selfishness, all intertwine and create a moving and gripping story that will suck you in and leave you begging to read more.

Book 2 & Spoilers below!

 

Monument 14: Sky on Fire

monument-14-2In the sequel, Alex and Dean have gone their separate ways. Alex travels with Nico, Josie, and a few of the children in the bus to drive to nearby Denver and hopefully get air evacuated, reunited with their parents, and rescue for the ones left behind. Dean has chosen to stay at Greenway, half because he is a type O and is terrified of going murderously berserk on the bus and half because he feels he must stay with Astrid, his type O friend and crush who also happens to be pregnant with Jake’s baby. Dean and Astrid also keep Chloe, another type O, Luna, the dog, and the 5-year-old twins, Caroline and Henry who were Dean’s neighbors. For both groups, the world around them is almost no longer recognizable and instead is a living, breathing nightmare. Alex, Nico, Josie, and the bus kids are traveling into an unknown and hostile territory, filled with dead bodies, decomposing and abandoned automobiles, manic type O’s, bloodthirsty street gangs, and the threat of chemical death. Dean’s little family, though it looks like they’re set to easily hole up in the Greenway, faces power outages, sickness, and threat of breach by anyone desperate and powerful enough to break in and take it from them. It has always been a question of survival, but now at the end, when they’ve done nothing but try to be a family, it’s a desperate bid to live and not lose anyone or their own sense of morality.

Book 3 & Spoilers below!

1382064522001-Monument-14-SAVAGE-DRIFT-cover Monument 14: Savage Drift

It’s over.

Dean, Alex, and the other survivors of the Monument 14 have escaped the disaster zone and made it to the safety of a Canadian refugee camp. Some of the kids have been reunited with their families, and everyone is making tentative plans for the future. And then, Niko learns that his lost love, Josie, has survived!

Or is it?

For Josie, separated from the group and presumed dead, life has gone from bad to worse. Trapped in a terrible prison camp with other exposed O’s and traumatized by her experiences, she has given up all hope of rescue. Meanwhile, scared by the government’s unusual interest in her pregnancy, Astrid—along with her two protectors, Dean and Jake—joins Niko on his desperate quest to be reunited with Josie.

The final installment of the Monument 14 trilogy does not disappoint as once more the teens (and kids) fight to survive the aftermath of the disasters, while also caring for one another as family. Dean, Jake, Niko, and Astrid set out to rescue Josie, while also protecting Astrid from being stolen away in the night for government testing due to her pregnancy and the baby’s chemical exposure. Meanwhile, Josie has lost all hope and lives in the O prison camp as though isolated except for Mario, the eighty-year-old man who rescued her from staying O. Mario has sponsored other orphaned kids, and Josie does her best to shut them all out. When Mario and the kids are threatened by the guards, Josie takes the brunt of the punishment, making her a juicy target for the local gang and the guards. The final danger is that of the drifts, giant clouds of the chemical poisons that are rumored to be drifting across the land, rumors that the government will not admit are true. Their final dream is to be reunited at Niko’s uncle’s farm in Pennsylvania, but with all of the obstacles in their way, the journey is nigh to impossible. It’s a quick read to see if they can survive these latest adventures and finally have a bright future.

This series isn’t an easy read. It’s violent and disturbing and laid bare with the grittiness and ugliness of humanity. From sexuality to drug and alcohol abuse to excrement and murder, all are present and fairly obvious, but not overdone, in these books. It’s definitely a Read at Your Own Risk, but you’ll probably be glad you did (as long as you aren’t one of those types to be scared about something like this actually happening–if that’s you, maybe you’ll need to have a happy read to switch to when you need it. My strategy was that I read this series before reading My Life Next Door, posted earlier, and that was a great pick). The beautiful way these teens care for one another and others who become dependent on them makes this such an addictive and moving read, and one I couldn’t help but love. I also have a big soft spot for Dean, who despite his worst moments influenced by the chemical compounds, shows that he has such capacity for love and is an honorable young man determined to care for anyone less fortunate than he. They all show tremendous maturity and strength in the face of such catastrophe, and that is one thing that will touch readers if they pick up this series. Four solid stars, except for the fact that I wanted to read more!!!

 

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